Now Appearing in Chicago

I have been to Chicago once. To be precise I flew through it, as a hub, enjoying (if that's the word) the most frightening landing I've ever experienced on a plane.

We were a few minutes late and the (presumably ex fighter-) pilot up front was determined to make up time. He took us into such a steep angled turn that those on the right of the plane were looking directly downwards out of their windows. Passengers were screaming. Suddenly he snapped the plane horizontal. We landed, I kid you not, less than three seconds later. I was with a group of experienced airline staff, and every one of them was white as a sheet.

So you might imagine my second approach to Chicago was with even more trepidation. But no. In fact I didn't even notice I'd been. This is because that estimable newspaper, the Chicago Sun-Times has kindly syndicated my contribution to Vulpes Libris on its website. That's what I call virtual travel.


  1. Chicago was the first city in the U S and A that I ever visited, and that perhaps explains why I am rather fond of it. I got the El from O'Hare and pitched up downtown. I emerged into the kind of urban canyon I'd only ever seen in the movies, and to cap it all there was a blues band busking on the corner. I felt I'd landed in the Blues Brothers. I've since been there several times. Grungy, Grimy, Great.

  2. My dad used to go there on business a lot and was very fond of it. He particularly liked the combination of the skyrise city and the lakeside.

  3. My worst ever landing was in Washington DC. We came down hard, bounced up, tilted, came back down on one wheel, then the other one slammed down, causing the first one to jump back up in the air.

    Once we came under full control, the flight attendant came on the radio and said "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to DC. Please be careful when opening the overhead lockers, as contents may have shifted during" and then she dissolved into hysterical laughter.

    The best landing was in Tel Aviv. As we approached the runway, most of the people on the plane (I don't know if they were all together, or if this is some Israeli custom) started to hum one slowly rising note, and as soon as we touched down, everyone burst into the same song, complete with enthusiastic clapping and even some dancing. Oh, and the safety video featured the Pink Panther. Other than the frequent bomb threats, El Al is a great airline. I'll forgive them the six hour security line-up that caused half of my group to miss the return flight.


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