Fright for flight

Ok, so I’ve been neglecting the blog for a while, and need a kick in the back of the pants for it. So to get into the swing of things something light hearted, then maybe we can get back to the Bible stuff.

I recently (at 32) took a flight on an aeroplane, which while it may seem odd, made me more or less representative of a nation of people most of whom will never fly. I’m not part of that fortunate group anymore though. Obviously this made me a little nervous and somewhat excited, so I got my ticket, went through security, and my heart sank… “Put all metal and electronic objects in the box provided.” I’m screwed I thought, all I want is something to eat, and I’m going to be stuck here until they’re calling my name over the intercom in between some tones that sound remarkably like playing harmonics on a guitar.

So, I bravely march up and put the tablet in the box with my cell and wallet. They check my crotch, hopefully for one of those big cowboy buckles that do more to pull your pants down than hold them up. I go through the metal detector, it makes a noise, my heart moves from somewhere in my tummy to somewhere in the tiled floor that the security guard is looking at. He was fortunately looking at the safety boots which I always wear on horse jobs (I like my toes the shape they are). Unfortunately I’m unaware of this, so I’m still thinking of a private room with a bouncer called Buck and surgical gloves, this is not appealing, how do I explain this.

So he searches me and asks a few questions which I don’t really pay attention to, just reply “no” in a soft nervous voice. He then concludes that it must be the toe caps that are setting the metal detector off. I breath a sigh of relief, no strip search, no rubber gloves. So I don’t need to explain that there’s a foot long piece of steel in my back that I can’t put in the box provided. Thank whatever.

After a reasonably tasty spicy scrambled eg dish that I overdid the tabasco sauce on I head of to find gate A9, which turned out to be reasonably easy, and sit down and wait with the other passengers, that include two very nice looking blondes still in their PJs (I’ve been up since 3am, and envy them somewhat). The harmonics go followed by our boarding order and more harmonics. I see the plane for the first time, and I’m like “really?????”

Once we’re on, a little simple maths tells me that they’re squashing 132 passengers and flight crew into a space large enough for the average African family, I’m stunned, even more stunned by the fact that a normal intercity bus liner has more leg room (and I’m only 5’2″). We take off, the apprehension grows, soon the clouds are as far below us as they should be above us. As someone who has been in a helicopter and a microlight (whose wings seem as good as those allegedly holding up our series 300 737) this seems somewhat stupid.

“Do I pray?” I ask myself, to whom? I think, surely not the god of Abraham I’ve spent the last couple of months insulting. No, he won’t help me, and all the others seem even less worthwhile.

The safety manual isn’t comforting, and I try to work out whether or not sticking your head between your legs can really do much good when the ground is approaching you at terminal velocity. I conclude that I should rather stick my head in the sand like an ostrich than read any further.

Now, I’ve travelled in those death trap minibus taxis that kill thousands each year in South Africa, and I’ve never felt quite so nervous about travelling. I think about it, those taxis are packed just as tightly as this aeroplane, like a sardine tin, mainly for maintenance purposes (they don’t dent so much when they roll if you’ve put enough living human flesh in them). They don’t have the same allure as flight travel, but they’re starting to look awfully attractive.

They announce breakfast, crap, I’m a vegetarian, do they cater for vegos? Will I be stuck between the two nice french people on either side of me munching on their bacon. Oh no, will I have to squeeze past the lady in the isle seat to go have a chat with George on the porcelain phone? Will my scrambled eggs be distributed forty thousand feet above the KZN coast? “We’re serving a continental breakfast.” Great, how un English of BA, at least I won’t have to have that chat with George after all.

Breakfast arrives, there’s a muffin, fruit juice, yogurt, and a plastic bowl with a few pieces of apple banana and mango that is supposed to pass for a fruit salad.

Mango…

I start thinking, there are two positives to this form of travel. Firstly, if this winged tin can suddenly decides that all it’s tonnage doesn’t belong at forty thousand, then I’ll die of heart failure before we reach the clouds (courtesy of the scrambled eggs), and won’t experience the impact. Secondly, if I’m going to be reduced to the intellectual state of a mango, at least I won’t be doing it in that orange plane that left shortly before us, and had “Mango” emblazoned on it’s flank. I get to do it in a white aeroplane with “British Airways” tastefully printed on the tail. Great, at least there’s a couple of bonuses. They aren’t that comforting though.

Ok, so I lived (duh). Now I’m in PE waiting at the airport to board a, no doubt, equally flimsy winged beverage can. If the news reports BA 6321 ate the dirt, you know why the blog is finished, anyway, I’ll let you know if I make it.

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