Posts Tagged "planes"

Airline Travel Then and Now

Dear Kid,

Airplanes are interesting places.

As you probably know, the size of the seats has shrunk by 408% over the last few years, while the size of travelers has expanded even moreso. This does not make for a delightful travel experience (and by “delightful” I mean “roomy”).

I feel like an accordion trying to unsquish after a night of crazy polka music. I can’t imagine how people who are less vertically challenged than I am manage it.

In addition, the in-flight beverage service has slowed to a crawl. By which I mean that while I brought water on board with me, I didn’t bring a diet coke, and quite frankly this is a flight that requires diet coke. The flight attendants seem more concerned with the flight operation than with my personal particular need for a diet coke. Clearly a case of misplaced priorities.

Being the lady that I am, I am sitting here stoically, waiting calmly. Not fussing. Just fading a little on the inside.

Fact: There is no place on an airplane to charge an electronic device

Airtravel used to be much more elegant... DearKidLoveMom.comAirplane travel used to be an elegant(ish) experience. One would dress up for the occasion. Stewardesses (in those days they were all female and called stewardesses) seemed to live only to bring joy and beverages to passengers. (There was no such thing as diet coke in those days, but I can’t figure out how to fault the airlines for that.)

In those days, you weren’t just given a drink. You got a Full Meal. And snacks. And refills.

On the downside, there was a smoking section in the back of the plane (and by “back of the plane” I mean the entire cabin smelled of smoke) and if you wanted to go to the restroom you had to walk through the blue haze of accumulated cigarette smoke to get there.

On the plus side, in those days you could recline your seat more than a quarter of an inch without ending up in the lap of the person behind you.

And the seats were designed for people (rather than sardines) to sit in.

Do I sound nostalgic? I can’t quite decide whether I miss the Good Ol’ Days or whether I’m happy in jeans and a t-shirt.

Perhaps once I unfold and regain my more-or-less-normal shape, I’ll decide.

Love, Mom

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Why There Are Giant Arrows All Over The Country (Seriously)

Dear Kid,

Just pick a direction! DearKidLoveMom.comSnopes says it’s true. Let me repeat. Apparently, this is neither a hoax nor something I created out of thin air (although it sounds like it could easily be either one).

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as airmail, mostly because there was no such thing as airplanes. Then planes were invented and The Mail started jumping up and down saying “Take me! Take Me!” and who can resist a 50 pound sack of handwritten correspondence?

(Remind me to explain what “handwritten correspondence” means.)

So 60 years after the Pony Express ceased to Express, the postal service began airmail delivery.

The good news was that they’d waited until there were airplanes. The less good news was that they hadn’t waited for decent aviation charts. So pilots had to pretty much just take a good look and hope they guessed correctly.

Which worked pretty well during daylight when the weather was perfect, but had significant faults when Mother Nature was feeling less than cooperative.

It is worth noting that Mother Nature cannot be counted on to be cooperative.

So the USPS created the first “ground-based civilian navigation system.” It was a series of giant arrows and beacons placed every 10 miles from New York to San Francisco.

The arrows were 50 – 70 feet each and made of yellow concrete. The beacon was placed at the end of the arrow in a 51 foot steel tower lit by a million-candlepower rotating beacon. Each beacon flashed its own identifier code.
All the pilots had to do was arrow-hop (as it were) across the transcontinental Air Mail Route, and zoom! mail was delivered coast-to-coast in about 30 hours.

This incredibly advanced system allowed pilots to fly in all but the absolute worst of weather since pilots in those days weren’t hampered by things like regulations.

Eventually (and by “eventually” I mean “not too long thereafter”) someone invented maps and radio guidance and navigation and no one needed the beacons.

This coincided with The War and the beacons were ripped down in 1940s to help with the war effort. It is considerably more difficult to rip down and recycle huge concrete arrows. So the arrows were left.

Which means that here and there across This Great Nation, there are huge arrows lying around. And someday, I think it would be really cool to visit one.

Now do you see why I asked Snopes?

Love, Mom

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