A collection of the planes I have flown on. 

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DO you have some interesting flight stories?  Please share them with me, with your permission I'll post them here!   I got a ton more and every time I remember one I try to add it to the list, or make a note here and come back and expand on it. 

Wow, when I sat down to make this list, flight after flight popped into my memory.   I so carefully remember    the very first commercial flight I was on. (circa 72) Winnipeg to Grand Forks on a Northwest Orient 727-100.  It had very mechanical operation of the flaps and I remember how those motors made such loud ZINGING sounds as they would adjust.  Each time I was convinced it was "the end."  The flight had about a 17 minute cruise on it as it went the 130 or so miles from Winnipeg Manitoba Canada to Grand Forks North Dakota. It was an extremely hard winter that year, it was about 30 below when I got on the plane in Winnipeg and didn't warm up much by the time we got to Grand Forks.  I remember when the pilot announced that we had crossed into the US of A (which they don't do anymore...something about not wanting a nutso person to get crazy or a terrorist to decide that was the moment to act!)  I looked out my window and there was this plume of smoke that we followed all the way to Grand Forks...it actually turned out to be two plumes as it was the smoke/steam from the Sugar Beet factory, first from Drayton, and then from East Grand Forks...it was so cold and there was the slowest of straight south winds which created this horizontal tube in the sky that we flew parallel to all the way for 90 miles.   
I had a window seat midsection on the left side of the plane.  Who would have guessed what was to come in the years since then!

About that time Republic was also flying (it got absorbed into Northwest eventually).  So we had many choices out of Grand Forks for a while.

The infamous DC9 that was most of the Republic fleet.  We nicknamed it, "The big bird with the Cast Iron Tail!"  


Republic also has some prop jobs that flew from GFK-MSP. A Convair CV-580s I recall.  

Chuck Schumacher and I were flying back to Los Angeles one time and had just taken off from GFK.  The republic prop (above)  hit a bump and I spilled a drink all over my new Christmas present-dress pants.  Then when trying to land in MSP we were over the runway and coming in gracefully (there was a bit of a snow storm happening) and all of a sudden the pilot poured on the gas and we lifted up for a go around.  Seems there was a plane that had not cleared the runway yet.  Which caused us to almost miss our connecting flight to LAX (our bags did miss the flight)  and Chuck's Parris Tenor Saxophone was damaged by the baggage handlers...at the last minute they wouldn't let him take it on board.   All in all it was a bad memory flight!

Other Northwest planes I've been on...

My Favorite   MSP-AMS  in the summer schedule is the Northwest Boeing 747 200

Also on that run in the winter schedule is the Northwest MD-11or DC10.  When I can fly first class I always ask for seat 2B.  I call it the "Shakespeare Seat" (as in "to be or not to be")  As of 2005 they now have taken the 747's off the Europe run and fly Airbus 330's and DC10's.  The 10's are scheduled to come out of service at some point and then it will be all Airbus.  Since 06 they're flying the Airbus exclusively from MSP-AMS.  I sure miss my old friend the 747!  The new Airbus First Class (OK BIZ CLASS) seats are supposed to be so wonderful...well maybe for a 5 foot 6, 150 lb. person, but for me the seats on the 747 were JUST FINE!  

KLM 747-200 MSP-AMS  when I didn't book carefully.  I like red tail (Northwest) better than blue tail (KLM) not for any particular reason.  Well OK I had a bad experience with a flight attendant on a KLM MSP-AMS flight one time.  But I just like the Northwest crews better. 

Avro RJ85 Regional Jet.   Both Northwest  GFK-MSP   and also United from Madison WI to CHI.  I like this jet a lot and am sorry that most airlines are taking it out of it's fleet.  High maintenance is to blame as it has 4 under wing engines instead of the more efficient and current popular 2 on the tail configuration for small jets.  I like it for 2 reasons.  HEY we're way up in the sky...4 is better than 2.  AND  the seats in the coach section are almost as wide as the first class section of the DC9.

Back in '83 I had the good pleasure of being a guest on TWA as I accompanied the Mayor elect of Las Vegas and several city councilmen (and a few news crews) on my first visit to Europe. 

We flew from LAV at 6am..a stop in Phoenix and then on to JFK. First Class. We got in cabs and went to the top of the world trade center where I did some live radio shows.  Then back to JFK and on a different L1011 from  JFK - Paris. We rode the TGV high speed train

 from Paris to Leon and back!  AWESOME   Then a short hopper from Paris to Frankfurt. (1st class Lufthansa with an open cockpit door...what a view) 

Then a train to Kassel to ride the Mag-Lev train.  (it was a "fam" trip to see about getting a high speed train from Vegas to Los Angeles.)  Then an L1011 from Frankfurt to JFK. First time I ever ate LAMB, and it was some of the best I've had in all the years since! Then I believe an L1011 back to Vegas by way of Phoenix.   11 days.  Almost NO sleep cause when the day was done in Germany/France, it was RISE AND SHINE time in Vegas and I was on the radio for a couple of hours.  So by the time I got to bed, it was almost time to start the day again.  On the JFK-PAR leg I was sitting next to a Frenchman who made it clear he didn't like Americans.  After the meal he had a glass of wine held near his crotch.  He was drifting to sleep.  I should have just pretended I was asleep too or got up and gone to the toilet, but kept watching as the glass tipped more and more and more and more.  And here was the dilemma!   If I wake him, for sure it will tip all over his crotch.  If I grab the glass he might wake up and see me going for his crotch, not a good thing on a closed system called an airplane.  TIP  TIP  a little more and a little more.  Finally my Minnesota Lutheran roots wouldn't let me sit here and do nothing so I tried to reach for the glass, which of course wakes him up, the wine spills, he's totally angry and screaming at me in French.  I learned my lesson that day, but at least I wasn't the one with a big red stain on my crotch!  On the L1011 Flight from Frankfurt to JFK the turbulence was so bad that they suspended food service and had all the crew sit down.  A real bumpy shaky ride for over an hour.  Then smother air as I slept and slept on the way home.

