I took wing this morning for Laramie, Wyoming (by way of Denver), and found myself feeling that I was redoing the trip to Ohio. We flew within sight of the south shore of one of the Great Lakes, and for a while, I thought it was Lake Erie. But then I realized I couldn’t see any of the islands, so that had me stymied for awhile. Finally I found a map of general routes in the United airline mag, and decided that it was a portion of Lake Huron or possibly Lake Michigan, and that we had passed well to the north of Lake Erie.
Something new for me on this trip was a feature United has added: one of the headset channels was Air Traffic Control piped in from the cockpit, so I could hear everything the pilot was hearing. As a private pilot (even if inactive), I found this fun and illuminating. I was puzzled for a time as I heard plane after plane talking to Cleveland Center, then heard ATC tell the aircraft to “contact Cleveland Center” on 12x.xx frequency. (Cleveland Center is actually a wide-area control center located in Oberlin, Ohio; or at least it was when I toured it as a high school student a long time ago.) Finally I realized they were handing the flights off from one controller to another in the same center, each controller responsible for a different sector on a different frequency.
When we reached Denver, I heard our Boeing 757 pilot announce that he was on right base for the runway (which means the runway’s on his right, and he’s flying at right angles to the runway heading, to intercept and turn onto the final approach path). Everything from there on in sounded exactly the same as it did when I landed tiny Cessnas at Hanscom Field, including the taxi instructions. Somehow I thought it would sound grander and more arcane. But nope, pretty much the same.
At Denver I met up with the rest of the Launchpad Workshop group, and we all rode together to Laramie by van and car. We settled in, had dinner at a nice brewpub, and will start the workshops tomorrow (Monday). I don’t have internet access in the apartment where we’re staying, but will at the science center, so I guess I’ll be doing email and blog “squirts” during the day, and reading and composing in the evening.
“A blank page is God’s way of showing you how hard it is to be God.” —Anonymous