High Points: Marooned
Paul E. Anna
CANCELED. That was the word, in a bright red box, on the United website on Wednesday next to the six scheduled flights from Aspen to Denver. And the same was true for the reverse, the six scheduled flights from Denver to Aspen were all CANCELED as well. And then Thursday, the first three morning departures out of here to DIA suffered the same fates.
Now I know that the weather was a bit iffy – a September rainstorm rolled through the Rockies bringing some welcome moisture to the high country. But in this case, it was not Mother Nature who was to blame but the FAA. Yes, it seems that some work was needed on a radar system, and it coincidentally coincided with a weather front.
In the end 34 flights, at least as of 1:00p.m. yesterday, were cancelled due to the snafu. And the “navigational aid” as the device is referred to, is still being worked on. According to my phone, that’s the way we get weather reports these days, there is still a 50% chance of rain today and partly cloudy conditions are in the forecast for Saturday morning. And yes, I have a Saturday morning departure.
Yesterday, after the initial cancelations an advisory was finally issued by the FAA that stated there would be on going “maintenance” until November 17. That’s basically the next six weeks, my friends. It came a little late for the call it 2000 folks who were stuck between flights on Wednesday and Thursday.
“All we heard from (the FAA) is they’re re-wiring something, we’re not privy to the details,” was the quote yesterday from Dan Bartholomew, airport director at the Pitkin County Airport. That, one would think, would be the man who would be informed first about such goings on. If he don’t know what’s going on, who does?
The net-net is that as of this moment travelers both in and out of Sardy Field are kind of flying on a wing and a prayer to use an aircraft analogy. Flights have been as full as I have ever seen them and the connection times at DIA have tightened more than in the past as well. That makes for some white-knuckle travel for those who need to get to and from Aspen this fall.
Add to that the on again, off again status of the closure of I-70 and you could say that we have the potential to be marooned in paradise. I guess that is the High Point, if you will. If you don’t have to be someplace else, this is a pretty good place to be. The storms left an extraordinary tableau in the high country with snowcapped peaks, golden leaves and the contrasting red and orange scrub oak. It is as pretty as the proverbial post card. And maybe if we can’t get out, it will keep the crowds of leaf peepers to a minimum.
It’s all in how you look at it.
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