Jean and I were still in bed when the phone rang Sunday morning.
“Dad! Mom! Desi’s in labor – we’re at the hospital! Hop in the plane whenever you’re ready, and fly over to San Antonio!”
Not expecting our grandson for several more days, I hadn’t yet planned the flight. And thunder rumbled outside our window.
“Let’s try to get out this afternoon!” said Jean, excited. “I’ll pack a meal while you check weather.“ It turned out that Arizona’s storms were dissipating; southern New Mexico was clear, as was our route across Texas. However, Tropical Storm Ernesto barreled ominously across the Gulf of Mexico toward San Antonio.
While we could safely navigate most of our route, our destination was in question. Add southeasterly headwinds and we faced a fuel stop plus a possible overnight. Normally those wouldn’t be problems, but departing midday across two time zones meant any landings would be after 6pm. Imagine flying the distance from New York to Tampa, and crossing only one major town. Along this entire sparsely populated route, only El Paso International Airport would be attended on a Sunday evening.
Read the entire story in Greg’s December Flying Carpet column, “Make Way for Grandparents.” (Mobile-friendly version.)
Photo: The iconic ‘Taj Mahal,’ Randolph Air Force Base Building 100, San Antonio, Texas. See more photos here.
©2012 Gregory N.Brown
(This column first appeared in AOPA Flight Training magazine.)
If you enjoyed this story, you’ll love Greg’s book, Flying Carpet: The Soul of an Airplane. Autographed copies available!