Subject: Takeoffs and Landings: Jared and Matt’s Story Chapter 9 Matt I’d had a cough for a few days but I had no idea I was that sick. Pneumonia always sneaks up on you and then all of a sudden you’re a hundred times sicker than you thought you were. I had to confront my mortality as I was sitting in the back of that ambulance. I had to ponder whether my life was about to be over at 24 and whether this was going to be the last time I saw Jared’s face. At that moment my mind snapped back to the present. Just as soon as I had that thought, my mind did a complete 180 and went into survival mode. The only thing I could focus on was drawing each breath in and out, no matter how hard it was. It felt like forever but we eventually got to the hospital and they wheeled me in there. It took a really long time to finally find out what was wrong with me but it turned out to be pneumonia. They put me in the intensive care unit for four days and it was awful. I could barely breathe even with oxygen and there was nothing to do but watch TV all day. But two good things came from my hospital visit. One, I got really close with Jared’s mom. She was my rock and she stayed with me as much as she could. And two, I got a job out of the deal. While I was sitting in my room sick as a dog, I realized that I’d never even thought to check this place out for a job. It turned out they were hiring for an HR assistant, and I put in an application. For the first few days after I got home from the hospital I was still in a pretty good mood despite what had happened. I wasn’t able to take a shower yet because I couldn’t stand up for very long without getting really winded. After a couple days I finally had the strength to stand up continuously for five minutes and so I decided to try to take a shower. After I turned the water on to let it warm up I obliviously made a bad mistake. I undressed in front of the mirror. I hadn’t seen myself completely naked in more than a few days and as soon as I took my shirt off I saw that I had a massive navy blue bruise on my side from all the anti-blood clot shots they had to give me. As soon as I saw it I went from feeling good to depressed. I went back into the bedroom and put my head in my hands and cried. That’s when Sue came in. “What’s wrong?” she asked as she sat down next to me and put her arm around me. “Look,” I said before I stood up and turned so she could see the bruise. He sighed heavily before she stood up to hug me. “Come here,” she said as she embraced me. “It’s okay. It’s okay,” she whispered as we hugged. “As soon as I saw that I went from fine and happy to be home to breaking down just like that,” I said hanging my head. “Matt what you just went through was a traumatic experience. You almost died. You need to give yourself some space to deal with that. It’s okay to not be okay,” Sue explained. It felt really good to hear her say that. Once Jared left for training it was really hard being alone. I was waiting and waiting for a call back for any of the jobs I’d applied for but nothing was happening. Sue came over every evening after she left work to make sure I was okay and help out where I needed help and I appreciated that. As soon as I felt good enough to know that I’d be fully recovered by then I decided that I was going to surprise Jared at his graduation from training. I called Northwest’s headquarters and asked the receptionist. After getting transferred five times I finally reached someone who could give me an answer. “That’s going to be on July 19 at 6:00 PM,” said a receptionist from the training department. I went online and booked a flight that got me there at 2 in the afternoon. I figured that gave me enough time to get a cab over to the Northwest headquarters even if my flight got delayed. I packed a change of clothes and some pajamas into a backpack that I just carried onto the plane. When I landed in Minneapolis I had a couple hours to kill before I really needed to get going so I dipped into a bar that was near my gate. My nerves were through the roof because this was a surprise. I ended up having two shots of Crown Royal, a beer, and a pretty good burger. I was sloshed leaving the airport but it sure relieved the butterflies. It was about a 15-minute drive from the airport to the corporate office. It wasn’t long after I arrived that they opened the doors to the auditorium and I walked in and took a seat at the far rear corner. The ceremony was fun. It consisted of the trainers giving speeches about the company culture and the image they’ll project to passengers. After that they pinned wings on their uniforms and pronounced them graduates and officially Northwest Airlines pilots. After it was over they all dispersed into the audience to greet their families and that’s when I rushed to him as fast as I could. I hugged him as tightly as I possibly could as I kissed him harder than I had in a long time. He doubled back afterward erdemli escort