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By Jacob Gaye Marley (October 28th 2005)  

"...While the issue of experience was still being pushed down the aisle, someone shouted up front, the musician was neutral during the strike. At that moment, I started to think about the word neutral, what is the word neutral, and what is neutrality? Then I said to myself, neutrality is relative, why bother with that word? I don’t see who is neutral here, but between neutrality and experience I will choose experience....”

Few nights ago, I had a dream that continue to flash through my mind day in and out. This scenario is causing me such a migraine that I have decided to let it out. Maybe someone out there can better interpret it and allow my mind to focus on other things. There is something very astonishing about this dream. It continue after I awoke during the middle of the night and when back to bed.

In my dream, it was April 22, 2025, it was a bright and clear day; the sun was hot outside, because you could read the outside temperature from the gauge onboard the aircraft. It was 94 degrees out side, but the inside of the aircraft was very cool and a light jazz music was playing but I could not enjoy the music due to the murmuring going on between some of the passengers. I think it was Kenny G playing the sax with the song Homeland. Something about this flight was very strange, the cockpit seems to be empty and the flight never had a flight attendant on board, there was nothing to eat or drink. I believed food or drinks weren’t that important to the other passengers, because nobody seemed concern, but I was hungry and was wondering why all the other passengers weren’t showing any concern. What were they murmuring to one another about; I could not comprehend. Few minutes later, I decided to ask the lady sitting on my right about the flight attendant and why we weren’t being served any snacks.

She looked me straight in the eyes and asked where have you been? I said right here by you, and she answered no, you might be sitting here but you’re not actually here. I was wondering what she meant by that. Just in that time, I saw the ground crew dressed in white overhaul and cap coming aboard the aircraft. One of them move ahead of the group and told everyone on board the aircraft that they have checked the landing gear, hydraulic fluid, and all the engines were in good and working condition, enough fuel was added to the tank and the runway have been clear of debris and all other foreign objects. We were told that the air traffic controllers were in position to safely clear the aircraft for take off, but the passengers have to do one more thing, select the pilot and co-pilot among themselves.

What a great thunder when it was announce, almost everyone onboard the aircraft started lobbying for the pilot seat, because the pilot was giving the option to choose his co-pilot, flight engineers, and flight attendants. Also on board the aircraft were former flight engineers, a celebrated musician, and former flight attendants. In the rear were also a former union leader, some former mechanics, and ordinary passengers. They all were lobbying for the pilot seat; academic portfolios and experience were flying across the aisle like a ball during a ping pong match. Accusation and counter accusation were flying in the same manner. While I was having thoughts about where to get something to eat, a fellow passenger approached me in the rear of the plane and asked why are you sitting and not getting involved? I told him my main concern now was having something to eat. He was so shocked and asked, aren’t you concern about whom going to fly this aircraft? Concern or not what difference is that going to make?

I am not allowed to be part of the selection process because I am far away from the rest of the passengers and in the rear. He scratched his head and said it makes a great difference sir; someone among those who are going to make the selection might hear your points. Who knows; they might have a second thought and consider. So I asked my passenger friend for his view on those who were lobbying for the pilot seat. He started first by asking me for my name; I told him my name was Jacob Gaye Marley, but I preferred to be called Jake. He said Jake I will start with the former female flight engineer; she attended one of the best schools in the world and was once a flight engineer on this aircraft, but she helped organize the union that cause the strike that brought us to where we are today.

When the strike was on, she even made a statement on the loud speaker about removing the pilot set and claimed she will have it replace when the strike is successful. Although she denied making that statement, but she apologized for her involvement in the union, and said she disassociated from the union when the union went off track. The statement she made about removing the pilot set, really I never heard it myself but people said they heard it. But nobody have produced a tape about that statement. Jake, my point is everybody makes mistakes; we should move ahead and see who can best pilot this aircraft and stop living in the past. Sometimes strikes are necessary to correct bad piloting when all negotiation has been exhausted. Remember Jake he said, this lady has worked on this aircraft before, she has a lot of experience in aerodynamic and have worked for the biggest airline in the world. She also has a lot of contacts. Although no lady have sat in this pilot seat before, I think she can better stir this aircraft during turbulence.

After all these sweet talks about the female flight engineer, I asked about his view on the musician. He looked behind to see if someone was listening and in a low voice he said look Jake, the musician is a great gentleman, he sings well, and won a lot of Grammies, but this guy is inexperience. He left in the middle of his first year of basic training to pursue his singing career. I must admit that was a great decision, but flying an aircraft is a lot different from singing in the theater. This is not a two seated plane, neither a theater, it is a 747 and you must have some basic knowledge in physic and geography. But he only studied arts; the musician doesn’t have any idea about horizontal and vertical stabilizer, air to fuel ratio, rudder, weight and balance or longitude, so how is he going to communicate with the air traffic controller? I interrupter him and said the musician has a co-pilot who was a former flight engineer, and he will choose some good flight attendants, flight engineers, and they all will help in flying the aircraft. Maybe he might open a branch of the flight school in the cockpit, and learn how to steer. He said look Jake, I have nothing personal against this musician, he is a great and nice guy but his popularity is being exploited by others for their own benefits. We are at a critical stage of this flight and we need someone with experience to fly this plane; someone who can better comminucate with flight controllers at other airports. Again, Jake we need someone who can make a life saving decision without relying on the co-pilot and flight engineers. Just in that time, I was awakened by my two years old daughter, Jeneyan. It’s a habit when she awakes during the night and is bored; she will come creeping into our bed. As usual, I took her back to her room and cuddled her to bed. After few minutes, I was having the same dream, but my passenger friend was nowhere insight.

Everything onboard the aircraft has changed, the choice to steer the aircraft was up to two people, the musician and the female flight engineer. The tone onboard the aircraft have changed from experience to skin color and neutrality. the darker skin were in majority on board the aircraft so their contention was the light skin have sat in the pilot seat so many times and it was their time to fly the aircraft, experience is not an important issue now someone said.

While the issue of experience was still being pushed down the aisle, someone shouted up front, the musician was neutral during the strike. At that moment, I started to think about the word neutral, what is the word neutral, and what is neutrality? Then I said to myself, neutrality is relative, why bother with that word? I don’t see who is neutral here, but between neutrality and experience I will choose experience. Again, who cares about my view? I am in the rear, and the rear has being shut out of the selection process. I was about to ask why we were not allow to be part of the selection process when my alarm bell sound off , it was time for my seven to three. Oh what a night, I said to myself and walked into the shower.


About the author:

The author, Jacob Gaye Marley, lives in Levittown, Pennsylvania USA

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