This all started back in August of 2002. My personal dream is to go to North Dakota. I don’t know a single person that has ventured to that state, so there is no one to tell me what it’s like. I want to find out for myself. There is a whole slew of other dreams that I have though, and to go to Wichita was one of them. I don’t know why. It just is that way. Well, this friend and I started talking about going to Wichita back in August. One reason for our choice was that it was cheap due to Air Tran’s route from ATL to ICT. Of all of the cities we could choose from because of the cheap flights to them, Wichita was the most appealing. Kansas is not necessarily a state that people go to often and we could do more than just a flight there and back. Delta matches Air Tran’s cheap fares probably about two weeks of every month. This idea came up a few times and then died, but early in February, we finally decided that we were serious about doing it and set out on the quest to get approval from our parents. That was a surprisingly easy task. It frightened me how easy it was. Anyhow, the day finally came… and went, so here is the report:
I awoke at 5:45 in the morning and was very tired after a short four and a half hour sleep (my friend slept over at my house). Nonetheless, I was quite excited and was fully awake pretty quickly. I ate breakfast and took a shower. At about 6:45 a.m., my mom drove us to the MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authorities- our subway and bus system in Atlanta) station nearest my house. The train departed at about 7:15 and we were on our way! The adventure had started! The ride was about forty five minutes, as usual.
Upon arrival at ATL, my friend and I went to the self check-in kiosk in the MARTA station. I tried to get us checked in, but the machine said it couldn’t do it, so one of the women at the desk there helped us out. Her words will remain in my mind for a long time. It was just funny to see her reaction.
After looking at her screen for a second, she said, “I see we have you coming back on the afternoon flight. Short trip.” She kept a straight and unquestioning face, but I could tell that she had no idea what was going on. We just nodded and said “yes” and were on our way.
We entered the airport and headed straight for security. The lines were massive. For anyone familiar with ATL, they extended far into the Atrium, an area with a lot of restaurants, couches, chairs, and some stores. I wasn’t too worried because in my experiences with post September 11 security in ATL, they are pretty speedy. It took about twenty five minutes.
After clearing security with no searches, we went down the escalator to the train between terminals and made our way to the E terminal, the international terminal. Now, our plane was not leaving from there. It was leaving from the C terminal, but we wanted to see the South African Airways 747-400 that arrives in ATL from CPT, JNB, and Cape Verde at about 8:30a.m. It is quite an exciting visitor to see because when 70% of all aircraft are Delta, 25% are Air Tran, and then the measly 5% of everything else (those statistics are not necessarily true, I’m just trying to get a point across that there is not much to see in ATL), a foreign visitor is wonderful. There is an utter lack of foreign airlines that visit ATL (BA, Air France, SAA, Aeromexico, Lufthansa- might sound like not so bad, but compare it to other airports of comparable size such as ORD). We got to the E terminal and found the SAA 744, the only passenger 747 service to ATL, and took a lot of pictures. I submitted one to this site and I think it has a slight chance of getting accepted. I’ll post it in this thread if it does. Anyhow, the aircraft had just landed from a flight from CPT to JNB to Cape Verde to ATL. After that exciting mission to see that aircraft was completed, we went to see a DL MD-11. Next time I fly in June, most of them will be gone, so I wanted to see one while they were still in the fleet. With our escapade in the international terminal over after that, we got back onto the train and went to the C terminal to board our flight to ICT.
Photo © Doug Owens
Photo © Gregg Stansbery
March 3, 2003
Delta flight 4736
Photo © Gregg Stansbery
Right as we arrived at the gate, there was a big line of people going down the steps to get out onto the tarmac to board the flight. I went and asked if our flight was boarding yet and the woman at the desk told us that it was, so we got into the line. In about a minute, we had had our tickets taken and were going down the steps to get to the plane. We walked out into the cool and breezy outdoors and got close to the plane and just stopped and started taking pictures. That had to have made the ground crew and security a little bit worried, but we were never encountered by them. We walked up the steps and found our way to our seats in the CRJ-200 operated by Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA). The seating was 2-2, something that I was not used to, so it was really cool. My seat was seat 5D and my friend’s was 5C. I was expecting a cramped and uncomfortable seat being a pretty small regional jet, but I was pleasantly surprised. Although it was a bit thin, that did not affect comfort of the seat, which was fine. It was not the most comfortable I’ve sat in, but not the least either. The legroom was good too for what I had expected from a regional jet. I flew on a BA RJ100 in June of last year from LGW to BCN and besides being six abreast instead of the normal five for that aircraft, I couldn’t even fit my backpack without pushing really hard, to get under my seat. The seats were so close that it would hardly go between my seat cushion and the seat back in front of mine. The legroom on this CRJ though was as good as many mainline aircraft that I had flown on. One thing I found impressive was that every single one of the sixty seats on the plane was full. I had never been on a flight before, at least that I can recall, in which every seat was full.
