|Wednesday, August 18th
Atlanta. Hub city. Changed planes there between Phoenix and Fayetteville, where I am staying at the Radisson Prince Charles Hotel in downtown. When you fly Delta Airlines to Fayetteville, chances are 50/50 that you will be on a small propjet. And if you are -- I was -- chances are 50/50 that your luggage will not arrive with you. Mine did not.
As the propjet taxied away from the terminal in Atlanta, the cabin temperature rose to over 90 degrees. Needless to say, we were in line to take off for over 30 minutes. It was a cabin full of GIs though (Fayetteville being the home of Fort Bragg), so nobody was complaining. I was sweating buckets, and the joe sitting in front of me was wearing a leather letter jacket and long jeans, not a bead on his forehead. Impressive.
We landed 1.5 hours later, and the plane taxied up to the terminal. I had my laptop bag in hand ready to de-plane, and the flight attendant put the steps down and got off. Nobody moved, it was like a class room in there, everyone sitting quietly in their seats. I was starting to wander what was going on when the pilot came through the cockpit door and saw all us just sitting there. He pointed out the door and yelled "Company! Dismissed!" and all of sudden everyone got up and moved for the door. Soldiers are trained to do as they are told and to do nothing until told to do it. Quite amusing.
After watching everyone else grab their bags, I filled out the missing baggage papers, rented a car, and drove to the hotel. The Radisson Prince Charles was built in 1925 and is one of five NC hotels listed in the Historic Hotels of America membership directory. It's a pretty nice place.
I am in town to provide a live video link for a tandem jump with the Golden Knights that CBS is hoping to broadcast live on Friday morning during CBS This Morning. They are sinking a lot of money in this; there is a huge satellite uplink truck out in the parking lot. Makes me wonder why they need me and my bag of goodies, a bag that is still somewhere between NC and Atlanta as I write this (I just called Delta baggage center and they still haven't located the luggage). They better find it, because what airlines pay for lost luggage is just a small fraction of what those two bags are worth. I can hear Ted sweating over the Internet...more later...
Gads what a long day! Spent all of it out at Lourinburg Airport with the CBS crew and the Knights trying to iron out this VERY complex operation. We barely managed to get one jump off around 3:00, after hours of setting up hardware and logistics. Very hot an muggy, I must have drank 3 gallons of water. What CBS is trying to do is a live jump complete with three cameras (one freefall, one in the plane, and one on the ground) and audio on one of the jumpers (a CBS anchor). We got the freefall camera link to work, but the audio and "cabin cam" didn't work. I think the cabin cam had a loose battery and should work tomorrow morning. Speaking of which, we have to be on site at 4:00 a.m. to set up the truck from hell, so I lead the parade out of here at 2:45 in the morning. That's about 4 hours from now as I write this. Oh joy, I am not charging nearly enough for this. So it's bed time, g'night. Watch CBS in the morning.
Did anybody see it? I got up at 0230 hours and led a caravan of CBS cars to Lourinburg; we spent a couple hours setting up and did a practice jump at 0630. Remarkably, everything worked. Then five minutes before showtime, a thunderstorm rolled into the area, so they brought the plane down to 5k for a low show. The spot was a wee short and left, and the CBS anchor landed a mile away. Despite the setbacks, the producers seemed pleased with the results. Call it a success.
I went back to the hotel and checked out, grabbed some Wendy on the way to the airport, and handed my ticket to the girl at the U*S Air counter. She took one glance at it and got this pained expression on her face, and I could feel my laptop case suddenly get much heavier. "I'm sorry Mr. Wagner, your flight to Charlotte has been canceled. The bus will pick you up here at 1:30 to take you to Raleigh where you will take flight 1889 to Philidelphia. Thank you for flying U*S Airways, and have a pleasant trip."
So now I'm sitting in a bus on my way to Raleigh. A very long day is getting longer.
THE TRAVEL DAY FROM HELL IS OVER. Murphy done bit me on the ass yesterday morning and didn't let go until I spent half an hour getting a hotel room at midnight last night. If the flight cancelation wasn't bad enough, the ensuing flight to Philadelphia was delayed four hours. As we finally boarded the plane at 8:30, I asked the flight attendant "is there any food on this flight?" and she said "no sorry, just a snack." Thirty minutes later, as the plane was negotiating some rough turbulence, the pilot got on the horn and announced "sorry folks, the in-flight service has been canceled in consideration of your clean clothes." I was seated in the very back row in a seat that didn't recline, and I was not a happy camper. We arrived in Philly around 10:00, and John Eddows was there to meet me at the baggage claim, along with a bonus surprise: Skydiving's International Man of Mystery! (link to be updated later, and I'm taking guesses on who it is). On to the meet!