Airbus Eastern Airlines LAX to BNA (Nashville) 

with Chuck Schumacher and back.  Eastern went bankrupt shortly after that!

Fokker 100 KLM 

It's what they use as their short hop units around Europe.  Much like a DC9 if you didn't know...But they tell you on every flight that you're on a Fokker!

Northwest Orient and Republic and Northwest DC9's.  In every variation I think.  The most flown jet because that's Nwest's choice between so many routes that I fly.  Just in Oct. 2004 Jan Förster (Berlin) and I flew from MSP to JFK and back and it was the good old DC9 that Northwest runs back and forth.  So I've been in lots and lots of them.  They always seem to start and end my flying sequence if I'm going into GFK (home airport).

Boeing 757  Northwest was flying these between MSP and San Diego

so I was on one at least 4 times as I flew home for Christmas each year when we lived in San Diego.

Southwest Boeing 737 

Southwest's only plane model (of course with many versions and variations) I think.  I was on a LOT of these because Southwest doesn't use a HUB system but rather sort of a city to city back and forth system.  Flying between Nashville and the west coast, and Vegas and Nashville and Vegas and LA got me on a lot of those.   My most memorable experience was on this plane between Nashville and Houston.  It was a warm and beautiful summer day.  A bit windy on the ground.  The plane wasn't full so the seat between me (on the aisle) and the window wasn't full.   The window seat was occupied by an African visiting the USA.  He was dressed in full tribal dress with a head band even.  Said he had never flown before.  Had come to the USA on a boat.  He was very nervous!  I, of course being, "Mr. Experience" had taken it upon myself to reassure him at every step of the way, that the noises, plane motions, (remember it was a windy day, the pilot was really earning his pay) and such were, "totally normal!"   Well, we're at 32,000 feet and the pilot had just made the announcement that we had finally found some "clean air" and that folks could walk around etc.  Not 30 seconds later, something that I had never experienced before happened.  I can only presume that the pilot pulled back on the stick as hard as he could because all of a sudden we started climbing.  At even a more extreme angle than today's modern take off's.  We were climbing so fast that the wings lost their lift and all of a sudden we were sinking. I turned to my seat-mate and said with a certain amount of fear in my voice.  "THIS IS NOT NORMAL!"  ALL OF A SUDDEN there was a LOUD ZOOMING sound.  Another Jetliner went under us, and I mean RIGHT UNDER US.  Although I say it as a joke, it felt like he was so close that you could read the time on the pilots Rolex watch.   My seat-mate's eyes got as big around as saucers and I'm sure mine were pretty close to that.  Then our pilot got our nose down and we stopped sinking and started flying again.  SO, I've got about a gallon of adrenalin running through my system, but did feel that any danger was over.  And then we just flew on, and on, and on.  From the time I looked at my watch, which was a bit after this happened, until the cabin finally came on to talk to us was at least 4 minutes, plus the time before I checked my watch.   I was expecting the pilot to give us a pretty good story, BUT to my disappointment, this is what he said!  "Ladies and Gentlemen, sorry for that little bump back there, ATC...air traffic control told us there was another plane in our vicinity and they asked us to make a correction to make sure we maintained a safe distance between us!  Clear flying the rest of the way to Houston.  It's 91 degrees on the ground and sunny skies.  Thanks for flying Southwest...bla.bla.bla.bla.   I'm thinking in the time LAG before he came on to "calm" us about what happened one of two things were going on in the cockpit.  Either they were "cleaning" themselves up, or they had called the chief pilot and asked him, "just what should we tell the passengers about what just happened."  All in all it was the most dramatic, traumatic personal moment I've had in a commercial jet.  There are however more stories to tell, like when we crossed in front of a Western airliner on final at LAV and when the guy had the heart attach on the Northwest flight, AMS-MSP when we were 40 minutes out, on the flight that I actually "worked."  But that's another story.


Boeing 767 MSP-SFO  to see Doug Linney and do computer work.

EL-AL  JFK - Tel Aviv and back  12.5 hours on the return.  Me and 499 Orthodox Jews. 

KC135 Tanker from GFAFB-Mindenhall England-Adona Turkey and back.

PWA Burbank-LAS with Bob Floodeen.  He had a bunch of tickets with just B. Floodeen on them.  This was WAY before you had to prove who you were to fly.  So we booked a flight as Bill and Bob Floodeen.  When we got to the counter, she was asking other people for ID and I was getting a bit nervous.  When we got there and put down out tickets...She looked at us and said, "are you guys brothers???"  Bob answered, "why do you think we look alike?" and she said, "I'd have know that anywhere!"  Only funny thing was that Bob is 20 years older than me, and we don't look at all alike in frame, stature, face feature, or HAIR (well at least we didn't back then).  But whatever works I guess. She gave us our boarding passes and as we turned away from the counter I heard her ask the next person in line, "Can I see your ID Please?"  Go figure!

Douglas DC-8 from WPG to Montreal via Ottawa. 

This pencil looking plane had curtains every so often so you couldn't look down the aisle from the back to the front, cause if you did it would look like it was Crossing itself as it went through the air.  It was designed to "flex" but it sure didn't look or feel very safe if you were watching it.  They had to put the curtains back for the landings and take offs.  I remember landing in Ottawa and the pilot was real aggressive and as he laid the plane over to turn final we caught an updraft on the high wing.  So we REALLY tipped to the right.  This was before the overhead storage had doors on it and a LOT of stuff came flying down on us, women were screaming,  it was an interesting moment.  Then on the way back our flight was delayed for 4 hours so we upgraded to first class (cost me 44 bucks back then) and rode home against a head wind for almost 6 hours.  I sure got my moneys worth that trip.  We sampled everything they had in the liquor cabinet.  Because the plane was so late, many folks had taken other planes or made other arrangements but the food had been ordered for the full cabin.  So we ate seafood AND beef and deserts till we were stuffed and then the Purser came around and started mixing fancy after dinner drinks.  I had a Green Lantern.  A tall thin glass that he floated each liquor above the previous one (different specific gravities) until he had it 7 layers deep.  Don't remember that it tasted that good, but WOW fun to watch him make it.  You drank it via a straw and so as you inhaled you went from one liquor to another. 

