Hard Rain Falls

I’m not normally a nervous flyer but arriving in Amsterdam in the same gale and lashing rain which almost blew me off my motorcycle, had me suffering an anxiety attack as the British Midlands pilot struggled against the elements on a roller-coaster ride, instrument approach into Schipol airport.

The flight attendants were having a noisy Tupperware party in the rear of the aircraft and I could clearly hear them swapping boyfriend jokes and advice on buying kneepads, as the aircraft descended into the huge cauliflower-shaped nimbus clouds. I guessed from experience what was coming next as the clouds reached out to touch the descending jet, and sure enough, the aircraft shuddered violently as it came within reach of the weather.

On the final approach, watching the wings swaying up and down and listening to the changes in engine noise as the pilot applied power as he attempted to remain lined-up with the runway, the girls in the back were oblivious to the battle between technology and weather taking place on the flight deck. Meanwhile, I was looking nervously out of the window wondering how hard the landing might be when we ‘arrived’ on the concrete.

In the end, full marks to the pilot. The aircraft came down with a thump and slewed sideways as he wrestled the aircraft against the crosswind but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I’m really very glad I didn’t think of flying myself over this week. It would have been impossible anyway and I’m always impressed at how other passengers, like those flight attendants, have absolute confidence in the aircraft against Mother Nature. I haven’t but then a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

Exiting the airport takes almost as long as the flight from London and I’m almost stoned by the time I leave a smoke-filled revolving carousel door to find the taxi rank. Rather reminds me of my student days at the University of Southern Maine, when marijuana was a necessary part of the undergraduate experience, best illustrated in the movie, ‘Animal House’, which appears to have been loosely based on my university friends at USM, where we invented the toga party and added tobogganing to make it into a winter sport.

Déjà vu strikes once again as I arrive at the Amsterdam Hilton. I haven’t been back in three years but what started here, was it the end of one life, the beginning of another or simply both in collision?


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