Thursday, June 07, 2007

Congratulations Salem

It wasn't like this in Nashville. I've been fortunate enough to participate in a couple of SkyWest firsts. I took the first SkyWest flight into Abilene - Was there for opening day at College Station - Took the first revenue flight on the first SkyWest CRJ-900 (in the first available first-class seats no less.) But in each of these cases things started slowly, repositioning flights arrived late at night, a small plane flies into a busy airport, etc.. In Salem however you'd think that Bon Jovi was on the plane with us. We pulled up to the terminal to find throngs of people watching through the fence, sipping on free soda and enjoying free sandwiches whilst a local radio station covered the event and string quartet regaled the onlookers with the finest classical compositions.

Getting off the plane we were greeted with no less than a red carpet - literally. Several news outlets had video cameras taping the first passengers (of which Emma and I were numbers 2 and 3) from the first commercial flight in 13 years set foot on the ramp at SLE. The entire passenger compliment was even stopped by a photographer while he took a couple pictures. Glad I decided against the Annie Lennox T-shirt and the hammer pants. A reporter from the Statesman Journal asked us a few questions and, unbeknownst to me, was shooting video with his camera.

The return flight was even more festive. The flight attendant had but to mutter the words "inaugural flight" (each opportunity for which was exploited) and the passengers erupted with cheers. Captain Jon Rivoli (a native of Salem's suburbs) took pleasure in pointing out the few landmarks visible from above the clouds (the peaks of Mts. Hood, Rainer and the "Three Sisters.") If there were not already enough spectacle involved, visible (to some) during climb out was an encouraging "Go Delta" cut into the turf below. After reviewing articles on the Statesman Journal's web site I learned part of the exuberance was due to the fact that Salem's Mayor Taylor and other local dignitaries were aboard this first flight. They were bound for a meeting with the Deputy Mayor of Salt Lake City and local Utah officials.

I don't know if anyone has been quite so excited to see scheduled commercial air service as the natives of and visitors to Oregon's Williamette Valley (and justifiably so.) My reviews of reader comments on various news sites have highlighted many reasons for the masses to be happy. For me, I was happy just to fly, more happy to be part of something exciting and finished my four hour round trip content. Emma, I think, was excited to fly, excited to see Mom (if even for a short while) and confirmed to me that she is possibly the best behaved child flyer that ever stepped aboard an aircraft.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. You guys are totally famous! Emma looks like a seasoned traveler, Doug looks like he lives on the plane and Hannah looks kind of grumpy. Why you look so grumpy, Hannah?
Why is this the first flight in 10 years? What's the deal with Salem?