My Travel

FLORIDA - Part 1: The Flight/Arrival
em Feature

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.

Imminent Death
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.

Cameras Everywhere!
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 doorways.

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 other stuff.

david twomey

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