Nashville Trip

After my recent trip to South Bend, IN to photograph a Lear Jet, I had high hopes that my next out of town trip would go off without a hitch. I was thinking positive thoughts as my wife was driving me to the airport on a very RAINY Monday morning to catch my Southwest Airlines flight to Austin and then from Austin to Nashville. I was scheduled for a 10:10 a.m. departure from Dallas Love Field, to Austin, and then from Austin to Nashville at 12.15 p.m. and I would arrive in Nashville around 2.30 p.m. on Monday afternoon.

That scenario did not happen, at all. My flight from Dallas to Austin was delayed until 11.45 a.m., so needless to say; I would now miss my connecting flight to Nashville. After we landed in Austin, I was greeted by a Southwest Airlines employee who told me and another passenger that we were now booked on a 6.30 p.m. departure out of Austin. Six Thirty PM !! This meant I had a lovely six hour layover in Austin. I could either choose this scenario, or I could fly stand-by to Houston and then fly stand-by to Nashville. I decided to take the confirmed booking, although it meant a six hour layover in the Austin airport. Don’t get me wrong, I love airports and airplanes, but spending six hours in the Austin airport is not something on my bucket list. Not at all !! I decided that since I had a long layover, I was going to make the best of it. I was going to go find a nice restaurant in the airport and have a nice meal, with a nice waiter/waitress taking care of me. Unfortunately, that plan did not happen, either. It seems the Austin airport does not believe in having any “nice restaurants” where there is actual wait staff to take care of you. They have plenty of eating establishments, and a lot of them offer local food from area restaurants such as Maude’s Tex Mex, Schlotzsky’s (yes, it was started in Austin!), The Salt Lick, (famous barbecue) and Thunder Cloud Subs, (another famous, sub sandwich place that was founded in Austin). This airport doesn’t even have a Chili’s, where you would expect waiters/waitresses to take care of you. After walking through the ENTIRE airport and no nice restaurants to sit down at, I ordered some barbecue (a sandwich!) from Ray Benson’s Taco Bar. Ray is the lead singer for a very popular western swing band based in Austin, called; Asleep At The Wheel. The sandwich was good, but not what I had my heart set on, in terms of having to wait on myself, more or less.

After my restaurant quest/search was over, that only killed about an hour and a half, so I had about four and a half more hours to kill before getting on my next jet or so I thought. Around 5.00 p.m., I went to the departure gate for the Austin to Nashville flight to check on its status. The flight now was showing a departure time of 7.30 p.m. !! Are you kidding me? Another hour delay, may day was just not going good.

I’d like to back up for just one minute to also explain why I was going to Nashville earlier than needed, for the Tuesday morning shoot. I started to check the weather beginning on Friday and according to the forecast, there was an 80% chance of rain on Tuesday morning, so I decided to go in a day earlier, so I could at least photograph the exterior of the jet in dry weather, on Monday afternoon, once I landed at my scheduled time of 2.30 p.m. or so. Obviously, those plans were thrown completely out the window, due to me missing my connecting flight from Austin to Nashville, to begin with.

As the clock slowly ticked away, at around 6.00 p.m. all of the passengers were told that our Captain and First Officer were flying in on another flight, then they would transfer from one jet, to our jet and fly us over to Nashville. The Southwest Airlines gate agent informs us at about 6.30 p.m., we were told that our Captain and First Officer were now running late on the plane they were flying into Austin and were running out of flying time. Due to FAA regulations, pilots are only allowed to be on duty a certain amount of time per day, and if our pilots were to fly our plane over to Nashville, they would run out of duty time during the flight, which would be illegal. Therefore, our pilots could NOT fly our jet to Nashville. At this point, I started to offer my help to fly the plane myself, but I thought they probably wouldn’t take me up on my offer, unfortunately. The passengers on our flight were now told that Southwest was going to be bringing in a new set of pilots and we would now be departing from Austin at approximately 8.30 p.m. that night. Joy, joy; just what I wanted to hear; I was getting to spend more time in the Austin airport. At that point, I went to Thunder Cloud Subs and had dinner, yet once again, no one was there to wait on me. Oh well, at least I’m vertical and have so much to be thankful for! I am not stuck in a hospital bed or have a dreaded disease, so I am still very thankful to be able to do what I love; photograph airplanes and work around business jets.

After 7.30 p.m. passed by, our group of weary travelers to Nashville (BNA) were really beginning to wonder if we were really ever going to leave AUS and fly to BNA. Miracles do happen! Southwest Airlines finally found a fresh crew of pilots and we took off around 8.45 p.m. for BNA! Praise The Lord !!

On our flight to Nashville, we flew through some extremely heavy thunderstorms, or they were somewhat east of our flight path, and the lighting show outside my window seat was amazing. I started to video some of the storms with my iPad, and the person next to me in the middle seat asked me what I was doing. I told him I was recording the lighting strikes outside, he wasn’t too thrilled with my answer; and said I was crazy. I wish I could post the videos on my blog, haven’t figured out how to do that, yet. If I can, I will!

Finally made it to BNA around 11.45 p.m., then had to wait for luggage and then go to Hertz to get my rental car. After I got my rental car, I used “Siri” on my iPhone to get me to the hotel. Well let me tell you something; at times, “Siri” is absolutely WORTHLESS !! I was given wrong directions by “Siri” and ended up about 15 miles north of where I needed to be at my hotel, in some residential area north of the Nashville Airport. I was NOT a happy camper at this point and time, I just wanted to take a shower and go to bed. Finally found the hotel, miraculously and checked in to my room. Took a quick shower and jumped in bed. I think I finally fell asleep around 1.45 a.m. I had to be up at 6:00 a.m. the following mooring to go back out to BNA Airport to photograph the Falcon 900EX jet I was hired to shoot. When I woke up that morning, my eyes felt like sandpaper and they were extremely red, due to lack of sleep. Thank goodness for Visine!

Made it to the airport on time and had a wonderful time photographing this beautiful jet! I’m only posting four photos of it, as I have more of the story of this trip, in my next blog. Stay tuned!