Other airlines I flew on but can't remember the planes.

Western (and their Champagne Flights)   Lax to Hawaii and back.  I think a DC 10. 

We were in 1st class going.  July '86 with Lorie Loch.  Where we met Vern and Bonnie Carrillo from Phoenix.

Also Western from MSP to Denver when NWA went on strike.  Then the Frontier MILK RUN all the way to Winnipeg.

Also Western from LAX to maybe St. Louis then a rent a car to Nashville when I was house hunting the first time.  Also in August '86.

Trans Air in Canada  had some  smaller versions of a DC9 (Fokker perhaps?) that I would fly from Winnipeg to the cities in Northern Manitoba.

If you have a picture of a Transair Jet, please send it to me!

Only Lufthansa flight I've been on was from Paris to Frankfurt back in 83 on my FAM trip to ride the fast trains in France and Germany.  A 727 or equivalent.

Also my first trip to Europe.  First class was great and the door to the cockpit was open and I was in the first row, almost centered so it was an awesome experience to be able to look down the runway as we turned final and to stay right on the center line till we flared and the nose was looking up instead of forward!

Also in the 70's I was working for Yamaha Canada in Winnipeg.  I took a flight, a large airplane as I remember from Winnipeg to Minneapolis.  Stayed and had a wonderful weekend with Cousin LouAnne, my quasi soul-mate and oft traveling companion!  I was to return on Sunday because Monday I was flying from Winnipeg to Montreal for a Yamaha meeting in the Laurentian mountains.  About 6 in the morning the phone rang and it was a very pleasant Northwest operator, "Mr. Reitmeier, I'm sorry to tell you that Northwest Airlines is currently experiencing Strike Conditions but I do have good news, I can get you to Winnipeg tonight!  Here's your new flight agenda."  I was scheduled on a now defunct Western Airlines "Champagne Flight" from MSP to Denver.  Then a short layover and a flight on Frontier Airlines (737, they tried to only place 2 people on each side, with the middle seat folded down into a cocktail table-sort of a simulated First Class) from Denver to Winnipeg.  What she neglected to tell me however was that it was truly the dictionary definition of a MILK RUN.  The plane had 3 stops to make before Winnipeg.   NEAT HUH.  OK I admit it, I drank way to much Champagne on my way to Denver, it was free and hey they made you feel like royalty!  Amazing what a three dollar of bubbly can do for you!  Then 4 hours in Denver and well why not...let's have some more Champagne.  Finally we take off and the gentleman sitting next to me ordered a Coors Beer.  NO NO NO Here I was in the worlds central location for fresh Coors Beer, at the time a legendary beer that was not available in Minnesota or pretty much anywhere away from Golden Colorado as it was not pasteurized and so needed to be kept cold.  Many a Crookston resident had a six pack squirreled away under their kitchen sink not realizing that someday 30 years in the future another company would actually put BORN ON dates on their beer so that you could see how fresh it was.  By the time it was actually dragged out for a special event it was rot-gut, but it was STILL COORS BEER!   All of a sudden the realization that I could have been drinking Coors was overwhelming to me.  I ordered 2, one I drank, one went in my briefcase.  Then with every landing and takeoff I repeated my little plan.  Finally I had 4 beers and an unknown amount of Champagne in me, and 6 (OK I cheated with a willing flight attendant a couple of times) in the briefcase.  It was now 13 hours after I had left Minneapolis, landing in Winnipeg, my 6th airport of the day.  Well filled with alcohol and much affected due to the reduced altitude of the planes.  Now it's after midnight and due to the striking conditions around the continent we were way late.  I get to customs in Winnipeg.  Usually an explanation as I was an American citizen with a Winnipeg residents/immigration permit, coming from Denver of all places.  We got to the question, "are you bringing any alcohol into the country?" and I quickly replied, "I have have 6 Coors Beers in my briefcase, 6 Coors Beers in my stomach and an unknown quantity of Champagne in my system.  He just smiled and waved me to the departure gate to pick up my bags.

Stories to add:  Flying AMS-MSP with Purser Tom Carl (Karl?)  I sure wish I could track him down and interview him.  He had 3 of the funniest stories I've ever heard about plane travel.  1. The lady with an artificial leg who needed his help. 2. the cat that died in-flight. and 3. the handicapped 81 year old guy who had his 103 year old mother along who thought she was on a train.   If anyone knows Tom Please have him contact me for some interviews.


The flight the day the Air Traffic controllers struck   GFK to FAR, then a LONG pause  then 13 hours in the Denver Airport with no working bathrooms then finally to Vegas.

The trip I didn't take, arranged on September 10, 2001 From GFK to MSP to ROME and back.

WOW  and the big story, the DC10 flight from AMS to MSP in 03 where I worked the flight cause I couldn't sit next to tumblina next to me and where a passenger had  heart attach 40 minutes from MSP  (at bottom of page)

The bumpiest ride was on an L1011 from FRA to JFK when they actually stopped food service and set the crew down for over an hour.

I flew this KLM Fokker 50 from Amsterdam to Hamburg and back when I visited Frank in the fall of 2003

When I used to fly as part of my job with Yamaha Canada, we would fly these Twin Otters between the towns in Northern Ontario.  I remember coming into North Bay one afternoon, it was a warm summer day with the wind really heavy and cross runway.  On these planes the door to the cockpit (what door, it was an opening) OK the opening allowed you to hear the conversation between pilots.  I wasn't worried until we were lining up on final, engines pulled way back as we were floating down, and one pilot leaned over to the other and said, "Gee, I sure hope we make it!"   HMMM  don't sit in the front of the plane ;-)  If you look at this plane from front and center the body is almost SQUARE.

