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Christmas 2014 078There is an amazing blend among brilliant engineers, skillful craftsman, highly trained pilots and a country that stands behind them all.  I had read about President Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One as a part of his Presidential Library display but I had no idea that it was on the inside.  When the doors opened and there it was I was impressed.

The wing tip was just out of reach.  But, the marvel of aeronautical physics was not elusive.  To imagine that so much metal and so much weight could actually fly was mind-blowing.

In this aircraft the President of the United States and his first family would swiftly travel from one key event to the next. Those who designed this aircraft did a great service to the Reagan’s.  Safety and efficiency are all over this airliner.  Its sleek appearance was also reflected inside in the accommodations.

What we do not see are the marvels of structure under the skin of this powerful airplane.  The electrical maze alone that was carefully crafted so that it would not only be dependable but also durable makes me shake my head in wonder.  Men and women who were very good at what they do, implanted their pride in the construction of this fine product.

Pilots and their crew were meticulously trained.  They would after all be the frontline to serve and protect the President of the United States of America.  Each of these personnel would be trustworthy, diligent workers and loyal to the nation and its highest office.

Jelly beans were prominent in the plane.  There was a cheer in Reagan’s life and those around him felt it, joined in on it and appreciated it.  For him personally the jelly beans helped President Reagan stave off the cravings from the habit of cigarette smoking that he had overcome but kept on keeping at bay.

Whenever I am in a jetliner and that massive amount of weight with equipment, structure and passengers takes off, I continue to marvel at the laws of physics.  God established them.  They are dependable.

When a special passenger is on board, we trust those same laws and the skills of those who follow those laws for a safe flight.  This display of Air Force One is a reminder of how important safety is, how trustworthy are the laws of God and how those who depend and obey Him will be blessed.

photo credit: brucefong photography

IMG_4474Meet Norm.  He is a St. Bernard.  When he lumbers into a room, he goes wherever he wants to go.

Most of the time Norm moves very slowly.  He is a big dog and if he moved quickly there would be a lot of stuff that would go flying.  More than once I was whipped by his tail.

If something excited Norm and he launched into a frenzy, anything that was not nailed down would be in orbit.  Reclining across the room was no problem if Norm thought that I would grant him a good scratch behind the ears or a massage down his ticklish lower back.  In a matter of seconds he could close the distance between me and his  rug of choice.

Getting to see Norm was a bit of a journey.  United Airlines put me on a puddle jumper from Denver to Laramie.  It was a dependable aircraft but it moved faster than any dog, even faster than one as big and long-legged as Norm.IMG_4455

At the Denver airport I climbed aboard an Embraer 120 Brasilia.  It is a twin-engine  turboprop.  This spiffy commuter plane seats up to 30 people.  It has a top speed of 378 mph.

When the Pratt and Whitney engines fired up, the noise in the cabin bordered on being uncomfortable.  The vibration inside the cabin became very noticeable.  But, once the powerful engines lifted us into the atmosphere, the noise and shaking calmed down.

Swiftly the ground fell away.  From a stand still we were racing over the Wyoming prairie with speeds that would take us Laramie in just over 30 IMG_4447minutes.  That is very fast.

What is even faster is the Airbus 319 that whisked me away from Houston.  Crowding 134 passengers aboard and winging away at a blistering 511 mph, this jetliner left no doubt what speed is all about.  The comfort was splendid and the views were above the clouds.

From the bustling world-class city of 6 million people, to the quiet prairies of Laramie, Wyoming to the cabin where Norm rustled around, speed became less and less of an issue.  If Norm could shuffle around on occasion just to get more comfortable, then there was a lesson for me.  It was time to take a break from the busy life.

A fast-pace was no longer in order.  My heart rate seemed to enjoy the pace of the 8,400 foot elevation just fine.  This is relaxation at its finest: slower, more relaxed and restful…ah!  Thank you, God.

photo credit: brucefong photography

 

 

Laurentian 2008 060Our flights were booked. We have done this a lot in our lives. The airport is a part of our lives.

This trip was routine.  The airline industry has it down to a science.  They herd us in an orderly fashion to our seats.

Federal regulations crowd into the public announcement system before we take off.  An army of mechanics have worked over the aircraft, specialized air traffic controllers monitor our safe fight path and engineers are always working on improvements for the next generation of aircraft design.  In the mean time a highly trained cockpit crew run the controls and we are soon airborne.

It is odd to think about the phenomenon of flying.  Some passengers are fussing about luggage space.  They grouse to the attendants about extra charges and the inconvenience of being separated from their possessions.  Amazing!

“Hey, knucklehead, we are flying at 30,000 feet.  You do not have a parachute.  Your derrière is in a comfortable chair.”

