I have never been this entertained and at the same time educated while in a bar before. Okay, it wasn't exactly a bar. It was United Airlines flight 943 from Chicago to LA.
Shortly after ordering my glass of Hayes Ranch Chardonnay and gourmet cheese, cracker, and dried fruit plate, Captain Ed Contrerra invited us to tune into his "Talk Show in the Air" on channel 9.
Lively and endearing with a good sense of humor, the Captain amused us with airplane trivia and some aviation history. This is what I learned:
- the air up at 32,000 feet is 3 times thinner than what we're used to down on the ground.
- at take-off, the weight of the plane was 215,000 pounds and the heaviest it can be to take off is 240,000.
- we'd burn 28,000 pounds of fuel, or 4,000 gallons. And if anyone was worried about their carbon footprint, that's only 23 gallons a person for the whole trip. Not bad!!
- the temp outside the window was -62, and according to Captain Contrerra, "why we ask you to kindly keep your windows rolled up."
- the plane cost about 80 million dollars (gulp)
- the captain and his co-pilot, Ken Kennedy, were at the end of their 4-day leg.
- because "no self-respecting pilot lands a plane on autopilot, feel free to applaud when we land."