- Part 1: The Flight/Arrival
I hadn’t been
on a plane since I was about 12. Well that’s not entirely
true, I went on one about 2 years ago, but that was just a short
2 day business trip (ooh, posh!) to Berlin, and the flight was only
about 50 minutes. So Ok, I’m a liar, a rotten filthy liar,
But I mean a real flight, that lasts at least over an hour
– long enough for the fear of crashing/blowing up/plane getting
ripped apart to really sink in and terrify you to your living soul.
By a strange coincidence,
that last real flight was to Florida in 1988. It’s
nice to see that things have got better since, as back then we had
to stop off at Maine to refuel, and then carry on down to Orlando.
I think the flight lasted about 13 hours or something. 13 hours
of sitting cramped in a long metal tube with next to no entertainment
(one movie going over and one movie coming back). Isn’t that
one of the services offered in S&M brothels? It’d look
like it especially when everyone’s sat there with those sleeping
blindfolds on, and you’d know something was up when the stewardesses
told you what ‘today’s ‘safety’ word’
is as you boarded.
So anyway, it’d been a good while since I’d properly
flown, and I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. I mean I
used to fly loads when I was young, my parents would always take
me on holidays abroad, but it was when I was about 13 that the fear
really began to kick in.
Kids are basically
daft, they find it quite a thrill that they’re going up in
a big metallic bird and off to somewhere warm and exciting –
but when you become a teen you start to question everything don’t
you, especially just how this huge lump of metal actually gets off
the ground, and also the fact that if something goes wrong in the
air - especially at about 35,000 feet in the air – everybody
is going to die, and those little oxygen masks aren’t going
to do much good when you’re plummeting towards the Atlantic
ocean at 1000 mph, with sharks and giant octopi getting the salt
and pepper ready.
So you have to remember
that these are the kind of fear inducing images that were going
through my head as we sat in the departure lounge waiting for the
giant metallic death machine to take us to the magical land of Florida
once more. And all the time I’ve got that scene from Final
Destination going through my head. Couple that with the fear of
nutty terrorists hijacking/bombing the plane and you get ‘David
= a little cautious/pensive about actually boarding the plane’.
Anyway, I think the
most crucial time of any flight for me is the take off. It’s
pretty exhilarating rushing down the runway, but especially when
you have a small screen right in front of you showing the view through
the camera fixed in the nose of the plane. Now like I said, it’s
been a while since I flew long distance, and I’d heard about
these little screens in front of you showing movies and comedy and
stuff, but I didn’t know about the cameras.
Now this plane
had two of them, one in the nose (as mentioned) and one underneath
looking straight down. I’m sure if you were made to actually
look straight down or straight ahead with your own eyes you’d
be scared half to death, but seeing as it’s on TV it doesn’t
seem quite real – just a fairly boring show, especially when
you’re at 35,000 feet and can see nothing but cloud. The view
did get a little better over America though as there were hardly
any clouds around at all and you could see the land below, even
from that height. I think the picture below was taken above Delaware
or somewhere around that area.
So my fears were alleviated
quite early on - just when we’d actually got into the air
really (what does that mean? Everything is always ‘in the
air’) - when I realised that I do actually like flying quite
a bit. I suppose it’s like my fear of ghosts – I’m
scared witless by the thought of them, but I’m fascinated
by the subject. So there you go, flying is like ghosts. I guess
people just like to stare into the face of fear; either that or
start screaming and never stop.
But anyway, back to
those cameras. The novelty was quite intriguing at first, but when
we got into the air I felt a little restricted by the amount of
camera options. Being a kid of the video game age, I’ve learned
that any half decent flight sim has its good share of cameras. 2
just wasn’t going to be enough, I wanted at least about 5
external cameras, one pointing at the pilots face, a flyby camera
and a missile cam.
So the flight was pretty
dull all in all. And things weren’t helped by the in-flight
restrictions either; the night before I’d carefully hand-picked
no less than 25 CDs to take with me for the long flight over; nicely
weighing down my bag and giving me that ‘pack mule’
feeling I’d always longed for. I thought I’d had everything
covered until it was revealed soon after boarding that no-one was
allowed to play CDs or Mini-Discs as they apparently mess up the
navigational systems of the plane. Quite how this feat is achieved
I would love to know, but for now I hope you can understand my disappointment.
It also makes you think why these terrorists go to the trouble of
trying to stash bombs or weapons on the plane – just whack
on a bit of Sting at about 20,000 feet and watch the mayhem commence.
We're Going Down!
The food was crap, but all the kids seemed to continually buy and
eat Pepperamis. Is this some new fad sweeping the nation? I mean
they’re bad enough out in the open air, but in a metal tube
for 9 hours with no-way of opening the windows…it was a bit
much to take. Forget about the no CDs rule, if anything’s
going to mess up the planes navigational systems it’s the
stench of 50 Pepperamis building up over time.
Ok, so the other crucial
moment in any plane journey is the landing, and it’s a pretty
tense situation at the best of times, but with the plane cameras
and the information screen detailing speed and height that tension
was raised up a notch. You’d get these little doubts creeping
into your mind, especially when you saw the speed start to drop,
coupled with the noise of the engines getting quieter and the height
start to decrease, you’re only a short step away from seeing
little gremlins on the wing of the plane and screaming ‘We’re
all gonna die!’
Now this above was
the moment we were coming into land. You felt like it was a full
colour version of that flight simulation they had to do on The Krypton
Factor – but just praying that it wasn’t one of the
contestants at the helm. Now I’m sure our pilot was qualified
and had done this kind of thing hundreds of times before, but I’ve
played enough flight sims to realise that at these moments you tend
to just crash the plane in to the grass and fail the mission. Anyway,
we landed just fine and eventually got off the plane – but
I swear there were bite marks on the wing.
So the two things you
notice first about arriving in America, and I remember noticing
them first last time I went:
1) The airport security
guards with guns. These Rent-A-Cops look like they should definitely
not be wielding any kind of weaponry, let alone a gun. For a start
they all look a little…’unbalanced’ shall we say.
Like the smallest thing will just trigger some unhappy childhood
memory off. Also they don’t look like they’d be the
greatest aims in the world, and you could probably expect bullets
to start pinging around everywhere.
And 2) the heat that
hits you when you get outside - now they weren’t having the
best of weather while I was over there, and the day we arrived it
was all overcast - strange really as it was clear as day coming
into land - anyway, this nasty cloud cover only went to intensify
the heat of the place, and coming from a cold rainy London into
this is a little intense – pleasant, but intense. Oh, the
only other thing I remember noticing was this enormous black woman
with the hugest ass I have ever seen on a real person. Some things
just stick in your head I suppose, and some asses just stick in
The Horseless Carriage -
with CD Player
So off we went to get the beast that would be our automobile for
the next week, and what a beast it was! Well, almost. The picture
you see below was our car – the Dodge Stratus. A very nice
car indeed, fairly basic inside, but it purred like a kitten, and
swam like an otter.
I was extremely pleased
to see it had a CD player inside, so all those CDs wouldn’t
be wasted after all, but then, after idly flicking through about
5 or 6 channels of strange Mexican music, I stumbled upon O-Rock
105.9 – probably one of the best rock stations I’ve
heard. Why don’t we have cool stuff like that over here? Anyway,
I listened to about 2 CDs the entire holiday; they just weren’t
needed with this station on all the time.
I’ll talk about
the area and stuff in an upcoming article. So look out for that,
and my reviews of Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, MGM and
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