A beautiful sunny afternoon rested around the New York City area as I was waiting impatiently watching the turbines of a GE-90 circumnavigate their encasements at the pace of molasses outside the waiting area of Gate 6 at John F. Kennedy's Terminal One.
Once the breezes picked up the turbines reacted accordingly or was it that I was becoming more impatient by the moment? A beautiful Alitalia Triple Seven sat next door as the neighbor at Gate 4, the most insular one.
I had to walk down T1 a ways to grab a beer because I needed to get some alcohol down my system to take the edge of impatience off not to mention to get the party started. Passing a Lufthansa gate, I immediately noticed elaborately dressed flight attendants with red laced hats having just debarked the plane at the next platform over - Emirates.
There was a reason to celebrate this afternoon. Not because I was at JFK for a spotting trip, but it was 2006. May 17th to be exact. And it was to be my first time to ride in Boeing 777.
As I was making my return to Gate 6, my departing gate, from the beer fest, I heard some thunder. I looked out the terminal window as every hair and nerve within my body stood up. It was United 100 in battleship grey. Also a triple seven operation, thundering and rolling down 13R and as it hit Vr (rotate), I watched it's triple axel sever with the old pavement of 13R to make its "Gateway Turn" departure procedure starting its overnight journey for Heathrow. Runways can change at the drop of a coin at JFK but I new I was in for a treat that late afternoon.
Once I heard the French boarding preparation announcement for Air France Flight 023 to DeGaulle, I was thankful that my French education from Central Michigan University proved to be at least somewhat effective in getting my nerves to calm down a bit. Actually it was the opposite effect as my heart sped faster when my boarding area was called. Making my way down the HSBC jet way my eyesight developed a white blur around it as if I was in a dream. A dream that I had been dreaming a long time. To return to Europe, in a Boeing 777 no less. To France, a place I had once been as a student, even.
As I entered the massive single level heavy, "dream mode" was still in full effect and even more so once I heard the classical music over the PA system. For a moment I thought I was on an Air France Concorde especially having come across a well trained flight attendant who quickly greeted me in the most pleasant manner, "Bonjour!" to which I started engaging in the short but effective French dialogue to get me over to seat 36L, the place I'd call home for the next 6 hours and 40 minutes. That is if the tailwinds didn't pick up.
I made my way to my seat after having passed and greeted another two male flight attendants. When I looked outside my window I saw what I had been longing to see: A long, massive wing that stretched from near my seat all the way up to heaven.
With a quick pushback and an unexpectedly quick taxi down PAPA to the threshold of 13R at PAPA-FOXTROT, those two GE-90 powerplants pointed the one way ticket to my eternal allegiance to the Boeing 777 as we went full throttle rolling and thundering parallel to Jamaica Bay.
Moments after Vr, we lifted off, and seconds after I could see the smoke stacks of Bayswater, Far Rockaway positioned roughly 800 feet below the tips of the massive wingflex of F-GSPM making our "Gateway Climb" departure for BETTE3 our SID (Standard Instrument Departure).
The flight that night brought the Air France slogan "Faire du ciel le plus bel endroit de la terre" ("Making the sky the best place on Earth") to its true essence.
With these words, I present to you
May 17, 2013
My first Boeing 777 ride
|COPYRIGHT DAN BROWNLEE|
(Turn up your speakers all the way up for full effect):
Passiez un plus bon week~end à tous!
Have a great weekend, everyone!