I know I'm not that famous, but I've been "made" in lots of places where I thought I was far far away and in a place where I was totally anonymous.  The worst time was sitting at an airport far away, I was in a terrible state having just broke up in a relationship that I thought was really going somewhere,  had it happened sooner in the "friendship" or much later when things had cooled it wouldn't have been so painful, but this happened right at the peak, the "partner" can do no wrong eclipse.  I was devastated, and flying to boot.  So on one of the plane changes I got on the phone to an old friend-Lori and I really knew each other and always sort of fell into each others arms when things turned to krap in our lives.  We had parted company years before but provided that safe place for each other.  Well I had gotten pretty upset/emotional on the plane so when we landed I made a beeline for a phone and using my AT&T calling card at less than 4 cents a minute, knew that I could really unload all my feelings/frustrations/sadness/and twisted up emotions.  Well after about 20 minutes of this I realized 2 things.  Number 1 was that at the kiosk that I was at there were 4 phones in a circle and at the adjoining phone there was a guy on the line.  Not so bad, just that he would have heard lots of personal stuff that was some of my truest innermost feelings and fears.  Only problem was that then I realized (#2) that this was not only a gentleman from near home that I knew, but was also the president of a company that my company had made a pretty significant and expensive pitch to about handling their web design, in-house computer network, and other technological things.   WHOOPS.    How embarrassing.  We not only lost the opportunity to have them as a client, but this was not a guy that I wanted to know all that about me.  Fortunately since that time I've matured enough to only talk important business on phones where I can see all around me AND no matter what emotional state I'm in, I DON'T NEED TO DEAL WITH IT till I'm somewhere private.  OH WELL Live and Learn!  Because of the thousands of people who listen to my shows each day, and because most of them have to fly through Minneapolis to get anywhere else in the world, I can't even sneak through Minneapolis.  Often when I get on flights, the attendants welcome me by name and play back a show they've heard, and I've been sitting at ends of concourses waiting for a flight and all of a sudden I hear, "I know that voice!"  And once again I'm busted.

Other flights I remember and have to tell you about:
Winnipeg to Thompson  sleeping till we hit the runway
In and out of JFK 3 times.   1. first trip to Europe   2. trip to Israel   3. With Jan F. to meet Henry
Hawaii with Lorie.  Western, DC10 met Vern and Bonnie Carrillo   got bumped to 1st class
because we got bumped on the Hawaii flight  got free Western tics.  Used mine to go to Look at house to rent in Nashville
First class to Nashville and back with Steve.

When I worked the festival in Sault Saint Marie, Gordy Tapp of Hee Haw fame was a Rep. for Yamaha and when I flew out the next day on a later flight, he had gotten me bumped up to first class.  YIPPIE!  (circa 74) Not an airplane story, but when we worked together in Regina he was the MC at the big grandstand show.  It ended with the RCMP Musical Ride performing.   About 100 Mounties on BIG horses.   Towards the end he grabbed me and said  come here, stand here, and no matter what happens, DON'T MOVE.   ALL of a sudden 100 horses were thundering across the field at us.  They split and came around again and again  doubling up each time.  What an experience feeling those horses actually make the ground shake like an earthquake.  

John a Northwest Airlines employee?  
Well it's Aug 06 and I'm going over some of my web pages and I guess it's time to tell you the story of my working flight a with NWA!  2003 was an awesome year for me travel wise.  I got to fly to Europe 4 times that year!  First time in March/April with Chris Peterson.  Second time in July.  Third time in October, just to see Frank in Hamburg and an overnight to meet Fabian's parents in Hofheim (near Frankfurt).  And the 4th time right after Thanksgiving, just at Henry's in Berlin.  It was on the 4th trip that a very memorable experience happened.  Not much on the flight from Berlin TXL to Amsterdam AMS, just remembered how tired I was after 8 days of being in Berlin.  Stayed at Henry's new apartment and it was the Christmas Season.  We even bought a real tree and took it home on the subway!  So I'm in Amsterdam and have the typical 3 hour wait to board the DC10 back home.  Usually I figure out ways to get in the first class cabin, but this trip none of my methods works, and I was unable to use my miles for an upgrade cause it had been a discounted ticket.  SO not only am I back in the coach class, but I'm like 4 rows from the very back of the plane on a NWA DC10.. 

In Amsterdam, before you get on the airplane you have to go through an additional "interview" and then pass into the room where your carry-on luggage is again scanned.  While waiting in line for the interview I was talking to some of the folks around me.  The guys behind me were all Curlers from NE Minnesota who had been at some kind of Curling competition in Europe and were getting back home.  So of course we were chatting.  One of the questions they were pondering was, "how full is today's plane?"  I had called earlier and knew that it was overbooked.  I was just sharing that information with them as we approached the "GUARDIAN" who did the preliminary interview and then based on our answers wrote down a code or two on our passport and then sent us to the Interrogator of his choice.  If you watch the sequencing for a while, you can see that, based on his perusal of you, he sends you to an easier Interviewer, or a TOUGH one. 

As I approached him he reached for my passport and asked me how many were traveling in my party.  I said I was traveling alone.  He said, "but I saw you talking to these men!"  And I OH SO STUPIDLY answered, "YA we're all from Minnesota, that's what we do in Minnesota, we talk to each other!"  That was a very bad answer.  I knew right away that my hope of being towards the front of the gang to board the plane was fading faster then the chances of a Viking win at the Superbowl.  He sent me to the guy who was OBVIOUSLY the toughest guy of the lot.  There were 3 waiting in front of me as I shuffled over to the assigned guy.  Now as you know if you've read any other information about me, I travel with LOTS of Radio gear.  Although it's all mine and it's always in my possession, it always gets scrutinized and questions and gone through with every flight.  I'm smart enough now to not even dodge the question.  If they ask, "do you have any electronic gear with you?" I always answer, "YOU BET, I'm a traveling news man and my bag is FULL of gear!"  SO this time based on being as Mr. Nasty's station, we get to take it all out and go over each piece.  Where did you get this? When did you get this?  Has it ever been repaired?  Where was it last night?  How did you get to the airport?  ON AND ON AND ON IT went.   Finally he let's me pass...they always do, so far anyway. (as of what happened this Month (Aug 06) it appears that the rules of carry-on have changed forever)  and I make my way through the scanners and onto the plane where most everyone has already boarded.  

