Thursday, July 28, 2011

Winter Travel

Posted to OGR 12/12/2010

This weekend, a big storm is spiraling down through the Midwest, dumping snow, snarling traffic on the highways and delaying flights. Chicago O’Hare International Airport is experiencing significant delays and flights are being cancelled even as I write this. During my career, I spent a lot of time flying into and out of northern airports and I spent a lot of nights in airport terminals or in nearby hotels waiting for the weather to clear. So to my friends flying this weekend, I can tell you, “I feel your pain!”

Now it is time for a couple of "war stories." During the late 1980s, a bunch of us from South Carolina ETV were in Champaign, Illinois to look at a computer based learning system. When we arrived at the airport to return to Columbia and other cities in SC, we were informed that our commuter flight was delayed and that we were going to miss the last flight back to the southeast out of O’Hare. There was a flight out of Indianapolis International Airport that we could just barely make if we left right away. We jumped into our rental car and drove through the gathering dusk as fast as we could safely go over the snow covered roads. We would have made it too, except we missed the fact that there was a time zone change. When we arrived at the airport, not only had our plane already left, but the airline had closed down their counter for the evening. We descended upon the harried Delta counter agent next door, who somehow got us all on flights to our destinations that night. He was a miracle worker.

A few years later I boarded a flight from Newark NJ, to Charlotte, NC bright and early on a sunny day that followed a big snow in the northeast. We climbed up into a crisp, blue sky that stretched out over a winter wonderland where the cities stood out in dark contrast to the mantle of white snow. The difference between city and countryside was enhanced by the light from the early morning sun. Our route of flight took us east of the Washington DC area and I was amazed that I could look down on the Delmarva Peninsula and see the area around Annapolis Maryland where we had been sailing the previous summer. Widening my view, I suddenly realized that, because of the snow, I could identify cites all the way from New York, to Raleigh, NC and as far west as the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia. It dawned on me at the time that I would probably never be in a position to see as much of the USA at one time ever again in my life. From that day forward, I never flew without a camera in my hand. Oh MY!

Copyright 2010 Rick Wrigley

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