Saturday, February 13, 2010

When Couch surfing meet private jets!!!

Today has been possibly the most successful day of my trip to date. I spent last night tossing and turning over the idea of hitch-hiking on the actual road, and the trucker idea seemed suddenly quite frightening. I woke up this morning resolute, and called a taxi during my complimentary cup of Raisin Bran and glass of milk (coffee was an option, as well as orange juice, although for the moment orange juice consisted of an empty jug). When my taxi arrived (remember 17 cars, small town, and based ten minutes away) about forty minutes later, the dispatcher who had said the driver could possibly cut me a deal from the fixed price to Akron, was in fact bluffing. The driver informed me that there was no way that he could change a fixed rate, only the dispatcher could. After our brief talk about financing I ended up giving a brief explanation about my trip. The driver was rather stuck, he told me "If God had wanted I fly, he would done get me wings for me." He dropped me off by the departures at the airport, and I began walking the twenty minute walk to the FBO. I was so thrilled to be at a new airport with a big FBO I walked right in and right up to the counter. A young lady was sitting there at the desk and asked "What!" A little taken aback, I told her tale, and what I had come through to get there, and asked if I could just sit in one of the chairs for a bit. She told me to get out. I asked how come, and she told me it was against her policy to let me talk to anyone and to remove myself right away. I mentioned once again that I was writing an article and could give them a good review if they showed me hospitality, plus being a pilot, the pilots lounge seemed like a perfectly reasonable place to sit. She said she didn't care and to get out. The only useful information I got out of this girl, was when I asked her if there was another FBO on the field I could possibly talk to. I found that the place I wanted to go was on the other side of the field. I began my search for a means of getting around this class C airport, not easy. Finally A gent from a shuttle service was nice enough to show me the way for fifteen dollars. In desperation I took it. I got to the other side of the field, and although friendlier staff at "Ultimate Air" the policies were the same. About one hour after I arrived I was told I had to leave. When A pilot did fly in from Oshkosh on a medical trip, I was told not to speak with them. Lucky for me, the pilot was bored waiting for his patient, and struck up a conversation with me. He was in fact going west and if he wasn't carrying "Live legs" he would be more than willing to take me.
As soon as he left, the guy at the desk gave me a number for the air cargo company based at the airport and told me to leave. I did not feel like calling another taxi, so I took the three mile walk on the highway back over to the other side of the field.
When I got to the cargo air, no one answered the door, but the next hanger over had a guy who just arrived. I went over, and he invited me in out of the cold. I told him my story and he loved it. He told me they dealt with jet financing and selling and refurbing and such, more specifically the Eclipse sport jet. The he insisted I come in and sit in one of the jets as well as meet all the guys in the company. At this point I had resolved myself that the only way I would make it out of Ohio was by Greyhound. I felt rather pressed for time, so when Chris (the gent. afore mentioned) insisted I meet the boss who was in a meeting, I almost said no. Steve (the boss) turned out to be a bit of an adventurer himself. A former US Air pilot, Steve had left the company in order to pursue something more interesting. He was of the philosophy, it is better to be broke in happy, than broke and unhappy! He invited me to stay and eat lunch with them and hang out, he said they had a laundry machine in the hanger if my clothes were dirty.... He was extremely generous. He also suggested if I stick around till Monday, I could get a ride in the Eclipse. I told him if the bus was a dead end I would definitely come back and hang out with them. They made me feel more than welcome. They gave me hope and felt like family.
I went over to the terminal to find out from the travel information people what my odds were of getting a bus out were. An exasperated old lady finished yelling at the client on the phone before telling me I was a fool and no buses drove on weekends.
Dejected, I walked back to the Eclipse guys just in time to eat pizza. It turned out Steve did a tremendous amount of flying into Bradley Airport and knew the area quite well. He told me to stay and fly the only certified Eclipse simulator in existence and they might possibly sign my logbook.
At about six o'clock I realized I still had no place to stay. I remembered the couch surfing network and immediately looked up Akron. I found a couple of listings. I am to tired at the moment to continue, but at the moment, I am safe and comfortable at a house in Akron.
Tune in tomorrow for the complete tale.

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