Send My Conscience Home in a Taxi

Externalised Memory

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United Airlines Flight UA840
Drawing of a trike
maxcelcat
I write this somewhere over the pacific. No online I might add, although my laptop has detected a wireless network on this plane! Can't get it to connect though, so the joy of chatting to me while in the air will have to wait :-)

I'm about three hours into a twelve hour flight, which means this has already been the longest flight I've ever been on. Prior to now, the longest flight I've been on was a one and a half hour trip to Adeliade, where we had to go around because there was a storm over the airport. Put it another way: until ten minutes ago, I'd never used the loo on a plane, never been in the air long enough!

(The two women in this row, across the aisle from me, are having an inane conversation which included the phrase "so did you try Vegemite while you were in Australia?")

I've been on two 747's today. This flight started in Melbourne on one plane, then for some reason the same flight number swapped to a different aircraft when we got to Sydney. Oh, and the trip to Sydney was a "bonus" not mentioned on my itinerary. Going Melbourne-Sydney on such a big jet seems a bit excessive, especially since I had most of the area around me completely to myself - at least six rows in front of me were empty.

I'm way at the back of the plane. When we were on the ground, I could just see the wing-tip out of the window - I'm on the aisle side of the middle four seats. But as soon as we got into the air, the wings must flex because it disappeared from view.

And coming in to Sydney, I looked as hard as I could to see the usual Sydney landmarks, like that opera house thing they seem to be so proud of. As the plane banking I literally caught a two-second view of it through a window on the left of the plane. So I really was in Sydney!

We seem to have caught up with the night, although according to my watch and my body clock it's 5PM. In Los Angeles. it's just rolled over midnight, so we're at least on the same day now!

I don't know if all airlines do this, but one of the audio channels is connected to the comms from the aircraft to air traffic control. At least whilst we were in the air over Australia. I get the feeling there's not a lot of chatter going on now, on the long shift over the Pacific. I dimly understood some of what they were talking about - flight levels and the like. A flight level is short hand for a particular altitude. A lot of the talk was about permission to move from one altitude to another, and the traffic controllers making sure that no aircraft got to close.

It was fascinating listening to our pilot getting permission to bank right, and the whole plane then turning that way. Also very interesting to hear about the way runways are assigned etc.

The lingo is also very concise, lots of repeating of commands back to the caller, and lots of "roger that". It also seems that "G'day" is used a lot in Australian airspace instead of "Roger"! The American pilot seem to have gotten the hang of that, just.

We had the fun in-flight dinner just before, which was surprisingly edible. But I love these things because of the amazing way they pack a whole meal into on tray, with cute little servings of dessert, and a little roll in a bag. And all the condiments and cutlery in a little bag!

Anyway, looks like I have another nine hours in the air. Hooray. Think I might try and sleep in a bit.

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