Spectacular landing with gear forced up…read article in Aviation Herald
Category Archives: World Travel
I wanted to let everyone know that Milo is healthy and happy again. In a previous post I mentioned she was suffering from a kitty cold after her long travels and quarantine. She was pretty sick, and we were a bit concerned, but she is a tough kitty and feeling well and lazy again. She even has some new neighborhood friends that stop by for some kitty stand-offs!
I was walking the narrow, busy streets of Kemang South Jakarta a few days after our arrival. My main concern was for our personal safety: motorbikes whizzed close by, Bajaj’s puttered smoke in our face, foul smelling puddles awaited my footsteps. Jakarta is an amazing place, never boring, never asleep and full of surprises, and in this …Brave New World …to my surprise, I found an old friend.
I couldn’t believe it….Iron Maiden in Jakarta!
It was like I ran into one of my old best buds on those crazy narrow streets. It was very comforting. My wife asked me if I wanted to go to the concert. Well, hell ya! It would be my 3rd Iron Maiden Show. But I didn’t know anyone who would go with me, and I really am not comfortable getting around this huge city yet. I have been a Maiden fan since junior high school. I am amazed that they are still one of the top touring rock bands in the world. I also am amazed that they are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!!! A true crime!
In 1983, my obsession with Iron Maiden started with the video “Flight of Icarus” off the album Piece of Mind. My friend Franky had seen them a year before when they were touring with Judas Priest. Franky told me they were the shit, and now I was a believer. Flight of Icarus was the first song in my life I couldn’t get enough of. I bought the album and fully immersed myself in Maiden. Iron F@#*ing Maiden!
That August my best bud Doug and I got tickets to see Maiden at the Mid Hudson Civic Center in Poughkeepsie, NY. We met our other best bud Big Steve at the show. The Civic Center has one big open floor with bleachers in the back. Iron Maiden was probably one of the biggest shows that venue would ever host. The place was alive with electricity and busting at the seems. Amazingly, that night they had folding chairs set up on the floor. This would soon turn out to be a big mistake, as me, Big Steve, Doug and 5000 other fans would make sure of!
Big Steve was big, 6 foot 6 at age 15. So to make a long story short, Big Steve had a better view than everyone else. No worries, we all stood up as Maiden came on stage. Soon, people started to stand on the seats of the folding chairs…Big Steve was the last up. But that wasn’t good enough, next thing you know, people are straddling the tops of the chairs, one foot on the top of the backrest below and the other on the one behind. We actually had to hold each other up. As the band rocked the audience swayed and everyone went with the flow, screaming, head banging, all the time surfing 5 feet above the ground on the tip top of those cheap folding chairs. Every so often someone would fall off and take a tumble to the ground, quickly recover and get hoisted back up again…rock on! Needless to say it was one of the best Rock Concerts I had ever seen, and I have seen a few!
Big Steve, Doug and I where hooked. We decided to go see Maiden a month later at Madison Square Garden in NYC. I called my Mother and she picked up tickets for us (yes, that’s how I rolled back then, before the internet). We bought beer, had a great time, and went to the show. The funny thing is, Maiden’s Stage looked small in the cavernous Garden, even though it had seemed so massive back in Poughkeepsie. Fact of the matter is, Maiden was not yet the giant band they were to become. The show was good, but not great. Apparently we had witnessed something special back in August at the Civic Center. Something I will never forget.
That is why Iron Maiden made me feel more at home in Jakarta, some old friends made sure I didn’t feel like a ….Stranger in a Strange land.…
We got to Dulles International Airport 3 hrs early….and that was barely enough time. We had 4 gigantic stuffed bags to check in and 1 VIP…Very important Pet! Milo (me-low), our cat, who consumed all our worries about our move from the USA to Jakarta, Indonesia.
What carrier should we buy? Well, we actually purchased 5…
“that one is too small, that one is too big, Oh, frick they need to be IATA approved! That one is a piece of JUNK! OK, this one is perfect…very safe and secure”.
During boarding I approached the Qatar Airlines counter and asked if my kitty was going to make the plane. The attendant called the baggage handlers directly and ensured me that she was just going on….The staff at Qatar did a great job of handling our VIP. And for that matter, handling my wife and I as well.
See, the deal was, it was my responsibility to oversee Milo’s trip across the World. If anything was to happen, I would be in deep shit! Never to live down my failed mission. Never trusted again and in the dog house forever!
The first leg of our journey started on a Boeing 77W. My Wife and I shuddered when the 2 giant engines of the 777 roared to life and we rumbled down the runway like some super charged Harley Davidson. We both looked at each other and imagined little Milo’s face during takeoff. It must have been some experience for her. But, we told ourselves, she is a tough Kitty!
