I didn’t want to clog up teh random below with an extended screed, but this week’s travels brought to mind again a favorite target of ol’ Robbo’s ire.

Friends of the decanter have long known of Robbo’a dislike of flying, not because of teh inconvenience and petty indignities and hassles and other things that most people gripe about, but because of his irrational fear of heights and complete lack of control of his fate when strapped in.

For the most part, I’m happy to say, I believe I am getting much better about this, finally reaching the point where I acknowledge, even when we hit turbulence, that there is absolutely no connection between the force with which I clutch the arm rest and tighten my stomach muscles, and the issue of whether or not the wings are going to fall off.

However, while I have more or less conquered my fears when flying in larger planes, I am still having a bit of trouble when it comes to the smaller, regional jets.

Which brings me to my gripe.

The small jet market is dominated by two rival manufacturers: Embraer,  a Brazilian company, and Bombardier, a Canadian outfit.

Embraer produces a family of regional jets – the ERJ series – that, although small, are really quite comfortable.  The interiors, even the ones with only three seats across – one on one side of the aisle and two on the other – seem roomy even when actually cramped, at least once you sit down.  The planes give a generally good ride, even in fairly nasty weather, and have take-off and landing characteristics quite similar to the larger, more civilized, long-haul fleet.   A couple years back I spent a great deal of time flying back and forth to Cleveland in all weathers – from December through August – in Continental ERJ’s and don’t remember more than a few really objectionable experiences.

Bombardier, on the other hand, is peopled by a gang of hoser sadists.   The interiors of their jets – the CRJ series, even the larger ones, feel like cattle cars designed for hobbits, cramped and dingy.  Even the portals, not that I care to look out, are only about chest-high when one is seated.   And the flight characteristics are a cast-iron beyotch.  I dunno whether it’s because they are stockier than their Embraer counterparts, but the damned things seem to pitch about regardless of what’s going on outside.  Contra my experience with the ERJ’s, I cannot recall a single pleasant flight in their CRJ counterparts.

But what I really can’t stick about the CRJ’s is the way they land.  When beginning their descent, they don’t start to waft gently down.  Instead, they imitate the hawk poised against the sun that has just spotted a dove below, and positively drop.  The approach itself is invariably rough-and-tumble.  And rayther than designing hydrolic technology to lower the landing gear, Bombardier instead appears satisfied to rely on shear gravity to do the job.  So instead of the reassuring whine of the gear going down, one’s already jangled nerves are suddenly assaulted by an almighty double ka-CHUNK!   But the worst part is the final approach, which is a nose-down, kamikaze-like dive at the runway.   Usually in the last couple hundred feet of altitude, ol’ Robbo is feeling pretty good about things, sometimes even looking out the window with real pleasure.  In these things, I find myself invariably muttering, “Pull up, ya eeedjit! Pull UP!”

We hates it.  We haaaaates it!

Anyway, ERJ or CRJ.  It makes all the difference.