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Rules of the Air

picture of landing

Do you like airports and flying? Flying is a wonderfully fast way to get from point A to point B, but it can definitely include some frustrations and even some scary moments. The picture on the right is of an airplane approaching the Kai Tak Airport, which was the international airport of Hong Kong until their new airport opened in 1998. My wife and I flew in and out of its replacement, the Hong Kong International Airport, in the summer of 2005. It has been repeatedly voted World's Best Airport, and we agree that it is without a doubt the nicest airport we've ever been in. And we're very glad our plane didn't have to maneuver through buildings as the planes had to to get to the old airport!

Some of the rules in the list below are for passengers and some are for pilots.

Rules of the Air

Flights never leave from Gate #1 at any terminal in the world.

No flight ever leaves on time, unless you are running late and need the delay to make your connecting flight.

If you are running late for a flight, it will depart from the farthest gate in the terminal.

If you arrive very early for a flight, it will inevitably be delayed.

If you must work on your flight, you will experience turbulence as soon as you touch pen to paper or when you start to drink your coffee.

If you are assigned a middle seat, you can determine who has the seats on the aisle and the window while you are still in the boarding area. Just find the two largest passengers.

Only passengers seated in window seats ever have to get up to go to the lavatory.

The crying baby on board your flight is always seated near you.

The less carry-on luggage space available on an aircraft, the more carry-on luggage passengers will bring aboard.

It's always better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.

Every takeoff is optional. Every landing is mandatory.

The probability of survival is inversely proportional to the angle of arrival. Large angle of arrival, small probability of survival and vice versa.

If all you can see out of the window is ground that's going round and round and all you can hear is commotion coming from the passenger compartment, things are not at all as they should be.

Stay out of clouds. The silver lining everyone keeps talking about might be another airplane going in the opposite direction. Reliable sources also report that mountains have been known to hide out in clouds.

Always try to keep the number of landings you make equal to the number of take offs you've made.

In the ongoing battle between objects made of aluminum going hundreds of miles per hour and the ground going zero miles per hour, the ground has yet to lose.

The three most useless things to a pilot are the altitude above you, runway behind you, and a tenth of a second ago.

There are three simple rules for making a smooth landing. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

It's always a good idea to keep the pointy end going forward as much as possible.

Flying isn't dangerous. It's crashing that's dangerous.

Helicopters can't fly; they're just so ugly the earth repels them.


This post about flying came to mind since our daughter and grandson flew into Atlanta this past Saturday evening and will fly out again next weekend. Since Becka and I were going to Atlanta, two of our "campus sons" Tim and Andy who live near Atlanta arranged a little reunion. We all met at Tim's house that afternoon. It was great to catch up with them and it was hard to believe that they were our campus sons 24 years ago! We are hoping to get together here in Greenville this summer.

Here's a picture of Tim and Alice and their family.

picture of Tim's family

Here's a picture of Andy and Carol and their family.

picture of Andy's family

After a nice visit we headed for the airport to pick up Megan and Drew. Here's a picture Megan took of Drew in the airplane.

picture of Drew reading on the plane

Sunday it was nice to have our daughters Megan and Nora and our son Mark and daughter-in-law Katie and our grandson Drew around the table for lunch. After lunch we had an Easter egg hunt in our front yard. Drew didn't like the prickly grass, and so we had to move the eggs onto the sidewalk. Here he is picking up the eggs.

picture of Drew and Easter eggs

Later in the day he took a tumble off the neighbor boy's tricycle. Here he is with his skinned up face.

picture of Drew scraped up

I'll share more pictures later this week as our adventures (and hopefully no more misadventures!) unfold.

Do any of these rules ring true from your flying experiences? I'm sure some of you could share some great stories of flights and airports!

By the way, if you notice anything missing as you click around on my blog (pictures, video, etc.), could you please let me know through the contact link? One person has written me about one set of pictures in a post, and I really appreciate it. I don't have time to look at all 60 pages, especially this week.


"This is God's world, and He has the right to make the rules and ask us to obey." - Dr. Jim Deuink

=^..^= =^..^=

Remember, gravity is not just a good idea. It's the law. And it's not subject to repeal.

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8 Comments on “Rules of the Air”

  1. #1 Vikki
    on Apr 14th, 2009 at 8:25 am

    I flew out of Pensacola, FL several times and never once was gate #1 in use. Why is this strange? They only have 4 gates . . . A friend of mine who was a pilot for United said they always use the outer most gates first because of the cost of jet fuel.

  2. #2 Rob
    on Apr 14th, 2009 at 9:32 am

    @Vikki – That’s weird that they really never use gate #1! So it just sits there to taunt weary travelers? 🙂

  3. #3 Melanie
    on Apr 14th, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    The first time I flew (that I remember) was when I was going to work at a camp. My luggage was delayed and came the next day.
    On the way home the first flight left late, and so I missed my connection. I had to wait until the next day for the next flight. The last connecting flight had two planes leaving from the same gate about 10 minutes apart. One plane was to Columbus, OH and the other Columbia, SC. In order to get on the plane you had to walk outside and climb up the stairs. Another guy and I boarded the plane for Columbus, but thankfully he asked the stewardess what plane we were on. I’m glad we realized our mistake before the plane left!

    These were not good first experiences.

  4. #4 Franklin
    on Apr 14th, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    Enjoyed your list of flight rules. Have several to add and one to correct.

    Engines automatically switch modes from smooth to rough at night over water, mountains, or forests until a suitable emergency landing site comes into gliding range.

    The greater the turbulence, the more likely your wife will ask you to get something for her out of the first of four bags you stuffed in the overhead.

    Drop any small object in the cockpit of an airplane and you’ll never find it until it finds its own way into your circuit breaker panel and shorts out whatever system you need the most at the moment.

    Three things are useless to a pilot: the altitude above, the runway behind, and the fuel he didn’t put in his tank.

    Note: whether the fraction of a second behind him is useless or not depends upon how well he plans ahead and stays ahead of his airplane. It can be very useful, but he has to make it so.

    Keep the great stuff coming!

  5. #5 Rob
    on Apr 14th, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    @Melanie – Unfortunately your experiences sound all too familiar….

    @Franklin – Those were some great ones you added. It sounds as if your flight experience goes beyond being a mere passenger!

  6. #6 Carol Fremont Matthia
    on Apr 16th, 2009 at 4:35 am

    I enjoyed your picture of the plane landing at Kai Tak Airport. Truly a legend. Since I grew up in Hong Kong, I flew in and out of there many a time. I have a photo of landing lights on top of a building. We have a pilot friend who said he actually enjoyed the challenge. Amazing how few accidents happened there, and he said because pilots were extra-careful. I wonder how many thousands of flights went in and out of there without mishap.

  7. #7 Johanna Seeling
    on Apr 16th, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly with the Gate 1 rule! I lived in Minot, ND where there were only 2 gates at Minot “International” Airport. When I flew out of there, we inevitably were herded through Gate 2 to our plane! Too funny!

  8. #8 Rob
    on Apr 21st, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    @Carol – Good to hear from you! I had forgotten you grew up in Hong Kong. Have you been to the new airport? It’s fabulous!

    @Johanna – That’s hilarious about having only 2 gates and using only Gate 2! 😀