I come to you from New York City today, having flown for the first time since 2011.

Longtime readers may recall that I cracked my head (Oh, you’re thinking, that explains a lot!) in a running accident in September 2010.

When I flew to Washington a few months later, I suffered terrible sinus pain, particularly on the descent. It was so bad, I vowed never to fly again.

Thus, I took Amtrak or drove across the country the last few times.

This year, I was on a somewhat tighter schedule and wondered if it would be possible to fly again. The problem is there’s no halfway — when you’re at 39,000 feet and the descent begins there’s no going back.

A doctor friend suggested that the problem in 2011 was possibly because the hairline fractures in my head had not yet healed. They can take many months, he said.

He suggested I buy an over-the-counter nasal spray and a decongestant and take to the skies.

He was right.

I enjoyed a pain-free flight from Burbank to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. It was definitely nervous time in the days and moments leading up to the flight, but it couldn’t have been smoother.

It was nice to make in five hours a trip that took five days last year.

Now I no longer have to be grounded like John Madden. The famous football announcer feared flying and traveled from game to game in a special bus.


If you are away from something for several years, you notice changes you might otherwise overlook with constant exposure.

Not having flown for eight years, the first thing I noticed was that they now charge for everything. I paid for extra leg room (I am six-foot-four), for dinner, for headphones — but not for checked bags, because I strategically packed everything into a carry-on.

The second thing I noticed was the proliferation of dogs.

There were dogs in the airport, a dog on my flight, and a “Dog Relief Area” in the terminal at JFK.

Yes, it’s a dog’s world.


A follow-up on Tuesday’s column about the old College Bowl quiz show:

After my friend and former Antelope Valley Press colleague Brian Robin won $5,000 on “Win Ben Stein’s Money” several years ago, he suggested I try out.

The show featured contestants going one on one against Stein, the columnist, economist and sometime actor best known for his line, “Buehler … Buehler” in “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off.”

Stein is known for that deadpan, laconic delivery.

The first step was a quiz over the telephone. Then you went to Burbank, if I remember correctly, for a written quiz. If you passed that, you played in a mock game against two other players.

I made it to the mock game. They told us to be animated: Get all excited about correct answers, show disappointment when you get it wrong.

Not particularly animated by nature, I quickly realized I could concentrate on being animated or concentrate on answering the questions correctly. Not both.

I focused on the questions and did fairly well. Alas, I was not selected for the show because, they said, I was not animated enough.

A year or two later at the Antelope Valley Board of Trade Business Outlook Conference, I was speaking directly before keynote speaker Ben Stein and related the story of the tryout.

“I’m going to be onstage with Ben Stein and I’m animated enough?”

William P. Warford’s column appears every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday.

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