Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Barry Surprises Mom on Flight

Most of you have already heard this story, but since this is the family blog and I did agree to support it in 2009, here is my post.

Last week mom had an extended stay in FLL with Mike due to the snow in the Northeast. When mom said she wanted to travel home Wednesday or Thursday, I knew I had a chance to fly with her for the first time. I told her the 11:00 flight on Thursday looked good for travelling and she agreed. I was scheduled to fly that flight from FLL to ATL. I told Mike about my plan and he was ready with the camera! When I was landing in FLL to pick her up, I saw Mike standing on the corner of the parking garage waving. He actually looked like a sniper up there, but he was not arrested. I called Mike and told him everything was going ok, but the gate agent told me she might not get on due to last minute paying passengers. I had a friend watching the computer for me and the flight attendants were constantly checking with the gate agent to see if she would get on. The flight attendants were as excited as I was!

I called mom, told her I was in ATL and asked her if it looked like she would get on. I told her to call me if she got on. She called and told me she was in 26A and I wished her a good flight. I finished running the checklists in the cockpit and just as they were closing the door I went back to the front section of coach class and introduced myself to everyone. Mom immediately looked up in surprise and waved to me. Now what you have to know is that I am not crazy about talking in front of people. I can talk all day long to the passengers from the cockpit looking out the window and not think anything of it. But when I picked up the PA and said "Good Morning, I'm Captain Barry Holmes", suddenly 186 people got deathly quiet and they all stared at me. The only time the Captain comes to the cabin to talk is if something is wrong. You also have to know that I already have "Benign Tremors" in my hand which I inherited from mom. It is much worse if I am drinking caffeine or have my adrenaline rushing. Needless to say, my hand was shaking bad and I was very much aware that I wasn't projecting an air of confidence as the Captain of this 757. What was going to be an extended PA was somewhat shortened so I could hang up the PA and get back to the cockpit.

Basically what I said was this: "Good Morning, I'm Captain Barry Holmes. Our flight today is one hour and 34 minutes and the weather is great. This is an exciting flight for me, that's my mom in 26A! Wave to everyone mom. (She did and the whole airplane clapped for her). She is just now finding out that she will be flying with me for the very first time (another round of applause). I'm not sure why it's taken 28 years to get her to fly with me, must have something to do with scaring her when she was teaching me to drive as a teenager (good laugh). Anyway, this is a special flight for me and I just wanted to thank my mom for always being there for me. This career is not an easy one and she has always been my biggest fan. Thanks mom, I love you and welcome aboard!"

I'm not sure what the passengers next to me were thinking about my shaking hand, but one guy said "don't screw up the landing" and that made me laugh. After hanging up the PA I told him and the crowd around him that I'd rather land at LaGuardia in a snowstorm than mess up a landing with my mom on board, so I"m not feeling ANY pressure here! They all got a big laugh out of that.

The pushback from FLL was uneventful. As we pushed back from the gate I could see Mike again waving and holding his camera. He asked me to wait until the airplane was abeam his position before taking it into the air for the best shot (and not compromising safety of course). It was a nice day and Mike got some great shots of the takeoff. Here is the link to his other shots: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26389813@N06/ We made a Northbound turn after takeoff and I got a nice look at Lago Mar where Mike works. The flight to Atlanta was also uneventful and I had a decent landing to showoff for mom. When I went in the back to say goodbye to the passengers there were a lot of nice comments from the passengers and several congratulating us for finally being able to fly together. I had mom come up to the cockpit for a picture. unfortunately I only had my cellphone camera, but here is our memory of the day!

I've never forgotten flying with Dad in a Cessna in the fall of 1984 out at "Flying W" airport in Medford. This was also a great memory that I'll never forget. Thanks again Mom!


1 comment:

Mike said...

Well, the photographer was a little bit nervous too, as you only get one shot at this.

Luckily, I met a guest at Lago Mar last summer who is a former pilot from the UK. We got talking about photography one day and he told me he goes over to the airport everyday to photograph planes taking off.

I had just bought my new Nikon D-300, so I tagged along one day and he gave me some tips and showed me where to stand. Been waiting about 6 months to get that shot of Barry's plane. Having mom aboard was a nice bonus!