Analyze This: When an Aviation ‘Dream’ Goes Off the Rails

2:26 PM


By Dan Pimentel,
Airplanista Blog Editor

Most readers of this blog know I sold my Piper Cherokee 235 in May, 2016 after eight wonderful years of stewardship. I say “stewardship” and not “ownership” because “Katy” was technically a vintage airplane, and I think we never really own them so much as take care of them while they are in our charge.
Because of the sale, I have not been doing any flying lately, preparing my bank accounts for a day when I retire and can again possibly throw myself fully into aviating. But that doesn’t mean I have abandoned aviation, in fact quite the opposite. As an aviation journalist, I stay up on the daily news of the industry, and follow what is happening in general and business aviation closely. The DNA of aviation runs deep in my veins and that will never change…I still stop what I am doing and look skyward with wonder any time anything flies overhead.
But one thing I did not expect during this hiatus is to have so many dreams about flying while in deep sleep. My mind has always been quite active, and it does not fully idle down at night, so what is happening in my unconscious mind percolates to the top. Last night though, I had a dream about flying that went off the rails, and now I challenge any Ph.D to dissect this one and tell me what the hell is going on inside my craw:
The dream started with me in Syracuse, New York, where my wife has family. But I was packing up my stuff as if I was leaving Oshkosh, and I had a giant pile of things on a bed that needed packing into one rollaboard. Why I was in Syracuse when I was leaving Oshkosh is one part of this “WTF” excursion. But wait, there’s more, lots more. I was also trying to figure out how to pack the golf clubs (I do not play) and a rather large hand truck, the kind delivery guys use to roll a stack of veggies into the back of a restaurant. My solution was to use bungees to strap the golf clubs to the hand truck and check it through as luggage since I was flying commercial. A little duct tape to keep the clubs in the golf bag and I’d be golden. 
With the packing complete, I was ready for my flight home to Oregon from Syracuse, even though I was coming home from Oshkosh. My routing was pretty weird, SYR to somewhere in South America with a stop in Matamoros, Mexico and then on to somewhere else, the rest of the itinerary was kind of fuzzy because they lost me at Matamoros. But when I got to the airport to board, things got even weirder:

First of all, I am not sure why I was booked on an A380 for this trip. When we (myself and one other person, not sure in the dream who this was) arrived at the gate, it was deserted except for the gate agent. “We’ve been waiting for you,” she said, in a tone that indicated something was not right. It was the kind of tone you might see the clerk use when you check into a seedy roach motel in a horror movie. Never a great way to begin a flight in a dream, when anything can happen.

But instead of boarding into the cabin, they led us up to the flight deck, which was very similar to that of a B-29 bomber only about three times as large. The Captain and FO sat on an elevated console in the middle, and the entire front of the flight deck was all windows in the nose, not unlike the -29. There were a few first-class style chairs down in front of the big picture window, and behind the pilot’s console was an array of rooms, chairs, sofas, galley and other amenities you’d find in a nice business jet.

After placing our stuff somewhere, we (myself and the unidentified other passenger) learned that this was to be a “repositioning flight” and that we were the only two passengers. This was an A380-800, with seating in back for yes, 800 souls. But it apparently was totally empty, except for the two wayward #avgeeks trying to get home from Oshkosh. Given the ominous welcome from the gate agent, this did not look good. Even before we began the flight, things got weirder still:

I found my vantage point was somewhere outside the plane as it “taxied” out, which meant it was being towed through a series of skinny, Palm tree-lined canals, floating like a seaplane. But what was nuts was that the wings had been removed for taxi, and were being pulled behind it on a barge! This went on for a long time – you know how slow things happen in dreams, right? But somehow, the wings were magically re-installed and we took off on what appeared to be a 3,000’ GA runway. This was quite the versatile airplane, room for 800 people, seaplane capabilities, and the ability to do a max-thrust takeoff in about the same amount of concrete as a Skyhawk.

Once in the air though, it was really cool. We flew low to the ground, over scenic valleys, into a gorgeous sunset. The aforementioned Ph.D can figure out why we were on a heading of probably 170-degrees towards South America…and flying into a sunset which would require a 270-degree heading. The A380 was flying low and slow, and the vistas that emerged in the giant nose window were beautiful – I spent the time shooting a lot of photos. Everything was glorious until we just stopped in mid-air:

When the giant airplane slowed and stopped, I asked the Captain (who was a young woman in very nice business attire dressed for a corporate Board meeting) up on the elevated console what was going on. “Border crossing,” she said. Apparently, flying into Mexico, we had to stop in mid-air for a moment to get our paperwork approved. But in a flash, we were soon on the ground in Matamoros, again with the wings removed, taxiing through very small back streets lined with the kind of trinket shops you might see in Tijuana. After maneuvering through a maze of alleyways in the gigantic ship without taking out whole buildings, we were again flying, so I reckon the wings had been re-installed. Wow what a great feature, huge wings with two honkin’ jet engines each, with quick disconnects to take on and off any time. I love the aviation engineering that is possible in my dreams.

After we departed Matamoros, things began to get pretty fuzzy in this dream. I remember the FO telling the Captain “OK, South America crossing initiated,” and the Captain rolling the A380 into a hard bank for a 180-degree course reversal. Apparently, our routing had us flying from Mexico to just inside some border in South America before cranking hard right to head back to the USA. Nothing was committed to memory after that hard turn, so I suspect we somehow eventually made it home. We did not vaporize, the airplane did not touch the sun and melt, and no space creatures boarded and began probing our human bodies. All good.

There’s a LOT to unpack here, and I am sure someone will break this down and psychoanalyze the roaming tidbits of unconscious thought that went into crafting this crazy adventurous dream. I am not even going to try and figure it out, because tonight I get to fall fast asleep and go somewhere else in the sky, in some other crazy airplane, doing more ridiculous things. That’s the very nature of dreams, it is pure fantasyland, and always a wild ride.

Good night. Wish me luck…

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