I had the great fortune to ride in the MetLife Airship “Snoopy2″ on February 11, 2011, during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. My pilot, Charlie Smith, took me for a spin in this most famous of American blimps, whilst 1000 feet below, golfers enjoyed warm and sunny weather. In the following interview, Charlie and I discuss flying, golf, whales, the Hindenburg, and many other subjects.
Special thanks to MetLife, the PGA Tour, and Charlie Smith & the crew of “Snoopy2.”
Charlie Smith: Are you all set?
Golf Conversations: Yeah, ready to go.
CS: I’m just gonna call the tower and it’ll take a few minutes for us to back into position and get ready for takeoff.
GC: Feel free to mention my name if that gets us up in the air any quicker.
They love me here in Monterey. Kind of. Ok, there was that one shoplifting citation a few years ago…
CS: I’m just gonna make the call real quick. [Charlie has a back and forth with the control tower] Ok, we’re gonna push back now. Move out into the open field.
GC: Ok, here we go.
CS: You can see the entire operation. We have to have a minimum of 9 people to take off and land. We don’t have the normal controlling ability while we’re on the ground because there’s no air flowing over the envelope. So we have to rely on manpower to pull us into position and move us across the field.
GC: Charlie, I don’t want to be politically correct, but I think you have to say “person power” these days. You can’t say “man power.”
CS: Yeah, we do need 9 people.
GC: No women on the team?
CS: Not on this one. We do on the other crews.
GC: I think it’s good that there are no women on this particular flight because I hate to see women see me cry. Not that I’m afraid, don’t get me wrong!
What a beautiful day for flying. And this poor guy underneath me – he has to pull the blimp. “Thank you for pulling! Appreciate it!”
[a few minutes elapse]
So Charlie, we’re just waiting for clearance from the tower now?
CS: Yeah, we’re just waiting on them.
GC: I copy that.
CS: Tower, Snoopy2 is ready to lift for the southwest.
GC: Charlie, can I get a thumbs up? Ok, thank you.
CS: He’s holding us here for a minute. Ok, here we go.
[A crew member runs away from the side of the blimp.]
GC: Hey, where’s that guy running to? Does he know something I don’t know?
[The blimp begins to move forward; the crew is running along side us holding the ropes. After a few seconds, we are airborne and begin to climb over Monterey Peninsula airport.]
[NOTE: The video below is approximately 15 minutes in length. Because of the engine noise, you can't hear pilot Charlie Smith's voice, although you can hear mine somewhat. We were both wearing headsets from which I recorded our conversation, the transcription of which appears on this page. I would recommend that you read the interview first; then come back and watch the video. Viewer discretion is advised.]
GC: I see you’re turning a little wheel there, Charlie. What’s that all about?
CS: The wheel itself is our elevator control. That’s what allows us to climb and descend with the power from the engines. It’s hard for you to see up here – we have two foot pedals that we turn our rudders with. It’s a pretty simple operation – they’re both connected through a cable-and-pulley system all the way out to the back end of the ship to the control surfaces.
GC: I see there’s a little wall behind me. You don’t have a MetLife insurance agent in there waiting to sell me a policy?
CS: No, that’s our fuel tank behind you there and our air box to control the pressure system on the air ship.
GC: Ok, ‘cause I have life insurance. I’m fully covered.
CS: With MetLife?
GC: You know, it might be MetLife. How about you?
GC: They didn’t say it was too dangerous to be a blimp pilot, we’re not gonna cover you?
CS: No, I’m convinced that this is the safest aircraft flying around the country. We don’t go fast enough and all the emergencies that other aircraft deal with are not a big issue to us. We won’t just fall out of the sky. If we lose our engines, we just become a balloon at that point.
GC: And then we go over the rainbow and to Oz? I would love that. Cut the engines! If we cut the engines, would we start floating up?
CS: Not up at this moment. Just whichever direction the wind is blowing.
GC: That’s how I live my life, Charlie.
Whichever way the wind is blowing, that’s where I go. There’s a lovely course down there; I don’t know if that’s Laguna Seca.
CS: I think that one’s Monterey Pines.
GC: So how was your trip from last week’s event in Scottsdale? There was a playoff, of course.
CS: We had to leave Monday morning in order to make it here on time. It was a long trip for us. It went pretty smooth; we made it safely and on time. That’s about as much as we can ask for.
GC: How long did it take to get from Scottsdale to here?
CS: It was two long days.
GC: You don’t fly at night, do you?
