*Note: this meandering was conceived at 5am under the lingering spell of a handful of atavan pills the morning after a 14 hour plane ordeal*
Hi, we're almost home finally for a few weeks. That puts is at 6am, jetlagged from the flight from Serbia to New York, sitting in a strangers bed room in Brooklyn trying to watch Duplicity. Last night the festival gave us 9 rooms in a 5 star Hotel (Hotel Park, in Novi Sad) for our 7 smashing selves to chill out in. Mind tho, we had to check out before 9 am, so the staff could begin preparing the rooms for todays tennents (kraftwerk).
One key element to touring the festival circuit all summer is airplanes. You find yourself on one of these massive metal things about once a week on average, more depending on your schedule. We've got quiet a moderate routing, and have only been on 7 flights since the end of may each. I know that to some people, flying can be an arduous, nerve-wracking process. So for those people i've written up a simple little check list of things you should pay attention to while flying, interspersed with Mustard Gas pictures. We fly a lot, so we're obviously aclimatized and very comfortable with the entire thing.
When you wake up the morning of your flight, you should start to think only in positive terms. Be careful - you are going to see things in the papers and TV that will try and sway you - you're flying day with without question be filled with newspaper articles about plane crashes, the websites you check the weather on every 10 minutes will show thunderstorms, tornados, whatever. Try not to pay attention to that and just think of all the planes that flew during those storms yesterday. In your hotel the night before your flight, did you watching movies like "He's Just not That Into You", or "Airplane" or that movie I once actually watched on a flight where the whole planet gets really cold because of global warning and Jake Glyllenhall almost dies in a plane incident.
You also want to start being nice to everyone you know or come in conctact with. Being safe on a plane has a lot to do with karma, so if someone wants something from you, even if its something you really like, or even need, you should give it to them. Little stuff like if someone takes your spot in the van - just let it slide and deal with the repercussions when you've got a 40 day american tour.
As you approach the airport, you've got to start really looking for an analyzing the signs that are flying around you everywhere. Does the guy in line behind you kind of look weird? Does is make sense that the 15 huge bags that the family in front of you is trying to get on, might make the carriage too heavy and crash the plane? What was that sound? Why is that security guard running? At this point it's too late to do anything, because you are in line, but it's a good idea to be constantly aware and worrying about these things.
Your experience at the check in desk is crucial. Is the attendant nice to you? Do they seem attentive and knowledgeable? Does their attitute towards the service of flight carry over to other aspects of the company, perhaps directly to the pilot himself? How heavy was your carry on bag? The numbers are important. If you got a nice even round number like 18 kilograms, or 12 kilograms, I wouldn't worry, but if you've offered up like a 7 or a 23, I would think of getting rid of some of those socks on the spot. At this point there will be a lot of other staff members milling about the check in desk. You can learn a lot from these people. Do they look worried? Does the one that just came from the plane look like he might know something about the plane that he's afraid to tell anyone? Is it worth considering the few people at the gate trying to buy stand on tickets - do they look lucky, like everything goes their way, or do they look like their friends would have just "known" they would have inadvertently schemed their way onto a plane that would immediately crash. See above where I spoke about karma before. Same for those people running from their connecting flight - would it make sense that they managed to make it on and get to their meetings in Idaho on time, or would it have been eerily prescient that they would rush to get onto a plane that would later have a less than idea landing. It's important to think about these things my friends, because you know none of the other people in line are.
You've managed to que to the front and are almost on the plane. The woman who takes your ticket - does she look visibly shaken, as if someone had told her something about the flight that is now beyond the point of return? Does she get a funny look when she looks at your identity document, or seat number. Does she know the history of that particular seat number?
Once in the runway towards the plane, it's important to to a cursory check of the weather patterns (even though you've surely been studying the weather surrounding this flight for atleast 3 weeks in advance). Is there a cold front coming in from the distance? Through the think windows you are looking through - try to gauge exactly how windy it is. Could come in sandy later.
On your way towards the plane you can get a good few of the wheels and wings of the plane. Do they look in disrepair? If there is anything you don't understand about the mechanics of airflight, it's important to be aware and almost preoccupied by these various things. Are there any bolts on the body of the plane that look like they could stand a tightening? Is there any rust anywhere at all? Those wings look heavy - are they even going to stay on the plane when it's flying? You know they are filled with gas, right?
Did you board on time? Do you think that gave the mechanics down there enough time to check everything? Did you leave late? Even worse, did you leave early? It's ideal to leave late - except the pilot will be under pressure to fly dangerously through the air to make the next connecting flights in time. Is there enough gas? Is there another band on your plane? Will their countless hardcases weigh down the plane? (Korn was on our Serbia-Munich flight yesterday morning).
You enter the plane. Does the attendant like sombre or happy? Is there anything in the plane that looks like it could just pop out of its fixture and go flying all around the plane at any minute? Can you hear strange sounds, like someone is drilling emergency replacement parts to the body of the plane (or drilling them off?). The pilot has just gunned the engine to test it. Do you think it sputtered a bit towards the tail off? Sounded like that too me. Will probably fail midflight. The pilot has just made his greeting. Does he sound confident, does his rehearsed tone contain a few chinks that he tries to coverup with humour, like mispronouncing a word during the french section, or taking a few seconds to look up what today's movies will be. Could it be he's proccupied with getting something in the cockpit fixed before take off?
Where are you sitting? Is it a lucky number, or did you get something like 23e? Is the plane full or half empty? on average its half full planes that are having mishaps. Are you sitting next to someone you could potentially hop over in a hurry, if neccesary? Are you next to the wings, those hoses of flammable gasoline, or closer to the back, near the engine noises, where you'll be the last person able to get off, lest anything should occur. Or are you near the front, and the nose of the plane, surely the first section to come in contact with any problems.
When the attendants start the inflight safety program, it's important to first put your seatbelt on and then listen to their performance with the utmost attention. From their faces, does it like they are trying to say "you might need this information, this time)
. Flying is always about getting the psychic one-up on the guy sleeping next to you, so pay attention to everything.
You start to taxi. The next 5 or 10 minutes will a cacaphony of sounds that will have no understanding of. It's important to try and imagine the significance and purpose of every sound. That will help you to map out the overall health of the vehicle about to press you into the sky.
The plane is in line to take off. Are they waiting because someone at the airport headquarters knows something about the plane and is trying to convince his superiors to turn it around? There is no way to know. Is the pilot having second thoughts? Could there be some sort of other incident on the plane you don't know about? Finally the plane starts to move fast. With this acceleration will come all sorts of noises, dips in pressure, and swerving. As the wheels lift on the pavement it's best to just take 5 atavan pills and black out and hope to wake up as the descent into the next airport starts, because there is just too much to worry about during the flight itself.