Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Break Survivors

As usual, my husband booked the earliest flight possible for our spring break ski trip.

(Have I mentioned I have a sleep disorder? It's called Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome and doesn't much jive with earliest flights possible.)

So we "woke up" at 3:30 dark, got to the airport with a comfortable hour to spare, and boarded the plane at 5:45. Still dark.

And then the plane broke.
And couldn't be fixed until a part was flown in from Denver on a flight arriving in five and a half hours. Which would cause us to miss our connecting flight to Montrose, CO.

And being spring break, there were no other available seats to Montrose that day. And being spring break, our options for the rest of the week were limited, too.

So spring break was not looking good.

But then we discovered we could salvage the trip by flying into Telluride instead of Montrose.

Ohhh boy.

Telluride was, in fact, our final destination. We just hadn't considered actually landing there. We've always flown into Montrose and then driven the 1.5 hours to Telluride.

For good reason.

Think about it: Telluride is a ski resort and people ski during spring break, yet we had no trouble booking four seats that very day. Four seats together!

To drive that point home I've written the following research paper, just like in junior high except I didn't cite my sources and Google didn't even exist back then anyway.

Telluride Regional Airport, the highest commercial airport in North America, is known locally as the USS Telluride because landing there is similar to landing on an aircraft carrier. The short landing strip sits on the edge of a mesa. Three sides, including both ends of the runway, plunge about 1,000 feet to the San Miguel River below.

You're looking at the runway.

If that's not scary enough, it's surrounded on all sides by mountains exceeding 14,000 feet and last, but not least, there's a big dip in the middle of the runway. You know that touchdown bump at landing? You get two of those at Telluride. Bump, dip, bump.

I haven't even mentioned the weather yet. Winter flights are often diverted to Montrose and other airports due to duh, it's winter in the Rockies.

Luckily, only the top 5% of pilots are allowed to land there. They have to be specially qualified (as well as have major coconuts) to contend with the extreme altitude, rotors, strong turbulence and down-drafts associated with the cliffs.

So although it might not be the nation's most dangerous airport, it's certainly one of the most "thrilling" landings.

Don't they look thrilled?

We spent an extra six hours waiting for parts and flights, which as you can imagine with kids was no picnic unless you're picnicking in Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain and blows away anything not pinned down by a brick until you just give up and go eat in the car, but the Colorado skies were sunny and clear, our elite pilot was on the money, and we landed at Telluride and lived to brag about it.

Stay tuned for more spring break...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey are you a professional journalist? This article is very well written, as compared to most other blogs i saw today….
anyhow thanks for the good read!