After about five or ten minutes of sitting there, the plane began to taxi. I do not know when in that period the door was closed. It was quiet enough that I did not notice at all. The sole flight attendant on board did a safety presentation at the front of the cabin and after a short taxi, we were in line to take off. I believe that there was one aircraft in front of us. Planes were taking off in a westerly direction that day and we took off from the north runways.
I must say! The takeoff performance of that fully loaded CRJ was incredible! I was pushed back into my seat immediately and with more force than a normal takeoff, even from a good takeoff aircraft like the 757. After a very normal takeoff roll, the plane was in the air and gained altitude quickly. The flight was going to be two hours and one minute and our cruising altitude was going to be 31,000 feet.
After a typical climb time of about 20 minutes, we reached altitude and began to cruise. The speed was never mentioned, but with the statistics of the CRJ, it was probably in the low to mid 500 mphs. It wasn’t too long until the drink and snack service commenced. There was but one flight attendant and although he was not “warmest” guy you will ever meet, he did a very good job. When he got to me, as usual, I was offered a drink and the snack. I got a Coke and the snack was pretzels. After flying some more flights that day, I concluded that Delta has switched from the snack mix that they used to serve not too long ago, to pretzels. It could be because the snack mix contained peanuts and some people are severely allergic to them. I ate my pretzels and drank my coke and just looked out the window for a while. The flight attendant came back to me and upon seeing that my Coke was empty, asked if I would like some more. I asked if he could and he took my cup to refill it in the only galley on the plane at the front. He brought it back and I continued to drink.
Outside of the plane, after about forty five minutes, I noticed this strange mountain range that ran totally straight north to south. There was a valley in the middle and just a single range of mountains on each side. All around was just totally flat land. It was quite strange. If anyone could shed some light on what these ranges were, please do. Eventually the flight attendant collected the trash from the drink and snack service. My only activity for the rest of the flight was looking out the window and talking to my friend. I observed the landscape go from the brownish greenish color of the South in the winter to just plain brown. For the most part, the land we were over was flat for the duration of the flight.
About 30 minutes before landing, our plane began its decent. Unfortunately (I like turbulence and anything like it.) there were none of those big drops where you lift out of your seat for a second. When we were probably seven minutes from landing, there were these two airports that I saw, but both were just one runway, so I don’t believe could have been ICT.
At this point, my friend remarked, “I’ve never seen so many shades of brown in my life.” That was true. It was a very very brown place. Snow was in places along the ground. When we were getting very close to landing, the plane was rocking back and forth, and I even noticed that inflight some, and eventually we touched down. The slowing down process was normal and not very loud, so I’m not sure if reverse thrust was used or not. The plane came to a parking spot just outside the airport and my friend made another funny remark, “This airport looks like a school turned into an airport.” That was true as well. Once the plane came to a stop, the doors were opened and the passengers started to deboard. We waited until everyone was off so that we could take pictures of the inside of the plane without people in them. Neither the flight attendant nor the pilots nagged us to get off and that was really nice because we were delaying them by staying on. Once we got off of the plane, we took some more pictures (had to be annoying security by now) and then I went to head inside for fear of being arrested (We had been out there for several minutes on the tarmac.). Right then, something that my friend had gotten out of a magazine went blowing away and he went running after it across the tarmac! It was really funny and I started laughing! After he caught up with it, we went inside.
Photo © Mark Abbott
I liked the ICT airport. The inside was clean and functional. It is a bit outdated, but at least it is clean. We went outside and played in the snow for a few minutes. It had snowed the week before and there were still piles where snow had been plowed into. After that, we went inside, did some shopping in the gift shop, and ate lunch at Burger King. I bought some ice cream at TCBY and we proceeded to security.
