Mike Vickers' Blog

May 17, 2010

Riding shotgun to Cheyenne

Filed under: Personal — derryvickers @ 9:43 pm

Many years ago we were in on a visit to the US to see how they had implemented computer applications in hospitals.  We were a group of IT directors from four London Teaching Hospitals tasked with introducing IT applications that would concentrate on providing patient services.  Till then much money had been spent rather on developing operating systems for UK computers.  We were accompanied by a member of the Dept of Health and supported by an IT consultant.  We were planned to be in the US for just over 2 weeks and we were coming up to the first weekend.  We had already visited hospitals in New York, Boston, Wichita and Kansas. On the following Monday we were due to see another medical organisation in Denver. 

At each visit we were chaperoned by a salesman from the computer manufacturer who had provided the software application in the hospital.  On this weekend it was Peter Appleton Jones from IBM.  He had already suggested that we fly on to Las Vegas and drive back to Denver via the Grand Canyon – a distance of 300 miles.  By this time the three of us directors who had previously acquiesced to this detour were shattered and decried such a trip, so he suggested that we spend the weekend in Estes National Part some way North West of Denver. 

You should know that it was mid summer and you should also know that the Mid West at this time of year suffers from thunder storms and torrential rain.  We had already experienced landed in Chicago with lightening flashing all around us; luckily two of us were well experienced at chatting up Americans at the back of the planes and getting free drinks so we quite enjoyed the experience. 

Anyway on this occasion flying from Kansas City to Denver we were still in the air when we should have landed in Denver and the Captain came on the intercom to tell us that Denver airport was flooded and we were being diverted to Cheyenne – till then I thought that Cheyenne was a town invented for Westerns.  Peter Appleton Jones was devastated, his Plan B was going to fail – by the time we would eventually get to Denver it would be too late to drive to Estes park.  Anyway resourceful as ever he looked at the map and saw that Estes Park was no further from Cheyenne than was Denver.  He therefore asked the stewardess if we could get off at Cheyenne.  She didn’t think so but she would ask the captain.

We landed at Cheyenne along with many other planes also diverted and we sat there, me not expecting to hear anything about leaving the plane.   However along came the stewardess and said she had spoken to the captain and he had agreed.  At this point you should further know that we flying in a Boeing 727, a quite big three engine plane.  Plane hijacks were popular at this time and the most popular planes were to be hijacked were 727 with the hijackers escaping through a rear door below the tail plane.  How did we got off this 727 – you guessed it, through the rear door. 

So far so good but then comes the tricky point – how do we get our luggage?  Lo and behold the captain released the door to the luggage compartment but this was 8 feet above our heads.  So I climb on the shoulders of the tallest of the three of us and start rummaging in the dark.  My other companion follows me up and we both continue rummaging so far with little luck and we were about to give it up as hopeless when we find  ‘our pot of gold’, all our luggage is in one spot and we drop it out of the hold on to the ground below.  We jump out of the luggage for joy on to the ground; the doors of the compartment close and the plane taxis away leaving us on one of the perimeter tracks wondering what to do next. 

We can see what looks to be a small airport building in the distance and think how are we to get there with all this luggage.  But we need not have worried.  A little baggage cart appears on the horizon and proceeds at a leisurely pace towards us.  We load our luggage and proceed leisurely to Cheyenne Airport.  We get the one and only hire to Estes Park and have a great weekend.

The tallest companion said he will never forget how he ‘rode shotgun on a baggage cart to Cheyenne’.  And neither shall I.

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