(NEXSTAR) – A Delta pilot flying out of California recently discovered a note from the former captain of the plane detailing a “very frightening” experience landing at the same airport more than a year ago. year.
First Officer Nick Perez, who has flown with Delta Air Lines for just under five years, found the handwritten letter on June 1 as he prepared to pull one of Delta’s A321 planes out of the airport ground of Victorville, California. The plane had been parked at the facility 435 days earlier amid falling demand for air travel in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Perez soon learned, the note was left on purpose by First Officer Chris Dennis, who had stored it in a tray table on the flight deck.
Dennis had flown the A321 to Victorville from Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) on March 23, 2020. Upon landing, he felt compelled to document his feelings upon seeing rows and rows other planes out of service and imagining what that can be a signal for the airline industry.
“Hey pilots, it’s March 23rd and we’ve just arrived from MSP. It’s very scary to see so many of our fleet here in the wilderness, ”Dennis wrote. “If you’re here to pick it up, the light must be at the end of the tunnel. Amazing how quickly this has changed. Have a good flight out of storage! “
As Dennis later told Delta, he was unaware he was transporting the plane to Victorville for storage when he left MSP and only became aware of the plane’s plight as it approached. final. After landing, he was ordered to bring the plane behind a “tracking vehicle” that would drive the plane to a parking spot next to a “shocking” amount of other parked planes.
“I thought about the number of jobs of people who depend on just one of these planes,” Dennis told Delta. “From the booking agent, to the ticket agent, to the pilot, to the flight attendants, to the mechanics, to the flight crew. Then you go further: the car rental agency, hotels, tourism companies.
On Facebook, Dennis also described the moment as “apocalyptic” and “surreal,” comparing it to the grounding of all flights immediately after the 9/11 attacks.
“It’s horrible,” he wrote of the pandemic’s effect on the travel industry. “Please stay indoors, social distanced, and let it go quickly.”
After finding the letter on June 1, Perez said he could imagine how Dennis was feeling.
“He must have thought he was quitting his job. In March, I was 100% sure I was going to lose my job, ”he told Delta.
Perez also said that there now appears to be a “light” at the end of the tunnel, just as Dennis had hoped.
“[Back then], we were getting good at landing empty planes, now we’re headed in the right direction. I am in a good mood. I am very optimistic. I feel what I felt in 2017 again – ready to go.