Monday, November 18, 2013

The Miraculous Landing of the Flight 'O' Death: Told from my admittedly skewed perspective.

It was a bright and sunny day when I boarded my flight to Chicago, but it didn't take long to become a dark and stormy night. Yesterday, as winds and cyclones tore across the Midwest, I boarded a plane for Chicago.

The pilot cancelled beverage service, which was mildly annoying. I sat there thinking of the tomato juice I wouldn't have, and felt superior to all the thirsty passengers for having brought my own water. About twenty minutes in to our one and a half our flight, the jiggling started.  It wasn't too serious, though the guy next to me would disagree.
I couldn't find a picture of a plane in darks stormy skies, so
just imagine the light blue is an ominous gray-navy,
then pick up your laptop and shake it vigorously,
and you'll get the idea.

I continued reading, trying not to fall asleep lest I flop onto one of the guys on either side. (I fly Southwest so I'm always in the middle seat.) My seatmates weren't hard on the ol' peepers, so I wouldn't have minded making either of their shoulders a pillow, but I don't think they would have appreciated drool on their shirts.

We jostled along, the flight attendants trying to tell the thirsty people they had to stay seated, while the thirsty people--whose last beverage had worked its way through their system--weighed the pros and cons of ignoring them to risk a broken limb on the way to the bathroom, or obeying and wetting themselves. Most chose option A, for which, I admit, I'm grateful.

It wasn't until we neared Chicago that the jiggling turned to jostling. More and more people went rigid and clung to arm rests. I praised Jesus for Dramamine and read on. Then the jostling turned to bumping, and the bumping almost immediately turned to that roller coaster sensation when you fall several hundred feet and your insides refuse to go with you.

I love turbulence about as much as I love mosquito bites, or realizing first thing in the morning that I'm out of coffee. But I was doing alright.

Until.....(insert dramatic musical riff) I peered past my terrified seatmate and out the window.  There, maybe 100 yards below our steeply angled wing, a little house sat with its lights on. We were so close I could see a dog burrowing under the fence. Okay, it was dark, but if it were lighter and a dog had been burrowing under a fence, I would have seen him.

I had just finished thinking, "My, that house is close," when, with a Six Flags-worthy drop, we were suddenly much much closer to the house. I think we scraped a few tiles off the roof as we passed.

This must have scared my hand because it clung to the arm rest. And while I think reading is as good as any activity to be caught up in when you die, I couldn't concentrate. I decided to ignore the window, thought about those inflatable slides and how I'd have to remember to go feet first, and reminded myself that lots of pilots had landed already in this tornado-force gale. I prayed ours was skilled.

Well, we wobbled all the way to the runway, hit hard, but we stuck the landing. Hallelujah. The plane broke out in applause and we all gave each other that knowing look you get when you feel a near death experience has enlightened you.

The weather is still rough today, I just hope it gets better before I return. Unless you're a burglar reading this. Then I'm home already with my two pit bulls, Jellybean and Buckley.

Thank you, Jesus, for airplanes, water bottles, Dramamine--oh, thank you for Dramamine--and the lovely Christmas tree I found waiting at the hotel. Please be with all of those affected by this storm. All my love.

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