Delta pilot finds ‘chilling’ note left by pilot at beginning of pandemic

VICTORVILLE, Ca. — A pilot for Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines found a haunting note left in the cockpit of a plane that has been in storage since the pandemic began last year.

The note, dated March 23, 2020, was tucked into the tray table of a plane that was parked at an airport in the California desert.

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At the time, the world had just plunged into the first days of COVID-19 lockdowns and lots of uncertainty. Thousands of flights had been canceled as countries closed their borders.

The hand-penned message was written by pilot First Officer Chris Dennis, who flew ship 3009 from Minnesota-Saint Paul to store it at the airport in Victorville, California, for what he thought would be two weeks.

Today was a day I will remember for the rest of my life. A trip opened up to bring a Delta A321 to Victorville, CA for...

Posted by Chris Dennis on Monday, March 23, 2020

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Before he left, Dennis addressed whoever would bring the plane out of storage.

“Very chilling to see so much of our fleet here in the desert,” Dennis wrote. “If you are here to pick it up, then the light must be at the end of the tunnel. Amazing how fast it changed.”

Over a year later, on June 10, the pilot tasked with bringing the plane out of storage, Nick Perez, found the message as he was going through his checklist.

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“Those 57 words, which captured so much of the uncertainty and emotion we all felt in March 2020, underscored the gravity of the trip,” Delta officials wrote on Facebook.

Perez said in a press release that he’s sure Dennis thought at the time that he would lose his job. Perez said it’s a world of difference between then and now.

“I kept thinking about my mindset now compared to his when [Dennis] left this note,” Perez said. “[Back then], we were getting good at landing empty airplanes, now we’re going in the right direction. I’m in good spirits. I’m very optimistic. I feel like how I felt in 2017 again - ready to get going.”

A Facebook user suggested that the plane get a special name and paint job, which Delta agreed was a great idea.

“Petition to have Ship 3009 be designated something like “Spirit of America” or “Hope” and have it receive a custom paint scheme,” Travis Renton wrote.