Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Fractured ABC's Of Christmas - J

is for Jet
A super way to travel
What? No landing gear?
Your nerves begin to unravel

This is a true story. Hold on to your seats!

There was a time in my life where it wasn't uncommon for me to fly 10,000 miles each month. I was based in Washington, DC and flew in and out of DC National. I had been on assignment in Chicago for several months and, as the holidays approached, it was time for me to fly back home for a week's vacation.

Having been in so many airports across the country, I had become accustomed to the routine of arriving ahead of time, checking my luggage and equipment, then making my way to the bar for a cocktail or two as I waited for my flight to be called. Gin and tonic was my designated libation before flying. You know, there's something about a buzz at 35,000 feet. Yeee-hah! Anyway, on this particular day, all was going according to the routine I had followed so many times before.

The flight between Chicago and DC, as usual, was uneventful. As the jet began its descent, everyone buckled their seat belts and returned their seats to the upright position. It's really cool flying over DC, you can see all the monuments and government buildings. You definitely get a different perspective from up above.

As we approached the runway, all was well. Then, at an altitude of about 500 feet over the runway, the jet took a hard vertical climb. What the hell is going on here? There was a gasp that made its way throughout the cabin. As we began to level out, I could see we were leaving the area. As I looked out the window, I could see we were approaching Baltimore-Washington International. Okay, maybe we are landing there for some reason, hmmm. At this point I was calm. It wasn't too unusual that a plane is re-routed due to weather conditions. Did I mention is was snowing?

It was then the captain made the following announcement, "Ladies and gentleman, this is your captain, we are experiencing technical difficulties, we apologize for the delay in landing today. Apparently, our landing gear has failed. We are going to check the manual to attempt to correct this problem". What the fuck?!? No landing gear? You need to check the manual? Oh, god!

The plane then circled back over DC National and I could see emergency vehicles lining the runway. The gentleman sitting next to me was very understanding when I buried my face in his chest and snotted all over his tie, "We're gonna die!". He gently pushed me back to an upright position and assured me that, even though we may have to land on foam, we'd be okay - provided we don't skid into the Potomac River. Oh, god!!

The things that run through your mind when you are facing death - nope, I won't be embarrassed by my underwear in case I have to be rescued. As we passed the airport for the third time, the captain came back on and announced the tower had confirmed that the landing gear was down and in locked position. But, how does the tower know the landing gear is locked? It could very well collapse when we hit the ground and then we'll be swimming our way to safety through the ice and snow, if we live through this. Oh, god!!!

As the plane finally approached the runway, I got religion. I closed my eyes and held my breath as I repeated the "Our Father" over-and-over again. Was the plane breaking apart? Had we hit the river? No, it was just all that jet brake commotion. The next thing I knew, the man next to me was prying my fingers from the arms of the seat telling me we were on the ground safely. I looked out the window and all I could see was white. "Is this heaven?", I asked. "Depends", he replied. "Are you a Republican or a Democrat?"


  1. LOL!! What a great man you were sitting next too!!

  2. You had me on the edge of my wing there! I enjoy flying but take-off and landing do get my stomach in a knot. I think I would have passed out.

  3. Man, if they hadn't been able to fix that landing gear you would have been up there all day!

  4. @ Lee - Yes, he was very nice. As we left the plane he told me he was an aide to Senator Dole.

    @ Buggys - Well, hey, I did have a religious experience. I'm just glad I remembered all the words to the prayer.

    @ Dufus - Yeah, then maybe we would have run out of fuel and landed in the Potomac after all.

  5. That is one memory I'm glad I do not have. I probably would have passed out from the gin and tonic though and missed the whole ordeal.

  6. Remember that plane that clipped a bridge and plunged into the Potomac? A lady on a flight I took once was so terrified that every time we hit a bit of turbulence she screamed. Thank God we weren't crashing...she'd have driven me nuts all the way into the ground.

  7. @ Jude - It shivers me timbers every time I think about that day. I do believe, however,the gin and tonic may have helped me through it all.

    @ Don - Excuse me, Don, why was she screaming again? Tee-hee!

  8. Hi,
    Very funny piece. I'm new here. It almost would have been better for the pilot to have kept his mouth shut. I'm not a fan of flying. My husband, son, and I once flew British Western International Airways, the acronym, But will it arrive. During the flight, a piece from the cabin fell. But at least we didn't have technical difficulties. Yikes! What a loaded word.

  9. OMG! I hate to fly. Hate it. This would have totally ruined it for me!

  10. Great story! And if that guy wrote that joke on the spot, then he's a pretty damn funny guy.

    Also, gin and tonic is my designated libation before flying, too. Also, before watching TV, sleeping, reading, doing yard work and writing. I like the G&Ts, what can I say?

    Now, if you don't mind me asking, what was it that you used to do that took you 10,000 miles a month? Just nosey. I mean, curious.

  11. @ Lauren - Welcome! I agree, some things are just better left unsaid. The anticipation of waiting to die would surely kill me be the crash would have.

    @ adrienzgirl - Well, it about ruined it for me. Now days, I take Amtrack.

    @ Mike - Yes, he actually said that. Trust me, it truly helped to relieve the tension.

    I used to love gin...and vodka...and tequila, but those days are over.

    I was a political consultant and ran initiative campaigns all over the country. In '92, I had campaigns running in 14 different states. Whew, I'm glad those days are over! I don't think my liver could have taken much more.

  12. C'mon! Did the Captain NEED to be that honest? Couldn't he have just said there was "ground-related issue" that needed to be fixed, or something?

    I realize pilots don't usually need a bedside manner, but seriously! Causing panic isn't good either, you know?

  13. @ C: - Oh, I agree! The least they could have done was offered us a voucher, invited us in to the VIP lounge for a drink or given us a pizza. Sheeeesh!

  14. Politics and booze go together like shrimp and scampi. Must have been an interesting life, though. I'll bet you have many stories to tell. Oh, and before I give you the impression that I'm an alcoholic, I actually rarely drink at all. But when I do, it's gin and tonic. It's the British half of me trying to take over.

  15. I was really hoping you guys landed on foam!


    I'm glad your jet-setting days are over.

  16. @ Mike (again) - Oh, yeah. I've got stories.

    @ Geek Girl - Ya nut!!!


Thanks for stopping by The Screaming Me-Me!!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...