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A rude passenger’s own Rocky Mountain High

2 October 2020

Cold. 

A refreshing cold at less than 5% relative humidity but cold. As we left Pitkin CO it was -40° F but Gunnison was decidedly warmer at a balmy -20° F. Care was taken to not break a sweat—that was the care for a folks that day. Gunnison CO was my destination to catch a flight to Colorado Springs CO, then on to West Palm Beach FL

We easily walked on board from the tarmac since the aircraft was a Dornier 228. Its shoulder mounted wing had the cabin hatch’s threshold one easy step up into the aircraft with the flight crew going to the left and the rest of us going to the right. I selected a seat three rows back along the port side. We proceeded to get seated and situated as the flight crew ran through their checks and the lone flight attendant ensured all were well with everything properly stowed. I was looking forward to the flight since it promised to be a scenic one as it was bright and clear out. The geologist in me eagerly awaited the aerial view of Rocky Mountains—that rugged and triple-spined orogenic wonder still raw from its formation, not yet humbled by erosion. The same mountain chain which nearly defeated the Lewis and Clark expedition during their exploration to the Pacific coast. Yes, a brief flight that held the promise of being rolling vista all the way to Colorado Springs!

The the pilot walked out onto the tarmac. 

Hmmm.

He returned though nothing continued to occur in the cockpit from what we could see in the passenger cabin.

This repeated twice more.

Then, the man diagonally across from me got up and began an exhortation to the passengers. His thoughts were that we should all arise in unison and, as one, demand compensation from the airline for the delay in departure. Thankfully, he was largely ignored. “Too early for that crap” seemed to be the unspoken consensus, so he sat back down. 

The pilot came onto the intercom and explained he was taking one more walk around the aircraft as he remained dissatisfied with the deicing operation’s effectiveness. Further, he intended to have a boring career as an airline pilot.

Hmmm.

I like that but the exhorter did not and stood up to repeat his previous blather. I looked at the flight attendant, who was patiently sitting against the forward bulkhead. I saw she was thinking whether to let him calm down, burn out or should she risk provoking him further? She decided to let him burn out. She was a pro and her experience showed, sometimes it’s hardest though best not to act. His kind of rage requires a lot of energy to sustain.

He burned out and happily we departed flying east for CO Springs in short order.

As we approached the foothills the ride got bumpy. Common sense meant it would get bumpier as the foothills fell behind us for the ridges and then the mountains proper. I noticed something. When I saw a new line coming up we’d hit rough air a few seconds later and I nodded—who knows why but I was getting a great feel of just how rugged these mountains are as well as their grandeur. I had hiked and driven through them but this was truly eye-popping. I mentioned I am a geologist, didn’t I? We get off on stuff like this.

The flight attendant noticed my nodding and putting two and two together quickly she braced for the next bump. I nodded a touch more emphatically to give her a heads up after seeing her do this while doing her best to not get banged around in her diminutive-after-thought of a seat. I think “jump” is in the name since anyone using it get “jumped” out of them easily. Not to mention taking a reverse head slap against the bulkhead. 

Well, the exhorter was every bit as dedicated as our flight attendant since he immediately responded to the pilot’s call that no beverage service was to occur and that we all remain definitively strapped in our seats. Yes…he got up and renewed his oration, no doubt invigorated by this additional event to the obviously bad day he had already experienced. In his world anyway—the rest of us were fine.

But…again!

Yes, not getting that courtesy soda or coffee in the short hop set him off. The flight attendant ordered him back to his seat but he ignored the warning, of course, and kept up his incitement efforts. An empty vessel makes the most noise, didn’t you know?

Maybe my geological education gave me an advantage over him but maybe not. In any event, mid-discourse, we hit our first ridge. Wow! The bump up and drop was three times the amplitude of the previous ones we experienced going over the foothills. The exhorter found himself flat on his back against the cabin ceiling. I’m not sure, but I thought I caught a fleeting smirk cross the flight attendant’s face. No, I am sure. I was worried that he might crash into some metal on the way to the floor. I was worried though it was likely disguised by a grin.

If you’re going to be dumb you’d better be tough.

Most of the rest of the flight was spent quietly while hanging onto the anything promising firmness while catching views of those Rockies. 

There is no insurmountable problem in an aircraft while it is on the ground. I am not sure the exhorter learned that tidbit but he did provide for the in-flight entertainment.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. theflyingyorkshireman permalink
    3 October 2020 01:49

    A well-told and most interesting flying tale!

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      3 October 2020 18:43

      Thanks David 🙂 A challenge would be to writer about the many extraordinarily boring airlines flights I’ve taken thanks to fantastic flight and cabin crews.

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