Thai version

Saturday, October 20, 2007

AIR EMERGENCY


November, 1976 Khamis Mushayt, Saudi Arabia I am working on a US Corp of Engineers project improving and expanding the Saudi Royal Army Base. I need to take some drawings and changes and other things to our head office in Jeddah. It will also give me a chance to do some shopping at Jeddah since they are a port city and they have many things that cannot be found in Khamis Mushayt. The airport at Khamis Mushayt is a very basic operation. They only have stairs for boarding the plane. Latter this airport will be taken over completely by the Royal Saudi Air Force when the new airport between Khamis Mushayt and Abah is completed and put into service.

The head mechanic from Jeddah is now in Khamis Mushayt and will be traveling back to Jeddah on the same flight that I will be on. It is Thursday evening after work when that we make our way to the present airport which is part of the Saudi Royal Air Force Base. I will be returning Friday evening after I had finished my shopping in time to start the work week on Saturday. The Saudia plane is on the ground and is ready to start boarding. We check through the line and get our boarding passes. They assign seats on the flight but it seems that everybody just sits were they want because a lot of the people flying are unable to read their boarding passes so they cannot tell were the should be sitting. They also do not want to be helped or told were to sit by the stewardess, since they are women. Both me and the head mechanic only have carry on luggage. So we do not have to go through the process of checking in luggage or trying to retrieve it at the other end of the flight.

When they open the gate for boarding we both are able to get to get to the stairs that allows access to the plane fairly quickly. Then we can board the flight quickly. We find our assigned seats and luckily nobody is in them. We put our carry on luggage in the overhead compartments on the plane. Then we settle in for the take off. The plane has a lot of passengers for the flight. The flight is only a short hop of about 1 to 11/2 hours depending on the cargo and weather. The plane door is shut. The stewardess starts the safety briefing in Arabic about fastening your safety belts, about the overhead oxygen mask, and shows were that the plane exits are located. Then it is done in English for the few westerners aboard. While they are finishing this the plane starts to taxi. Since it is a small airport it is not long before that we are turning onto the runway. On the runway the plane guns the engines and the plane gains speed moving down the runway. Soon we can fell the wheels leave the runway and we are airborne.

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