Friday

TALES FROM MY REGIONAL AIRLINE DAYS: "20:18 ZULU"

20:18 ZULU
One of the only things that I ever liked about the Boeing 727 was that it had two jump seats- thus it was normally a sure bet for a ride home when commuting. Other than that it was one of my least favorite aircraft. I once was riding home with a NWA 72 captain who was about to retire and his view of the aircraft was close to my own. He said that when he retired he was gonna buy one out of a desert boneyard and have it placed in his back yard. Then he was gonna set his alarm clock to go off every day at 4:00am so he could go out back, piss on the main gear and then go back to bed. Of course many pilots worship the 727 because that is where they started their careers- I just have a different perspective.

I was on my way home from CID to BWI by way of ORD and nabbed a handy jump seat on a UAL 72 along with a UPS guy who was on his way home too. It was a full boat so both of us were stuck in the cockpit and, of course, the 72 had a delay for a deferral of some sort.

These were the olden days before 9-11 when the captain would often offer folks in the back a chance come up and see the flight deck- especially during a delay. Sure enough here comes a smiling dad and his little son. I avoided jokes about gladiators as the captain showed the dad and kid, both of whom had zero aviation knowing, things in the cockpit.

For no good reason at all the father quipped to his little boy,

"Ask 'em what zulu time it is."

It was probably the only actual "aviation" term that the guy knew and the kid just stood there quietly with wide eyes trying to soak in all of the lights, dials and handles while daddy just went back to chatting with the captain and FO.


I could not resist. Glancing at my watch I saw that my zulu hack showed 20:18.

Leaning over I whispered in the kid's ear,

"Tell 'em it's 20:18 zulu."

Without hesitation the little guy blurted out,

"It's 20:18 zulu daddy!"

The dad looked down at his grinning son with some astonishment as I sat there casually looking out the window. Meanwhile the FE looked at his watch and said,

"He's right, it is 20:18 zulu!"

Just about then the UAL line mechanic appeared in the cockpit door with our paperwork and totally puzzled father took his apparently born aviator son and went back to their seats. The UPS guy leaned over as said to me,

"Oh, that was slick."

On the flight to BWI we let the crew in on what I did and we all had a good giggle, especially considering the look on that dad's face.

That was long, long ago and I wonder what that kid's doin' today.

My "EARTH DAY"


My “Earth Day” image for all of those folks celebrating people “saving” the Earth. This image is an example of nature’s subtle message to the Earth Savers who are too arrogant to recognize it. So often we humans delude ourselves into the belief that we can control nature and thus we can destroy it or save it- the Earth snickers.

We are little more than insects on this planet. We float upon tectonic plates buoyed on a globe of magma and influenced to the greatest degree by a medium sized star that is just the right distance from the planet to allow us to survive. We have exactly ZERO control over any of that. Life on this planet, from the moss on the forest floor and the mite that crawls across the rail on my patio deck to the largest sea creature and yet to be discovered ocean dweller, cannot be erased. It will always come back no matter what we, the arrogant mammals do with our opposing digits. Do or don’t do. I put up a sinful “plastic” fence made from that evil petroleum and the photo seen here was taken in the far corner of the back yard near out compost bin… and what does nature do? It ever so slowly and quietly takes over and uses it to nature’s own purpose- to hell with man.

Of course just because nature works at a speed far slower than our microwave oven outlooks can recognize, we fail to see it happening. Because the tectonic plates of the crust of the planet move more slowly than several of our life-spans, we conclude that every squeak in that movement that shakes our local ground or knocks our building down are somehow related to something that WE did. How myopic and arrogant we are. Politicians tell us that if we elect them they will slow the rise of the oceans- and we vote for them when in fact these tiny germs on the surface of this planet have no more power to actually change things than the Aztec priests had when they used stone knives to cut the hearts out of people and offered the still-beating organ to the Sun God.

Sure, awareness of industrial pollution and the laws that limited it have done great things to clean up our water and air- locally. Yet the industry that feeds our hunger for gadgets and vehicles has simply shifted to another part of the planet. Now China has a lake of toxic sludge that is the byproduct of modern heavy industry and their people choke on… smog- let’s hear it for Earth Day America. India takes any crap that we cannot lawfully dispose of and cuts it up for re-use, just don’t wade in the waters near their ship boneyards. Earth Day! Let’s hear it!

The deluded enviro’s protest big oil in flotillas of kayaks all made from petroleum. Our movie stars march to save the Earth from that dreaded carbon dioxide, which just happens to make all of the oxygen generating plant-life thrive. Then they fly away on their private jets to board huge yachts and sail the oceans and party like kings before returning to one of the multiple mansions. Fortunately, the Earth will survive a billion times longer than any of these fools.

Earth does not need to be saved. Instead we should all just appreciate the fact that we get to float upon our own tectonic plate, and hope that when the Earth does decide to move that plate and spew up some renewing magma upon its surface it will not happen until after we have been buried and reclaimed by soil. Give thanks for today and hope to have a tomorrow- other than that, all of your efforts to alter this planet are little more than a microscopic smudge upon this Earth. Nature is far greater in its power and patience than we insignificant mammals with opposing digits. Nature will always win without us and in spite of us.