My friend decided to put a stapler and a really strong magnet in his backpack in order to fool security. I was surprised that the stapler wasn’t confiscated, or even found, in ATL. Also, he put a bonsai tree kit in his backpack just in case security searched it. Well, right as I was walking through the metal detector, I realized that I had my cell phone and a lot of change in my pocket. It went off and I went over to be searched. I must have been a funny sight. I was sitting in a chair, arms outstretched, with my ice cream in my right hand. Just as I was finished, I noticed that my friend’s backpack was about to get searched. I tried to suppress laughter over what I knew was about to happen. The woman started to pull things out. She set the stapler aside and then found the bonsai kit. You can imagine the look on her face. Then, probably as a matter of procedure, not actually expecting a “yes” answer, she asked if he had a magnet. He said that as a matter of fact, he did. She said she just wanted to send the stapler and magnet through the X-ray machine again. As the magnet was passing through, a loud clang could be heard as the magnet stuck to the side of the machine. It was extracted and we were on our way to our plane.
March 3, 2003
Delta flight 4870
Duration: about one hour
Aircraft: Embraer EMB-120
Photo © Gregg Stansbery
The flight was boarding right as we got to the gate, so we got in line, had our tickets taken, and went to the elevator to go down (My friend wanted to experience the elevator and I thought it would be fun, even though it was just one story down.) We walked outside, took some pictures of the plane, and boarded. I found my way to my seat, 7A. He got into his which was 8A. The configuration was 1-2 and with neither of us ever sitting in a one, we decided to go for that. The flight was probably about half full. After a few minutes, the door was closed and the engines started. When the taxiing began, the flight attendant did a safety presentation at the front of the cabin. After a reasonably short taxi, we started to takeoff. I did not find the engine noise to be too much louder than a jet, but the noise from a propeller is a sort of pulsating and vibrating noise, and as a result, in my opinion, is less pleasant that the noise of a jet engine. The plane was airborne pretty quickly, climbing to an altitude of 18,000 feet. The climb was short, and once we were at altitude, the flight attendant started serving drinks and pretzels. I got some Coke, but I did not want any pretzels. It is hard to describe, but it almost seemed like the fact that I did not want anything to eat offended her. I could just sense it and she seemed a little bit different after that. She came back and asked me again a few minutes later and once again, I politely declined. A little while later, she came by and collected trash. I just looked out the window. For a little while, it was just flat and snowy down on the ground, but then cloud cover blocked the ground from sight. Shortly after the trash collection, I went to the bathroom and to my great surprise, there was a window in the bathroom! This made me really happy and when I looked out the window and saw that I was just in front of the right propeller, I became even happier! It was so cool! Anyhow, I went back to my seat a happy person and looked out the window some more.
A little while later, my nose started to bleed a little bit. I didn’t mind, but needed some tissues and the seatbelt sign was on. I pushed my call button and politely asked if I could have some tissues. If the seatbelt sign was not on, I would have gotten them myself, but if I had gotten up then, she would have gotten mad I think. She seemed unhappy with this request (still offended by the snack service , but got them for me. I actually did not unload those tissues from my backpack until March 13 a few days ago. My nose stopped dribbling about ten minutes later and not too long after that, the plane began to descend into DFW. The ride got very bumpy for the rest of the flight. At one point, we were flying very fast just several feet above the clouds and that was really neat! The final approach was very familiar because in August of 2002, I was on my way back from Lake Tahoe and we wound up at DFW. My dad, my brother, and I were going to fly on Continental from SMF to IAH to ATL. When were getting close to IAH, the captain informed us that because of bad storms, we would have to circle but did not have enough fuel to circle, so would be diverting to DFW. That plane approached from the same direction as the one we were on now. The touchdown was uneventful and we taxied to the terminal. When the plane stopped, my friend and I once again waited until everyone got off to take pictures. The flight attendant told us that we were holding things up and that we needed to get off, which was true, so we got off and walked towards to building. The plane arrived after a about a one hour flight. Unfortunately no duration was announced by the captain at the beginning of the flight and I did not have a watch to time it.
