First Trip to Germany

The time came and I flew to Atlanta on a small aircraft. Interestingly Southern Airways still flew the DC-3 from Athens to Atlanta. One could see mechanics pouring fuel into the wing tanks while passengers were being loaded. The amount of fuel was measured with a long wooden stick. Once the engines were fired up and revved before take-off, one could see oil streaming out from behind the engines and over the wing. Reporting this to the single stewardess was useless because she said this was quite normal! She gave everyone a pack of gum to chew while the air pressure changed as we ascended into the air just below the clouds.

We lived a few miles away from the Athens airport, but as the crow flies, we were just right on the flight path for the in-coming DC-3s of Southern Airways. If it was foggy, you could hear the pilot come down and down and down carefully looking for the lights of the runway. We were told if he could see the runway at 500 feet he would try and land on the second round. We could hear him come in on the second pass. Sometimes he would try a third time. Sometimes, if it was useless, the DC-3 would give up and go back to Atlanta. We never had a crash landing in 12 years living near Athens.

In New York City, one had to carry one's own personal luggage since there was no luggage transfer service to Icelandic Air. Moreover Icelandic Air had no desk to submit one's ticket for boarding. I asked around. Delta had an agreement with the airline that one could use their exit gate. Which I did. That deposited me on the tarmac in the direction of a DC-8 out near the runways. A stewardess welcomed me on board and took my ticket and luggage.

Once everyone was on board the engines were fired up and some cooling began. Mostly students seemed to be on board. As soon as the aircraft leveled off en route to Europe and the seat belt signs extinguished, these young people broke out wine bottles and gathered in the aisles sitting cross-legged singing along with a guitar or two. They obviously knew this airline well and the lack of typical flight rules! This didn't bother me as I finally let go of all my stress and fell asleep.

I was awakened by the stewardess urging us to get ready to disembark. We were landing in Reykjavik, Iceland to refuel and clean up the aircraft. Sleepily we trundled down the exit tunnel directly into an airport terminal. Here everyone was expected to visit the washroom and trudge through their souvenir shop. Fur rugs for sale were in abundance, as I recall, including a white wolf rug complete with the head and teeth bared in its open mouth. Not exactly the kind of souvenir my family would have loved.

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Ed Janzen is the editor and publisher of CANADIAN STORIES, a literary folk magazine that publishes short stories and poems from Canadian writers of every province of Canada. Story Quilt is an electronic magazine similar in content. Ed has written four memoirs. He also writes for the old car hobby and has a column in OLD AUTOS - a biweekly newspaper featuring mostly Canadians events and automotive history.
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