Traveller's tales

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Air travel

Sitting comfortably in a most unnatural, yet latterly very natural environment, the crowded cabin of a 777 at 35,000 feet above sea level, which, at this precise moment happens to be the Black Sea, I marvel at how easily we frequent fliers take to jet propulsion hurtling us at 584 mph through an virtually oxygen free atmosphere at an icy -50C, halfway between our comfort zone and the stratosphere.

People are watching an in-flight movie, chatting while waiting to use the facilities, sleeping or speaking a Babal of foreign tongues (English and Arabic mainly, and several I couldn’t even guess at). A lot of people are using Dubai airport as a sort of high-tech stepping stone on their way further east and beyond.

The tireless crew are answering questions, putting things in overhead lockers, or chatting to each other in the rare moments when they have nothing pressing them, when everyone is still and contented. Life goes on amid the furious roar of the gigantic engines right and left (or is that port and starboard) of us, burning high octane fuel at the alarming rate of a ‘wing-full’ every three hours, while drawing 5 tonnes of air through each silver portal every minute, to keep us airborne.

The air pressure on the wings and tail, enough to tear down two multi-storey car parks, is happily contained by cast titanium airframe members and passengers and pets are borne aloft, if not in absolute comfort, then relatively so, where for 7 hours or so, the need to drive 7 days on the roads between two climatically different destinations is thankfully removed.

Travelling by air is exhausting and tiresome, but it is much, much safer than starting down the M6 and finishing on Sheikh Zayed Highway.
Robert L. Fielding

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