Starstruck, Star Trek, Shatner.
If you fly into Burbank, chances are good that you’ll have someone from Hollywood on board. And not just a person who drives by the sign on the way to or from the airport, but a real Hollywood media type.
Enter Captain Kirk.
Let me explain. It was one of those evenings when the inbound jet was late, putting us behind schedule from the start. The aircraft had a couple of minor maintenance items that needed to be taken care of during the ground time as we pre-flighted, causing a further delay.
The mechanical items were minor: just some routine servicing. But as is often the case, the paperwork involved took almost more time than the maintenance action itself. But neither item is anything to rush.
It’s always more fun to fly with an old friend and on this evening flight, the number four flight attendant, Debbie was someone I’d flown with many times. She’s been on a cabin crew with My Darling Bride before and knew her as well.
“Hey,” Debbie said, poking her head into the cockpit between greeting passengers, “we have William Shatner on board tonight.”
Whoa! Captain James T. Kirk? Well Captain Chris L. Manno sure would like to get his autograph for Darling Bride who is a huge Star-Trek fan. You wouldn’t expect that from a svelte, erudite, stylish stewardess type, but there it is.
“Debbie!” I motioned her into the cockpit. “You’ve GOT to get his autograph for Catherine! You know what a fan of William Shatner she is.” Me too, of course–especially the Denny Crane years–but how cool would it be to bring the autograph home to the Missuz?
“You know I can’t do that!” Debbie said, her voice lowered. “I’m NOT going to disturb William Shatner so you can make some points with your wife.”
Meanwhile, the delay mounted: still waiting for the final maintenance sign off. A few minutes later, Debbie was back.
“Mr. Shatner would like to talk to the captain.”
I shrugged. “You know what to do.” I handed her our flight plan and a pen.
“Oh for God’s sake.” She snatched both from my hand and disappeared.
A moment later, the flight plan reappeared, signed.
She folded her arms and raised an eyebrow. I unstrapped. “On my way.”
And there he was, in the first row of First Class, near the window on the starboard side. Face to face with Captain James T. Kirk. In civvies, of course.
And here’s what he said: click here for the audio.
Okay, that’s my lame rendition of what he said but you probably get my drift, right?
Anyway, I explained to him that it was only a matter of finishing up the paperwork, which should only be pretty quick. And whether he knew it or not, this was the last flight to Burbank. There was an LAX flight leaving later, but he’d still have to beam up to Burbank for his bags. I didn’t say that aloud though.
He thanked me for the information and told me to give his best to Catherine. What a class act he was.
And now I understand how things worked on the Starship Enterprise. You know how the embarkation to “boldly go” to a new and strange planet occurred on the old Star Trek show–the usual crewmembers readied themselves for beaming down in the transporter room.
There’d be Kirk, Spock, the Doc and then some no-name extra guy getting lined up for Scotty beam to beam them down. And you the viewer just knew the extra guy wasn’t coming back.
That’s so Bones could deliver some harsh news:
And Kirk could wax philosophical about the danger of exploration and high flight:
And that, I suppose, is as good a reason as any to be the captain of a Starship. Or a jetliner.
Heck, I’d follow him to the alien planet’s surface just to get to hang out with him a little longer. But after we landed on the not so strange world of Burbank (well, maybe it is a little odd), we left Mr. Shatner with his limo driver to wait for his bags.
And we boldly went to the usual layover hotel for a good twelve hour rest so as to be ready to fly again the next day.
Why? Because as Captain Kirk put it, “I have to, mister.”