Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Boom Boom

You want your flights to be peaceful and boring, because that means they're safe. But when your lead flight attendant introduces herself as “Boom Boom” you know this flight will likely not be mundane. While she talks you think about the last time you heard that name. You were in a far away land, long ago in a place where cultured fighter pilots with an appreciation for the art of the dance, and attired in their Nomex best, politely applauded a talented Oriental lady named Boom Boom. 
Boom Boom, cooked to well-done in the tanning booth, was undoubtedly a woman in denial, well beyond her youth, pretending she was still in her prime. Bedecked in costume jewelery, this walking monument to the powers of Avon was a loquacious master of suggestive innuendo, dropping risque phrases left and right as she prepared the forward galley. When she discovered it was my birthday she swung her cross hairs my way. She would make my birthday a very happy one, she cooed, if only she were on the same upcoming layover, the ring on my finger not deterring her in the least. My first officer, greatly amused by her proposition to me, stood aside and chuckled. 
As we neared push time Boom Boom brought word that a woman in the far back was having conniptions. I went to the mid-ship boarding door where an agent was conferring with the other flight attendants. The woman was a musician and had brought her cello aboard, for which she had purchased a seat. But Boom Boom correctly informed the woman that the only place the cello could ride was in first class seats 1A or 1D, and those seats were taken. Don't ask me or Boom Boom why, but that's a written rule. Whoever sold the woman her tickets in coach should not have done so. 
No wonder the woman was irate. We offered to put her gargantuan fiddle in a closet, but she vehemently refused, saying it would “bang around in there,” a phrase that made Boom Boom beam with approval. The woman and her cello left the flight, presumably to take a later one, but I doubt we'll see her at our airline again. 
That done, we launched on time. True to premonition the flight continued to be far from peaceful, as we bucked and rolled (words Boom Boom would have gleefully used) for hundreds if not thousands of miles, fighting storms and turbulence. There was no rest for us weary ones, as one cluster of thunder bumpers after another appeared in our windscreen and on our X-band scope. For hours the radio chatter was replete with pilots enjoining ATC to give them course relief from the bulging clouds. Left and right, we deviated, over and over again, picking our way through the towering monsters until we found a relatively quiet stretch where we could make a head call. Because of the minimum 2-person in the cockpit rule, we now each were to face Boom Boom alone in the cockpit while the other went back. 
Yet away from the audience of the rest of the crew Boom Boom shed her polished facade and turned normal. She chatted affably about weather, the passengers and her fatiguing schedule until Joe's return. Joe and I had some fun suggesting possible scenarios in the cockpit during our respective absence.
We finally broke out of the weather over the Utah desert and made an uneventful approach and landing at San Francisco. But one of our company jets wasn't so lucky. Following us by a few hours they hit severe turbulence and a number of people were seriously injured. It made national news.

Thankfully, most flights are boring, but that's when the complacency monster creeps in. You've got to watch for that subtle enemy as surely as you avoid the storms.
But nothing is complacent when Boom Boom's aound. Her place is out there among the booming thunder clouds. May my course steer way clear of them both

And the biscuit?

Quote of the post: “Give your plane a little pat when your walk around it. Show it you love it and it'll take care of you.” —Dave DeRamus