N776AU takes a trip to a race. What else is new? This one was a little different. It was my first Indy Car race, and it happens to be the biggest Indy Car race, the Indianapolis 500. I met a buddy from out west for the race. Flying to Cincinnati, Louisville, or Indianapolis was off-the-charts expensive. Chicago was a reasonable price for both of us, so we got to spend some time there and stayed about halfway to the track in South Bend, Indiana. Aside from my first Indy Car race, this would also be a couple firsts in my flying life too. It would be my first time landing at Chicago Midway. In the past I’ve only taken off from there. Coming home would be my first flight on a Delta 737-700, quite the elusive type.
My friend flew in to O’Hare on Alaska on Friday. With my work schedule I had to wait until Saturday. It worked out perfectly. We were going to spend the day in the city, and then catch a baseball game that night before heading back to South Bend.
Saturday morning I woke up at 4:35 to catch my early-ish flight. After having to turn back for my phone and iPad chargers I did finally make it to the airport and through the huge crowds. I did a bit of walking around the international areas before I went to my flight out of concourse C.
Gate C55 all the way at the end was my gate today.
And my chariot was an MD-95
Delta Air Lines Flight 2120
Depart ATL – 9:02am (was actually 9:00)
Arrive MDW – 9:55 am (was actually 9:34)
A bit of a unique view boarding on the far end of the concourse.
I was seated in 18A this morning back in peasantville
T-tails for days at concourse C
We pointed the nose to runway 8R. After going a bunch of years not leaving from that runway I have now 3 times in the last 6 months. I’m not complaining. It’s a great view of the city leaving from there. Unfortunately there wouldn’t be much to see between Atlanta and Chicago with storms and such moving through the southeast.https://youtu.be/VQDK500AVsw
The 717 always delivers on takeoff. If y’all haven’t managed to snag a ride on one do it. Its takeoffs make other Mad Dogs look weak. These things are little rocket ships. We were in clouds pretty quickly, so there wasn’t much to see.
This was my view for most of the rest of the flight, sadly. I used my free wifi access from T-Mobile to surf some and follow us on Flight Radar 24 to see if I could spot any other aircraft out the window.
I’m such a boring in-flight snacker. I can’t help it.
Over Indiana we finally lost the clouds. I’m pretty sure this is Freeman Municipal Airport in Seymour, Indiana if my cross referencing with Flight Aware is correct. It’s about halfway between Louisville and Indianapolis.
Once we got far enough north it was a beautiful day.
Crossing back over land.
US Cellular Fieldhttps://youtu.be/4wk-mowbGSY
And a video of landing on runway 31C. Much the same as taking off, landing at Midway is way more fun than landing at O’Hare. Great scenery, and way up close with the airport being what it is and where it is. That was awesome.
Not to mention a picturesque view of Chicago in the distance with aircraft landing as well.
We took it in to gate A5 and parked.
N987DL about to turn and head back home to Atlanta.
The next gate over was N910DN, the MD-90 that I flew up the last time I went to Chicago, except when I was on board it was to O’Hare. Once I got my pictures in I walked out to baggage claim and met my buddy (and my checked bag) and we grabbed a train in to the city (this story is starting to sound familiar…).
And where is always my first stop in Chicago hotel check-ins not withstanding? Giordano’s Pizza, always. There just aren’t many good options for Chicago-style pizza in Atlanta, so I have to get the good stuff as much as I can when I’m in town (yes, I know they ship, but that’s expensive).
We were going to do the Sears Tower, but the line was over 3 hours long. Not worth it to us since we had both done it before.
After some trains and walking we ended up at Hancock Tower. Again, just a beautiful day outside.
And finally we worked our way to Wrigley Field. As a St. Louis Cardinals fan, this is like taking a trip to North Korea.
There was good plane spotting though since O’Hare was landing from the east. This one is crappy quality, but it’s N67815, a 737-900 that I flew to…Chicago!
British Airways A380.
There were all those and many more. We didn’t stay the entire time since #1 we neutral spectators, and #2 we had to be up very early to go to Indianapolis in the morning, and our place in South Bend was over 2 hours away.
Then came race day. Oh man the traffic was something else. I’ll spare the stories about that. I was jacked for my first Indy Car race. I’ve been to some big sporting events like the Daytona 500 and the college football national championship game. It was really cool to check this one off the bucket list. I’ve done the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte as well. Now I just need to get to Monaco to complete the trifecta.
We were sitting on the front stretch toward turn 1.