CS: We do.
GC: So give me a timeline: what time did you leave Monday and what time did you stop Monday?
CS: We left about 8am Monday morning, landed about 9pm. And the same for Tuesday.
GC: Where did you land the first night?
CS: We stopped in a town called Camarillo, California.
GC: You had a co-pilot with you, I assume.
CS: We did a pilot swap. It was just one at a time. We landed half way. We’re just going to be able to cruise for a half hour before we turn around.
GC: That’s fine. Thank you. So the guys are in the van below following you the whole time?
CS: Not directly under but close enough to stay in radio communication range.
GC: You’re only going about 35 miles an hour, is that correct?
CS: That’s on a good day.
GC: On a good day?
CS: That’s when the wind is not against us.
GC: So on a long trip like that, it’s just one pilot up here by himself?
CS: Usually. Sometimes it’s both of us but it’s only a single-pilot control aircraft. So we just prefer to alternate days.
GC: Going at only 35 miles per hour, obviously, that’s a bit on the slow side. How do you keep from falling asleep?
CS: It requires constant attention. There’s no auto-pilot and the movement of the blimp always needs to be corrected. So it’s a lot of action. There’s never really any down time.
GC: You have to have some real concentration to be up in the air for 8, 10 hours.
CS: Usually 6 to 8.
GC: When the pilots fly the big jets, they put it on auto-pilot and have lunch. You have to keep an eye on everything at all times.
CS: That’s right. That’s part of the beauty of it. It’s old-school flying. It’s seat-of-the-pants flying that requires constant attention. Aside from that, we have the best view, and we’re low enough to the ground and going slow enough where we actually get to see what’s going on.
GC: This is just breathtaking, of course. Charlie, do you play golf?
CS: I do.
GC: Ever have the good fortune to play Pebble Beach?
CS: Uh, not yet. Unfortunately, the only time I’m ever in this area is during the tournament so it’s never really possible. But I will one day.
GC: Charlie, this is calling for some out-of-the blimp thinking here.
GC: Here’s what we’re gonna do: off in the distance, there’s the 7th hole, the little par 3.
GC: Here’s what we do: we’re gonna land over there…
I’m sure your sticks are behind this wall. Play two holes — we’ll get a couple of marshals to hold on to the blimp, and then, at least, you can say you played Pebble Beach.
You may never fly again, but you’ll have played it.
CS: As long as you can get my job back.
I’m just maneuvering around to get on the sun side for the camera. Once we get over the proper side, over the water, I’ll get a little closer for you.
GC: Charlie, have you ever had any complaints from the players about the noise that the engines make?
CS: It’s happened. The only time I’ve ever heard about the complaints is on a really windy day.
GC: Are you at liberty to say what sort of complaints you hear?
CS: I don’t get anything specific; I just hear generally, someone had a problem with it. But no names.
GC: Oh, guys, whoever you are down there … you really need to loosen up a bit! “Too much noise.” I bet it was Colin Montgomerie.
If he’s in Scotland, he can hear somebody jingling change in Dubai.
Wow, look at that! I really have to buy a house here. Of course, I can’t afford it.
CS: There’s one for sale on the 18th fairway for $30 million.
GC: Ok, how about me and you and the crew and everybody we know … everybody kicks in a thousand. Alright so then we’d still be almost $30 million short. I’m gonna put this interview on my Facebook page; we’ll get all the Facebook readers to kick in some money and we’ll have the first Pebble Beach timeshare. Which should … really get us kicked out of the county.
Hello Pebble Beach! Hey, one of the questions I had for one of the resort executives was “Where did the name ‘Pebble Beach’ come from?”
CS: Uh, I’m not sure.
GC: Of course you’re not sure, nobody’s sure! I’ve been investigating this for the last week. I’m looking down at the beach … I don’t see pebbles. I don’t see rocks, I don’t see anything. I see an otter, I think. I see a sailboat, but no pebbles. I see a lot of dogs. I don’t know … I think they might have to think about changing the name.
CS: It might be some long, lost secret.
GC: Could be. Maybe when they first named it, it had pebbles. Ok, there’s the par 3…
CS: The one on the peninsula there is number 7.
CS: The one on this side is 8, it’s the one that goes left to right, it goes across the little cove there.
GC: Right. That’s the one Jack Nicklaus calls…
CS: The best hole in all of golf, he said.
GC: I think so. I tell you, if Bing Crosby was still alive, he would have loved to have been up here.
