Plane Facts

Suddenly planes are making the news–and not just because of those obscene delays with passengers trapped and going nowhere for 36 straight hours on a tarmac in Pittsburgh, in a scenario that might as well be a KGB plot set in Outer Mongolia for the lack of food, water, functioning bathroom facilities…or open exit doors.Nope, this time the news is good–and in one instance, Big.

First, the good, which is also local: the regional airport here in Sonoma County has re-opened for its first commercial flights in 6 years. Granted, the flights are only going to Seattle and Los Angeles. But that’s OK–at least they’re going somewhere.

This means that if I want to go to either of those places, I have just a 20 minute hassle-free drive to the airport instead of a 90+ minute trek to the Big City airports, fraught with traffic tie-ups and potential accidents that could have me arriving at the airport days after my plane has left. I think I will start thinking of reasons to go to both Los Angeles and Seattle, if only to route my way to anywhere else through them.

There was an open house at the soon-to-be resurrected airport a few days before it offically re-opened, and as a new resident of this area, I was interested to see the place–and I must admit that I was further inspired by the paint job on the plane that was to be on display and that had been pictured in the local newspaper.

I decided the only-20-minute drive would be worth the chance to get a picture of the paint–on the plane, that is. All oranges, yellows, and pinks with streaks of green and blue–a real work of art for the lover of rainbows that I am. I thought few others would be interested, let alone inspired, so I also thought I would be all but alone at the airport on a weekday afternoon when the rest of the world was held hostage in offices—not located on a tarmac.

It is hard to adequately describe how completely, decidedly, and definitively all-out wrong I was about the interest in this airport revival. There were more people there than I have seen gathered in one place in the year since I moved here–and that includes being at Costco on the Saturday before Christmas.

There were, as it turned out, tours of the rainbow plane. I was dumbfounded. People standing for literally up to 2 hours to see the inside of a plane? I remind you this is not Outer Mongolia, and the residents here are in the habit of flying to points all over the world, so I couldn’t figure out what the big deal was in waiting and waiting for longer than it would take to drive to Oakland or San Francisco just to see the inside of what I refer to as a ‘Barbie plane’–that is, one of miniature size that looks like it was made for Barbie dolls. Well, this one wasn’t quite that small, but close enough…and it had propellers–something I thought had long since gone out of style. But you didn’t have to go inside the plane to see the propellers, so I still don’t know what the draw was.

If the plane didn’t technically qualify as a Barbie accessory, the airport did. I mean, that airport was no larger than my living room–and my living room is not big. This really was the best news–and as rare as the pleasure of going to the movies in a theater not attached to a mall. You just park your car in front of the place, and then walk right in to where you want to be–no prelude of schlepping through an entire mall just to see a movie, and in this case, no schlepping through a 3-mile long airport maze, dragging carry-on luggage behind, just to get to a departure gate. I only wonder if there is enough indoor space in this terminal to house even a Barbie-sized planeload of people as they wait to depart. Better bring a camp stool and umbrella just in case.

And then the Big part of the news about planes: the Biggest Commercial Passenger Plane in the World flew with paying passengers for the first time–taking off from Germany and landing in LA. It’s 8 stories tall, for starters–and as long as a football field or two. I bet they could put a passel of Barbie planes and Barbie terminals in one of those. No chance of one of them ever landing here–not nearly enough room, even if the parking lot were combined withthe airfield, but that’s OK.

I’m content with just being able to fly without the preamble of a 2-hour drive attached to it. And besides, flying on a rainbow colored plane will beat out the thrill of Big any day. I just need to figure out why I need to be going to LA and Seattle–surely I’ll think of something.

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