An Airplane Hanger - On
Flying|July 2017

How a Piece of Clothing Became Part of an Airplane

Dick Karl

This old coat has been hanging in the back of our airplane for more years than I can reliably estimate. It has greeted me on countless occasions as I ascended the airstair of the Cheyenne on the way to the cockpit. It hangs just to the right, in the aft cargo area, waiting. Waiting for what, exactly, I can’t quite remember.

I do remember how I bought the coat. My wife, Cathy, and I had arrived in Nashville, Tennessee, for a conference. She was the conference-goer and I was the “arm candy,” if one can use that term sarcastically. As we got out of the airplane, I removed our suitcase from the forward baggage compartment. I expected Cathy to bring the garment bag as she exited the airplane, but all she had was a hefty “portable” laptop.

“Where is my suit, and where are your dresses?” I asked.

“Probably in the back of the car in Tampa,” she replied, deadpan. We both understood at that moment that our jeans and T-shirts weren’t going to get it done at the executive committee dinner that night.

Once in the rental car and checked into the Opryland Hotel, we journeyed not far to a cut-rate mall. None of the other hastily bought clothes survives, but that sport coat has hung in our airplane for 15 years or more. I should include it in the basic empty weight.

The coat is made of material of unknown provenance. That’s a good thing, too, as I have abused this indoor coat many times with outdoor activities featuring rain and snow. It never seemed to mind. The shape of the lapels may give away its approximate birth date but does not betray the weather abuse.

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