I get to my seat 34G and the entire row of 5 is empty.  YIPPIE, the entire plane is FULL and yet miraculously my entire row of 5 is empty.  This is TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!  All the Curlers that were sitting in the area wanted to know what god I knew at Northwest that gave me that privilege.  My response was, "hey the doors aren't shut yet, this ain't the final answer."  Well finally the doors are staring to close and I let myself believe for just a few seconds that I might have a W I D E seat for the almost nine hours home to Minneapolis MSP.  But then the doors clunked just one to many times and I knew why without looking.  Two more folks got on the aircraft and headed for my row.  No problem, that still leaves 2 empty seats.  I had hit the jackpot.  This time you could hear the doors making their final clunks and we were going to be on our way...but NO the side door opens AGAIN!  Two people come aboard and start looking for their places.  I already knew that there were NO other empty seats on the plane other than the 2 that were right by me.  NOT ONLY THAT but the two folks coming on board...well let's just say, that if I was their son, they'd call me TINY!  They were HUGE people.  Now the Curlers are snickering, knowing what I was going to be facing!  As they approached my seat I got up to let them pass into the row and the lady says, "I need to sit here on the aisle."  Sorry Lady, ain't going to happen.  I looked here right in the eyes and gave her my best and biggest smile and said, "I'm sorry but I reserved this seat a long time ago and I have to go to the bathroom a lot and I'll be sitting in the aisle seat." 

SHE WAS TICKED!  So chubby-hubby moves through first taking the painful, middle of the five seat, course he just didn't take his seat, but put up the armrest between them and took a good 1/3rd of her seat too.  Then she gets in and puts up the armrest between her and my seat and takes up the rest of her seat and AT LEAST 1/2 of my seat.  So I put up the armrest on the aisle and try to sit down.  Because I am a "little" heftier than the average flyer, I had already made friends with the cabin attendant working our side and she had gotten me a seat belt extender.  So there  I was, sitting on the seat with about 1/2 of my body out in the aisle, it almost wasn't wide enough to hold me in place.  So here I am.  TIRED! FRUSTRATED! and now SQUEEZED!  Part of my visits to Germany that summer had been spending time with a master learning relaxation techniques, centering exercises and energy work.  But why did I have to put it all in practice right here and right now?  So I decided, OK God, you're sending me this test right now so let's see if what we have absorbed over the summer can have a positive effect on this situation. I went through all the methods I learned, I tried to send positive energy to the NICE LADY sitting next to me, I tried to be accommodating to her moving around a bit, nothing but peaceful thoughts and best wishes flowing out of my mind.  I can't put the tray table down, I'm balancing with one side of my rear on a seat and the other side hanging out in the aisle and almost 9 hours ahead of me.  When it came time to bring the first round of drinks by, the cabin attendant couldn't even get the serving cart past me.  Great huh?  Since we had made friends earlier, I quietly engaged her in conversation about my situation.  In my sales training we always learned that you first, acknowledge that the person is not bound to take action by your request, then state and restate the problem in generic terms before asking the specific thing you want.  So my request was, "I sure understand that the plane is full and there's not another seat to be had, and so I sure would understand if you can't do anything about it, but I really have a problem here.  I'm not going to be able to make the entire flight hanging out over the aisle like this.   I'm really tired, I've had a stressful trip and to top it off I'm hungry and can't even lower my tray table.  DO you think there's any chance that I can at least eat back in the galley?" (DC10's have a large center rear galley which I was just 4 rows away from.) "I'm a seasoned traveler and understand the risks of turbulence and such and promise I won't be any trouble to you!"  She smiled and said, "Well you know that's against the rules, but I'll see what I can do!"  I nodded my understanding and hopefulness!    

A little while later she slid by and with a wink, said, "well have you set up in the galley in a little bit!"   THANK YOU!  See there's also a very comfy wide chair that's at the rear of the galley.  And I knew that if I could just get permission to be there, that would become my new home for this flight.  At least till it was time to land in Minneapolis.  A little while later she came and tapped me on the shoulder, I busted out of my seat belt, and headed to the rear.  First meal was served to the cabin and I got to enjoy some food that based on my hunger level at the time, tasted pretty good!  Towards the end of my eating, I was getting interrupted by different crew members as they tried to reach around me to get into those little bins that held various and sundry things and all the single serving liquor bottles.  Finally the 6 foot plus attendant that was working the left side aisle decided that it was easier to ask me to get him things than get around me.  I remember so well him saying, "Hey hun, can you get me a Bacardi and a Bailey's from A6 on your right?"  Well that started off my first and probably only time of working on a Northwest Jet.  Pretty soon I was handing out items to all the 4 folks who were getting product from this galley.  I was making coffee, I was busting out ice, I was storing and getting new tray sets out.  Anything was better than trying to sit back down in my seat.   Finally first service was over and we got things all cleaned up and I was going to try to get some sleep.  Well I got back to my 1/2 seat and just then Tumbelina decides that she needs to get into her carry on luggage.  OK  no problem, I get up, she reaches down and pulls up this bag with big handles on it and she pulls out some cross-stitching materials.  HMMM so how is this going to work.  Well let me tell ya!   She'd put the needle through, pull it out the other side, and then to pull the thread tight she'd jab her elbow right into my ribs.  In, Out, Pull, Jab! In, Out, Pull, Jab! In, Out, Pull, Jab! and so it went!  No chance of sleep although I tried for some hours.  Finally I figured it was time for 2nd food service and I was back in the galley waiting as the crew assembled to start prepping.  I put the French bread pizza's in the warmers, got more coffee going, started loading trays, broke out the ice cream from the Styrofoam  boxes, careful, "don't touch the dry ice!" and pretty much played the role of cabin boy!  Hey we were a team. They went out with their service trays.  I enjoyed my lunch standing back in the Galley and then it was time for collection and cleanup. 

