Flying Culvert

I am just a little over 6 feet two inches tall, and most of that length is above the waist.  Standing up, I don't stand out in a crowd but sitting down, I am taller than most people. This isn't normally a problem, but in some situations it is really a hassle.   This is a story about one of those hassles.

The National Guard had their Professional Training Center located just north of Little Rock,  Arkansas.  In fact they even call it North Little Rock.  It was the WWI mobilization site called Camp Robinson.  I have a picture of my Grandfather playing barber there as his unit trained up to go overseas.  You might think that Little Rock would be an easy place to get to but without flying to Dallas or Saint Louis you can't get there from Topeka. 

I was scheduled for a course down there and I called up Tub Shriner, the transportation manager for the Guard.  He told me that one of the airlines had a new flight directly into Little Rock and he wanted to book me on one of those flights to see what the arrangements would be.  I think the term is Guiney pig but if it were not for spell checker I for the life of me could have not spelled it right.

When I got to the Kansas City Airport, code MCI for Midcontinent International, I went down to the end where the commuter airlines were.  I found the ticket counter for whatever airlines it was and checked in.  This time they seemed to have a good staff of people and I saw what looked like a well dressed pilot sitting there.  When it was time to board, we all stood up and the Pilot got in line with the rest of us.  It seems that he was just dead heading for a flight and a passenger on this flight.

When we got out on the runway, the plane was setting there waiting and they were loading the baggage through a door on the tail.  We went in and got in our assigned seats. I looked at the Pilots and they both looked like they were teenagers.  I sat down and realized that I had to tip my head to the left at least 45 degrees.  The flight was a three hour flight and there was just no way I could sit like that for any length of time.  The Stewardess and I had a brief conversation and she said they were full.  She offered that when the flight got in the air, her seat directly in the middle of the plane in the back would be available and she would let me sit there while we were in the air.  Even then, My head was against the ceiling.  The plane was just a flying culvert.

When we were in the air, one of the passengers commented that he sure hoped that there was no repeat of the adventures from the week before.  He had been on a flight into Joplin and they hit a deer on the runway.  Killed both the deer and the propeller on the turbo prop.  The plane didn't crash and no one in the plane was injured but it did take most of the day for them to get a new plane into Joplin to continue the flight.  I said I didn't think we were going to land in Joplin and he said oh hell yes, and then Fayetteville enroute to  Little Rock.  The flight in to Fayetteville was one that we basically landed through a hole in the clouds.  It was clear in Joplin but almost completely overcast in Fayetteville.

Well long story short, Two take offs and landings later, we arrived in Little Rock.   What would have been a nice comfortable ride on a normal commercial plane had been a hard noisy ride in a flying culvert.  For the return trip home, I found out that our Adjutant General had been able to hitch a ride back to Topeka with the Adjutant General of Nebraska.  There was a lot of room in their bird and it cut at least an hour off the time it took to get home. 

So, the moral of this story is that things that are different aren't always better, just different. I did my best to not go to little Rock any more than I had to after that.  Unless it was more than a weekend trip, I drove.


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