Three days after being quite unexpectedly presented with a flight ticket to Cuba I was sitting at Prague airport. Customs and passport formalities took next to no time. Lunch was already served by the airline while the plane was being prepared on the apron outside the main waiting room. Cabin service vans and tankers were flitting to and fro as we hastily swallowed our meal and anti-airsickness pills. Finally the voice over the public address system announced: “Will all passengers on flight CUBANA 477 to Havana please assemble at the Exit ready for departure”.
Once I was comfortably seated on the reclining seat and belted for the take off, the four big engines were successfully put into motion and revved for test. Excitement mounted in spite of the tranquilizing pills. We were taxiing to the runway. The pilot pressurized the cabin, the signal for take off was given from the control tower, and with ear-splitting noise we picked up speed and tore down the runway. A moment later, we were airborne looking down from ever-increasing height as we circled upwards. Ears popping in spite of the chewing gum, we released the safety belts and were soon on the level with the clouds. The land sank away far down below.
Once a plane gets up to 10,000 meters all feeling of motion vanishes. There is nothing, not even clouds, to give a feeling of movement. In fact, were it not for continual meals served by the air hostesses, refreshments and drinks offered to passengers, flying would become rather boring at a great height. Tedium is relieved by reading magazines supplied on board, by glancing at the regular issue of the flight bulletin giving altitude, speed and approximate location, watching the night creep over the eastern sky while the west is still bathing in bright sun, or by tipping one’s seat back and having a snooze.
Passengers come to life again as the liner begins to approach the American continent. When the pilot gently dips the nose of the plane the giant begins to toss and heave as it penetrates the clouds at a lower level. “What would happen if one of the engines stopped?” asked an anxious fellow-passenger watching with growing concern the sparks that were flying out of turbines. He was reassured by the passing co-pilot that International Air regulations permit only four engine planes on transatlantic crossings: in an emergency even one engine would pull the liner to safety.
Meanwhile we were approaching Gander International Airport flying on a radar beam that guides traffic over the snowy wastes and boundless forests of Newfoundland. At long last a tiny light pierced the darkness: land! My first sight of the American continent.
I. Answer the questions:
1. What is the most exciting / dangerous moment of flight?
2. What is a remedy against ear popping?
3. What can we do on board transcontinental planes?
4. Why do we have to go through so many formalities and what are they?
II. Translate into Russian:
international air Regulations, in an emergency, approximate location, with ear-splitting noise, toss and heave, to have a snooze, cabin service vans, to put into motion, to release the safety belts, public address system, to be airborne, to relieve tedium, co-pilot, to taxi to the runway, to penetrate, fellow-passengers, to guide the traffic.