We’re rolling back from the gate in Huntsville, Alabama. In the back, all 14 of our passengers are pretending to listen to the Flight Attendant’s safety demo. Overhead the first raindrops are starting to fall from a leaden sky. We are two thirds of the way done with a six leg day and as the daylight begins to fades I can feel the tiredness start to creep in. For the last hour the FO and I have been telling each other that once we get to Huntsville it’s just a short hop back to Charlotte and then a quick jump to Newport News and the end of the day.
Outside in the humid Alabama air our ramp crew looks like they are having a blast. I can see the tug driver shaking his head and smiling as he watches one of the other rampers do a theatrical jog to keep up with the airplane as we push back. Not satisfied with the jog he begins skipping next to the nose of the plane, his head bouncing up and down outside my window. The tug driver now starts laughing out loud and I get slightly concerned if he’ll be able to stop us smoothly or not. I have no need to worry though as he brings the airplane to a halt and between laughs tells me to set the parking break.
I give the ok to start the engines and while the crew outside disconnects the tow bar the FO spins up both engines and we run the associated checklists. As the tug pulls backwards from the plane towards the gates I check the travel on the rudder and flip on the hydraulics for the nose wheel steering. With everything working as it should I release the parking brake but before I can add power and turn out towards the runway I notice that two of the rampers are having a dance off as they head to the gate with the tug. Realizing we still have 15 minutes until our Air Traffic Control release time I reset the parking brake and we watch.
The skipping ramper starts things off with the classic Running Man. The other ramper quickly responds with a weak Lawn Mower. Even from 100 feet away, through the increasing rain I can see the first ramper shaking his head in mock disgust. Apparently he thinks the Lawn Mower is part of amateur hour. He then ups the ante by busting out the Sprinkler. The dance move challenged ramper gives it another try with the Mail Man straight into a duck walk but the other ramp just turns his back still shaking his head in disgust, although as he turns around I can see he’s actually laughing. My FO and I are also laughing hysterically at the show going on and I wonder for a second if our passengers in the back can hear us and are wondering what is going on.
They finish up the dance off with a combination of moves that carry names I have no idea what are. I think I spot some moon walking and a bit of the cabbage patch but I’m not really sure. My FO, who actually grew up during the disco days of the 1970s can’t place them either. As they finish up the contest, they solemnly bow to each other and I wish I had a horn on the plane. Instead I release the parking brake and rev the engines in appreciation while turning the aircraft tiller to the left. We start a slow taxi out towards the runway as the rain starts to come down in earnest.