THE MOVING SIDEWALK is for your convenience. Please stand to the right and allow others to pass you on the left. Thank you for your courtesy.
"That's `thank y'all for your courtesy,' " I corrected the disembodied voice.My family was at the airport to see Charlie, one of our sons, catch a plane for an LDS mission in Louisiana. After hundreds of heartfelt hugs and teary-eyed goodbyes, he excitedly grabbed his carry-on and headed down the jetway, waving one more time before he disappeared inside the big Delta 767.
We moved to the windows to follow the plane's ascent to the skies. But it was not to be - yet.
Preston, my son-in-law, is a pilot. He was carrying a radio that enabled him to hear the conversation between pilots and air traffic controllers.
"There it goes to the runway," he said, interpreting the gibberish we could hear in the background. "Oh, oh - there's an emergency. They say a little four-seat Cessna just reported losing power. They're stopping all takeoffs until they locate it."
We waited, even though our two energetic grandkids were losing patience with the whole airport scene.
Finally, Preston heard a report that the Cessna was "down" but they didn't know where yet. Then Charlie's jumbo jet finally got into position and raised its cumbersome nose toward the South.
We all walked to our cars. When I turned on the radio, I heard a traffic report on the Cessna.
"A little four-seat Cessna has just touched down on I-215 North, near the 2100 South interchange. It was about 9:13 a.m. There seem to be no injuries, but I would advise that you avoid that area if you possibly can. The traffic is heavily backed up and will only get worse. Fortunately, there were no cars on the freeway when the plane made its emergency landing."
When I arrived at the newspaper office, I called up the Cessna story on the wire. It said that, in fact, the Cessna had "rear-ended a compact car when it landed on I-215 North, but there are no injuries to either the driver or the pilot."
That report was destined to be corrected, too. The vehicle hit was actually a Nissan pickup driven by Park City resident Amanda Powell, who had never had an accident before.
I wondered what it would be like to be driving along on a calm, sum-mer morning only to be hit from behind by an airplane. I imagined explaining the incident to the police.
"What exactly were you doing, young lady - attempting to change lanes?"
"No, officer. I was going at moderate speed in the center lane, in no hurry at all, when I was massively rear-ended by this air-plane."
"Did I understand you to say airplane? If it was an airplane, m'am, where is it now?"
"Uh-h-h - sitting over there against the guard rail. The wings were injured on impact."
"You mean that old '47 Studebaker over there? Doesn't look like a plane to me. Have you been drinking this morning, lady?"
"No - nothing except a little unsweetened orange juice. I swear it's true, officer!"
The next minute I imagined the officer standing by the Cessna, writing a ticket for the pilot, James Chipman from Colorado. I wondered how he would explain it to the judge.
"Your Honor, I was innocently taxiing down I-215 on my way to Grand Junction when this little truck came speeding out of nowhere and put the kibosh on my takeoff."
"That's enough, mister. You were following too close at high speed. Open and shut case. Sentence is 150 hours in therapy. And put that pilot's license away. What you need is a driver's license."
What's the insurance company going to do with that one?