and looked at me bewildered. “How did you get here?” was the first thing he asked. “I flew here this afternoon,” I replied with my arms resting on his shoulders and looking into his eyes. He was overcome with emotion and he let out a couple of surprised sighs. “And I have a hotel room and a ticket back home for tomorrow and you’re going to come spend the night with me,” I replied. We took a cab back to the hotel I’d booked and the next day we were flying home on separate flights that thankfully landed at similiar times. We got back to the hotel and immediately started kissing as soon as we were in the room. “Did you fly here on Northwest?” Jared asked as he was unbuckling his pants to drop them. “TWA,” I replied as I pulled off my shirt. “You flew here on a competitor?” Jared exclaimed with sarcastic outrage and we both laughed. He pushed me onto the bed and jumped on top of me. “I haven’t seen you in two months,” he whispered as he kissed my neck. He ran his hands over my body, spending more time than usual on my thighs and stomach. “Let me drive,” I said as he lubed me up. “Absolutely,” he exclaimed. He laid down on his back and I climbed on top of him. I guided him inside me and Jared moaned softly. As I started thrusting Jared moaned with satisfaction. His eyes were closed and he had a goofy smile on his face as he was getting off. I cocked my head back with pleasure as I fucked him on and on and on. It felt like an eternity while we were doing it but once it was over it felt like it was done in an instant. Jared let out a groan as he blasted his load and then tried to catch his breath. “That was a lot shorter than I thought it was going to be,” Jared said to me and we both laughed. “It’s okay,” I replied. The next day we flew home and when we got back to our apartment we collapsed into our bed and just held each other for a while. It was so nice to have him back. “How was it without me?” Jared asked. “It sucked,” I replied. “Remember that thing about how I could pick the place?” I inquired. “Yeah,” Jared replied probably figuring I’d settled on Paris or some place like that. “How about I ride on all your flights for a trip,” I said hoping he’d think I was serious. “Remember those domestic partnership papers I had you sign,” Jared asked, which wasn’t anywhere near the response I figured I was going to get. “Yeah,” I said confused. “Well that’s why We actually can do that. My first reserve shift is on Saturday. You can definitely come along. You can pretty much go anywhere you want on any airline for free,” Jared explained. That Saturday we flew up to Minneapolis on the 5:15 AM flight. Jared was going to be on-call beginning at 9:00 AM and they would call him if they needed him. As luck would have it, they called him about a half hour later. “We’re going to Spokane, Washington and back. Gate 38, we leave at 11:25. I’ll meet you there,” Jared instructed. “Where are you going?” I replied a bit confused. “I’ll go with you and get you listed so you can see what the process is like but I have to be back to the crew room in about 45 minutes for the preflight briefing.” After he got me on the standby list Jared disappeared for a while and I stayed at the gate. After I’d sat there for about a half hour watching CNN on the overhead monitors I heard them page my name. “Standby passenger Matthew Graves please report to gate 38, standby passenger Matthew Graves to gate 38 please.” I got up and went up to the podium having no idea what they wanted me for. “Hi, I’m Matt Graves,” I said, not knowing what else to say. “You’ve been cleared for standby, here’s your boarding pass with your seat assignment,” said the slender, light-brown haired gate agent. Eventually I saw Jared walking down the airport corridor along with the captain and three flight attendants heading to our gate. The flight attendants continued down the jetway but Jared and the captain motioned over towards me. “Matt this is Captain John Wisnewski. He was one of my trainers for training and I ended up on his flight for my first flight on the line,” Jared introduced me as I shook his hand. “First Officer Ryan here told me a lot about you and how you took an interest in aviation. How would you like to ride up front with us to see how we work?” he asked. “Are you serious?” I said looking at Jared. I honestly thought he was kidding. I had no problem taking my seat in coach among everyone else. “I’m totally serious. Come on,” he said as I stood up and followed him towards the jetway. Jared mentioned that he was with us and she scanned his boarding pass and he came onboard with us. “This is the McDonnell-Douglas DC-9 series 51. It holds 124 passengers and has a range of about 1,300 miles. Today’s flight is about 1,039 miles. This aircraft was built in 1977,” Jared started explaining tarsus escort as we walked down the jetway. We boarded the plane and the flight attendant said hello to me. As I stepped through the door I looked