A Delta Airlines pilot’s note serves as a jolting reminder of the country’s mindset as it entered the uncertain world of COVID-19 lockdowns.
First Officer Chris Dennis wrote the words, discovered on the flight deck in a tray table on board, more than 14 months ago after he parked the plane in a desert storage lot near Victorville, Calif.
“Hey pilots – It’s March 23rd …” he wrote. “Very chilling to see so much of our fleet here in the desert. If you are here to pick it up then the light must be at the end of the tunnel. Amazing how fast it changed. Have a safe flight bringing it out of storage!”
Dennis said he believed the pause would involve only a 14-day quarantine.
“Today was a day I will remember for the rest of my life …” Dennis wrote. “Chilling, apocalyptic, surreal..all words that still don’t fit what is happening in the world. Each one of these aircraft represents hundreds of jobs, if not more.”
As of April 2020, there were more than 400 planes being stored there.
First Officer Nick Perez found the letter last week, as he prepared the same plane to return to the skies. “He had to have been thinking he was leaving his job,” he said. “Back in March, I was 100 percent certain I was going to lose my job.”
“I kept thinking about my mindset now compared to his … . We were getting good at landing empty airplanes, now we’re going in the right direction. I’m in good spirits. I’m very optimistic. I feel like how I felt in 2017 again — ready to get going.”
Dennis recently told delta.com: “As they get into that airplane, they are going to see the opposite view than I saw. There’s going to be an open runway in front of them.’’