If I Won a Mega-Lottery

by John Delach

One Monday morning late this August, I awakened earlier than usual and decided to take our Golden Retriever, Max, on a long walk in the cool of the morning. We headed toward the Mill Pond a local tidal body of water filled and drained by streams, springs and the tidal rush from Manhasset Bay. It was just after seven am when I began to hear light aircraft approaching behind my back coming from the east.

Single-engine floatplanes and amphibians began to pass over Max and me at about 3,000 feet heading toward Manhattan taking so-called “One-percenters” to work allowing them to avoid the hassle of traffic and /or a long bus or train ride. I may have mouthed, “Flaunt it” as the flock continued to fly west over Manhasset Bay and disappear behind Great Neck.

As this flock disappeared, it was soon replaced by the shriller sound of helicopters making the same journey. To quote Mel Brooks: “It’s good to be the king.”          

I do admit to my jealousy as I have a slogan that some of you know: “I don’t know what I would do if I won a mega-lottery but I know what I will never do; if I won a mega-lottery I’d never fly commercial again.”

I would like to add a second never: “I’d never go to another Giants game by auto again.”

The Giants 2019 home football season began last Sunday, my 57th year as a season ticket holder. At my age wins and losses are less important than home game scheduling. This year promises to be favorable with only one scheduled night game and no late afternoon starts so far.

Still, the horror show that post-game traffic has become to reach Long Island from New Jersey gives me pause to continue attending games in person. If I were a rich man, I’d helicopter to the games.        

That dream would be a bit difficult to fulfill. During my working career in the golden age of air travel, both Pan Am and TWA, our fallen flag trans-Atlantic US carriers, offered helicopter service from Manhattan to their JFK Terminals. I flew both; Pan Am out of the 63rd Street Heliport on the East River and TWA’s at the river on 34TH Street. They were fast and convenient but confirmed my belief that helicopters suck and are fundamentally unsafe.

To pursue my concept of using choppers to commute to and from Giants home games after winning a mega lottery, I first must eradicate my fear of traveling in them, a feat easier said than done. Rather than face reality and terminate this blog, let’s pretend this problem disappears and I move on to the remaining obstacles.

Takeoffs and landings present the biggest obstacles. I do remember that for several years in the 1980s and 1990s, a corporate helicopter used to take-off and land on a designated space in a parking lot at an industrial section of Port Washington. Located off Channel Drive less than a mile from my home, it would solve half my problem if the use of that space was still feasible.

As for Met Life Stadium, a helipad already exists beyond the complex’s eastern most parking lot. Alas, to the best of my knowledge, the only civilian chopper authorized to land there belongs to Jonathon Tisch, co-owner of the New York Football Giants. (I do not know how John Mara, Tisch’s co-owner gets to the stadium from his home in Westchester County, NY But his father, Wellington, drove himself in his Ford Crown Victoria.)

My chance of becoming the second exception are slim and none. But I do believe my chopper could drop me off at nearby Teterboro Airport where a waiting, well-stocked and chauffeured limousine would whisk me to our tailgate in the parking lot five-minutes away. Going home would be just as painless allowing me and my guests to quickly fly over the horrible congestion at the George Washington Bridge, on the roads in the Bronx particularly the Cross Bronx Expressway and the Long Island Expressway in Queens.

“Why not take the train,” you ask? “Afterall, there is a station right outside Met Life Stadium.” The train has its own failings. Except for those departing early before the game ends an excessive number of fans seeking to commute by rail will overwhelm the waiting post-game trains ready-to-depart forcing the majority to wait on the ramps and the platform for following trains. Secondly, I’d have to exit at the first stop and catch a regular New Jersey Transit train with its own passengers bound for New York’s Pennsylvania Station. Lastly, I would have to change there for a local Long Island Railroad train to Port Washington, 13 stations and 40 minutes away.

Joining the One Percenters is the only way to go. I wish I could end this with a simple: “Sign me up.”

Damn, now that I think it through that dream is beyond possibility.

You see a few years ago, I happened to be in New Hampshire when Mega Millions hit for $475 million. It turned out I purchased my ticket two towns from the winner, close enough to think about how winning such an insane amount of money would truly f**k up my life. So I swore off the mega lotteries.

You must be in it to win it and I’m not. Those helicopter rides would have been nice and so it goes.