Thursday, June 30, 2016

Planes and Automobiles Travel Edition

On the plane ride home from Omaha last Sunday, I looked over the paper being studied by the woman sitting next to me. It was a primer on how to fly an airplane. Amused, I asked if she was the “go to” person in case of pilot failure. She smiled back awkwardly, acknowledging my lame joke.

I thought back to the time I sat in the co-pilot’s seat of a single engine plane and wondered if I would be able to save all on board if an emergency disabled the pilot. It was back in 1981. Along with seven New York-based security analysts I had flown to Tulsa to rendezvous with a Walmart air taxi that would ferry us to Bentonville, AR, for the company’s annual meeting weekend.

I was the last to board. The only vacant spot—the seat to the right of the pilot. I was both anxious and exhilarated. I masked my emotions, joking with the pilot I was ready to take over if needed. I was determined to study his every move, just in case.

And then it happened—in the middle of our conversation his voice went soft and he was talking with the tower. We slowly started taxiing. Wait a minute. I didn’t see him touch anything. His hands weren’t on the yoke. How could he be talking and moving the plane so...effortlessly? We just rolled to the top of the runway and zoomed into the air.

I had no pretensions I would be able to take over in an emergency. Instead, I prayed, silently of course, that nothing would happen to the pilot. As I’m here to relate this story, nothing did.

Who said prayer doesn’t work?

Prayer might be needed on the roads this weekend as AAA is predicting 36 million Americans will travel by car through July 4. 

With gas prices at an 11 year low, 40% lower than a year ago, Americans are once again demonstrating they have no memory of the ebb and flow of gas prices and no consideration for the environment. How? By rushing out to buy SUV’s and other gas guzzlers and by abandoning hybrid and electric car alternatives.

The other week at my Ford dealership I asked if they had another C-Max in for service. No, because they weren’t really selling too many of them anymore since gas prices had moderated, the service agent said. His comments were backed up by a recent New York Times article:

Too bad. We’ve driven our C-Max a little more than 60,000 miles in three years. We generally get 50 miles per gallon. It feels good to visit the gas station as little as we do.

Updating another one of efforts to reduce our carbon footprint, our solar panels saved almost 7,000 kilowatts during the first year of operation.