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Aztec Adventures

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January 2005

Thomas Block


For as long as I can recall, I’ve been quite fond of using the adage that “it is much better to be down here wishing you were up there than up there wishing you were down here.”

The first time I used that phrase under combat conditions was from an airline cockpit many years ago. I had pulled our jet into the runup block adjacent to the departure runway at Pittsburgh while I studied the weather radar in the instrument panel in front of me.

A very nasty looking piece of weather lay alarmingly near the departure end of the runway. It was a pretty hefty thunderstorm—a short line, really—and it was only a few miles to the west of the airport boundary, extending directly across our planned departure path.  

After half a minute of peering intently at the radar echo, I said to the copilot, “I don’t like this.” He nodded in agreement. I told him to tell the tower that we would not be departing until the heavy weather had blown measurably to the east. I then reached for the cabin public address microphone and announced basically the same thing to the full house of passengers sitting in the customer end of our Boeing jet.

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