Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Home, Sweet Homer

Ah yes, we are back in God's country again.

But, my, what a wild ride we had getting here!

As we boarded our plane at 6 a.m. today in Portland we were told:

It's really foggy in Seattle and there's a good chance we won't be able to land and we'll have to return to Portland.

Not the best start to the day! But I text-messaged a few of my praying friends and by the time we got to Seattle--it was still foggy.

But we landed anyway.

We had to hoof it to make our flight to Anchorage, and then our plane sat on the runway for an hour--because of the fog. Even though I could barely see the runway lights, we eventually took flight.

I picked up the Reader's Digest and opened to the very disturbing story of a plane that had crashed in Peru. More than half the passengers died.

But we didn't crash and made it to Anchorage in good time. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, and it was with high spirits that we climbed aboard the twin engine Otter that would take us to Homer.

I've been in small planes before, but this one was so miniscule that our flight attendant made sure we were all buckled up with our gear safely stowed--and then got off the plane!

Greg and I were sitting directly behind the pilots. I literally could have reached out and smacked the co-pilot up the side of his head. What I really wanted to do, though, was ask him for his driver's liscense, because he sure didn't look old enough to be flying a plane.

The real pilot looked like he'd graduated from high school, at least. He turned around and smiled at us from the cockpit, then launched into the safety speech the flight attendant usually gives.

"Are you willing and able to operate the emergency exit should the need arise?" he asked an elderly Russian woman who was sitting behind me.

She stared at him blankly until her husband evidently translated the request to her.

"Yes, yes," she said, flashing a toothless grin.

As if that didn't make us feel safety-conscious enough, the pilot then gave us a daring option.

"I'm Tony, your pilot for today, and this is my first flight. Since it's such a beautiful day, I was wondering if you all would rather take the scenic route and fly over the Harding Ice Fields rather than the usual way."

"Ice Fields!" someone clamored from the back of the plane, and our fate was sealed.

Our lives were in the hands of a madman and his junior high apprentice . . .

It was actually an amazing flight--I've flown to Homer from Anchorage numerous times and have never flown over the spectacular Harding Ice fields. Sometimes our little plane appeared to be so close to the blue glacial ice and ragged peaks that I didn't feel quite safe. I wondered if this pilot, with this being his first flight and all, knew about updrafts and wind sheers and their catasrophic effect on small planes.

But I was so busy taking pictures that it didn't worry me too much . . .

Every so often, we'd hit a patch of turbulence, and the Russian grandma behind me would utter a fervent prayer. At least I hope she was praying :)

It was an amazing, breath-taking flight, but I think everyone was a little bit relieved when we landed. I thanked the pilot for such a great trip--but I had to ask:

"So, did I really hear you say this was your first flight?"

"First flight of the day," Tony the pilot answered. "Why?"

"Just wondering, " I replied.

Yep, we cheated death again! And this is only day one , , ,


mexicandyce said...

mom, this is hilarious!
what adventures you get to have! im so jealous!

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