Saturday, September 1, 2007

patsy cline imitation

It started with an phone call from Ken. I don't believe he asked "would you like to go with us and nearly end up in a fiery crash?". At least, I think I would have had the good sense to decline. Oh well, sometimes its better not to know.

No, I think I remember now. Ken was taking the rat pack to the Christies party in Monterey to kick off the Concours weekend. We were hoping for a different year than we had experienced in 2006. And we certainly got that.

It started off perfectly- we had a six passenger Premier I jet, less than a year old, waiting for us in Burbank. We brought our own travelling bar and hors d' oeuvres. We had a slight delay while Nick looked for his misplaced ID, but we idled away the time in a hip retro-chic lounge in Toluca lake where the interior lighting is made of 1959 Cadillac tail lamps. Add faux leopard skin and stir. After a quick round, we were off to the jet center.

My first impression of the Premier I is that it was small but luxurious. It had leather seating for six and a small luggage area in the back which we used for cocktail service. Tami and Nick shared Flight Attendant duties, we nicknamed them both "Trixie".

All was well until about 15 minutes out of Monterey. The pilot advised us we were about to descend into the San Jose area. One can imagine this was a surprise. Ken went to ask the pilot what was going on and was told "Sit down, Sir- we're having an emergency". Note to pilots- best to avoid casual usage of this phrase. Can be upsetting.

So we talked amongst ourselves for a few moments, imagining exactly what was wrong with the plane. Shortly before landing, the pilot came on and told us that the flaps on the wings which extend upon landing had malfunctioned and so they had to divert to a longer runway. MUCH longer, it turned out. The tarmac at San Jose was a full 65% longer than Monterey and thus we were able to land safely, although we touched down FAST. Had we attempted Monterey, we probably would have crashed through the party in the hangar and continued onward to the water. Too splashy of an entrance for me.

So there we were on the ground at the San Jose jet center. Safe, thankfully, but an hour from our destination and with a plane that needs repairs. Not the best. Our team sprung into action. Nick began calling flight services, Ron went online to research hotels in case we were stranded, Ken and Dan took a cab to a liquor store and returned with a bottle of decent vodka. Martini in hand, Tami and I retreated to the pilots lounge where a giant TV was tuned to the history channel, which we both enjoy. We were treated to a program about the history of cremation, which considering the evening, we did NOT enjoy. We chilled. Dan went to the gift shop and got each of us a spiffy San Jose Jet Center hat, and a junior stewardess set for Tami. Gift bags. Just like the Oscars.

After two and a half hours of fun, the maintenance crew finished rebooting the plane's computer and pronounced us fit to fly. We rounded up our merry band, and, much wiser about cremation than we had been, boarded for a return to Burbank. Throughout the hour long trip home, we chatted bemusedly about whether the flaps might really work when we got home. Thankfully, they did and we landed normally this time.

Once we got home, we gratefully deplaned and loaded into our waiting cars. It was about that moment that we noticed that we had never actually reached our destination at all. But neither did Patsy Cline. We raised a glass to her.

That night at home I was reading online about the accident record of the Premier I. It seems that so far, two of the six million dollar jets have been totalled in crashes involving the same failure we experienced, causing them to run off of the end of the runway and crash. Imagine Fred Flintstone trying to stop a plane. I shuddered once I read the reports. At least we were together. We were very lucky.

1 comment:

BigAssBelle said...

good grief! how absolutely terrifying!!!! i have just relearned flying, having ended prematurely ended my flying career after taking a small conoco jet through a thunderstorm in 1974. no more flying for me til last november. now i'm skeert again :( so glad you're okay and that all is well. what a scary thing.