Last Tuesday, I boarded the University of Oklahoma basketball team’s charter to Spokane, Wash., at the Oklahoma City airport. The university offered the paper seats on the plane. Normally we do not fly with the team but since the seats were much cheaper than commercial flights, we took them up on their offer.
I settled in my seat as Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger boarded the plane and began walking down the aisle greeting guests as he strolled by. I took a few pictures of him before he stopped at my row. He shook my hand and thanked me for being there.
Even though is was a Southwest flight, OU officials assigned seats. Luckily I was assigned a window seat and spent my three hours on the plane peering down at the earth below us. It was mostly snow covered. On our approach to the Spokane airport we were treated with a fantastic view of the mountain ranges surrounding Spokane. After we landed, we parted our ways with the team.
I checked in at our media hotel and immediately went exploring. We were staying in downtown Spokane and it is a very walkable city. There is a lot to see while on foot and I walked down to the river park.I began most of my mornings with a walk at the river park. While in the Pacific Northwest, I tried to fill my lungs up with with as much crisp mountain air as I could. There is nothing better than waking up to cool mountain mornings with a the smell of pine floating through the air.
Before practice and press conference day, team Oklahoman, took a quick drive to Idaho to check out Coeur D’Irene.
Our time in Spokane came to an abrupt halt after North Dakota St. defeated the Sooners.
On Friday morning after a long delay waiting for our turn to go through security at the private section of the Spokane airport, we reluctantly boarded an Untied flight home to Oklahoma City. We settled in our seats. The media sat in the wing section. The cheer and band squads sat in the back. The team sat in front of the media near the middle. Family and other Oklahoma guests sat in the front of the plane.
As I buckled my seat, Lon Kruger once again walked down the aisle of the plane. As he walked down, he patted the shoulders of those who sat in the aisle seats. He spoke to the family members. He spoke the cheerleaders and to the media. There wasn’t one section of the plane that did not get a greeting. As he strolled past my, seat he told the cheerleaders that it was a shorter trip than expected but they would be back next year.
Soon we were taxing down the runaway and Frank Booker gave us our safety instructions and showed us how to use the oxygen masks in case of an emergency. Once we landed he stood next to the exit and said good bye to every passenger.
Midway through the flight, our pilots invited us to take a look at the cockpit because it was a charter flight there were not as many security restrictions. One by one the team walked up to cockpit. I took my turn and chatted with the pilots. They showed me the flight plan on a map and confirmed to me the big mountains I saw were Yellowstone. They told me that if the weather cleared I would see the Rocky Mountains, my favorite place in this world. Unfortunately, it was too cloudy to see the Rockies but I had incredibles view of Yellowstone.
Once we landed in Oklahoma City we gathered our bags off the runway and made our way to our homes.
See all photos from Oklahoma’s game against North Dakota St., here.
— Sarah Phipps