A JOURNEY TO REMEMBER
If the kids had even half as much fun as the grownups did on our trip to Delta’s World Headquarters at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, then it was a smashing success! Here’s a look at our itinerary:
10:00 We “check in” at the automatic ticketing station in the lobby while we wait for our whole party to arrive. Vance especially likes this special computer. Our amazing hosts, David Janke, Carey Taft, and Rick Sherwood, start us out in one of the many classrooms at the Delta Training Center for Flight Attendants. Their classrooms are a little different from ours. Most are filled with important pieces of various Delta airplanes — MD88’s, Boeing 757’s, 767’s, 777’s and more! Here, flight crews use sections of real planes to complete rigorous safety training every year. The flight attendants put in fourteen hour days on this equipment, but for us, it is like a high-tech playground! We inspect the oxygen masks and life vests. We sit in the seats and pretend to take off for exotic places. The kids are especially interested in the safety cards, which pleases our new friend David no end. Safety first! We learn that Denzel Washington and Tamara Tunie researched their roles in the film Flight in the same mock aircrafts in which we are sitting. We don’t get to sit in first class seats — there are none in the area we visited, since they would make the floor collapse. Never mind; we can’t afford them anyway. We inspect the galleys and lavatories. Those drink carts are heavy! Ian, Jackson, and Kaden take turns trying out the jump seats. Elijah, Caden, and Sammy love the microphone. Our newest student James takes his turn: “Ladies and Gentlemen, there is a snake on the plane…”
11:00 Next up is a trip to the swimming pool, where flight attendants practice their water rescue skills. We don’t swim, but the kids try their luck on the rescue raft that the airline uses for open water emergency landings. They are even able to take shelter under the neon orange canopy meant to protect passengers in the event that they have to stay in the raft for an extended period of time.
11:30 The highlight of our time at the training center is yet to come. Our hosts take us into their flight simulator, where we all buckle up and experience a “crash”! We really feel like we are taking off, and then we are told to “put our heads down for landing.” (Our experience is actually very gentle; we don’t feel anything happening during the “event.” We adults are told separately that the actual flight attendants endure a much rougher ride to prepare them in the event of a real emergency.) Real fog fills the cabin as our attendants escort us to the rear door for an emergency exit. Then comes the great part — a ride down the inflatable slide. We are so proud of our students, who are all eager to slide down — what great sports!
12:30 The fun and learning keep coming. We are whisked across the street to the Delta Museum, where we see one of Delta’s first crop dusters, a variety of Delta uniforms, and The Spirit of Delta, the employee-purchased 767. We take turns standing just inside the turbine of one of its engines, which could hold our entire school!
13:00 We are eating lunch on patio tables outside a replica of the facade of one of Delta’s first business offices/passenger terminals, a tiny picturesque brick building no more than 40 feet wide. The kids each leave with their own barnstorming bear, Dusty. His goggles and bomber jacket are so cute!
13:30 We arrive back at school, tired but wiser. Thanks, Carey, David, and Rick, as well as our sponsor at Delta, Jarad Fisher, for making this fantastic experience possible.
— Susan Anderson