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In Our Own Backyard...Flying by the seat of my pants

Facebook postings, Feb. 6

1:30 p.m.:

On our way to Montana! Sitting in the Duluth Airport watching the 194th doing practice takeoffs and landings. Our flight out of MPLS has been changed four times in the past two hours. Not a good sign….

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5:41 p.m.:

We are now in MPLS airport with dinner in our tummies and a 6:45 p.m. departure time (we were originally slated to take off at 5:20 p.m.). We’ve been told they’re waiting for part of our crew to arrive from Houston…..go figure!

9:55 p.m.:

Still sitting in the MPLS airport. First flight was delayed because the crew was late in getting in from Houston. When they finally arrived, we got on the plane, settled in and dug out our books. Then, the pilot come on the PA and said he was sick and couldn’t go on. He apologized, saying he was glad it didn’t happen when we were halfway to Helena, and then informed they were calling in a substitute pilot, who was still at home and would have to drive in to the airport. They told us we should gather up all our things and get off the plane, explaining we wouldn’t leave until around 10 p.m. Went to TGI Friday’s, got something to eat and watched a little of the Olympics. Arrived back at our gate just now and they were serving free subs and pop at the gate. THEN they announced the flight had been canceled! Now we have to wait in a long line to find out when they have us rebooked and where we are going to sleep tonight….. Arrrgh!

10:24 p.m.:

Cooling our heels at the Marriott (compliments of [the airlines]!). They booked a special flight for all of us at 7:15 tomorrow morning, so we’ll be hitting the shuttle at 5 a.m. A pretty plush room —only problem is that our luggage is checked at the airport and the only things I brought with me in my carry-on were my laptop and my camera! Got disposable toothbrushes at the front desk. Sounds like a quick start in the morning, with no makeup and no curling iron!

Facebook posting, Feb. 7

10:40 a.m.:

We’re here!

Got up at 4:30 a.m., caught the shuttle to the airport, wobbled bleary-eyed to our gate and departed, as promised, at 7:30 a.m. Only one problem. When we were in the air, the flight attendant announced they were going to begin their complimentary service —soft drinks, water, peanuts and pretzels. “I do apologize, however,” she added. “Our water is frozen —so we don’t have any coffee or tea!”

When we arrived at the Helena Airport, the flight crew once again apologized for the 12-plus hour delay and announced that all the pink tagged carry-on luggage could be found on the baggage carousel along with the rest of the luggage. A couple of lame cheers came from the passengers around us, and then a small voice from the row behind us spoke up, “At which airport?”

Facebook posting, Feb. 13

5:45 p.m.:

Headed home. Flight from Helena to Salt Lake City went like a charm. Ate a nice dinner and wandered leisurely to our gate with plenty of time to spare. Boarded the plane, settled in and took off only slightly later than the scheduled departure time. The flight attendant warned us we might experience some turbulence on the way over the mountains because of the storms moving through the area. No turbulence but a terrifying “CRACK!” right outside the plane. Saw a blinding fireball hit the wing of the plane. A few minutes later the pilot came on the PA.

“I hear a few of you are concerned about what looked like a lightning strike to the plane a few minutes ago,” he said, going on to explain that it was more likely lightning somewhere in the vicinity of the plane, or possibly a bolt of static electricity caused by lightning in the air around us. He assured us all of the plane’s systems checked out perfectly fine and urged us to sit back and enjoy the two-and-a-half-hour flight ahead of us.

10:30 p.m.:

Made it all the way to the Minneapolis airport without any further mishap. Walked around a bit for the hour and a half or so layover and then went down to the gate to await our departure. Didn’t board until several minutes after the appointed time and then sat for several more minutes without moving. Pilot came on the PA, apologized and explained that maintenance had to fill out some paperwork before we could take off. He assured us it would only be “a few minutes.” Several minutes later he came back on the PA once again.

“I apologize, but our wait will be just a bit longer. We’ve discovered we have a screw loose …..”