into the cabin and saw four rows of first class seats and then in coach there were two seats on the right and three seats on the left. “Are you a non-rev?” she asked me. “He’s my partner,” Jared intervened. “This is actually my first flight after my IOE so I brought him along. He’s even letting him ride up front.” “Can I get you something to drink?” she asked as she went about her tasks in the galley. “Sure I’ll take a Coke,” she said as Jared motioned for me to join him in the cockpit. It was painted a sky blue color and all the gauges were just needles and balls. There was nothing digital at all. Behind his seat on the right was a slide-out jumpseat which the captain started pulling out for me to be able to sit. That’s when they began their pre-flight checklists as the passengers began boarding behind us. “Left gen, right gen, APU bus left, APU bus right, AC bus, DC bus, fuel pumps,” Captain Wisnewski read off as Jared flipped a switch after each item. “The cabin is secure,” said the flight attendant who got me my drink earlier. “Great thanks,” replied the captain and the flight attendant shut the cockpit door. Jared would be flying the first flight and then the captain would fly the flight back to Minneapolis. “Northwest 611 request IFR clearance to Spokane,” said Captain Wisnewski into his earpiece. “Northwest 611 cleared to Spokane airport as filed. Fly runway heading, climb and maintain one-zero thousand, contact ground on one two three point niner five,” the controller replied. “Fly runway heading, climb and maintain one-zero thousand, ground’s on one two three point niner five, Northwest 611,” replied Captain Wisnewski. “Northwest 611 readback is correct, contact ground when ready to taxi.” We pushed back from the gate and Jared gave me a rundown of the rules of the jumpseat. “You need to be completely silent during taxi, takeoff, landing, and until we’re above 10,000 feet. Basically don’t speak unless you’re spoken to. Once we’re at our cruising altitude we can talk more but the FAA requires a distraction-free environment. If we have to evacuate you push the seat back behind mine and open the cockpit door.” “Flaps five,” said the captain and Jared moved a lever next to the throttle two notches. “Minneapolis ground, Northwest 611 request taxi.” “Northwest 611 taxi to and hold short of runway three zero left via taxiway bravo bravo one. Contact tower on one two four point eight.” “Taxi to and hold short of runway three zero left via taxiway bravo bravo one, tower on one two four point eight, Northwest 611.” It was a short jaunt from the gate to the runway and before long we were next in line for departure. “Minneapolis tower, Northwest 611 at runway three zero left, ready for departure IFR to Spokane.” “Northwest 611 cleared for takeoff runway three zero left,” replied a woman controller. “Cleared for takeoff runway three zero left, Northwest 611. Set thrust,” said Captain Wisnewski as he turned to Jared. They both reached down and together advanced the throttle almost all the way forward as the airplane went thundering down the runway. “80 knots,” said Captain Wisnewski as we gained speed. “V1, rotate,” said the captain as Jared put his left hand back on the yoke and pulled it back. “v2,” said Captain Wisnewski as the nose pulled up and the plane just lept into the air like a homesick angel. We climbed straight ahead for about thirty seconds before the controller gave them further instructions. “Northwest 611 direct Alpha Bravo Romeo, contact Minneapolis Departure on one two zero point eight.” “One two zero point eight for Northwest 611,” replied the captain. That’s when Jared turned around to me real quick to get my attention before snapping back to the instruments in front of him. “So when they told us to direct to Alpha Bravo Romeo that means we’re supposed to fly to our first VOR. It’s basically a ground-based radio beacon that the aircraft detects and flies to. So the first one is 113.0, so we’ve got that dialed into the radio. Now we have to select the course, so I just turn this knob until the line meets up and fills in the arrow. See?” I nodded my head. “That’s how we navigate in these old airplanes,” the captain chimed in. “No GPS here.” “This little wheel here controls your pitch, or the angle at which your nose is in relation to the ground. For every click up or down, the airplane will climb or descent at 100 feet per minute more or less than it was before. Right now we’re climbing at 3,000 feet per minute and because we’re under 10,000 feet we can’t go any faster than 250 knots,” Jared continued. Eventually we arrived at our cruising altitude of 30,000 feet. I was amazed by the cloud formations akdeniz escort and at the view. I counted nine windows inside the cockpit and it was just incredible getting to see getting to see what goes on up front. I was just beaming with pride on the inside that that was my man flying this plane. “So how do you land this