CS: Uh huh. I’m sure, yeah.
GC: Him and Phil Harris would be having a little nip up here, he would have loved that.
Obviously, you’re not allowed to drink.
GC: Not on duty.
CS: Not on duty.
GC: Look at that water! The last couple of years, they had some ferocious winds…
CS: Last year was incredible. The surf was at an all-time high; it made for great pictures.
GC: Must have been a little choppy up here, eh?
CS: It wasn’t actually that bad up here last year. Because we’re so close to the ocean, it kind of smoothes out the air. Makes it a little more stable.
Just let me know if you need me to turn a certain way so you can get a shot or if you want a certain hole … whatever you need.
GC: Can we stop somewhere for a pizza?
When do you eat?
CS: We bring our lunch with us.
GC: Gee, you’d think Domino’s would put a blimp up for you guys and do one of those pizza transfers.
And there’s 17 down there, where Mr. Watson had his famous chip-in.
CS: Oh, yeah.
GC: And there’s the famous 18th hole. And just by the green there where the big tree is, I saw two dogs yesterday running around and having a good time. Chris Dalhamer, the course superintendent, let me play with the dogs a little bit. That was the highlight of my trip…
… but I think this trumps that.
CS: It’s hard to beat this view.
GC: Fabulous! Charlie, take her down to 200 feet…
… and let’s see these golfers shaking their fists at us!
CS: There’s a few rules I like to follow!
I’m gonna loop around to the other side so you can keep the picture off to your right.
GC: Ok. Before you do that, is it possible for us to see that famous hole at Cypress Point?
CS: Yeah, we can go up there.
GC: I’d like to see that 16th hole.
CS: Oh, yeah.
GC: So there’s no meal included with this flight, huh? No sodas or water?
CS: Whatever you want to bring up…
GC: Do you get a lot of people who say, “I’d love to rent the blimp for my wedding”?
CS: We get a lot of requests for flyovers. But not many people want to actually pay to rent it out.
GC: Well, that’s the American way: nobody wants to pay for anything.
Let somebody else pay for it! Is that Spyglass over there?
CS: Directly to our right.
GC: Do you actually use the word “right” or do you use that starboard/port thing?
CS: I normally would say “three o’clock”
GC: Then feel free to use all the lingo with me.
CS: And down here, these are the first few beginning holes of Cypress.
GC: I really have to extend my Facebook circle of friends and meet someone who’s a member there.
CS: At Cypress?
CS: That’s coveted golf.
GC: And I’ll tell you one thing, Charlie: if I can meet a member, I’m gonna try and get you on, too.
CS: I would never turn that down.
GC: But don’t forget to bring the blimp with you in case he wants a ride.
There it is in the distance. There’s 16.
CS: Right on the point.
GC: How low can we go? And don’t make any jokes.
CS: We can go to about 500 feet.
GC: Look at that – spectacular! “The most felicitous meeting of land and sea.” I believe Robert Louis Stevenson said that to describe Pebble Beach. But this here Cypress Point – this ain’t bad either. Just gorgeous!
Where are the whales at? Where are you guys?
CS: You might see some. There were 50 or 60 yesterday that they saw.
GC: Wow. Do you know what a group of whales is called?
GC: A “pod.” That’s Papa-Oscar-Delta.
GC: I’ve got another nature question for you.
CS: Go ahead.
GC: What is a group of otters called?
GC: Class??? You’ve been up in the air too long! I think you’ve been breathing that helium!
Hey, did you ever do that thing when you breathe helium and your voice gets real high?
You’re not allowed to do that, I know. I think the FAA would get on you for that.
CS: That and the brain cells.
GC: Anyway, it’s called a raft of otters.
CS: A raft?
GC: A raft. So this trip has not been a total loss for you, Charlie …
… you’re learning something.
CS: That’s good!
GC: Beautiful 16 at Cypress Point. Lovely. I’m sure you’re aware that Snoopy’s creator, Charles Schultz, was a big supporter of the Pebble Beach tournament.
GC: He loved it here. I think he would be very happy to know that Snoopy was up here looking over this beautiful area.
CS: I agree, yeah.
GC: Are you familiar with the John Denver story?
CS: I don’t think so.
GC: Do you know who John Denver is?
GC: John Denver was a plane enthusiast. He was piloting some sort of experimental plane which went down in Monterey Bay over to your left… what you would call “ten o’clock.” He didn’t make it.
CS: Was that here?
