Day 1

Here the adventure begins; in a partnership of The Langenfeld Foundation and Minnesota SCI, we express our gratitude to all disabled veterans by taking one of their own on the trip of a lifetime—a safari trip to South Africa.

We departed Minneapolis/St. Paul International with high hopes. We met several obstacles right away: our flight to Chicago was canceled, the next flight was delayed so badly that we would miss our connection to Washington DC, the next flight into DC would be so late that we would miss our South African Airways flight to Johannesburg. It seriously looked as if the day was lost, we would need to go back home, and start all over again tomorrow.

However, with some pushing on our part, we got rebooked on another airline, put at the front of the line and allowed to bypass the long line and longer wait for security check. We thought we might still make out new flight out of Minneapolis if we ran through the airport, but then a worst-case scenario developed; our camera man was randomly picked to have his bags open and monotonously examined.

The rest of us got to the gate at the last minute, as they were preparing to close the doors. Two were got on board and I explained the situation to the attendant and tried to stall as best I could. Ten minutes went by, then twenty, and still no cameraman. It would have been a horrible thing to have the group split up on a trip like this. Finally they told me I had to get on the plane right now, and they would do everything they could to get our last guy on with us.

Fortunately, another five minutes later, he arrived on board. We were on our way, group in tack and relived to have cleared a major obstacle.

Once in DC, we met some friends from Minnesota SCI who were also on their way to Johannesburg for their own African safari. They told us that they were supposed to be here yesterday but their flights through Chicago got all messed up…and we knew exactly what they meant.

We met many other safari hunters on the plane, and had a good chance to talk with them since we would spend a total of about 22 hours on airplanes. It was a stressful day with a couple of close calls, but we were relieved to see "Day 1" come to an end and still be on schedule.