By this time I knew everyone working the back and middle cabins.  Things were going smoothly if I don't mind saying so myself.  We were in collection mode and I and the Purser were stuffing garbage into a trash bag right were the galley breaks open into the bathroom section in the back.  All of a sudden the general hum of the cabin noise changed and we glanced to the front, only to see that about 12 people were moving in on this man on a left row aisle seat.  Actually we couldn't see him because they were all in the way.  She dropped everything she had in her hands and went flying down the left aisle.  With a stern voice she ordered everyone to take their seats.  Did some sort of hand signal to the attendant that was at the mid-break in front of her. And sort of ended up right in this guys face.  The other FA (flight attendant) got on the phone apparently to the cockpit and we immediately slowed down to the speed that you detect when we're coming in for a landing and just sort of floating.  I'm guessing that that was because, at the moment they didn't know if it was just a simple thing like a guy having a heart attach, or the start of a terrorist event, and I now understand that they want the plane going slower and being more controllable if it's something that could get ugly.  Well it turned out that it was "just a guy having a heart attach!"  An elderly European man was in distress, but in some ways that was a great relief.  A sick man we can deal with, a terrorist? not so lucky!   So first thing they did was get out an o2 bottle and get some oxygen flowing, then they got out the de-fibrolater machine and hooked it up to him.  By this time they had asked if there was a Dr. on board and I was pretty proud of our mostly Minnesota co-flyers.  I've been in other places when they've asked for a Dr. and nobody will cop to it.  Here, within seconds there was this guy in a fancy Armani suit heading back from 1st class, and two other returning vacationer looking guys surrounding this guy. 

They immediately came to the agreement that we needed to get him on the ground as fast as possible.  The de-fib machine not only can shock a badly beating heart back into some sort of acceptable rhythm, but also was giving them information as to what was going on with this guy.  We never did actually shock him but it was great to know that it was there if needed.   Well we were 40 minutes out of Minneapolis at this moment,  they got everyone set back down, including me, and put the gas back to the throttles!  We covered that 40 minutes in 20 minutes.  Never slowed down till we were on final on a direct in approach.  Then while still going pretty zippy on the main runway, turned off directly and headed for the terminal.  None of that get to the end of the runway,  slowly swing around, then limp to the jetway.  WE WERE TRUCKING!  We get to the gate and they immediately pop open the back door and one of those service trucks with the box that lifts up was right there.  In come a couple of EMT's, a couple of Firemen, a couple of Policemen and an Immigration guy.  Main goal, get him off the plane.  We all had to remain seated during all this (of course they let the 1st class passengers slip off through the front door).  He was traveling with a younger man who was gathering together all their cabin stuff.  Only problem was that the immigration guy wouldn't let them off the plane till he had done the "interview."  It was interesting to see the EMT's and Firemen react pretty negatively to that!  They wanted him off now.  But he stood there and asked this guy the entire run of questions before he would let them wheel him out.   Neat huh!  Equal service to everyone, even if you might be taking your last breath.  So finally they got him off the back door, we started deplaning.  Goodbyes and Thank You's were said all around, I was complimented on my excellent job and thanked for having a good attitude about everything and got a little set of golden wings!  My first (and probably last) day of work at Northwest Airlines.

One interesting observation that I had earlier had got answered in an interesting way.  The Purser on a flight is totally in charge of the passengers.  Only the Pilot has more authority.  Usually they're easy to spot cause they're the oldest FA's on board, but the purser that day was very young, for sure in her 30's and I was wondering how it was that she was the Sr. FA.  In the pause while we were waiting to get the man with the heart problem off the plane I asked her.  She was not only an FA with almost 20 years experience but was also an RN...a Registered Nurse.  What a great combination of skills to have when you're thousands of miles (and sometimes many hours) away from a hospital! 

Footnote: A couple of hours later I heard that the guy was going to be OK!  Which was a great feeling after all the things that went down on the trip!

It was February of 2005.  I had managed to find a couple of weeks in the dead of winter to sneak off to my favorite European city...of course non other than Berlin!  It's where my "firstborn" foreign exchange student is from and between Henry and his large family and lots of other friends that I've made, I've come to think of Berlin, particularly the Mitte (means middle) section of the former "east" Berlin as a second home.  On this particular trip I wasn't doing the big tourist thing.  I was really just kind of hiding out and recharging my batteries after a stressful year of work and it was sort of a last chance period as a couple of great employees were moving on to bigger and better jobs and so I'd be front and center in the business as I was recruiting/training/and starting to trust some new folks to take care of the business on an hour by hour basis. 

If you want to know some of what I do, visit:  http://helpdeskguys.com  and http://bluemarbletechnology.com  and I might as well put in the radio side of things which you can find at  http://lnr.net  and http://theminute.com  About half way through my "vacation" of hanging out in Henry's downtown apartment and just vegetating most of the day and finally doing my radio shows starting at 3:30pm Berlin time (8:30am back home).  Then in a couple of hours Henry and other roommates would be arriving and we would either head out for one kind of dinner or another, or I had dinner ready and we ate in and then went out to meet friends or see a movie or something unusual.  Well on Saturday morning I got one of those calls that you hope that you never get!  Especially when you're half way around the world.

My aunt Barbara, who lived with Uncle Erwin just a mile down the road from our farm, had dropped dead without warning.  Mike had talked to her about 8 that morning and she was sleeping in (usual for a cold winter day) and he was down in the kitchen making coffee and checking the markets and just doing what gets done on a typical cold winter farmer day in Minnesota.  About 9:15 uncle Mike (that's what we call him, although his real name is Erwin) hadn't seen her yet so he hollered upstairs asking when she was coming down.  No response.  So he headed upstairs and found her, half off the bed and obviously not with us here anymore.  911 was called, other family nearby were summoned, a deputy arrived first, but there was no chance that Barbara would be with us here on Earth again!  Just a couple of days before I left for Berlin, she had called about 11:30 (We were both night owls) and asked if she could bring her laptop over for me to fix.  It wasn't printing again. 

I had really encouraged her (and everyone around me) to get a laptop cause then she could bring it to me rather than me having to go down there!)  She was over quite often to have me do something on the computer for her.   Well that night we had a pretty good talk.  As I look back on it, it did seem that she was different,  more reflective, we talked about her kids one of which had been estranged from them for about 3 years.  It was a good conversation.   One that I had reflected on, on the flight to Germany and had talked to Henry about when I was there.  Well, they wanted me to be one of the nephews to carry the casket and so I was on a quest to find a flight home to do that.  Five days is the common gap between a death and a funeral in our part of the woods, but there was no way no how that I could get home on Tuesday for a Wednesday funeral.  So they changed the funeral to Friday, a week after her death so I could get home and due my duty.  Something that I really wanted to do. 