Flyover by a B2
And finally getting going.https://youtu.be/QEwpCWcs1oU
Those cars were moving. Pretty intense at full speed.
And leaving the race was just nuts. Once we broke free we went back to South Bend to watch the Nascar race in Charlotte and get some decent sleep for the first time all trip.
Monday I had to go home, and my friends were going to explore Chicagoland Speedway and some of the area south of the city itself. My flight wasn’t until 7:47 that night, but in doing some dummy bookings I saw some open seats on earlier flights. Since I had to be at work Tuesday morning, and incoming thunderstorms to the Atlanta area, I figured it would be worth a shot to try and get on an earlier flight.
First we stopped at Notre Dame to explore a bit. I wish I could have been here when UGA played here last year.
And of course Touchdown Jesus.
After that we went to Chicago where I was dropped off at the Garfield station on the green line and we said our goodbyes. My flight going home was from O’Hare. I actually booked it this way (and on a later flight) on purpose. My intention was to catch a 737-700, which I had never flown with Delta before (and get me one step closer to that fleet bingo!). Unfortunately sometime after booking Delta changed the flight to a 717
Normally I would consider this a major upgrade, but for my purposes on this trip it was not.
I didn’t immediately take the train to O’Hare though. I got off at Rosemont and got some more Giordano’s
Not only did it function as lunch with a great view of departing aircraft from a local park, but it also allowed me to grab a couple frozen pizzas to stuff in my checked luggage. I’m sure some people dining in and working there were judging the hell out of me. I don’t care. I got my pizzas. Once I finished my personal pizza I walked back to the train station and went to the airport at about 1:45.
When I got in I went to the Delta counter with my luggage expecting to try and get on standby, but the lady who was helping me informed me I could be confirmed on the flight for the same price. I’ll take it. This ended up saving me about 4.5 hours (and let me get to bed at a decent time), and the better part, the new flight was on a 737-700
I had a little less than 90 minutes, so I went through O’Hare’s God-awful TSA. Even Precheck there sucks. I’ve never had a good experience with TSA at ORD. I guess I’m spoiled in Atlanta.
I walked to gate E9 and got my seat assignment. Coming in hot was N303DQ from Atlanta.
Delta Air Lines Flight 2413
Depart ORD – 3:11pm (was actually 3:08)
Arrive ATL – 6:09pm (was actually 5:54)
I got me a nice exit row seat in 17F. With great legroom comes great responsibility.
And a PTV never hurt either. Ok, so that part is an upgrade from the 717.
We pushed on time and headed out to a shortened runway 10L (although that term is quite relative as long as that runway is).
Some some good stuff on the way out. This 777 came in from NRT I think.https://youtu.be/4uOhkii-RNA
Takeoff was pretty average at best (minus my damn shaky hands when I tried to change positions in my seat). I’ve never departed from 10L before. My other times leaving were from 9L, 22L, and (showing my age here) 32L. That hard right turn immediately after takeoff is like IAD runway 30 mirrored. It goes quick, man. I wish for this one I was on the other side of the aircraft for the views of the skyline and such, but beggars can’t be choosers, I suppose.
Good view of the airport though.
And up toward 39,000 feet we went.
Chicagoland Speedway. I’m good at seeing Nascar tracks from the air.
Again it was a beautiful day in Chicago.
And then as we headed south not so much. Not too much happened. We had our usual cabin service. Things got a touch bouncy as we hit some weather, but other than that I was just surfing the internet and watching baseball on ESPN.
Coming in to Atlanta it got quite dark. Sadly the air was totally smooth.https://youtu.be/ceWzvLIpHSg
Landing was routine on runway 8L. This aircraft was going to Mexico City, so we came in at gate E8.
American Barbie jet
A little JetBlue love
We looked puny next to all the 767s and A330s going to Europe and South America. N836MH was on the way to Lima, Peru.
I got off and headed for home. What a great trip and some cool new experiences. I got my flight on the 737-700 after all. With that flight, there are only 3 (or 4 depending on how you look at it) aircraft types in Delta's fleet that I have not flown with them. I'm missing the 777-200, A330-200, and A350 (and I'm knocking the A350 out in July!). I'm close. I would love to pull off the "fleet bingo," especially since I'm just a regular guy with a day job and not someone with flight priveleges.
I typed this up over the course of an evening (and procrastinated going to bed). Hopefully my errors are minimal. I have a few more flights on the horizon for different purposes. Looking forward to some more time in the air.
Thanks for reading
Careful, doors are closing, and will not reopen. Please wait for the next train.