Photo © Jeremy Hooper
Once we got off of the plane, we made our way to an escalator that connected this far out terminal to a main one. We went through the tunnel and into that terminal. On the way by an Auntie Anne’s pretzel booth, my friend got a pretzel. I decided to try the sample of the cinnamon-sugar pretzel that was sitting there and before I knew it, I was buying one! They always suck me in! Well, we went to where our flight to ATL was and sat down at the gate and ate our newly acquired food. By now we were quite fatigued. He had slept over at my house that night. We went to bed at about 11:45 p.m., but he was snoring and I am really sensitive to noise at night when I am trying to sleep. I can’t sleep with noise other than my fan, so I just went to the bedroom in our basement. It still took me a while to fall asleep (maybe the excitement) and I finally fell asleep a little bit past 1:00 a.m. I woke up at 5:45 a.m. on this day, so by the late afternoon, having awakened early and not had much sleep, I was very tired. He was also tired, so we just sat around for a while. That lasted for a little while, and then we went exploring the terminal for a few minutes. The windows were streaked with mud, so photography was not really worth it. Also, the terminal was very narrow, but it was fine. When we made it back to our gate, boarding commenced.
March 3, 2003
Delta flight 382
Aircraft: 767-300 (non ER)
Registration: ? (I was unable to get it in DFW and forgot when we arrived in ATL)
Photo © William Jenkins
As usual, we got in the boarding line and in no time, we were proceeding down the airbridge to the aircraft. I like to touch the plane , so I did. We boarded and found our way to our seats. I had seat 15F, the aisle, and my friend had seat 15G, the window. That was our plan. I would have the window from ATL to ICT. Neither of us had ever sat in the 1 of a 1-2 (nor had we ever flown one), so we both had windows on the flight from ICT to DFW. He would have the window on the flight from DFW to ATL. Well, we found our seats and settled in for the flight home. By the time the doors closed, the plane was almost pretty empty. Our front section was mostly full, but the significantly larger back section was hardly occupied. I watched the safety presentation as the plane began to taxi. I had seen it a million times, but it never hurts to watch it. The pilot announced that the flight would be one hour and 24 minutes long. On the taxi to the runway, I was looking out the window and a Lufthansa A340-300 went zooming by. Being from ATL (although we do have LH), this foreign carrier was exciting to me, so I took a really fast and not very good picture! It was fun though!
I’m guessing that the emptiness of the plane was what made the takeoff so incredible. The takeoff roll pushed me in to my seat like I had never been pushed before! It was amazing! It was short and then we were in the air, climbing faster and at a higher angle than I ever had. It was the most exhilarating takeoff I had ever experienced!
The flight was relatively uneventful though. Not too long after takeoff, the flight attendants went around and served drinks and pretzels. I got water and also the pretzels. After they concluded their snack service, turbulence began. That turbulence was present consistently for the rest of the flight. Anyway, The Simpsons began showing on the main cabin screen. I’m not an avid Simpsons fan, but I enjoyed it. As soon as that was over, another drink service commenced. I took that and looked at the inflight magazine for a little while. Before I knew it, the plane was descending into ATL. The descent was probably thirty to forty minutes long. I always like descents in the dark because of all of the lights you can see on the ground. The plane touched down and slowed down easily and we taxied to the gate.
That flight was fine. It was not as exciting as the other two because it was the one home, that would end the trip, but I enjoyed it. The service was not the most extensive I’ve ever seen, but you can’t expect much on such a short flight.
Photo © Greg Farlow
We got off of the plane and made our way through the empty A concourse. On the way to the airport train, we stopped at a sub sandwich booth where two employees were having some sort of dispute with each other and the manager was in the middle of it. It wasn’t violent or loud, but nonetheless a dispute. We bought sandwiches and went to the train. We rode the train two stops to baggage claim and came up this huge escalator that is in ATL and leads out of the are that is behind security. At the top of that escalator, we met my mom and we went to the parking garage. She drove my friend home and then we went home to my house.
This trip was wonderful! I got to fly on two new types of planes, the EMB-120 and the CRJ. I got to check off Kansas on my quest to go to all fifty states. The flights were all nice and ICT was really cool. All around, it was wonderful, and those people that say ICT is a dump, they don’t know what they’re talking about!
Thanks for reading this! I hope you enjoyed it.