It would all work out.   I leave Berlin at the usual 6am, on Thursday and arrive in Grand Forks,  TXL-AMS-MSP-GFK, at ten that same evening.  I would miss the visitation at the funeral home but would be able to get a good nights sleep and then attend and due my duty at the 10 am Funeral on Friday.  Well God had other plans!  I was up at my usual 3:30am to get showered and get to the airport by 4:50 for the 6:05 departure.  I had a first class/biz class ticket and all was good.  Or so I thought.  The day before we had driven from Berlin to Hamburg.  An easy 2 hour drive, to see Andre Rieu'.  Henry's grandmother had recently turned 80 years old and when asked what she would want for such a momentous milestone she had asked for tickets to see the Dutch Violin player and his orchestra.  I knew nothing of this violinist.  Henry had told me that Oma's request was to see Andre and that he had bought me an 80 Euro ticket and that I was going.  

OK...I'm not too much for violin and orchestra music, but as they say..."when in Berlin..."  However in the couple of days before I had come down with a rather dry hacking cough and was really trying to back out on my commitment to attend the concert with Henry, Oma, and Jan-Henry's brother.  Henry would hear nothing about it.   I was going and that was that.   I have been to many concerts and really hated it when someone near me was constantly hacking or sneezing and really wanted to not put any one through that.  Well we were supposed to leave at 3pm, a 2 hour drive, a nice dinner, and then the concert at 8pm.  There was a snow storm!  Unusual for northern German both in that place and in that part of the year!  Our two hour drive took almost 5 hours.  We only got to the concert hall just in time to walk in for the opening down beat. 

But wait...it's not a concert hall but what in Minnesota or North Dakota would be a large sized hockey arena.  Bowl shaped with a flat floor and a stage set up on one end.  What I thought was going to be a quiet violin concert in a stuffy concert hall with lots of very formal people around was a fun, crazy, beer drinking, brat eating festival of classical/pop oriented pieces, mostly from the Strauss days with a little bit of New York and Broadway music thrown in.   I had a wonderful time and didn't pay any attention to the weather.  After all  I had walked in the park with Henry just a couple of days before, this was just some flurries right?  WOW was I wrong.   Well we got home late in the evening...actually early in the morning.  I got about  2 hours of sleep...which was all I needed since I had first class seats all the way home.  I was up at 3:30am and Henry had me to the terminal at just the right time.  Holding a first class ticket, I walked right by about 100 people standing in their Que and went right to the gal at the first class counter.  I laid my tickets down with a flourish and announced  TXL-AMS and on to America. 

Just as I was doing this I saw a couple of people out of my right eye.  I looked over and at first glance it was a woman from the Sweet Adeline's, the women's barbershop group from Grand Forks ND...what the heck were they doing in Berlin.  Well it was actually some good friends of mine (hey it was early) from Berlin.  Their son had been a foreign exchange student in Henderson Nevada with a good friend and mentor of mine a few years before.  We had all become friends and I had enjoyed fine meals at their home several times.  This trip I had sort of ducked out on seeing everyone, just really trying to de-compress.  I hadn't told them I was going to be in Berlin so didn't make contact.  Hey it's a big city!  But of course Ilona and Peter talk to Bob in Henderson a lot and he has said that I was there and since I hadn't gotten a hold of them, they were at the airport at 5AM to see me and give me a gift and have me carry a gift back for Bob.   Well color me embarrassed, BUT it gets worse!  Ilona's first statement was, "Hi John, wow it's too bad about the snow storm and your flight home being canceled!"   WHAT?  I practically shout still wondering what a Sweet Adeline was doing in Berlin.  I turn to the counter person and she kind of nods her head in agreement saying, "yes all flights anywhere near Amsterdam are canceled and will be for some time!"  So I'm trying to absorb that, figure out why a singer from Grand Forks North Dakota is standing on my right and then it all hits me.  This is NOT a North Dakota person, it's Ilone and Peter.  Why are they there at this time of morning.  To see me cause I didn't make time to see them.   OK I think I'm on the same page as everyone else, except, how am I going to get home for the funeral?  How is this all going to work out?  Henry is leaving town to go to Amsterdam by train.  Henry's parents are leaving town to go to a meeting in Frankfurt,  Henry's brother and his girlfriend are leaving to spend the weekend in a resort on the North Sea.  What am I to do?  Stop, think, calculate!  OK, turning to the counter.  What do I do...she says, get in that line over there.  It went down the concourse and made a turn a LONG way away.  I said, but I have first class tickets and the reply was, sorry but that's the only line. 

SO, I and Ilone and Peter go and stand in line.  They can only stay for an hour because they have to be home because the cable TV guy is coming to their house.  This is starting to sound like a bad B movie!  So Henry comes and stands with me for an hour or so as we're trying to figure this all out.  He has to go back to the television network cause he's got work to get done before he leaves for Amsterdam by train.  I'm in line EXACTLY to the minute 4 hours.  No sitting down, no food, no water, no bathroom, no seat!  My feet are killing me.  For the last hour or so in line, I'm talking to the Irishman in the adjoining line.  I'm positive he's someone famous.  I know I've seen him somewhere before, on TV or the news or something but can't place him and he's not volunteering who he is, but obviously by his suit, his luggage, and his mannerisms, this guy hasn't flown in the back of an airplane for a long long time!  We have a great chat about lots of things that you're not supposed to talk about when you meet someone.  Religion, politics, national interests, all the taboo subjects.  It was a great conversation!  Finally we get to the counter.  

