Yes, Here Comes the Story of the Hurricane


In Florida, before man made global climate change, we had hurricane drills in grade school. We'd learn where the best place to hide was and how to skin, cook and eat alligator. This was before the internet... and apparently before satellite radar. Didn't they have advanced warning in the 80's? Did we learn nothing from the Seminoles who we took the land from?

Why would we learn how to ride out a storm in school? We were either tougher then or the storms were less severe? Maybe by launching the satellites to better forecast the storms we upset the balance of nature making them more severe? Mother nature said, "I'll show you! You can have all of that down there but the attic is mine."

band of brothers

Or maybe the storms are scarier because I am older with more responsibilities, a house to maintain and a family to care for? When the winds were beginning to whip the trees around and the rain was coming down sideways, I wished I was the college kids next door who were undoubtedly drinking warm beer and celebrating no school. Warm beer? No, this was before the power went out... they haven't had a working refrigerator for many months now. Ah to be that carefree again. We'd have to serve the toddler his yogurt on ice. "Your breakfast, sir. May I draw your bath?"

I admit, I was hesitant of the storms severity as it approached. The news seemed to be getting carried away with their predictions and getting way to excited about the potential doom and destruction. I have a hard time believing emotional journalists. Maybe they've cried wolf too many times or I remember the days when TV news warned you before the editorials.

We did buy supplies for the house and gas for the generator and cleared the yard of potential projectiles. And then we hunkered down as the first bands of wind hit.

Rain and wind and the power went out and we all slept on the first knowing that if a tree fell it would take out the upper reaches of the house first. Over the sound of the generator I listened to the storm while the family slept. All night I was awake assuming the worst and waiting for a tree to crash into us. Again, adulthood? Years ago, I may have relished the adventure and maybe even hoped for a free skylight until the landlord came to fix the damage?

All in all, our damage was minimal. A leak in the kitchen that I thought I had fixed and a little water in the basement and no power. It could have been much worse and luckily we didn't have to cook up any alligator.

Folks, It will Be Yet Another Hour Before We Depart.


Some days I actually do work. But it’s not the work you would assume. It’s not fighting nasty storms or battling windshear down the final approach to an icy runway. It’s interacting with the passengers and assuring them that at some point we will arrive at our destination.

I like that part of the job. To my flight attendant friends I say this. “Yes, I know. When things get tough I get to close the bullet proof cockpit door. Your job is way harder than ours!”

So, I only work a little bit but it is the part of the job I really enjoy and the reason why I’ve never really been drawn to the world of cargo flying. They say “Boxes don’t complain” but it’s these types of fires I enjoy putting out.

Our 12:30 flight boarded on time yesterday and we began our taxi although I had a hunch we’d be delayed. Nothing official yet, I just had a hunch. We were off to Washington’s Reagan airport and both Baltimore and Washington Dulles bound flights had been issued a delay. Our destination was between the two. Either some weird weather or a weather force field was erected over the nation’s capital?

Seconds before reaching the end of the runway for departure they told us what we were expecting, “Update in an hour.”

We rode it out in the holding pad near the runway and as the hour wait ended they said, “Update in another hour.”

And back to the gate we go. At the conclusion of that hour we were told once again, “Update in an hour.”

I mingled with the passengers and did my best to explain the weather pattern to those who were interested and how it affected arrivals and the effect it would have on their connections. I went into the stages of thunderstorm development and described condensation nuclei.

A passenger told me I looked like a good pilot but I assured her it was the crispness of my uniform that fooled her. “Don’t look at my shoes” I suggested.

After five hours it was time to go. The update in an hour became a departure time and we boarded for Washington. Naturally, after beginning our taxi we were given a reroute to avoid the weather that was now in our way. This was the same weather that had closed the airport.

A reroute means more fuel which means another delay.

The new route doubled the distance between here and there. What was to be a 300 mile flight became a 650 mile trip.

Portland to Washington via Pittsburgh.

I told the passengers. “Well, thanks for your patience on the ground through our five hour delay and now the extra minutes we will need to get more gas. By the way, our one hour flight will now take two.” The sound of a crying baby penetrated the walls of the bullet proof cockpit door.

As I made the announcement about the new delay I figured the passenger was rethinking her compliment. Maybe next time there is a weather delay I will get my shoes shined.