2010-05-29 / Editorials & Letters

Lighten up: It’s fun flying with Captain George

By Dawn Weber

Here’s something you don’t want to hear on an airplane:

“Uh, sorry folks. It appears our right engine isn’t working.”

I had a feeling something like this would happen when our flight attendant introduced our pilot as “Captain George.”

Captain George had a distinct hillbilly accent and an overlyfriendly attitude. He chatted us up over the intercom as if he were about to buy us a bucket of beer.

Hillbilly, pilot, George, beer - not exactly words that encourage confidence.

So his broken-right-engine intercom announcement didn’t surprise me. Luckily, the plane broke down on the runway.

We were supposed to have jetted off for a cruise. Instead, we began our special vacation with this little omen. I turned to my husband.

“Happy Anniversary, honey!” I said.

Good ol’ Captain George popped on the intercom again.

“Well, folks, we’re on the phone with our mechanics in Florida to see if we can fix the problem, get ya off the ground here as soon as possible...” he said.

The pilot...on the phone... with technical support. In Florida. Nice.

I pictured Captain George, heading out to the engine, his tool in hand, his cell phone to ear, asking the “fellas in Florida” which screw to tighten.

Uh, George? Never mind the tech support. We’d like another plane, thank-you-very-much.

Sigh. Why couldn’t it have been the right windshield wiper that had malfunctioned? Maybe a tire? Perhaps a tail-light? We could have dealt with that. No. Had to be the right ENGINE, didn’t it.

But we were resigned to our fate, as air travelers are. Because the flight was paid for, and whatnot.

We waited, and waited. And waited some more. Finally, our buddy Captain George told us what would happen next.

“We’re gonna get ya off the plane, gonna fly our mechanics from Florida up here, have ‘em work on the plane, get ya outta here as soon as possible...” he said.

Apparently Ohio airplane mechanics can’t fix airplanes? Yes - much more financially prudent to fly aircraft professionals all the way from Florida than to find one locally...

Still, I knew not to question the wise counsel of Captain George.

We left the plane and returned to the airport. At least it was time to eat. It was darn sure time to drink.

After lunch, the gate attendants told us the plane would “hopefully” be repaired by 6:30 p.m.

“They must have to go to NAPA to get the part,” said my husband.

We spent the next six hours - and our 15th wedding anniversary - people-watching the fellow passengers of Flight 007. They were beginning to feel like old friends: a Gretchen Wilson look-alike, Mr. Better-Than-Thou First Class, “Gilley’s Bar” ball-cap Grandpa, who smiled a lot when his wife wasn’t around.

Even good ol’ Captain George eventually joined us at the gate, flipping through a magazine, chill-axin’. This seemed a positive sign that actual mechanics - and not Georges with screwdrivers - were fixing the plane.

Finally, around 6 p.m., the gatekeeper announced that we could re-board the plane. I wasn’t thrilled about flying on this jacked-up jet.

But I was happy to go somewhere, anywhere, besides the airport restroom.

I grabbed my carry-on. I admit it - I was still a little nervous, so I crossed my fingers. I wanted to spend eternity with my husband. Not Flight 007 and Captain George.

Dawn Weber is a Brownsville writer, wife and working mother of two pre-teens. She now blogs at http://www.lightenupweber. blogspot.com/

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