GC: Right here over in Monterey Bay.
Are those the Santa Lucia mountains or the Santa Rosa mountains? One of those two. It’s beautiful how they just plunge into the ocean. I’m going to put this iPhone down now and take some still photos with my camera.
Charlie, how does one train to fly a blimp?
CS: The weird thing about learning how to fly an airship is that you actually have to come work for the company to get your training. There’s no flight school, there’s no place other than on-the-job training. You have to be fortunate to get employed – which is rare because we don’t hire very often.
GC: How many blimps are you guys flying?
CS: There’s two MetLifes. In total around the country, there’s only 12 blimps. So you’re talking maybe a total of 30 pilots.
GC: What’s the name of your company?
CS: The company we work for is The Lightship Group.
GC: Are you flying all-year round?
CS: Yeah. We get a few weeks of vacation on our own. But the rest of the time, it’s non-stop travel. It’s about 11 full months of the year. Snoopy2 spends our winter months in California and Arizona to avoid the cold and the snow.
GC: Why don’t you guys toughen up a little bit and fly over Chicago?
CS: Long story short: it’s very dangerous being in the snow.
GC: Yes, of course.
CS: That and strong winds are our two biggest problems.
GC: Yes. Do you have a particular favorite destination of all the PGA Tour stops?
CS: Right here.
GC: Right here.
CS: There’s nothing like it. I agree with all the experts: it’s the best course in the country, if not the world. It’s perfect, it’s got everything you could want.
GC: Charlie, do you have any preference among the various words used to describe this aircraft? We have zeppelin, we have dirigible, we have blimp, we have airship.
CS: You can call us either the Snoopy2 Airship or just the MetLife Blimp. It’s a mouthful saying MetLife Blimp Snoopy2.
GC: I’m happy to use either.
CS: Airship or blimp.
GC: I flew into San Francisco yesterday and I’m driving down here and around San Jose, I see the Farmer’s Insurance air ship.
GC: And I’m thinking, “What the hell are these guys doing here?”
CS: That airship’s funny. They’re based out of Moffett Field up here, right next to San Jose. Farmer’s is kind of an add-on advertisement that they just recently put on. The company that owns them primarily does passenger rides out of Moffett and they fly down to L.A. every once in a while and do rides down there.
And Farmer’s just kind of put their logo on it to cover the golf tournament at Torrey Pines a few weeks ago.
GC: I see. Well let me just go on record as saying that my loyalties are totally with MetLife Snoopy2. And if ever see that Farmer’s Insurance airship again, so help me, I’m gonna shoot a blow dart at it!
I got so angry!
CS: Well, I appreciate that!
GC: Absolutely. You guys … you’re my blimp of choice!
And always will be.
CS: The MetLife blimps have recently surpassed Goodyear as the most recognizable blimp in the world.
GC: When I was a kid growing up, I think they might have had a Goodyear blimp. When did MetLife decide to get into blimps?
CS: As soon as they started with TV events like golf and other sporting events, it kind of became their niche. Especially golf. They cover more golf tournaments than anyone else in history.
GC: I saw that DVD that you guys did.
CS: “The Best Shot in Golf”?
GC: Yes. The cameraman who provides those shots is amazing. Those are incredible images.
CS: Oh, yeah. Bob Mikkelson is the best in the business. He’s been doing it for 30 years and he makes it so easy for us.
GC: I wonder if he does Bar Mitzvahs?
Sorry. Make believe I didn’t say that. There’s that par 5 that Paul Goydos came to grief with last year.
CS: That’s a nasty hole.
GC: Charlie, yesterday afternoon I saw George Lopez in front of The Lodge. After he was done signing autographs and taking pictures, he gets into his car and starts to drive away. All of a sudden, a police car is right behind him flashing his lights. Lopez gets out of his car and gets on the ground, making believe he’s being arrested. Then he gets up and hugs the officer. They knew each other. It was very funny.
CS: All an act.
GC: Alright, Charlie, let’s have a picture of you. Try to look like you’re having a good time. That’s a good one!
Are you able to, as captain – I know you don’t like to be called captain – do you have the power to marry people?
CS: I don’t know!
GC: Well, that’s something to look into. If the captain of a ship can do it…
CS: Well, unfortunately not.
GC: You’re positive about this?
CS: I’m sure, yes.
GC: Alright. I’m just trying to look for some additional income streams for you.
Charlie, are you able to take a photograph of me?
GC: Say, “Cheese.” There we go. Thank you.
