Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Winging our Way

On June 4 we flew from Seattle to Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. The movie on the flight was The Spiderwick Chronicles which I soon realized was not a movie I was interested in so I listened in on the conversations between the FAA controllers and the pilots of planes in the area, including ours. As we flew across the country our flight was handed off from one locale to another and each one asked the various pilots to check in. I heard a lot of G'day and we were in the United States. Must be a shortcut way of greeting. As we flew along I realized that many, many planes were being put into a holding pattern. There was very bad weather in the D.C. area, including a tornado that caused the tower at the airport to be evacuated for a period of time. One pilot asked how much longer this would be happening as he was running low on fuel. A couple of planes may have landed in Richmond, VA if I understood all the lingo correctly. One pilot said they were getting a pretty good knocking around and asked if there was an alternate level they could fly at. Again, if I understood correctly, he was told to continue where he was.

Finally planes were beginning to be allowed to land. The debris had been cleared from the runways. I'll bet there was a lot of activity going on that we never saw, but I sure do appreciate all of the hard work done to allow all those planes to land safely.

So when we landed we had to get over to terminal A for our international flight on South African Airlines. We arrived with a little time to spare, but not enough to get any lunch. At about 5:00 p.m. Eastern time we boarded the plane and we sat there and we sat there and we sat there. Ay yi yi!! Seems all that time that we couldn't land the planes waiting to take off couldn't because of the storm so there was a real back up. The pilot had people communicating with the officials to explain that due to our very long flight that working hours for the staff was going to be a real problem if we couldn't take off soon. Finally at approximately 7:00 p.m. we were given clearance to take off and after we were in the air the pilot explained that if we'd had to wait one more hour the flight would have been delayed 24 hours. I'm glad that didn't happen because then we'd have had to get ahold of Mark and Victoria in Namibia to let them know we'd be late...really late.

About 16 hours later we landed in Johannesburg, South Africa where we then hurried to our next flight. Guess what!!! That flight was delayed by about a half hour also. Then when we landed in Windhoek our luggage hadn't--along with just about everyone on the plane. So while Aaron was filling out paperwork, I went to look for Mark and Victoria. They were drinking coffee in the cafe and I walked up to them and said, "I have good news and bad news. The good news is that we are here. The bad news is our luggage isn't."

Eventually we left the airport and headed off on the 3 hour drive to Otjiwarongo. The lights of the city looked good in the distance. Our long day's journey into night was finally over.

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