Checked Baggage Anyone?

016 Photo Courtesy of Leon Hammack)

When was the last time that you have travelled on an airplane?  Have you noticed the way passengers try to “stuff'” their over sized carry on luggage into the overhead bins?

When the brilliant airline executives decided to charge extra for the services rendered that were once all inclusive with the price of the airline tickets, air travel changed forever and not necessarily for the best!  The most obvious change is the way that passengers try to avoid checked bag fees by trying to “stuff” their over sized bags into the overhead bins!  These days the passengers throw caution to the wind in regards to the rules on carry on baggage!

They have figured out just how to bypass the charge on checked baggage.  The passengers have figured out that if they can’t get their mammoth bag stuffed into the overhead bins, then the airline will gate check their bags for FREE!!

BINGO! I think we have a winner!

It is absolutely hilarious to watch these people drag their gargantuan bags onto the airplane, knowing full well that it won’t fit into the overhead bins.  When it obviously won’t fit into the overhead bin, the flight attendants will take the bag, put it on the jetway, and then the ramp personnel take the bag and put it into the cargo compartment.  Now they have bypassed and saved the checked baggage fee that is normally charged at the ticket counter!

This has created a bottleneck in the passenger loading process.  The aisles are clogged with people trying desperately to get those monstrosities into the overhead bins.  This is causing delays in the boarding process, making flights late in leaving the gate for their destination.  These same people complain about the airlines’ tardiness, all the while being part of the problem with all their insistence on “stuffing” their stuff into a space that it will not fit into!

We have all seen these inconsiderate travellers climbing on the back of the seats or on the seat itself trying hopelessly to cram all their belongings into the overhead bins like a person on amphetamines!!  These same people are equally entertaining when they try to retrieve their belongings out of that same overhead bin!  All in all, it kind of looks like a Keystone Cops movie from the 20’s and 30’s!!

Are you with me on this?

Breakfast In New York City


(photo courtesy of Leon Hammack)

This morning I got up from my hotel bed and decided to head on out on the streets of Manhattan to grab some breakfast.  As I got out of my hotel on the corner of 32nd St and Broadway, I yielded to fast movers, then merged in with the foot traffic.

I made my mind up to go get myself a fresh, hot New York bagel.  So I headed up Broadway to the corner of 35th St. and Broadway to one of my favorite places in this part of Manhattan, The Metro Cafe.  As I crowded into the cafe, I was delighted to hear the New Yorkers bantering with each other, as only they can do!

I ordered up a  toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese, YUM!  Once I received my “treasure trove” I headed over to the cashier to pay.  The 20 something Puerto Rican girl working the cash register mumbled something to me that I couldn’t understand.  I asked her to repeat what she said.  Again I couldn’t understand what she was saying.  I said,”Huh?”  Finally I understood that she was saying my bagel was going to cost me $2.68!  I just then realized that I have been gone too long from New York City, and have lost my ability to discern “New Yorkese”!! ( I left New York City on Memorial Day Weekend 1982.)

Walking back to my hotel room after breakfast, I realized that the sidewalks of Manhattan are very similar to a restrictor plate race at either Daytona or Talladega!!  As I exited the cafe, I had to find a hole in the foot traffic and stick my nose into it.  Next I had to determine just which of the lines were moving , verses stagnating.   So I quickly looked to my left and “whipped” out into that lane and tucked into a good “drafting position” on this heavy guy.

Having a very good knowledge of aerodynamics, after all I am an airline pilot, I knew that the 300 lb dude in front of me would bust a big hole in the air!  Once I was established in the lane I started looking for a new and faster drafting partner.  I slipped in behind this rather fast looking female that had a burst of speed as she passed me on the sidewalk.  Again I tucked in really tight for a few steps and with a huge burst of speed, I blew right by her and caught the green pedestrian light at 33rd and Broadway!

Now just one block away from my hotel, I got “up on the wheel”, I “mashed the loud pedal”, I increased my walking speed!!  Just as I got to the corner of 32nd St. and Broadway, I noticed this little old lady making a run on me on the inside, so I pulled a Carl Edwards and moved down to block her.  She didn’t get out of the gas and before I knew it, she had punted me and it was all I could do to keep from collecting up the other pedestrians into a huge sidewalk crash!  WHEW!!

After I got inside my hotel, I surveyed the damage.  All I got was a doughnut on my right side tennis shoe from her high heel!!  So as ol DW ( Darrell Waltrip) says, “it is success if you can drive it into the hauler”!  I made it back to my hotel without a major disaster!


Victory Junction Gang: Adam Petty’s Dream

Victory Junction enriches the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses by providing life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun, and empowering, in a safe and medically-sound environment.

Imagine a place where children with ongoing medical problems can learn, grow, have fun and enjoy a fantastic camping experience. Can you picture it? Adam Petty did. In 1999 Adam and his family participated in a charity motorcycle ride to benefit Camp Boggy Creek, a camp for seriously-ill children in Florida. From that day on, Adam dreamed of building a camp like Boggy Creek in North Carolina for children who cannot attend normal summer camps due to their unique medical needs.

Adam passed away in 2000, but his parents, Kyle and Pattie Petty, took action to make Adam’s dream come true. As they worked at this, Kyle and Pattie became involved with the Association of the Hole in the Wall Camps founded by actor Paul Newman. With guidance from Newman’s program and help from the Pettys’ friends in NASCAR, Kyle and Pattie were able to raise the funds necessary to make Adam’s dream a reality.

Victory Junction opened in June 2004 and this year will be celebrating its fifth year anniversary. Working as a year round camp, Victory Junction serves children, ages 6-16, with a number of different health issues. During the summer, Victory Junction offers weeklong, disease-specific sessions with up to 128 kids per session. During the fall, winter and spring, family weekends are offered and serve up to 32 families per weekend. And, all this is possible thanks to the generosity of corporations, individuals, and organizations, no child or family has had to incur the cost of attending Victory Junction.

Located in Randleman, NC, Victory Junction is built upon 84 beautiful acres donated by Richard and Lynda Petty. Themed around NASCAR racing, the camp echoes the sights, sounds, and feel of a real racetrack! Victory Junction has 42 buildings and program areas, such as Adam’s Race Shop, Goody’s Body Shop (medical center), the Hendrick Motorsports Fuel Stop (dining hall), the Silver Theater, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America Water Park, the Michael Waltrip Operation Marathon Sportscenter, Kurt Busch Superdome, Jimmie Johnson Victory Lanes (bowling alley) and Jessie’s Horse Power Garage (stables and riding arena), there is no shortage of fun and empowering activities!

To date, Victory Junction has changed the lives of more than 10,000 children with chronic medical conditions and serious illnesses and their families.  (Victory Junction Gang Camp)

The Victory Junction Gang is a charity that I hold near and dear.  It is one of the two charities that I fully support and donate to each year, the other is St. Jude’s in Memphis.

Kyle Petty maybe the son of Richard Petty, and had to live in the show of greatness for all of his life.  But what he really may be remembered for will nothing to do with NASCAR!  I believe the legacy that both Kyle Petty and his wife Pattie will be remembered for will be for The Victory Junction Gang Camp and what they have been able to do for the chronically ill children!

It is quite impressive that Kyle and Pattie Petty were able to take an idea that their 18 year old son, Adam, had and make it become a reality!