Across the counter was a very pleasant looking TOTALLY STEREOTYPICAL Dutch woman.  Blond, trim, about 60 years old.  Her name also was Barbara (easy to remember).  I smile and she looks at me plaintively and asks if I could do her a BIG favor.  But of course, just name it!   Well she had had surgery recently, and needed to go to the little girls room in the worst way.  I asked why she hadn't just gone previously.  She said you don't know what's going to happen when I leave!   I said NO PROBLEM and I opened up my big heavy leather trench coat.  I spread it about 6 feet wide and all the way down to the ground.  She smiled and said thanks and ducked out a door and then came out and crossed the waiting line of folks to head to the bathroom.  You should have heard the nasty comments that were thrown at her.  Unbelievable.  I just waited and in about 3 minutes she was back and we got to work finding a ticket home for me.  When she got back her counter mate said she had to go to...so my Irish friend held open his trench coat and off she went.   Whew at least we had the ground crew so they could concentrate on the task at hand.  

Well Barbara tried and tried and tried to get me home.  No matter how you count it, it's 3 legs and 4 cities cause, believe it or not, Berlin is not a gateway city to the USA.  So I had to get to a gateway, then hopefully to the Minneapolis gateway on this side of the ocean, and then finally to my little stop in Grand Forks ND which only flies jets in and out of Minneapolis!   No matter what route she tried to get me on,  even as far east as Vienna and as far south as Rome and Paris and London and Frankfurt, there was always one piece of the journey that there were no seats available.  She could even get me to Memphis, but then there was no way to get me to Minneapolis to catch a flight up to Grand Forks.  After many minutes of trying different routes, she looked at me and with great apology said that there was no way that she could get me to the funeral.  I think she expected me to erupt at that time but I felt that she had done her job above and beyond the call of duty!  I thanked her profusely and said just find me a ticket home.   Saturday was the first time that she could get me back!  Book it!...and she did! 

Now to figure out the next problem.  Everyone that I knew, was leaving.  Peter and Ilone extended an invitation for me to stay with them but I just wasn't up to a strange house and bed and everything after all of what had happened.  So here was the plan.  I took a cab back to Henry's apartment, except he wasn't there yet so I ducked into a neighborhood coffee shop.  He came home at 4:30, gave me the key and was off to the train station.  I had 3 days to really be alone in Berlin.  It was actually fantastic.  Peter and Ilone came and got me one night and we went out for a great dinner.  I watched movies a lot cause Henry has over 2000 of them in his home collection.  I meditated, I prayed, I slept, and I walked around the town.   Finally the sequence was repeated on Saturday morning.  Peter picked me up and dropped me at TXL airport, I got on my way to Amsterdam and when we landed there had the shock of my life.  It looked like Minneapolis after a snow storm.  Even though it had been 3 days since the snow fall, there was snow piled up everywhere.  Only one runway was open and lots of regional flights were still canceled or being re-routed. It was chaos!  Fortunately my first class/biz class tickets got me access into the first class lounge and so I could escape the hectic and sit back and relax till moments before my plane was ready to depart.  I got home at 10pm on Saturday.  Don't remember who picked me up at the airport.  It was a day after auntie Barb was laid to rest.  It was a trip I'll never forget.   But I did run into Barbara the blonde haired, ticket agent in Berlin again on a visit 2 years later.

It was December of 2006.  I didn't really have any overseas trips planned.  On my last trip, my aunt Barbara died without warning back home.  Then just a few months later my Mother passed away, also suddenly, but at least we had a few days to get ourselves prepared and to say all those things you want to say before someone departs!  I had been working for almost a year on becoming an adoptive parent.  Minnesota is pretty cool about single parents adopting and as an adopted child myself it was something I had been wanting to do for a long time.  One of those "pay it forward" type of things.  (Just as aside, the efforts to adopt failed...that's a story for another page but we gave it the good old college try and learned a whole lot!) Well with the loss of Mom, we quickly sold my parents townhouse in town and it was decided that Dad would live the summers with me here at the farm, his childhood home, and then winters in town with my sister.  It's so fortunate that we have the ability, desire, and facilities to do this.  He was born in 1915 and although as of the summer of 2007 he still takes pretty much care of himself, he sure needs someone around both to engage him socially and see to his diet and pill taking and such!  I'm so lucky, up to now at least, he still makes his own bed, washes his own clothes, and is pretty independent.  He gave up driving at 91, not cause he can't, but he doesn't trust his legs to respond quickly enough.  Well in taking care of Dad for my part of the year and working a LOT of hours on the help desk to try to maximize profits, and then going to meetings and tons of paperwork and interviews, and lessons attached to the adoption, I WAS BEAT!  I know that the minute a potential son arrived that it was going to be even more intense and saw this little window of opportunity where I could sneak away to my favorite hideaway in the entire universe.  Downtown Berlin!  December 5 depart, 6th arrive and leave for him on December 14th and with the 7 hours of time change, actually getting home that same day.

Because it was kind of a last minute thing, and I was using 100,000 air miles to secure a first class and business class seat the entire way, I ended up with a weird route.  The flights that I wanted which were direct from Minneapolis to Amsterdam and back (MSP-AMS) were booked full of frequent flyers cashing in their miles and the only way I could get on the flights I wanted was to spend another 50,000 

weird flight  gfk-msp-newark-ams-berlin   then berlin-ams-chicago(klm 747 upstairs)-msp-gfk
got to MSP  flight delayed delayed  so got to dump newark  went direct msp-ams on new airbus  Sat next to heart defib company woman
depart 5am berlin   french/nigerian  I asked if I had to fly 4 legs if he could find direct ams-msp for me
he said no  but he  would hold my bags and to go to cust. ser. desk  that woman had the power to do it but don't expect to happen
I get there   It's Barbara   I start spouting   "you don't remember me but   2 years ago you had had surgery there was a snow storm in AMS  4 hour lines   you had to use the bathroom  (she thought I was a nut by this time)  and then I said "and I held my jacket like this"     and then the light went on and she remembered
booked me direct  txl-ams-msp-gfk  all first  class  new airbus
get to ams  get on new airbus
wont' take off      maintence not done by qualified guy
1 1/2 hour delay
bob dirks neice
St pauls christmas card 

DO you have some interesting flight stories?  Please share them with me, with your permission I'll post them here!   I got a ton more and every time I remember one I try to add it to the list, or make a note here and come back and expand on it.