Operation Reindeer Gets Bogged Down by Fog

July 6, 2014

in Weather Stories

It was Christmas time in the 80’s. It was a crucial time for Boeing, as there was a time crunch for the Air Force One proposal. They felt that the engineers who were working on the proposal team couldn’t be spared to go home for Christmas vacation. Finally, a solution – why not keep the engineers in Seattle, and fly the families there for a vacation! What a marvelous plan. Operation Reindeer was born!

Boeing picked up families from across the country in, I believe, a 737. Not only that, they were allowed to bring pets that couldn’t be left behind.

I boarded the plane in Wichita with my 16 year old daughter and 12 year old son for a 2-3 hour flight to Seattle. We were provided box lunches after we boarded the plane, and such a spirit of fun prevailed! It was a quick flight, and in no time we were circling Seattle. We were all excited to be reunited with our spouses.

But when we looked down, FOG!!! Fog so thick that there was no way we could land. We circled for hours, it seemed, when finally the captain announced that we were flying to Portland to see if we could land there. It was such a relief to see the lights in Portland, even though it was quite foggy.

We landed on the tarmac and STOPPED! How could we get off the plane? We couldn’t! We just sat there in the dark waiting, and waiting, and waiting. And at this point we were also hungry and thirsty. But there were no more box lunches, and no more water. And to add to this, the toilets were full and now unusable. And don’t forget about the pets!!

We all just sat there – again, waiting with bursting bladders, not daring to move. While we waited, a young man near us terrified my kids, and others within earshot, with gory tales of the Green River Killer in such detail that we were beginning to wonder if he was the killer himself!

Finally, threads of light coming across the runway, one after another. We would be rescued! Finally, in the fog we could discern: SCHOOL BUSES! They pulled up next to the plane, and we were allowed to disembark and climb into them. Luggage was unloaded on us all – coats, jackets; no one knew what belonged to whom. We found out later that the buses were Seattle school buses they had sent all the way down to get us. Thank God for the first truck stop we came to!

After a 4-5 hour drive through the fog from Portland to Seattle, we finally were reunited with our worried spouses at about midnight, somehow retrieved all our belongings, and went on to the Residence Inn where Boeing had wonderful accommodations for us.

Even now, after all this time, when we get together we just start howling in laughter about our flight from hell which has left us more great memories than one can imagine! I often wondered if Boeing ever tried another Operation Reindeer again!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

prp July 10, 2014 at 10:30 pm

If your talking those Yellow School buses the trip to Seattle must of been extra painful.
But at least you made I,t that's all that counts I guess.

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