We arrived at Qatar, Doha in the middle of the night. We had just traveled 12 hours (7000 miles) on the massive 777. Now all we wanted to do was get to the airport lounge, chill, and eat!
Doha International Airport is like a giant 24hr Hypermart. Cigarettes, booze, cars, electronics…it’s all there. We relaxed in the lounge, which cost $40, ate humus galore and watched Al Jazeera’s fantastic coverage of the crisis in Egypt. Only then did I realize Al Jazeera was from Qatar…what a dumb ass I am sometimes!
The experience in the Doha Oryx lounge was throughly relaxing…..best money spent….but the whole time we couldn’t help but worry about little Milo….how was she? Was she gonna get on the next plane? We could only hope for the best. It was out of our hands. So, how about a Scotch on the rocks!
The final leg of our journey from Doha to Jakarta was performed on a Airbus 333. This plane was a bit older than the 777, had less movies and the seats were 1″ narrower, but they reclined more and overall I found the plane more comfortable than the 777. I checked again and made sure Milo was put on the plane…again the staff at Qatar where on top of the situation. I almost was about to pat my self on the back. My Mission was almost accomplished.
But then……my wife and I went to the bathroom and as I waited for her in the lounge area, guess who happened to be there? The Captain. I knew that I should ask him if Milo was OK…was he aware he had Live Cargo??? But I froze, instead just saying “hello” as he passed by. My wife saw him as she came out of the bathroom….”Did you ask him about Milo?”
Should have, would have, could have….
A few hours later we had a perfect landing in Jakarta, and on the way in I could see the 1000 Islands...which are beautiful!
When we went to baggage claim, Milo was already there. She was fine, we where able to see her for a minute, and then she was taken away by our support service, Groovy Pets, to Quarantine for 2 weeks.
Today Milo was delivered by Groovy Pets to our new home. She was a bit stinky, and has a kitty cold…but otherwise she looks good and is in good spirits. She loves our new house…She wants to explore even though we know she needs some sleep. But as we said, she is a tough Kitty!
During the Summer of 2007 my wife and I were returning from a European vacation that spanned Switzerland, Czech Republic and Budapest Hungary. Most of our flights were with Lufthansa, selected by myself for their excellent safety and service records.
Our last leg home was from Frankfurt, Germany to Newark, New Jersey. We boarded a new, comfortable, widebody A330-300. The weather was bad, and the pilot seemed to be in a rush to get going: Germans and their time tables. We were alerted that the IFE was out of service for the flight across the Atlantic. Of course my crazy mind immediately thought of Swiss Air 111. No one else seemed to care, except that they wouldn’t be able to watch their favorite movies.
Our takeoff was breathtaking, as we parted the clouds we could see we were just above the tips of the mountains located by the airport. It was a site to see. Once we were at cruise, all was smooth and seemed normal.
I excused myself and went to the bathroom. While in the very clean, modern lavatory, I caught a whiff of smoke. I tried to inhale and see if could place the smell, but I couldn’t. It was very faint.
Later in the flight I caught another whiff at my seat….which was close to the bulkhead, bathrooms and broken IFE panel. But again, it was fleeting.
I was contemplating to myself that if I smelt anymore smoke I would alert the Cabin Crew. I became a bit nervous. Fire in a plane is the most serious dilemma. For much the rest of the flight the air was clear…..my anxiety lessened and I was telling myself I was imagining things.
About an hour or so out of Newark the smell hit me again, and this time it was more noticeable. My instincts started getting the best of me. At that point the Cabin crew came through our area, asking if anyone had been smoking in the lavatories. I pulled aside the Chief Purser, a very serious and professional German women, and let her know that I had smelled smoke earlier in the flight. She asked me if I had been smoking? No I replied. She then announced to a few of us that smoking on an airplane was extremely dangerous and could take down a aircraft….no shit….The crew was now going through the lavatories with flashlights and checking the smoke detectors.
I felt involved now, and was ready to jump into action. Help out, save the plane and all its unsuspecting passengers.
But that was it….we landed normally half an hour later.
I wasnt sure if I was nuts or not? Were we in danger, did this really happen? Or was I “imagining things?”
I called Lufthansa the next day to report what happened…after much avoidance I was let known that the aircraft in question did have an electrical issue and was grounded…I then was given a discount on my next flight with Lufthansa…..So after all, I wasn’t crazy. I now know that if something is amiss, let the crew know, and also to trust my nose…