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The first thing I noticed about The Rug’s check-in routine is that this is one airline on which the combined weight of passenger and luggage seems to matter. The Captain told us we would have to pay $2 for each kilogram over our allowance of 17 kilos. He made it very clear that he would carefully track the aggregate weight we were about to put aboard against the plane’s certified maximum allowable takeoff weight.
That seemed reasonable enough, but what happened next was not. As the passengers and bags got weighed, some were inevitably overweight and some underweight. What ensued was a lively and impromptu market in “overs and unders,” just like the big auto companies do with their fleet emission standards. Passengers who were under the weight limit started to sell their “credits” to other passengers who were over. What I knew for sure was that absolutely no one was keeping track of the aggregate effect of all the “overs-and-unders” on the plane’s takeoff weight.
Finally, it was time to board the plane. We got on a bus and started to head for the tiny plane in the distance. Midway through the ride, Captain Ayad realized he had forgotten to get the doctor he had parked in the VIP lounge. Back we went and collected her. Her baggage was never weighed at all!
The Metro 227 carries 20 passenegers in two single rows of ten passengers each. I have no idea where it is made (perhaps Brazil?) and I don’t know the age of this aircraft. I do know it’s a jet-prop because it says so on each of the engines.
The fear those attractive women had expressed to Captain Ayad about BIAP takeoffs was not a figment of their imagination. It had to do with terrorists who wait outside the perimeter of this huge facility (and it is huge) with shoulder-fired missiles trying to shoot planes down. A couple of years ago they managed to blow a pretty big hole in the wing of a landing FedEx cargo jet, which fortunately touched down the plane safely.
In order to avoid being hit by a deadly shot, all the planes landing and taking off do so in a corkscrew ascent or descent. This enables them to fly inside the perimeter of the protected airport below and not “protrude” over ground where the terrorists are roaming free.
After much to-ing and fro-ing the Captain and his co-pilot got into their seats and started our takeoff roll. And we rolled and rolled and rolled! Thank God, Captain Ayad had decided to use the entire runway. There came a point during the takeoff when I thought that maybe there had been too many luggage trades no one had kept track of. Finally, I felt the Metro lift twice and settle back.
The plane labored to climb and maintain altitude. At one point I felt Ayad was permanently stuck at 300 feet. But he is one cool cookie and knew what he was doing. It took about 25 minutes for him to make five full 360 degree circles inside the airport perimeter and get us up to about 8,000 feet and out of effective missile range. At that altitude Ayad leveled off and we headed northwest toward Beirut.
When the passengers realized the plane was no longer climbing and was in level flight, they broke into a big cheer and gave Ayad a very nice round of applause. He turned and looked back into the cabin and gave them a look of “Aw shucks, folks, it was nothing. Really. It was nothing!”
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online