thing,” I asked honestly. “Same way I did in the Cessna,” Jared replied. “We’ll be shooting an instrument approach so we’ll capture the ILS glide slope. You just put that runway’s frequency into your radio and set the autopilot to ILS mode and it flies you right down to the runway.” It was about 2 hours and 40 minutes from Minneapolis to Spokane. We began our descent and went from 30,000 feet to 17,000, then down to 6,000, and then 3,900 as we made our final turn towards the runway. “Glide slope active,” said Captain Wisnewski over the radio as the glideslope indicator dipped below the horizon and the plane began its final descent to the runway. “One thousand,” Captain Wisnewski counted down as we got closer and closer to touchdown. “Five hundred, four hundred, three hundred, two hundred,” at which point Jared pulled the throttles all the way back. “One hundred,” said the captain and Jared pressed the yellow button on the yoke that disengaged the autopilot. “Fifty, forty, thirty, twenty, ten,” he continued as Jared returned both hands to the throttle and pulled it slightly back and forth until we heard and felt the back wheels touch the ground. Jared pushed the nose forward until the nose gear was on the ground and then with his left hand pulled two levers on the throttles backwards. The thrust reversers as I later learned they were called helped slow the plane by directing the force created by the engines backwards. Captain Wisnewski turned the tiller wheel to his left to steer the plane off the runway and onto the taxiway. “Northwest 611 contact ground on one two one point niner.” “One two one point niner for Northwest 611,” replied the captain. It took about ten minutes to taxi to the gate and afterwards I sat in Jared’s seat in the cockpit while both he and the captain stood in front of the cockpit door saying goodbye to the passengers. As I was there I tried to study the cockpit and see if anything looked even remotely similar to Jared’s Cessna and I could identify some of the instruments. “Well Matt it’s going to be about half full on the flight back so you can either ride with us up front or pick an open seat in first class,” said Captain Wisnewski after the last passenger was off the plane. “You know I’ve never flown first class before so I think I’m going to do that,” I said as I leaned in for a quick kiss from Jared. “Come with me,” said Captain Wisnewski as he led me up the jetway. I was technically on standby again meaning I didn’t get on the flight unless there was space available and there was more than enough space available. “Can you confirm him for a first class seat?” asked the captain. The agent typed for a few minutes before printing out my boarding pass. Seat 4D, the very last row of first class and the window seat on the left side of the plane looking towards the back. She scanned my boarding pass and sent me on my way, and well before the rest of the passengers would board, I was settled into my big wide seat. It didn’t take as long on the way back and just before dusk we landed in Minneapolis. I sat there until everyone else had left the plane to head inside the airport. I had to get off because I was still a passenger but Jared wasn’t far behind after the flight crew completed their last few tasks. After Jared signed out and was released from duty he led me to the departure board. There were two flights to St. Louis left and the first one was on TWA and in about 40 minutes. We rushed over to that gate to get on the standby list and we made it onto the flight no problem. About an hour and 20 minutes later we were on the ground at Lambert Field and in the car on the way home back to Illinois. “Matt there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about the entire time I was gone,” Jared began. “Oh,” I replied, feeling kind of worried. “With what happened with you getting pneumonia. I don’t know how much you know about this but the law treats us differently. Because we can’t get married I have no legal rights to you and you don’t to me either. Not like a married couple does.” “Yeah I know. So what are you thinking?” I asked almost blankly. I really couldn’t figure out where he was going with this. “In California they just passed domestic partnerships so that we can write a will together and I would have the legal right to visit you in the hospital, not just if they chose to allow me to. Once I hit my one year, I think we should move there.” I smiled, bewildered, but excited at the idea. “Absolutely. Let’s do it,” I replied grabbing his hand that was resting on the gear shifter. *** Sorry for how long it took to get this chapter done. My personal life got crazy for a bit there and, well, you know how life happens. As always whether you like this story or don’t, or just want to chat, send me an email at hoo. I love my readers and I want to hear from you! Chapter 10 is coming soon so stay tuned!

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