FLASHES, 4-27

Plane Embarrassing
Phoenix's daily papers printed big color photos of America West Airlines' new Boeing 757 last week. The garish jet has "Arizona" emblazoned on its side, along with a painting of an unfurled state flag. According to the glowing press reports, the plane is meant as a "thank you" to Arizona for its support during the airline's three-year bankruptcy. The papers reported the jet was to begin flying May 1.

In fact, the craft's maiden flight got pushed up to April 21, and the debut was, to put it mildly, inauspicious. The jet's departure for Kennedy Airport in New York was delayed more than an hour. Not long after it embarked, the jet was forced to return to Sky Harbor International Airport.

"A flight attendant got on the PA system and said, 'Some of you people sitting on the left side of the plane may have noticed that shortly after takeoff, a piece of the plane flew off,'" one passenger tells The Flash.

The passengers were kept on the airliner while maintenance crews attempted to fix the problem. The riders were let off the plane about 12:30 p.m. "We got back on the same aircraft at 4:30 and thought we were headed on our way, but, no, there was a new series of mechanical problems," the passenger says. At that point, he and a couple of dozen others gave up.

"The airline seemed to be very concerned about getting the plane painted on the outside for a nice, pretty picture, but it's most important that the aircraft be thoroughly checked out before it's placed on the runway," the passenger says. "It obviously hadn't been debugged. It's sort of pathetic to have that many things go wrong."

America West spokesman Mike Mitchell says the missing part was an engine panel. He says although the jet missed the New York flight, it was flown to Chicago later that night.

New Digs for Bigwigs
The Arizona legislature could only commit $250,000 toward preventing teen pregnancy--the state's rate leads the nation--but there was enough money in the pot to remodel Governor Fife Symington's quarters, located on the eighth and ninth floors of the executive tower at 1700 West Washington.

The 1995-96 budget contains $1.7 million for "improvements in the executive tower," and a request for proposals has gone out for an architect. The RFP describes the project as having a budget of $1.2 million. There's no word on the $500,000 discrepancy between the appropriation and the advertised budget. Rumor has it that preliminary plans for the remodel include a spiral staircase.

Wet and Sticky
If paradise is the land of milk and honey, Paradise Valley must be the land of bottled water and honey.

Reports filter in about strange goings-on at two houses near Lincoln Drive and Tatum Boulevard, where the queen of Saudi Arabia continues her recovery from spinal surgery, performed in November at St. Joseph's Hospital. The royal entourage, which is renting the homes for a reported $20,000 per month each, has apparently filled a garage--floor to ceiling--with five-gallon cans of honey. The garage at the other house is equally full of Evian bottled water.

Feed The Flash: voice, 229-8486; fax, 340-8806; online, flash@newtimes.com

 
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