Dear Airline Pilots,
Unless it is decreasing at an alarming and uncontrollable rate, I am not really interested in
what altitude we are flying at, so please stop interrupting my in-flight movies to tell me!
Since I always watch movies when I fly, this has happened to me a lot, and it is normally an
annoyance, since the screen is blacked out while the annnouncement is taking place. However
there have been two instances where good timing and coincidence meant that the interruption
actually enhanced the movie experience, allowing me to see a version of the story that
probably nobody else ever has.
The first case was during the film "The King's Speech". Colin Firth plays the King of England,
struggling to overcome a speech impediment as he must prepare for his first, and most important,
live radio address to his people. Having recently been thrust into the role of monarch by the
sudden and unexpected abdication of his brother, he must now inform his people that Britain is
to enter into war with Germany. Having struggled with the unorthodox methods of the Australian
speech therapist who turns out to be not what he professed himself to be, the climax of the film
has the King stepping up to the microphone for a national radio broadcast; overcoming his own
fears, and the pressure of his position, he opens his mouth and we hear the fateful words;
"Ladies and Gentlemen we will shortly be landing at Frankfurt International Airport..."
Well, it was about Germany, but probably a little optimistic given that they hadn't even
fought the Battle of Britain yet!
The second case was during another movie based on a real life story, that of "Eddie the Eagle";
a plucky young Brit who fulfills his childhood ambition of reaching the Olympics by becoming
Britain's first ski jumper in six decades. Since there are no other active competitors, his
only opposition on the road to qualifying is the scorn of other athletes, and the closed minded
nature of the British Olympic Committee. His first qualifying jump is judged inadequate after
the committee modify the qualifying rules after the fact, and he is forced to attempt a seventy
meter jump, which he has never tried before. Overcoming this setback also, he qualifies, and
makes a successful jump at the Olympics to achieve his goal. But ridicule still plagues him,
and in order to be taken seriously he spontaneously enters the ninety meter jump, which he has
never even practiced. The tension rises as he climbs the lift, and as he sits on the launch pad
reflecting on the opposition he has overcome we are left wondering if he is now facing a moment
of self doubt; will he complete the jump? will he land safely to achieve a valid record, or
will he crash to defeat? Watched by his reformed-alcoholic renegade coach, eventually he kicks
off, careering down the slope, he crouches and then jumps at just the right moment before
soaring off the end of the ramp. As he struggles to maintain his balance at a speed he has never
before experienced, we hear a helpful, cheery voice inform us;
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we will be cruising at thirty two thousand feet this afternoon, at an
air speed of approximately eight hundred kilometers per hour..."
Although Eddie only managed a jump of seventy one meters, I am sure that is what it felt
like for him!
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