Emergency Landing

8.29.2012


Turbulence is kind of my favorite thing - as I've mentioned before. It just seems kind of thrilling to me because there's just a hint of danger and at the same time, comfort because it's a normal thing when flying. 

When I was in training I just came to the peaceful resolve that I would die in some sort of aviation disaster. Remember in Big Fish when he looks into Helena Bonham Carter's big old future-telling witch eye and says, "Oh, so that's how I go" about his eminent death? That's kind of how it is for me. Bryan doesn't think it's funny. I get that. It's a little dark and twisty. But don't worry, I'll make sure we all get off the plane if something happens. 

About 95% of the training for my job was emergency preparation. (Ahem, I would like everyone to remember that next time you're tempted to refer to me as a waitress). The other 5% is how to toss out packets of peanuts on a twenty-five minute flight without breaking a sweat and still smiling.

On a flight recently, we'd finished our service and as a crew we'd all dispersed in galleys and the cabin. I was collecting trash (and gagging while picking up cups with snot and leftover tomato juice in them). I heard a sound that wasn't normal, and I kind of froze for a moment. Though muffled, it sounded like a bowling ball had been tossed into the right engine. Then it was silent, and then the plane fluttered a little bit like it was made of paper and the power flickered for just a tiny second. 

Most people didn't even seem to notice, save for the man seated right next to that engine that locked eyes with me with a sudden furrowed brow that communicated a high level of concern. As tempted as I was to share that look with him, I just smiled and walked away.

My flight leader stood in the first class cabin, making a face that confirmed that the man and I were not crazy. We stepped into the galley and away from the view of passengers.

"Did you hear that?" I whispered.

"Yes. I'm going to call the captain." She said. 

She called five consecutive times with no answer. 

Confirmation that something wasn't right.

At that point, I just kind of stood there frozen for a second and I am pretty sure my tongue was sweating. I decided that I was an ass for being flippant and saying that I'd be fine to die in the airplane. And then I was like, "Fran shut up it's probably not even a big deal, it's not like there are raptors on the plane."

Once we did talk to the pilots, they confirmed that we'd lost an engine and that, well, they were busy. 

Worth mentioning:

  • Pilots are totally and completely trained and prepared to handle such a situation. They are also the calmest people I've ever met.
  • Commercial airplanes are built in a way that they are safe to continue flying with just one engine.
  • Passengers are 165% more comforted by the Captain making announcements as opposed to the flight attendants (DUH). Mostly because they know what they are doing (we do too, but you know what I mean...they know how to fly the plane). They make everything seem like it's not a big deal. PLUS, our Captain sounded exactly like Kermit the Frog. It was really comforting and I was kind of waiting for him to start singing Rainbow Connection.

Everything was okay. We could have flown safely on to our destination, but the best option was to divert and land at the nearest airport. So, we diverted to Des Moines.

The passengers were so quiet. And they LISTENED TO US! They turned off their iPods, and iPads, and Kindles, and heart monitors when I asked them to. It was miraculous.

(Don't worry, guys. I let people keep their heart monitors on).

Everyone clapped when we landed, and fire trucks were on the runway waiting for us. Just in case. But we didn't need them, because the pilots were awesome and everything went smoothly.

After a few hours in Des Moines another plane came down to retrieve us. We got to fly as passengers, and I was sandwiched between another co-worker and a passenger. The man looked at me and said, 

"Did you watch Lost?"

"Yes...a few seasons."

"Well, what if we really did crash and die and Des Moines was actually the island?"

Hmmm...

20 comments:

  1. I kinda llike turbulence as well - it sort of lulls me to sleep. I think i would've been a little worried in the situation but glad all was fine! (And that Lost comment is totally creepy!!!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was creepy and kind of awesome at the same time. And I feel the same way when I am riding as a passenger. I feel oddly relaxed by it. I think we are both weird!

      Delete
  2. Ha well, look at you go, handling it like a champ! You're totally right about pilot messages being a bit more calming, especially when the pilot in question sound like Kermit the Frog :) and that furrowed brow man? That's totally me. Ha I apologize on behalf of all of us furrowed brow people, but we know when something's up and don't like to be pretended to that it's not. Ha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Girrrl I don't blame you. My default when I'm unsure of something on the plane is to just keep smiling because otherwise I will make a dramatic face and cause everyone to panic. Furrow away, I will allow it.

      Delete
  3. Hahaha! I love the Lost comment. I wouldn't want to be stuck on the island of Des Moines!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. FOR REAL. Even though I've never visited Des Moines, I would never want to be stuck there.

      Delete
  4. I love this! I won't lie, it stressed the crap out of me but at the same time, I had no idea how well trained you guys are (don't hate me!) It makes sense that you would be but I'm relatively irrational at the best of times and being suspended midair makes me slightly more so.

    Love reading your blog! X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha you are in the majority on that one! I didn't even know how much we'd learn when I went for training. I kind of assumed it would be mostly customer service but that's totally not the case. And I think if everyone knew how prepared the whole crew was they wouldn't be as nervous to fly. And it's okay to ask questions mid-flight if something concerns you. I love comforting people!

      Delete
  5. Raptors on a plane? You should write a movie...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jurassic Park meets Snakes on a Plane? It seems super promising.

      Delete
  6. On a flight from Ireland a few weeks ago, I was watching the flight attendants and was impressed by how much they must know + how much crap they have to put up with! Dark and twisty? Grey's reference? If so, can't wait for the season premiere! I hear the 1st episode will be at the hospital, and the 2nd will flash back to the crash. If not a Grey's thing, disregard!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahaha yes an inadvertent Grey's reference! My best friend and I say it so much that I had forgotten what it originally began as. I don't even really watch it anymore but I always get sucked in on the traumatic season finales. So I'll definitely be watching the premiere!

      Delete
  7. Have I mentioned that Addison designs commercial jet engines at GE? He may need a talking to...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't even know that! He's a genius!

      Delete
  8. No offense to Iowa (because I've never been there and am totally about to be a snot), but that would be the WORST island to be stuck on!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DON'T I KNOW IT. At least if you were on the island Matthew Fox would be there. AMIRIGHT?

      Delete
  9. When I got to the part about the Island.... i might have freaked out a little.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too. Am I really dead? Am I really getting married?

      Delete
  10. Kind of a freaky thing to read the day before flying across the country, but I'm glad everything went smoothly! I keep imagining announcements from the pilot that sound like Kermit. I'm laughing pretty hard right now. Also, I wish you would be my flight attendant tomorrow.

    I wish I liked turbulence. Unfortunately, it's caused me to fill up every barf bag ever created more than once. My apologies to any and all flight attendants that have had to deal with me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh girl. Poor timing to post this on my part ;) It will be fantastic and stress free. Well, I can't guarantee stree free, but you're in great hands!

      I wish I could be your flight attendant too, because you seem nice and I am all about meeting sweet passengers. Okay, okay - the mean ones, too.

      BARRRRFING on the plane is horrible. Ask for a garbage bag! You do not have to be subjected to those tiny hold-nothing bags!

      Delete