Thursday, August 19, 2004

Typhoon Season

I fly a fair bit, more than once a month. Today I took a flight to Tokyo. It has been exactly one week since the last flight I took, also to Tokyo, and like last week I'm flying back in the evening.

Today is also the third time that I've flown through a typhoon. I've never flown directly through one, of course, but through the edges. I remember the first time. I was right in the front of a jumbo jet, just behind the nose cone. I could hear the rain pelting the front of the plane as we punched through.

This time there was a chance that the typhoon would run right over us at exactly the time I was supposed to be taking off, or so it seemed when I looked at the Yahoo! typhoon tracking page, but apparently it decided to skip Fukuoka and head for Korea instead.

The wind was strong anyway. Low running clouds skudding across the sky. Is skudding a word? It seems like it should be, and it should describe what it was those clouds were doing. Anyway, they were skudding, and I happened to look out the window of the plane while we were waiting on the tarmac just in time to see another plane take off. As it rose into the air it suddenly turned, angling into the wind to keep on course. It seemed, for a second like it might lose the fight and be blown backwards, but of course it continued on, eventually disappearing beyond those skudding clouds.
That's not something you want to see happening to a passenger jet, especially when you're next in line.

Well, I survived. Our jet too jumped into the air and was grabbed, forcing the pilot to perform the same angling across the wind that I had seen. We also got to be shaken, pushed up, and slapped down. Down is the worst. It makes you grab the seat, which seems awfully flimsy as you are partially lifted out of it. Then you tighten your seatbelt for the tenth time.

The kids behind me didn't help either. They screamed. It was basically the kind of screaming you get on a roller coaster, but there was just a little bit of real fear, that maybe the plane was going to keep going down, because this roller coaster has no rails.

Eventually we got up into smoother air, although there were still a few moments when we got a shaking, just so we don't forget who's really in charge. Now I'm sitting here waiting for the flight home. Those clouds are still skudding. It's a good thing I like flying so much.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Random Thought

One of the real benefits of modern cellular phone technology has been to make all those people who wander around talking to themselves appear to be sane.