Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vlogstyle Episode 06: The Militant Rides Angels Flight 3.0!

The Militant couldn't quite recall when was the last time he rode Angels Flight before the tragic February 1, 2001 accident, but he seems to think it may or may not have been towards the end of 2000 - nearly 10 years ago. And why would he remember? It was one of those things he took for granted.

After much anticipation, the Militant overheard via the Twittersphere that the Flight was open for riders today (the soft opening apparently began 10 a.m. on Saturday), so the Militant headed straight for Downtown for a ride. Sure enough, the twin orange-and-black cars, named Sinai (the one on the north-side track) and Olivet (the one on the south-side track), were moving. It was almost like it never left - the familiar rumble of the minute-long journey was there, and the dancing waters of California Plaza greeted him at the top.

The Militant does vividly remember being there on February 24, 1996 (Huell Howser and his trusted cameraman Luis Fuerte were there), patiently waiting in line. After the ceremonial ribbon-cutting heralding the release of Angels Flight 2.0, (re-)opened to the public after a 27-year absence from Angeleno reality, a nearly 3-decade limbo of historical lore, Leo Politi paintings and cynical uncertainty. But that limbo turned to heaven as Sinai and Olivet ascended and descended, as everyone assumed - for good.

The world has changed since 2/1/01. Most obvious was what happened seven months and ten days later some 3,000 miles away. But other things have changed. On Sunday afternoon, the Militant tweeted, "And YES, The Militant just rode on @AngelsFlight again!!!!!!!!!!!!" and suddenly realized that there was no Twitter back in 2001, much less 1996, even much less 1969 when Angels Flight 1.0 last ran (Speaking of which, there is an official Angels Flight Twitter account). In 2001, not as many people lived in Downtown Los Angeles. No Gold Line, No L.A. Live (but then again, virtually no hipsters...). And there was no Militant Angeleno blog. So here he is.

As he hung out near the top of the funicular, people-watching, he saw a couple teenagers watch the cars go up and down attentively -- they were too young to remember when they ran last. And he saw younger children ride on the 'Flight for the very first time -- they weren't even born the last time people were able to ride it (He also spotted Ed Fuentes, a.k.a. Mr. View From A Loft take a quick ride up and down, heheheh).

Angels Flight 3.0, which officially opens to the public on Monday (which will likely have long lines of residents, office workers and tourists clamoring to get their first ride in), is designed with several 'fail-safe' features that will hopefully keep the tragic death of 83-year old tourist (and Holocaust survivor) Leon Praport an anomaly. Features like a second cable (which Angels Flight 2.0 lacked, but Angels Flight 1.0 had) and track brakes designed to stop the vehicle in case of drive system failure are now implemented, so hopefully the third time's the charm, and no Angeleno from here on out will be deprived of an opportunity to ride it.

The Militant welcomes Sinai and Olivet back to Bunker Hill!

Angels Flight 3.0 operates from 6:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Fare is 25 cents each way; payment is made at the top station.

1 comment:

angel said...

Thank you for your eyewitness report and for your acknowledgement of Huell's long time cameraman, Luis. A work partner of mine, back in the day and a very good friend.
I remember Huell covering that opening that day in the past and wondered why he didn't cover this one. I assume it was because it was a low key opening. I can't wait to ride it again.