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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Flying Circus Pt 1

I looked out across the cargo deck in wonder
Long rows of large containers and cages the length of the cargo deck
Bits of hay and straw were littered here and there along the walkways
An occasional growl, whinny, grunt or roar would punctuate the regular airplane sounds

And it smelled like a zoo

I've flown with a plane full of horses
Fancy ones with fancy names
Braided tails and ribboned  manes
Polished hooves and soft blankets on their backs

That plane smelled like a stable

I've flown with a load of beef cattle
All in partitioned pallets
Mooing and milling about the whole flight
Poking up their soft noses into the air

It all smelled like a dairy farm that time

This time had a very distinct zoo smell
Though that wasn't exactly what we were transporting
In our (formerly) clean Boeing 747 freighter
This charter flight was for a circus

There were handlers moving up and down the cages and crates
Making sure all the animals had their food and water
Checking the bedding wasn't too soiled
Double checking that each special pallet was secure

Hanging out in the front of the plane
In the little area I liked to think of as mine
Where my tool box and travel case were stowed
Next to the box of aircraft spare parts and tools
A few ladders and fire extinguishers making the area more interesting

I made sure everything up front was tied down and locked up
Wouldn't do to have things rolling or bouncing about in flight
As I did that I stopped and stared at our cargo
I couldn't see any of the animals from where I was standing

Except one
The giraffe

His crate had an open top
With pads along the top of the walls
That way she could stick her head out to her heart's content

I know it was a girl giraffe because I'd asked
And found out that her name was Gina
Gina the giraffe

Of course a circus giraffe would have a name like that

It seemed she was watching me too
Facing me with her soft brown eyes
About eighty feet back from where I was
Gina the giraffe chewed on a mouthful of food thoughtfully it seemed
Not terribly concerned with anything

The loader hollered something in the back
And the large main cargo door on the left aft side of the plane slowly closed
It's hydraulic motor emitting it's familiar whine
The multiple locking claws rotating in place when it got to it's closed position
Green lights showing up on the forward panel near me when it was locked down

Almost time to get going
And the three handlers were heading up to the front of the plane
We all were going to climb the retractable ladder to the upper deck
Where there were business class seats for everyone

Everyone except me this time
The three handlers and the loader would ride in the passenger upper deck area
Sitting in those four seats
I'd be up in the cockpit riding in an observer's seat for the whole flight
Which wasn't so bad
There was usually something interesting to look at up there

I felt the unseen pushback tractor jolt the aircraft as it started pushing us out of our spot
And I climbed the aluminum ladder to the upper deck

Time to get situated for takeoff