Airport 1970,

Minute 117: Break the Conga Line

January 10, 2017


A split screen: Vern on the left, the Chicago ATC in the middle, and Mel, sitting in the MelMobile at right.

Vern is loudly complaining to the Chicago ATC that if Trans Global Flight Two is brought in for a landing on Runway Two Two, then there’ll be a broken airplane and “a lot of dead people.”

“So you call Lincoln, Mister,” says Vern, “and turn the screws. Tell that Lincoln manager to get off his penguin butt and clear that runway!” Vern puts down the microphone.

The split screen disappears, and Mel and Tanya are still seated in the MelMobile. Mel picks up the microphone.

“Snow desk,” says Mel. “Mobile One.”

Danny, at the Snow Desk, answers the radio. “This is Snow Desk,” says Danny. “Go ahead, Mel.”

“Danny, listen carefully,” says Mel. “Break the Conga Line. Send the heavy plows across to Runway Two Niner. They’re to head for stuck airplane and await instructions.”

“Roger,” says Danny. He presses a button on his radio. “Conga Leader, Snow Desk…”

The Conga Line, a staggered wave of about a dozen plow trucks, moves into frame from the distance. A road grader enters the picture from the right of the screen, also moving snow. The front two trucks raise their plows and turn right.

Back at the MelMobile, Mel and Tanya are fishtailing their way back to Flight 45, still stuck in the snowbank.

Joe Patroni is supervising the ground crew as they hammer lumber under the stuck 707’s wheels.

“Yeah, that’s it,” says Joe, “and on this side -”

In this minute

Dean Martin as Vernon Demerest
Burt Lancaster as Mel Bakersfeld
John Denend as Doug
Jean Seberg as Tanya Livingston
George Kennedy as Joe Patroni
Unknown as Chicago Center ATC operator
Unknown as Chicago Center Watch Supervisor
Dallas Mitchell as Snow Desk Danny



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