I said goodbye to Tim, who agreed to book my hotel and next flight as soon as he knew the plane had actually taken off (anything can change with military flights). I went through security, which was stressful but pretty standard. I sat in the waiting area and then got on the bus that would take us to the plane.
The plane. More like the BEAST. I couldn’t believe how big this thing was. I thought we might actually be going into space. This is the plane that carries other planes where they need to go. This is the plane that carries the tanks. We think it was a C-5; here is a photo (not by me – my jaw was on the floor and it was taking everything I had to keep moving forward and get on the thing):
There were no windows. The seats looked like they had been installed in the 50’s as an afterthought and never thought of again. Instead of headphones, they distributed earplugs, because it’s so effing loud. The safety demonstration for some reason included how to inflate your life vest in mid-air after jumping out of the plane into the water (after tossing your child out first, of course). My lunch was a baloney sandwich in plastic wrap and a bag of Doritos out of a fun pack. The “flight attendants” wore jumpsuits.
After giving up my empty row to a woman traveling with kids, I ended up in the very, very back. Right by the cargo. I basically was the cargo. Also right by the bathrooms. Imagine the raunchiest smelling port-a-potty you’ve ever had to use – that’s what I smelled every time someone opened the door to use the bathroom. Speaking of the bathrooms, the sinks were filled with individually wrapped moist towelettes, the kind you get after eating crab legs – better than nothing, I suppose. Oh, and a full-size oxygen tank. Just in case?
The noises this plane made were unbelievable. The earplugs were not optional. Being in the back, I think I had the worst of it. I jumped out of my skin every time the landing gear made a move. There may have been a few tears when it sunk in that I was going to be on this monster with no windows for twelve hours.
Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion in Part III…