“Set max power.”
“Power set, N1’s checked.”
“Airspeed alive both sides.”
“80 knots looking for 146.”
“V1, VR, V2.”
“Bug up, N1, flaps one.”
“Flaps up, after takeoff checklist.”
The wheels retract into their wells as we accelerate and point the nose of the jet southward on Christmas Eve morning, heading for Cabo San Lucas. On board is a full plane of mostly turistas and a few Mexicans. The flight is uneventful and relatively restful. Once we’re handed off on the radio from Los Angeles Center to Mazatlan Center just north of the border, the radio gets pretty quite. There’s not a whole lot to do except monitor the instruments and enjoy the view. From up at altitude, you can easily see all the way across the Baja, which is a beautiful sight. It’s very desolate, mountainous, and not much sign of civilization. The occasional volcanic island goes sliding by against its watery-blue backdrop.
Four hours later we touch down to a warm sunny day at the very tip of the Baja Peninsula. The cacti and mesquite hurtle by out the side window as we roll out on runway 34. While I’d rather be with my family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, getting people safely to their destination on Christmas is a good feeling – lots of folks who want to be with their loved ones, either at home or on the beach.
Every year that I fly on Christmas, I give the rest of the crew a present. This year I bought gift certificates to Amazon.com for the four Flight Attendants and the Co-pilot. Nobody is expecting that. We have our own mini-Christmas before the passengers board in Seattle. On the way back from Cabo on Christmas Day, the Co-pilot brings a bunch of chocolate. I guess he figures a well-chocolated Captain is a happy Captain. So we have a little auburn goodness as Los Arcos recedes in the distance.
Our Christmas liturgy, the series of calls that we made up above on takeoff, help to get us safely off the ground and help to get our passengers where they want to go. Through our vocation as pilots we serve our neighbor – a small gift that comes about because of the big gift of a Savior, God incarnate, who also comes to serve. A blessed Christmastide to you and your family as we celebrate the Liturgy which has no end in our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.
Here’s a few fotografías:
|Looking through the heads up display out the windshield.|