Of course a baby screams.  People physiologically react by wincing, donning noise canceling headsets or leaning as far away from the sound as they can.  The poor parents are embarrassed and struggling, yet they flying through rarefied air and bringing their infant on board without hesitation. Amazing!

There is no other means that I personally have that hurtled my body at 500 mph in complete comfort than in an airliner.  It is difficult to imagine racing at that kind of velocity without strain or pain.  Yet, we do it every time we step into an aircraft with those familiar words, “Welcome aboard.”  Amazing!

Occasionally, I get a glimpse out the window.  The clouds are below us!  We are actually living above the clouds and looking at mountain peaks that stop or frustrate ground transportation.  Amazing!

Thirty minutes to our destination the pilot announces that we are entering into our initial descent.  We 100 miles away yet we are beginning our final approach.  Everyone is instructed to put away their carry-on items, shut down electronics and fasten our seat belts in preparation for landing.

That is 100 miles away from completing our journey.  Some people never even travel that far from home let alone get ready to finish their trip in 100 miles.  The expanse of this mode of transportation is amazing!

Flying is a stunning accomplishment.  God set up the laws of physics.  Men were bright enough to match adventure with observation and make something amazing now a part of our casual living.  It is amazing!

photo credit: brucefong photography

 

IMG_3094On every plane trip I am reminded of the expectation that comes from hope.  It is not just the power of the take off nor is it the flight through empty skies nor is it landing.  Everyone of those flying features are a part of air travel.  Yet, there is another desperate unrelenting part of flying that never ceases to tickle my mind.

When I arrive at the airport, I check a bag.  I have tried many times to avoid this but, it is just easier to do it.  Over time I have learned to watch the check-in process.   The few times when my bags have been delayed, once the tags were misapplied.

Other than that one occasion, it was a matter of complications resulting from multiple stops en route to my final destination.  Instincts left me without surprise.  I was not expecting my bag to show up.  Nevertheless, I always hope for the best.

When I approach baggage claim, the carousel is usually silent and still.  Many passengers wait impatiently, standing around the luggage machine. A huge chute dumps the bags on the metal conveyor.  People light up when their bag appears.  I feel the sensation of great relief.

While I am waiting, hope springs eternal.  Sometimes I play a game and try to guess what number my bag will be.  Only once in all of the years of traveling has my bag been first.

I had joked that the first bag was a plant.  It belonged to the airline.  No passenger ever claimed it.  Instead, it was a marketing ploy.  That is what I used to say to myself until that one time when my bag was first.

Seeing my bag appear is hard to explain.  It is the culmination of hope.  Satisfaction is a part of it.  That sense of relief is certainly what dominates.

“Whew!” is my most common reaction.  Now, I can be about my business of my travel.  Slowly and methodically my bag rounds the curve.  I wait.  It is on its way.  Once it appears it is just a few moments and it will be in my hands.  Hope has been fulfilled.  With my eyes I have seen and the promise by the airlines to deliver my goods has been satisfied.  Some day the greatest of all hopes will be seen by the whole world. Jesus says He will return.  We have every reason to believe it will be fulfilled.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

Modern air travel has changed over the last thirty years of my professional career.  The sound system for the passenger’s listening pleasure have improved immensely.  I like so many, however, use our own I-pods with superior stereophonic sounds. 

Rising fuel costs and security measures have been a major distraction for air carriers.  While they try and make flying more enjoyable these two external factors make this means of transportation more inconvenient.  They are real problems, as real as a very bad employee who is righteous in her own eyes. 

The security line was jammed through all of the switchbacks.  Hundreds of people were moving slowly.  Inside I groaned. 

But, one of the agents told us that we could go to the other end of the airport, pass through security there, walk around the terminal and get to our gates.  It was a little bit of a walk but it might be better than standing in line.  That’s all some of us needed and we were off to the other end of the airport.

I finally reached the security checkpoint.  The information that the guard gave us was correct.  There were only six people in front of me.  We breezed through the security.

Sure, I had to undress and redress after the machines scanned my glorious body for anything that was sharp, explosive or dangerous.  But, now I was on the inside of the terminal.  The longest line was now behind me.

Swiftly, fellow flyers and I walked through the passage way to the other terminal.  The walk was long but we passed the security area that we originally meet the massive numbers of travellers.  It was still jammed.

Now, I was at my gate.  There were no seats open for waiting passengers.  I stood, read and eventually found an empty seat.  There I collapsed only to wait for an hour and a half for my delayed plane to welcome us aboard.

I’m so glad that I got through security so quickly.  Now, I could wait in an uncomfortable chair and sleep restlessly until my number was called to board our turbo prop plane.  I fly enough that I am privileged to board early. 

Airport travel is one wait after the other.  The trick is to hurry up with privileged access to wait for everyone else who is going to the same place.  Is “airport” Latin for “waiting”?

photo credit: google image

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