I was reading a friend’s blog the other day (tidalscribe.com) and she was regaling her readers with her airport experiences. It made me think of the times I’ve had, well, issues in an airport. My biggest and most traumatic experience was when my father’s plane crashed in 1978. He survived.
Then I guess the one that stands out most was the time I thought I was going to be arrested for transporting drugs. It was August 1978, I was a Boy Scout at the time (they would go coed at a certain age) and we were travelling to Alberta for a National Moot. Think Jamboree. Groups were travelling from all over Canada and I think a few from the States and we are going to meet in Pincher Creek, Alberta for three days. My group thought we would go a little early and camp in the Rocky Mountains and then make our way down to Pincher Creek.
It was a great idea. We had to travel in uniform for insurance purposes so think of seven or eight 17-year-olds in Boy Scout uniforms descending on an airport. We stood out. For years my mother had been supplying us with hot chocolate that she would make herself because it was great when you’re camping. You only had to add water. This was over 40 years ago and I don’t believe they made hot chocolate that you could just make with water. To make things easier, she put the powder in plastic baggies. There were probably about 20 double bags and then she put them in a flight bag. None of us thought of the optics. As we were going through Customs it suddenly became very apparent why the Customs agents were taking an inordinate amount of time investigating that flight bag. I moved back in line a few paces. I wasn’t carrying the flight back. It all worked out when somebody stuck their finger in the bag and tasted the hot chocolate. They realized it was not cocaine and we were allowed to board the plane. I never did that again.
Then there is the time, many years later, I was travelling to Washington DC for a wedding with my mother. My father had declined the invitation. It was for people we didn’t know but their relatives were cousins that my mother had not seen in 60 years. They were coming from Belfast, Northern Ireland and I was anxious to meet them as well.
When my father’s plane had crashed, it was in a DC9. I called the Airport to inquire as to what kind of plane we would be using and I was informed it was a 727. When my father dropped my mother and I at the airport and we collected our tickets, my father’s face looked odd. I didn’t question him at the time. We got on the plane and got comfortable and I reached out to read the little brochure in the seat pocket. Imagine my surprise when I saw that the plane I was sitting in was a DC9, the kind my father had crashed in.
We made it to Washington in one piece but I was a wreck. First place I went was the bar! We had a lovely three days and I met some incredible people. It was on the flight back that things got even funnier. We were not sitting in a DC9, we were in the promised 727. When we were packing for the weekend, I had asked my mother to pick up a book for me to read on the plane. Obviously, I was in no shape to read the book on the first flight but now I was relaxed and I reached for the promised book. It was called No Highway by Nevil Shute about a plane with a fatal flaw that’s going to crash and nobody knows about it. Thank you mother.
Oh, and the funny look on my father’s face? He had noticed my seat number, it was the same seat he was sitting in when his plane crashed. Who says life is boring?
Ah, Airline antics . . . .