Monday, 9 March 2015

Flying Anecdotes

Yesterday I wrote a lengthy post about how I was practically rediscovering gymnastics. And as soon as I published that, I realised I had a lot more to say. Not on gymnastics, but just...about me, I guess.

So today's Reader's Digest will cover some of my fondest memories:

The times I've had to use a plane as a form of transport (i.e. 14 times).

I'm not going to jab your eyes out with 14 stories about every time I stepped on board a plane. But each trip had its own unique anecdotes and I would love to share them.

I'm an aviation nut. I love planes. I can tell you what aircraft is flying over your head, down to the company, family, and series (i.e. if it's an Airbus A330-300, I'll be able to tell you). If I hear a plane flying over my house at around 5:30pm on weeknights, I know it's the incoming Emirates flight from Dubai.

I can watch twelve seasons of Air Crash Investigations and get on a plane without a care in the world.

I'm a nerd.

So let's kick this off with my first ever flight.

Flight #1: Perth - Singapore; 23rd September, 2007

So the first time I ever flew on a plane was at the tender age of 11. Very tender, as my birthday was just 15 days earlier. We were outbound for Singapore, where we would stopover, and then board a smaller flight to Phuket, Thailand.

I was equal parts crapping myself with excitement and crapping myself in utter terror. My grandma came to drop us off at the airport at 4am and she pulled me aside and said 'Don't worry. Landing is the fun part. It's like a rollercoaster, weee!' (Thanks Gran, I think you traumatised me slightly, but it's ok because I survived).

I had received a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for my birthday to read on the plane. Mum tried to keep it away from me, but I read it in the first day. Even so, I took it with me (you may wonder why I'm mentioning this, keep reading. It's important later).

We get to the check-in counter, and there's our friends, the Houwens, who were joining us in this extravagant journey to another land. We check-in, say goodbye to our bags, which we wouldn't see again until we arrived in Phuket around 10pm that evening, and headed upstairs for a drink.

It was now about 4:30am, and the four adults had five excited, terrified, hyperactive children to contend with. They ordered us all a hot chocolate to see if the warm milk would settle us down. I was so nervous about getting on a plane that I whammed the whole cup down in two minutes and gave myself a stomachache.

They kept us entertained by taking us to the observation deck, where we watched some early morning arrivals come in as the sun began to peak over the horizon. Then we headed to Departures.

I don't actually remember much of anything after we entered Departures. I remember Mum and our friend Matt having to remove shoes and belts for the security scanner, but I think I was so scared that I just shut down (I can't believe I'm actually talking about me).

I remember walking down the gangway with shaking legs, and Dad was talking to me about something but all I could think about was 'How is thing going to get off the ground?'

We got settled on board (we were flying in a Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200). The seating configuration was 3x3x3. My sister, who was 7 at the time, was in the window seat, I was in the middle, Mum was in the aisle. Across the aisle were my other sister, then aged 4, my dad, and Mr Houwen. On the far side, the oldest of the Houwen boys (Matt), the youngest, and Mrs Houwen.

The Singapore service was excellent. One of the flight attendants took a liking to us kids and was very friendly and reassuring.

As the plane taxied out to the runway, I was pretty collected. The engines were fairly quiet, and I was thinking 'This isn't so bad. I'll be fine'.

Then we got to the runway and they went up to full power. I was clutching my book like my life depended on it, maybe hoping Harry Potter could show up and magically put a force field around the plane in case something happened.

But I lived. I watched some movies, had a wonderful breakfast, and was actually disappointed when we had to get off (I must be the only person in the world who enjoys flying economy).

Now onto number 2.

Flight #2: Singapore - Phuket; 23rd of September, 2007

All I can say about this one is; so much rain. SO much rain. It was pouring. We had downgraded from a B777 (pretty big for those who don't speak plane) to an A319 (pretty small). It was 6:30pm and as dark as Tivon Askari's heart outside (Criminal Minds reference). Rain was coming down in driving sheets, there were gale force wasn't pleasant.

But we also survived that one.

Flight #8 - Singapore - Perth; 14th of March, 2010


A flight I remember so fondly that the flight number has become my Internet namesake.

It was a night flight (my favourites, I'm not sure why), and as we left Singapore, I could see these clusters of storm clouds around the bay. It was a truly impressive sight to see.

We also hit a storm cell and dropped about 1000 feet during dinner. All that fear from 2007 came racing back...

And then the pilot must have been pretty eager to put the plane down when we got back to Perth, because we slammed into that runway so hard, they probably had to go out and repave it afterwards.

Flight #10 - Melbourne - Perth; 7th of March, 2011

The stewardess had a good laugh about how sunburnt I was, and I could hear my Krispy Kreme donuts bouncing around in the luggage compartment.

Flight #11 - Perth - Bali; 22nd of September, 2011

Airstairs. We disembarked on airstairs, and I made like a Japanese tourist and photographed every inch of the plane from as close as I could get.

Flight #13 - Perth - Melbourne; 27th of February, 2013

We dropped out of the cloud at 2,000 feet and it was absolutely bucketing down with rain. It was as dark as JJ's sense of humour (another Criminal Minds reference, sorry) and windy as....hell. I was sure we were going to hydroplane down that runway. But I lived.

And so there are some of my anecdotes. This was really long, sorry. I just wanted something to talk about.

Peace out!