"Atlanta....then onto Springfield, Missouri." I said.
His quick, excited response caught me off guard. "By golly I am!"
"Really? No way!" I couldn't believe it. I know my eyes lit up from their tired state because, wow, how many times do you stand in line at Starbucks in LaGuardia behind the pilot flying you to your destination?
To prove himself, he pulled out his itinerary and showed me his line up for day, which started with my flight to Atlanta and ended up in Jacksonville, Florida for the evening.
We exchanged a few niceties and I managed to learn that it was his birthday. I insisted on buying his coffee...AND that he sign my boarding pass...AND that he take a picture with me.
He insisted I visit the cockpit during the flight.
"WHAT?! I can do that?! Are you serious?"
"Yes, I'd love for you to."
"Well, I'm with three other people."
"Bring them all, there's room."
We parted ways from Starbucks and I ran off to the waiting area to find my friends. Laura was there reading her chick lit dutifully saving three other seats.
I told her the entire story in fast forward and showed her his signature, our picture, and the fabulous little Delta trading card (meant for kids obviously) he gave me..."since I'm out of wings right now."
Before I knew it, there he was again, heading my way in the waiting area. I introduced him to Laura and our conversation continued.
He left, and shortly thereafter, it was time to board. I was giddy...but found my way back to "steerage" in the back of the plane rather quickly. Once in the air, I got nervous. How am I going to do this? What am I going to say? "Hey stewardess, the pilot told me to come to the cockpit?" or "Hey, I bought coffee for the pilot, can I visit him in the cockpit?" Seriously. Post 911, how in the world does one enter the cockpit on a Boeing 757 at 35,000 feet? Do you simply knock on the door? "Excuse me....it's me...the girl from Starbucks." Yeah. Right. And then I feel the tap of the Sky Marshall on my shoulder..."Excuse me....it's me...a Sky Marshall...and you are under arrest pyscho Starbucks girl."
So needless to say, I was stumped...and scared...and nervous....and all of those things made me back out of going forward and seeing a commercial jet working at its best.
Yes. I'm sad. Yes. I'm mad. Yes, every friend I have thinks I'm crazy and that I missed a once in a lifetime opportunity. Who knows. Maybe destiny will let me have another shot, but here's what I learned from my experience (and from trading card#17):
- At 255,000 pounds, the 757 is about the same weight as a diesel train locomotive.
- It carries up to 186 passengers.
- It can fly up to 528 miles per hour.
- It can fly 3600 miles.
- And you can visit the cockpit if invited. :)