flying into Kai Tak..

Posted by Ted on Dec 7, 2003 in Memories

..or, driving in Boston during a blizzard.

So one time when I flew from Sydney to Hong Kong, I asked if I could sit up in the cockpit for take-off and landing. I learned that trick from a co-worker at the time; ask to sit in the cockpit, claim that you’re learning to fly, or interested in getting a pilot’s license. obviously this works better with foreign airlines, and I expect it was easier 5 years ago than it would be today.

That said, I was lucky at the time, and sat in the cockpit for take-off and landing. that was totally awesome. strapping in with a 5-point harness, and having the pilot’s view of taxiing from the gate to the runway was amazing. you got to see all of the other planes landing, taking off, and otherwise jockying for positions. then take-off.. wow. watching the pilot push the throttle forward, feeling and seeing the nose lifting, and then the back wheels, and then all of a sudden, all that is in front of you is clouds.

Landing was cool, too. the setup for the landing starts some 100 miles away, with minor adjustments until about 30 miles away, and finally lining up with the runway. I hadn’t realized before then just how automated the whole procedure was; most course corrections were done via entering the degrees, altitude, and speed via dials and switches. I remarked upon this at the time, and one of the Aussie pilots nodded, and said that yes, much of commercial airline pilotting of large aircraft is done via the autopilot, with the pilots providing the course adjustments. the other pilot remarked, somewhat wistfully, that many pilots flying in and around Asia Pacific missed flying into the decomissioned Kai Tak Airport. Kai Tak is the old airport in Hong Kong. it was most famous for the fact that it was situated so close to Kowloon, that passengers on planes landing or taking off could see what was on the TVs of the apartment buildings the plane was passing.

Pilots couldn’t use the autopilot. they had to fly under manual control. and it gave them a chance to use the skills that they’d learned in flight school.

Driving to and from Brighton this evening in order to attend a friend’s party, in this wonderful first blizzard of the winter, reminded me of that. I felt like I was using the skills that living through 17 Boston and 11 Cleveland winters has taught me. of course, I’ve only been driving for 13 of those 28 years, but you learn being a passenger, too. it was very technical driving; altogether not too bad. the worst part was getting out of our driveway, and parking, and avoiding stupid people in the middle of the street.

Now I realize that it’s 4:30a, and I’ve been spending too long writing this entry. good night, all..

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No shit, there we were..

Posted by Ted on Mar 8, 2002 in Memories

A bunch of ex-coworkers and I were hanging out at the Burren in Davis Sq, relishing our lack of employment, catching up on gossip, and having a few drinks.

The place was reasonably crowded, but after a while, we managed to snag a table. A few of us dropped off from time to time, until there were just four of us left. I went to the bathroom, and upon coming back to the table, I was about to take my leave when eleven uniformed cops came in.

Dressed in kilts.

Playing bagpipes.

To be honest, there were 8 pipers, 2 drummers, and a leader.

It turned out we had picked the perfect spot to sit, as we got a front row view. In fact, Jesse nearly got his head clonked by the bass drummer. They played probably 3 or 4 songs, and then marched out. They got into a small shuttle bus, escorted by 3 cop cars, and went along their merry way.

Certainly not the entertainment I was expecting, but I’m not complaining :)

They were the Boston Police Gaelic Column of Pipes and Drums.

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