Thoughts on an Airplane

Posted on September 15, 2008 by

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My job used to require that I travel for a couple days a month down to Arizona to use a tester that we didn’t have here in Folsom.  I love business trips!  But about a year ago, we ended up purchasing our own tester.  Since then, I don’t get to travel at all anymore except once a year for my ESD Symposium.  So now I spend all year looking forward to my one weeklong getaway.  That trip was last week.

The Conference was great; I took some interesting classes and attended some great workshops.  I feel more educated for the experience, and I got to enjoy the daily maid services and 3 fastfood meals a day that I look forward to so much.  But the strangest part of the trip was riding on the plane to Tucson.  I love plane rides as much as I love late-night runs to hotel ice machines.   But on this particular plane ride, I felt like I couldn’t focus at all.  Maybe it was the anticipation of the week ahead, or maybe it was the euphoria of finally being on a plane after years of not flying.  Whatever it was, I couldn’t read my book.  And I didn’t feel like listening to my iPod.  So I just stared out the window.

My thoughts started to wander.  I began wondering what would happen if I were suddenly outside the airplane.  Like, if I were to be sucked out my window, or if the plane were to brake in half and I started falling; if I were suddenly outside the plane, what would I do.  The strange thing was, it wasn’t morbid or scary at all.  It was just a very matter-of-fact train of thought.  So I went along with it, and I ended up considering it for most of the flight.

Did you ever read the Worst-Case Scenario books?  It felt like a page right out of one of those.  If I were suddenly falling, I decided that I would take my shirt off right away and hold it over my head like a parachute.  Then I’ll get my body as parallel to the ground as I can for the most air resistance.  And then I’ll start looking for a body of water to fall in.  Yeah, that sounds about right.  But wait, maybe my pants would work better as a parachute because I could tie the legs shut real quick.  I wonder how long it would take me to knot my pant legs while I’m falling.  I wonder how much time I would have.  So then I pulled out the SkyMall magazine, and in the crossword section I pressed my memory for some old Freshman physics.  X=Xo+Vo*t+(1/2)g*t^2.  Well, what do you know!  Neglecting air resistance, if I fall from 35,000ft, I’ve got a whole 47 seconds before I hit the ground!  I wanted to tell the guy sitting next to me that I could probably take my pants off and knot the legs in under 47 seconds.  But I didn’t think he wanted to hear it.  The rest of the flight had me considering how steep of a hill I would have to hit to slide safely to a stop, which body part I would prefer to land on, and what the best use for my belt would be.

Then the plane landed, I jumped into my rental car, and I set off to find the nearest Panda Express.

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