The Coastal Post - March, 1997

New York, New Yorkers And NASA

By Jim Scanlon

I will be attending a one week conference sponsored by NASA on " The Atmospheric Effects of Aviation" even though my editor was either unwilling or unable to provide any support other than moral. And there's no lack of this kind of "morals"

The airplane flight taught me that the times really are changing. Normally I take a late night flight to the New York area for reasons which I cannot remember. I think it was because I hated to cooped up for five hours with a bunch of New Yorkers.

The airport was very crowed at 7 AM when I got off the Airporter, an hour ahead of time. The baggage check in line was enormous, actually, the longest line I ever stood in including the pay line in the Army. It took 45 minutes to check in, and by the time I walked to the exit gate and went to the bathroom, I got on at the last call.

Everybody seems to have roll on, roll off, carry on baggage now, so stowing things in the overhead bins is impossible unless you get there early

The plane was full with about 200 people, and, if they were New Yorkers, they were very well behaved so the flight went well. You only get one meal now, plus a snack, which is OK really, but it took a long

time for the Flight Attendants to severe everyone.

Most of the U.S. was snow covered and everywhere there were the lines rectangles and circles, the tracks of civilization, clearly laid out below. A visible web slowly covering more and more of the globe.

When we got East, the wind was blowing and gusting. We went straight for the Hudson River and banked sharply right, then right again and with the wing flap control surfaces hanging way out and down, the plane dropped and bumped down maybe a thousand feet over the Pulaski Skyway and and made a gentle landing on the Newark runway. Many people applauded the pilot: the first time I had ever heard this form of gratitude expressed in the United States. Driving out of the Airport, the rotten egg smell was particularly acidic. I knew I was back in New Jersey again.

A man's reputation is a precious thing. Two articles in the N.Y. Times reminded me of this. An old plastic surgeon went on trial in Philadelphia for harboring a fugitive and obstructing justice. He is accused of removing the fingertips, the thick nose and scars from five bullet holes from a wanted criminal turning him into the slender young man with long hair the police finally caught.

The 68 year old plastic surgeon, a prominent Hispanic philanthropist, the article noted, had been commended in 1994 for his charity work.

In another case, a Mexican Army General, the head of his country's National Institute to Combat Drugs was dismissed from the armed forces and arrested on charges that he received huge payments to protect on of Mexico's most notorious drug barons.

Recently, the White House Drug Czar, General Barry Mc Cafferey praised his Mexican counterpart, calling him "a guy of absolute unquestioned integrity."