Hemisphere Dancer


“Hemisphere Dancer, flight 1225, you’re cleared for takeoff.   Climb to flight level 4000, keep your fins to the right on BUFIT ONE to your heading.  Have a safe flight”. 

Awhile back, I was listening to a radio talk show panel discussing the merits of Jimmy Buffett songs.  We all know the influence, good or bad, of Cheeseburger in Paradise, Margaritaville, etc.  However, the conversation turned to Jimmy’s love of aviation.  Since Jimmy lives in Palm Beach and flies from PBI (West Palm Beach International), the local tower controllers decided to name a departure procedure after him. 

Departure procedures are standardized routes for aircraft to take while departing the airport.  In this case, not only is the procedure called BUFIT ONE, but, there are also waypoints along the route; UTLEY, FINNS, PYRUT, etc.  Aviation waypoints are five letters long, thus, the funny spellings.

Being the aviation nerd and Parrot Head that I am, I thought this was a great way to recognize Jimmy.  I mentioned this to my Coworker and fellow Parrot Head, Bob Johnson, and what a great idea I thought it was for the controllers to do this.   As we were discussing this, Bob came up with the idea to honor Jimmy with a flight of our own.  Something unique to Jimmy and PBI; name a flight after him, or in other words, a flight number.  Bob and I work in Network Planning for SWA and, among the many challenges that go into designing flight schedules, we also assign flight numbers.  Now, generally, we have a program that automatically assigns flight numbers to our thousands of flights.  However, we do have the ability to assign a flight number to a specific flight.

We limit the number of specific flight numbers to assign simply because it could become very time consuming and unmanageable.  However, we do make exceptions once in a while, this being one of those times.  But, what flight number do we use, and what’s significant to Jimmy?  How about the number of albums he’s recorded or the number of songs written?  Too vague.   Bob mentioned that Jimmy’s birthday is 12/25 and suggested we use that.  It stuck, and so we designated PBI-BWI as flight 1225 in honor of margarita’s, cheeseburgers, and the Hemisphere Dancer.   So, look for flight 1225 starting on Christmas Day, and enjoy a frozen concoction with your flip-flops on!

By the way, the Hemisphere Dancer, if you don’t know, is Jimmy’s Grumman Albatross flying boat. 

Travel safe, Fruitcakes!

Jeff Borges and Bob Johnson