Charlie, any problems with birds flying into the blimp?
CS: They fly near; some of them are kind of curious and they get close but then they get spooked away and fly off. But they do get close sometimes.
GC: Like how close?
CS: I’d say within 50, 75 feet.
GC: Wow. Which birds, sea gulls?
CS: Usually hawks or the bigger birds, birds of prey.
GC: They think the blimp might be a meal?
CS: They’re the ones that float on thermals, higher up. The smaller birds don’t get as high an altitude.
GC: Maybe they see Snoopy and they think he’s a meal.
When are you going back up today for the TV coverage?
CS: We’ll be taking off at 11, be overhead at 11:30 or so, and then cruise until 3pm.
GC: Then back to Monterey airport to moor the ship. Is that the correct terminology?
CS: Yes, sir. We do moor it.
GC: Charlie, look at the big radio/cell phone tower down there. Why can’t we hook up to that?
CS: We don’t have the proper fitting equipment.
GC: When you go back, get the proper stuff, and then when you come back at 11, you moor over there. You know what kind of publicity you’d get for that?
GC: Yeah, publicity while you’re in the Monterey County jail. But it’s an interesting idea.
GC: That’s why I don’t run blimp companies.
CS: I’ll run it by the boss, see what he says.
GC: Yeah, run it past him. THAT is a million-dollar publicity idea. Why not? Maybe on a practice round day. Go over there – moor the blimp … ok, I’m gonna shut up now.
Oh, would I love to see a whale.
CS: We’d have to go out quite a few miles to see them today.
GC: Ok, then I take it back.
Stay close to the land, please! How about an otter?
CS: That would be nice. I’ve seen some of those here in the bay.
GC: Ok, so when you’re done, it’s 4pm or so, you’ve got the ship moored. Then what happens?
CS: Then we go back to the hotel, it’s dinner time and whatever else we have planned for the night.
GC: How many guys are in the crew?
CS: We have 13 total that travel with us. We have two pilots, two mechanics, a couple of crew chiefs, about 8 or 9 ground crew. All working together in support of the blimp.
GC: Does your company get letters from people who want to be interns?
CS: When we do our hiring, we do get a lot of interest. But it’s so much travel, it’s hard to find the right person. A lot of people have trouble leaving their family for so much time during the year.
GC: It’s a great adventure, Charlie. And you’re young only once. I envy you.
CS: It is a lot of fun for now. We do get to see quite a bit of the country… we’ve got the best view around.
GC: And you get to fly this fun airship.
CS: That’s right.
GC: Is flying this second nature now?
CS: At this point, yes. Under most weather conditions, it’s like second nature. It does get tricky sometimes.
GC: Do you fly the ship when it’s raining?
CS: We can but we usually don’t unless there’s a big TV event. Rain, thunderstorms, high winds will usually keep us on the ground.
GC: Has there ever been a situation where weather prevented you from arriving at the next tour event?
CS: Oh, yeah. Sometimes a front might move through, or it rains for 3 or 4 days, or high winds … and it keeps us from flying our normal schedule.
GC: The cameraman who’s up here … I’m sorry, what’s his name?
CS: Bob Mikkelson.
GC: Bob is the one that’s communicating with the director in the truck?
CS: We listen to the audio feed and he can talk to the director if he wants, but usually there’s so much chatter, they advise us not to. But we listen to the director and that whole feed and we talk to Brian who’s on the ground next to the director. We tell him what we want to do. He walks up to the director and waits for a break to speak to him personally. That way we’re not interrupting the director’s instructions to all the other cameramen.
GC: So on a Saturday or a Sunday when you’re attempting to follow the top 6 or 7 leaders, is someone telling you, “X player is on 14, position the blimp in that neighborhood”?
CS: Yeah. Bob and I have worked together enough over the years where a lot of it’s unspoken. We can hear what the director is looking for. He’s constantly talking to everybody, saying “We’re gonna follow him,” “We’re gonna go to him next.” He’s shouting out directions left and right.
And he’ll always say who he’s talking to. Soon as he mentions “blimp,” we start to get into position. If there’s something strange or unusual, he’ll give us a heads-up to get set up for a certain shot.
GC: So you really do need to understand golf?
CS: It helps. It gives me a huge advantage because I know the timing it takes to go from a tee to a green. All the little subtleties to golf really come into play and make for a better show.
GC: Well you guys put on a fabulous show. The images you provide are spectacular.
