This is Part III in the India series. Please read parts 1 and 2 first.
The preparation was completed and the time arrived that we would actually fly to the other side of the planet. The morning of departure started extremely early. An international flight starting in Pensacola required an early arrival. The flight from Pensacola to Atlanta would depart at seven which meant we had to be there by six. I’ve never made it a practice to be anywhere right on time. I had to be early so we were there by five thirty. Felicia was already tired and now aggravated at me because we were the first people in the airport that morning. The ticket agents were not even on the job yet.
I had never flown commercial so even the simple task of checking in with the ticket agent was nerve racking to me. I didn’t want to look green, even though I was. I managed to check the four large suitcases and get our boarding passes without any unbearable embarrassment. It was just a little after six in the morning but because of a late night to bed, less than good sleep, an early alarm, a forty minute drive to the airport and the stress of getting checked in we were already exhausted. I had no idea that it would be nearly forty hours before I would get another moment of sleep. I guess in some cases it’s good to not know the future.
We said bye to our family members who had come to see us off and our kids. I don’t think the kids really understood what was going on but they seemed sad. Felicia and I were extremely nervous and excited about our trip be we too were a bit sad knowing that it would be fifteen days before we saw them again. I can’t imagine the emotions that military parents deal with leaving their children for such long times. I also think of the early days of world missionaries, especially the “One Way” missionaries who packed their belongings into coffins, leaving family and friends behind knowing they would never see them again. All for the sake of the Gospel.
The Delta MD-80 was not a huge aircraft but fairly large coming out of the small Pensacola airport. Every seat was occupied and my seat was more than occupied.
I have always been a lover of thrill rides so takeoff was exhilarating for me. I had been in the air many times in small private aircraft but had never felt the G-Force of a jet takeoff. As I said, exhilarating.
The flight to Atlanta was to take less than an hour. Just long enough for the flight attendants to serve beverages and then pick up the trash. I had managed to relax and enjoy the view outside the window until I heard a loud popping noise and then felt the aircraft slow dramatically. To say I was concerned would be an understatement.