Thursday, August 13, 2009
The Value of a Free Gesture
"This is the BEST airplane, dad!"
That was Paul's thundering proclamation as we left the cockpit of Delta 1059, preparing to depart for Seattle. As we had boarded, I realized the last time I had seen a cockpit was pre-9/11 - - it was a 747-400 Lufthansa back in early 1997, when Molly and I were returning from India. So I asked the flight attendant at the doorway.
"Sure but you should do it now. Just stand over here and have them go to the cockpit."
Molly watched the bags, and I followed the boys down the small hallway as this sounded like a photo in the making.
Before I arrived I heard the welcoming words, "Are you gentleman here to see us? Okay, older brother, why don't you sit over here." In one orchestrated move, the co-pilot glided out of his seat, found his hat and lightly placed it on Paul.
"You got a camera dad? This needs a shot, you know."
Just like that, Paul was living the dream, at the helm of a widebody jetliner; not one of those dismembered museum cockpits where you have to visualize the rest of the plane. This baby was getting fueled, loaded with food, & had the pusher truck waiting below. This was the real deal!
"Okay, let's let the little brother sit down." Sidd started twisting the control arm, and the co-pilot triggered a cockpit alarm. It did get Sidd's attention, and the #2 smiled, "Just messing with you, buddy".
The scene ended as quickly and politely as it started, "Okay guys, the captain has to fly this bird" and Sidd was eased out of the chair.
The cost: a little bit of time and effort from one quick minded flight attendant and two amenable pilots.
The value: two boys who are crazy about planes now in a surreal, happy delirium.