Thankfully, I have never had to respond to those foreboding words from ATC: “…say souls on board.” However, I do remember one flight, where I might have had trouble explaining myself if they had requested that information.
Several years ago, my family and I went on a scenic flight in a Cessna 172. With my wife and kids on board, and a reduced fuel load, we were still under gross weight. It was a perfect day for all seven of us to enjoy a flight around western Washington. That’s right, seven. How did we manage to stuff seven souls into a C172?
Well let’s see. I was in the left seat and my seven year old son was flying co-pilot. My wife and younger son were sitting behind us. Our not-yet-two-year-old daughter was in her mom’s lap. So far that adds up to 5, but by now you may have guessed it, my wife was pregnant … with twins.
Moses Lake, WA
We need to be looking at Quakertown, PA airport (KUKT), not Area 51 (KXTA), for extraterrestrials. For end-of-the-world and save-the-world science-fiction buffs, from the movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (original in 1951 and remade in 2008) the following waypoints are on the RNAV (GPS) RWY 11 approach at KUKT: KLATU (the humanoid alien), BRDDA, NICTO (in an unknown alien language: “Klaatu barada nikto.”)
There are no known translations—just a few notable theories. Then there’s the invincible robot GORTT (Genetically Organized Robotic Technology). One interpretation of the meaning of the words is a command to shut down Gort’s defensive response to aggression.
My wife and I had just been seated as part of boarding group “A” on a Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Fort Lauderdale. We noticed the flight crew boarding along with the remaining passengers. It was quite obvious that both the captain and first officer were female.
After all passengers had boarded and the door to the plane’s business office had been closed, the captain came on the PA with the traditional welcome greeting. This being a Southwest flight, however, you never know what kind of spin will be coming. The captain concluded her remarks thus: “Ladies and gentlemen, I must inform you that there is no cockpit on this airplane … but it does have a hen house!”
Ya gotta love Southwest Airlines’ humor!
Alan R. von Ahlefeldt
Although this sounds suspiciously like an old airport-bum story, it actually happened this way about five years ago at Wapakoneta, Ohio, Neil Armstrong Airport.
After completing a series of takeoffs and landings in a crosswind of 16 to 18 knots, I entered our terminal building and encountered a group of pilots. One asked, “That’s a pretty stiff crosswind to be making landings in.”
I responded, “Well, I know my limits.”
“What are they?” Asked one of the pilots.
I said, “Four feet.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know the hangar line that my plane is in is parallel to the runway and that my hangar is near the end of the hangars. When I park my car near my hangar I always walk around to the end of the hangar to relieve myself. If the stream hits the ground four feet or more from where I aim, I zip up, get back in my car and go home.”