You’ve all heard about my harrowing—at least they were to me—experiences in the rivers, lakes, canals and oceans of middle and eastern America. But I rarely discuss my—shall we say—interesting experiences flying in a small plane with none other than Capt. Mark at the controls.
Many years ago Capt. Mark decided sailing wasn’t fast enough, so he took flying lessons at Orange County Airport. When he was licensed, he and yours truly flew to Santa Barbara one morning. My job was to watch out for planes as we flew over (gulp) Los Angeles International Airport.
Four eyes are better than two.
Thank God it was a clear day because when we entered the air space we saw airplanes. Lots of them. Big guys. Over us, under us, beside us. LAX is a busy airport.
We managed to get through without mishap, staying as far out of the way as possible while holding a course. We landed smoothly in Santa Barbara, had lunch, and took off a bit low which earned us a scolding from the guy in the tower.
I was reminded of that experience as we flew into Los Angeles this morning on an American Eagle, a commercial commuter type aircraft. We landed smoothly (Capt. Mark often took a little bounce on his landings) and we got off.
Then the harrowing part started.
The smaller jets have a terminal away from the main ones, but one must get to the bigger terminals to access shuttle buses to hotels or rental car agencies. We boarded a standing room only bus to the big terminal and proceeded out on the runway. A narrow lane designated for vehicles ran between planes departing and landing, and planes at the gate. Numerous intersections bore signs that said Stop for planes.
Stop for planes? What if the brakes fail? What if we have a distracted driver? What if there’s an altercation on the packed bus? You know what a wimp I am.
I looked out the window. Big mistake. A plane was taxiing down one side of the bus and another plane was landing on the other side while in our narrow lane another airport vehicle was passing us.
We made it to our destination between parked planes. As we walked through the terminal to the street I couldn’t help but compare my flying experiences with the boating ones.
The waterways are never too crowded. There’s room to pass, unless you’re in a shoaled area, we go nice and slow, and there’s generally something interesting to see out the window.
Maybe traveling by boat isn’t so bad after all.