As promised in my Back again post a few days ago, here is the story of my grandson’s visit to San Diego International Airport (SDIA)! He was only here for a week, so it seemed like a whirlwind visit — as you can see by the pictures.
The best part of Ben’s visit to the airport is that what he learned here he took back and shared with his kindergarten class in Oklahoma. They follow the Ambassablog and are keeping an eye out for this post. Nicknamed “Porter’s Pooches”, they’re going to be junior Goodwill Ambassadors for SDIA by the time I’m done with them!
I want to thank the ExpressJet ground crew and customer service agents who were working here last April when the flight came in. They allowed me to have a front-row seat to watch the effort it takes to get the plane parked and ready so passengers can deplane! Wow, talk about teamwork.
They knew exactly when the plane would land. It was very cool. The ground crew were at their designated spots so everything would go smoothly. My biggest fear was that I would get in the way and disrupt their process, but they were very gracious. They explained where I should stand so that I didn’t get slammed by the jet blast. It was an amazing experience for me — and the first time I’ve been so close to a plane that has just landed.
Of course, Ben and Jamie saw me before I saw them. They called my cell phone to let me know they were about to get off of the plane … while I was still on the other side taking pictures.
Ben’s first order of business — after getting hugs and kisses from his “gamma” (that’s me) — was to go upstairs and say hi to our good friend and my fellow Airport Authority employee, Naty, in Planning & Operations. She gave him a mini-tour of what goes on in her area, and then we were off, knowing Ben would be back the next day for a fuller tour and the chance find out what it takes to make an airport run.
As we were putting luggage into the car, we looked up and saw none other than Thella Bowens, President/CEO of the Airport Authority. She took the time to talk with Ben and also have a picture taken with him. How many kids can say they get that kind of welcome when passing through an airport?
We were back at the airport the next day, so Ben could see not only what I do for work, but also what some of my coworkers do. Our first stop of the morning was the Airport Authority’s Public & Community Relations Department to introduce Ben to Steve the Ambassablogmaster and to Peggy, who manages the Airport Authorty’s Goodwill Ambassador Program. He was very excited to learn about how was going to be part of this blog.
The next stop was to see Judy in the Marketing Department. She presented Ben with a special children’s book produced by the Airport Authority about legendary aviator Besse Coleman … as well as a set of Airport Explorer flash cards for each of his kindergarten friends back in Tulsa. You can get your own copy of the book and other cool kids’ things at the Airport Authority’s Just For Kids Web site.
Then Ben had the opportunity to talk with Hampton in our Route Service Development Department. Ben learned how Hampton’s job is to build bridges between destinations — they just happen to be bridges that are in the sky. They talked about one the newer airlines at that time, ZOOM, that provided service from San Diego to London (England) — that’s a pretty big bridge! As reported by Ambassablogger Mary in an earlier Ambassablog posting, ZOOM left SDIA a few months later.
You can see from the pictures how many different jobs at the airport Ben was able to observe. I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to talk with my grandson that day. He learned a lot about what it takes to get the airplanes in and out of the air. It is a day that he still talks about. The best part is when I ask him what he wants to be when he grows up.
His answer? He wants to work at San Diego International Airport as a “Coat Pilot”! I had to laugh and ask “What does a Coat Pilot do?” … “Oh Grandma, you know! They help fly the plane!”