Do not mistake chalk for a carrot

Last week I flew into Schiphol (my favourite airport in Europe, dah-ling) with some kicking winds going – although as far as I could tell there wasn’t enough to make one of those tactics for dealing with serious crosswinds necessary.

On the one hand it’s always happy if weather co-operates in things like landing an aeroplane. On the other…well, the nerd in me, after having read so much about de-crabs and crabs and what have you, would have liked to actually experience at least one. But then I was in a cute little twin prop, and really I am just a fangirl, so perhaps it’s simply more likely that I’d be unaware of any such measure that was being undertaken. I mean really. I’m not so bad that I don’t know one end of an aeroplane from another (and I am the person who once got off a plane and then promptly marched in the opposite direction than that leading to the baggage hall), but I labour under no illusion that I would ever be able to recognise any of those bookish things I read so eagerly in real life.

Having said that, a rather idealistic part of me wants to take flying lessons now.

But that is not what this is about. This is about what seemed to be the longest taxiway EVAAAAAAAR and about which I will tell you now.

EHAM has six runways. SIX. Well, five, really, if you’re a middling to big aircraft, because the Oostbaan (lit. East lane) at just over 2km long is a bit short for lots of lads and lasses. But even with five you’re doing quite well; Heathrow famously only has two (and lest you innocently ask, ‘But Heathrow’s so busy – why don’t they build a third one?’ you will promptly be lynched by the population of Hounslow and much of the rest of West London, plus all the toffs and scavs thereabouts), but then continentals can be rather ruthless when it comes to demolishing what’s necessary at times.

The newest of the six is called the Polderbaan (lit. reclaimed land lane). It’s so far away from the terminal that it has its own atc tower and fire station. And this is where we landed last week. I know this because I’m the nerd next to a window who strains her neck round to check the runway signs as we’re taxiing past, and yup, there was the lovely big red display saying 18R – 36L. Which is the posh way of saying Polderbaan.

I saw this when we came off and started on – I want to say V2 but it could have been V3 – and embarked upon the longest taxiway in human history* (and probably human future too, barring some kind of interplanetary get-up). Victor. That’s his name. Victor.

It didn’t strike me at the time, but now I think about it, I’m reminded of Victor Meldrew, that bastion of British grumpiness. Straight talking (EHAM’s Victor is very straight) and can go on and on and on, given appropriate levels of grump. Victor was a bit like that.

I’m talking like this was a terrible thing, but it wasn’t – and even if it were, I’m not certain a nerd like me would have noticed, let alone minded. Just an observation. And then, because you’re in a cute little twin prop, you chug along this highway whilst you can just FEEL the 747 behind you breathing down your neck and muttering about old men who stick to speed limits**.

But when I looked up some Schiphol charts and tried to examine just how long this Taxiway Of Doom must have been, you can imagine my amusement when I noticed the following:

ROFLCOPTER

ROFLCOPTER

CAUTION:
DO NOT MISTAKE
HIGHWAY FOR RUNWAY

LOL. Seriously? 😀

*I have no idea whether Victor is in fact the longest taxiway in human history. But there’s sure to be a geek online who does.

**I don’t know for sure, but I suspect there are fairly serious ground speed limits which people will berate you about should you break them, be you a dinky little hopper or an Airbus Beluga. Which latter, incidentally, must surely be in the running for one of the ugliest aircraft in the world. In a cute kind of way.

Photo by Xeper @ Wikipedia

Photo by Xeper @ Wikipedia

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