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India – Part V

Jeff Scurlock —  April 6, 2014 — Leave a comment

 

Air-India-Boeing-747-412-2

 

Please Read Parts 1 – 4 First

Boarding an Air India 747 was quite an experience.  Smoking was allowed on these flights so we made sure to purchase seats in the non-smoking area.  Three things stand out in my memory about boarding the aircraft. The sights; mostly Indian people who seemed to be right at home on this airplane. The sounds; chatter in the Hindi language, some english and The smell: not to be disrespectful but one thing I’ve learned about Indian people is that they love to cook with strong smelling spices and the aroma of those spices stay with them, on their breath, in their clothes.

We found our seats just three rows from the very back of the aircraft. I would be in seat A which was by a window. Felicia was in B the middle seat and in the isle seat was a young Indian who was a student at New York University. His name was Naresh.

It was late and our decent would be into the dark skies over the Atlantic ocean. I couldn’t help but think about the TWA flight that had gone down over these same waters at about this same time of night. I was still a bit nervous about flying and to make it worse I was on an Air Indian flight, leaving New York in the dark for a thirteen hour flight over the Atlantic Ocean.  I knew the flight would go by fast because I was exhausted and ready for some sleep.

Something wasn’t right. I could smell cigarette smoke. I looked around the cabin and there were several passengers who lit up as soon as the no smoking light was extinguished.  This can’t be right because we purchased seats in the non smoking area.  I was not very happy when I discovered that not only were we in the smoking area but we were in the rear of the aircraft, the place where passengers from non-smoking came to smoke.

My eyes searched the cabin as far as I could see. Looking for empty seats. Somewhere Felicia and I could move to escape the stifling smoke that had already formed a  thick cloud.  No luck. This 747 is packed. I didn’t see an empty seat anywhere.  I asked the flight attendant who was not compassionate about our situation. “There are no other seats,” she said.

This flight would be long.  Thirteen hours to London with a short layover.  Ten hours from London to Bombay (now Mumbai) with a short lay over.  Two and a half hours from Bombay to Bangalore for a total  time including flying from Pensacola to JFK with layovers  of nearly fifty hours.  The seat was tight the smoke was thick and there was a long way to go. Felicia and I agreed the best thing to do was try and relax and get some sleep.

India, Part III

Jeff Scurlock —  March 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

aircraft md80

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.