Delta pilot finds note marking 'apocalyptic, surreal' pandemic moment. It sat in a plane for more than a year.

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In March 2020, Delta pilot Chris Dennis left a note in the aircraft he was parking in a storage lot in Victorville, California, thinking it would be found after a two-week quarantine. But after being discovered 435 days later, the note is now being called a "time capsule."

Dennis said he parked the aircraft with dozens of other planes and said each represented hundreds of jobs. He described the scene as "Chilling, apocalyptic, surreal" in a Facebook post in March 2020. Airlines were parking passenger planes en masse as travel fell to historic lows.

Dennis wanted to commemorate his emotions in a note for the next pilot to find.

"Hey pilots - It's March 23rd and we just arrived from MSP," Dennis wrote in the note. "Very chilling to see so much of our fleet here in the desert. If you are here to pick it up then the light must be at the end of the tunnel. Amazing how fast it changed. Have a safe flight bringing it out of storage!"

At the time, the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning. In the year that followed, life was put on largely on pause.

The pilot who found the note was First Officer Nick Perez on June 1. He said he was instantly taken back to the memories of how different world was in the pandemic's early days.

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Last March, Delta Air Lines announced flight cuts because of the pandemic, and in October the airline reported a $5.4 billion quarterly loss. Perez said many pilots and workers assumed they'd lose their jobs.

"He had to have been thinking he was leaving his job," Perez said in a Delta press release. "Back in March, I was 100% certain I was going to lose my job."​

Now, as millions of Americans are receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and restrictions are lifting, Perez reflected on the note and just how much has changed. On Friday, for the first time since the pandemic, the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2 million people, marking a victory for the industry.

Delta Air Lines aircraft are stored at Southern California Logistics Airport, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Victorville, Calif.
Delta Air Lines aircraft are stored at Southern California Logistics Airport, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, in Victorville, Calif.

“I kept thinking about my mindset now compared to his when he left this note,” Perez said. “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.”

Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Delta pilot finds year-old note in airplane stored during pandemic

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