Athens, unlike most every other place in the SEC does not have an airport big enough to fly the football team out of. That means the Bulldogs must travel to Atlanta to fly. It’s something the Bulldogs have grown used to.
“It’s not really that difficult – flying out of Atlanta. You get used to it over time. I guess you can have a little jet lag. But the flights aren’t anything more than 45 minutes,” said senior linebacker Arnold Harrison.
“Every time we fly we have to do the Atlanta thing – it’s almost two hours before we get on a plane and take off. Just to get to Atlanta, go through security, and get on a plane, that’s usually two hours or more,” said Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt.
Going to Arkansas, one of the most out of the way places in the conference, is where the Bulldogs travel this week. A trip to play Arkansas used to require flying into Missouri or Tulsa, Oklahoma before the Hogs’ local airport was made to accommodate bigger planes.
“It’s a lot easier to get there now than it was five or six years ago,” said Offensive Coordinator Neil Callaway. “You had to fly into Missouri and take about a two or three hour bus ride. At least they have their airport finished in Fayetteville now so it’s easier to get in there.”
But each year no less than one player struggles with flying for the first time.
“Some people get scared to fly. We’ve had a couple of guys scared of flying at first, but this team has not flown. There could be a couple of guys scared of heights,” said Harrison.
This year’s most likely sufferer is Chester Adams. The whole team has been talking about Adams’ apprehension regarding the flight to Arkansas.
“I hope Chester doesn’t have a hard time,” said Harrison. “I hope they put Max and him on different sides of the plane for even distribution,” joked the linebacker.
“I was like Big Cheese a few years ago when we went to Kentucky,” said defensive tackle Kedric Golston. “We didn’t really have a smooth landing. Hopefully Big Cheese’s first flight will be a smooth landing.”
Another interesting note about the team’s flight is the seating on the chartered plane.
“It actually is a weight distribution thing,” said Harrison. “I think they put one small guy, one big guy, and two medium guys together. They would never put Big Cheese and Max in the same seating, I hope – just for space purposes if nothing else. I am sure they would be really uncomfortable sitting together. The plane would be leaning to one side.”
The final, and perhaps funniest, part of the flight for the Dawgs is the communication between the cockpit and the coach. Seniors, who sit in first class according to quarterback David Greene, and coaches, who sit in coach – really – all listen to a pep talk from the captain of the flight.
“It’s kind of funny to hear the pilot come over the loudspeaker wishing us a good game,” said Golston. “We tell the pilot we want his best effort – we want 200% from him. We want him to finish the drill.”