Well, I made it home again in one piece after a couple more flights on the Bombardier-made Canadair Regional Jet. (I'm getting a little ahead of myself, I'm making this post on my laptop at 30,000 ft with the hope of being able to post it after landing in Calgary)
Retraced the route I took to Austin -- through Salt Lake City and on to Calgary.
For those of you out there who think there isn't much room on a "regular" jet -- give your local regional/short-haul carrier a try and see what your knees think of the experience.
If you're anywhere near six feet tall, let alone over, you'll want to leave yourself enough time to secure a seat in the emergency row...and pray they don't shoehorn someone in beside you!
The most "exciting" part of the journey (so far ;) was the approach to Salt Lake City. I had a seat in the bulkhead (the "front row") and was close enough to "the action" to hear what was going on in the cockpit.
About half-way through our "final" (I thought for a minute it would be just that!) approach, the jet banked sharply to the right and slowed appreciably. This maneuver stalled the aircraft and set off the "watch out you're going to crash" alarms in the cockpit -- "woop, woop, woop" -- as we dropped like a rock.
I'm happy to report that the pilots quickly remedied the situation, righted the craft and we landed safely.
On this trip I learned that:
- National Guard personnel out of Camp Mabry in Austin, TX are doing some neat things with technology, especially video and I look forward to working with National Guard staff on SMART Board (TM) interactive whiteboard-based video-conferencing
- Travellers are well-advised to leave lots of time for clearing security at the Austin airport
- Sitting at the front of the plane -- especially when there is no first- or business-class involved -- may not be all it's cracked-up to be.