CS: We’re very proud of it.
GC: You should be. It just makes the whole golf telecast to see the shots from the blimp. There’s nothing like it.
CS: That’s right.
GC: Especially from the MetLife Blimp, Snoopy2. I can’t believe I’m sucking up to a blimp. I’ve reached a new low … or is it a new high?
CS: To coin a phrase, yeah, we bring the best shot in golf.
GC: Did I ever tell you that it’s my favorite blimp?
CS: You did.
GC: I can’t say that enough. I loved Snoopy when I was growing up.
What’s propelling the motors here? Is it just regular fuel?
CS: Yeah. These are Rotax engines that run off of regular, unleaded fuel so it makes it easier for us to be able to re-fuel in different parts of the country.
GC: Can I ask you a personal question?
GC: What kind of mileage do you get with this blimp?
CS: You mean per hour?
GC: Per hour … per gallon … I don’t know what I’m talking about!
CS: We burn at most about 8 gallons per hour between the two engines. We have a 70-gallon tank so at full power we can stay up for 8 hours or so. If we’re just cruising around or trying to conserve fuel, we can stay up for a full 20 hours if we wanted to.
GC: Wow. I hate to bring this up, but are you familiar with the Hindenburg?
CS: I am.
GC: And “Oh, the humanity…”?
GC: Ok, that’s all.
CS: Helium’s non-flammable so we’re ok.
GC: Is that right?
GC: So what was in the Hindenburg?
GC: Helium isn’t flammable?
CS: Nope. You could hold a torch in there and it wouldn’t do a thing.
GC: If I light up a cigar now, we’re ok?
CS: I would prefer not.
GC: Ok, but I’ve got one for you, too!
Beautiful views. There’s the beach down there. Lots of dogs down there having a good time. And I don’t see any pebbles!
CS: Well do you want to see something specific around here before we start making our way back?
GC: No, I think I’ve gotten plenty. You can turn it around.
GC: Thank you. Do you ever have a chance to play golf when you’re on the road?
CS: Yeah. Not so much this month because we’re a little busy. I got a chance to play Laguna Seca Wednesday but I probably won’t get to play for another month. The rest of the year, we try to play once a week.
GC: All the guys play?
CS: Just a couple of the guys. I’ve got my sticks with me on the road. I don’t leave home without them.
GC: Are you guys headed for Los Angeles next week?
CS: That’s right. We’ll be there for the Northern Trust and then we go to Tucson for the WGC Accenture Match Play.
GC: Charlie, what was our average altitude during the trip?
CS: We were at between 1000 and 1500 for the duration. If they hadn’t started playing already, we could have gone a little lower. But I don’t want to influence the golfers or make them mad.
GC: So this really is an issue with some of them.
CS: It’s more of a courtesy from us. It’s rare that we do get complaints – very rare. That’s probably because we go out of our way to keep the noise down at a high-enough altitude.
GC: Hey, we don’t need a parachute up here, do we?
CS: Not a parachute, but we carry a life raft and vests.
GC: And why haven’t I been apprised of this?
CS: ‘Cause there’s no emergency.
GC: This is very nice of you and MetLife to waste some fuel on me like this. Thank you very much.
CS: It’s our pleasure. I hope it turns out well.
GC: I’ll send you a link to your interview as soon as it’s up – maybe Tuesday night.
[We’re a few hundred feet above our landing area at Monterey Peninsula airport.]
CS: You see our crew lined up down there? They line up in a position that looks like “V.” That gives us a visual indication of what the winds are doing on the ground. We always want to be pointing into the wind on takeoff and landing. If the wind switches around at the last minute, they’ll actually move their position to let us know.
Right now, the wind is going that way so I’m going to have to make a U-turn to get into position.
GC: There are the guys on the runway in a “V.” Did you just cut the engines?
CS: I just pulled it back to idle.
GC: Hey, we’re going in reverse now. No back-up beeping?
So we’re moving towards the mooring mast now, right?
GC: It’s a pleasure to land in an aircraft without someone telling me to place my seat tray in the upright and locked position.
[The crew takes hold of the ropes and guides the blimp to the mooring mast.]
CS: I’m just going to shut everything down; it should take a few moments before we can get off. You can take your headset off and unbuckle.
GC: I unbuckled a long time ago. I want to be first off this thing so I can get to baggage claim. Charlie, I want to thank you and the crew, MetLife, and all of the helium tanks for an unforgettable voyage.
CS: You’re welcome.