Monday, September 17, 2007

'What are you doing tomorrow?'

October 10th, 1980 was a typical day for this 10 year old; head to school, come home and pondered what the weekend held for me. Dad arrived home, as usual, 5:15PM from his office and summoned me from my room. He asked 'so what are you doing tomorrow?' Mt reply was, to the affect, 'probably watch cartoons or something.' He then reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a Republic Airlines Ticket Jacket with MY name on it! WHAT?! 'You're going flying tomorrow instead' he said with a grin. I was so elated that I jumped on him, happy as could be and immediately looked through the tickets to see where I was off to. MKT-MSP-BRD. Ah ha! I'm off to see my sister in Brainerd, Minnesota. Apparently my Mom and Dad were already planning a trip to BRD that weekend and decided to let me experience something I'd always wanted; to FLY on the Convair. Needless to say, I could barely sleep that night in anticipation of the following days events...

I woke at 6AM to make the 7:36AM departure of Flight 960 to MSP. The prior evening I'd already set out what I was going to wear on this excursion of mine; blue suit, blue tie, Republic kiddie wings, a briefcase with the Kodak instamatic and an old First Officer's Hat I'd acquired from the MKT Staff a month prior. In essence, I was a 4 foot nothing 'kid pilot.' I checked in with my old friend Keith who was as excited for me as I was and told me to wait in the security area until it was time to board. My parent's waited in the passenger waiting area and chatted over coffee. I saw 'my' Convair 580 land, from Fairmont, right on time. No sooner did the Convair shut down and the air stairs opened when Keith came in and said 'let's go.' I'm OFF! As soon as I walked out the terminal door, I could see the Captain waving and smiling at me and as I ascended the air stairs, I was greeted by a smiling Flight Attendant (to this day, I cannot recall her name but I've a picture attached of her). I was brought right to the cockpit and met Pat Korab, a pilot I'd met before along with his First Officer (Cannot recall his name either!). We chatted for a minute when he said 'we'd better get you to The Cities,' flipped a few switches to which I heard the Allison's begin to hum. heading back to the cabin, I chose a seat back in 'smoking,' mostly so I could see the back of the engines and get a better view of my parents waving at me from the terminal. Not soon after, I felt the Convair sway from right to left to right to left and watched as the props began to start their motion. With a little more shaking and then a settling, we started to taxi out to the runway. Hearing those big props and Allison's humming was such a wonderful sound to this little pilot-wanna-be, then an acceleration to the point I was pushed back in my seat; take off! A steep climb out to get above the October cloud cover and we found sun within a minute. My Flight Attendant came by and offered me an Orange Juice in a 'double-duck' plastic cup which I soon gulped down, wiped it out and spirited it away to my briefcase along with a Republic Scene magazine! (More proof of my flight perhaps?). At this time I took her picture, which is displayed above. No sooner than I took that picture, we were descending into MSP, right past Fort Snelling off the right wing and down onto 29Right (at that time) and taxied into the Green Terminal, Gate 79. I took another photo of my FA and Capt. Korab at that time, shown above. I was met at the gate by an agent that knew I was an unaccompanied minor flying to BRD and escorted me to the Republic Executive Club for 'safe keeping.' My flight to BRD wasn't to depart for another 2 hours. I kept busy with watching cartoons on the TV and my agent would check in with me now and then, offering soda and juice. Time flew by that when she returned for me, it was time to go again! We headed to the gate, my 'other' Convair, Flight 891, was already there when I noticed what I thought to be my pilots for the next leg. I asked them if that was so and they said 'yes, we are, Junior Captain.' That photo is displayed above as well (and, yet again, I've no clue what their names are today!). I boarded with about 20 other passengers and found my seat to be one of the rear facing seats at the front of the cabin, right next to the right propeller. It's an interesting feeling facing backwards when taking off! The short flight to BRD seemed 'higher' to me than the MKT leg and it was. I believe our altitude was about 12,000 feet compared to the cloud skimming we did from MKT. We were soon descending into BRD, right over a tree line that I thought we'd 'clip,' and down on the runway. Taxi seemed like it took forever but I didn't mind. To me, my little excursion was almost over...and I wanted more! Soon, the air stairs were down and I was off. My Flight Crew said 'goodbye young man and take care' as I walked down the stairs to the terminal, seeing my sister and her young children pointing and smiling at me as I arrived. I looked back one last time to see my Captain wave at me with a smile. I waved back and smiled as well, thinking 'you just made my day,' and he, along with MANY others that day...did. :)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Man Peder I'm jealous. By the time my parents agreed to let me and a friend fly the Convair they were already in NWA hands and were retired by the time we got the a ok to go.