Saturday, August 9, 2008

Plane Stories

I just recently came from from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The flight back actually involved a stop-over in Newark, New Jersey, so I actually did Fort Lauderdale to Newark to Toronto.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm a nervous flyer. I'm not scared, per se, but nervous. I don't like turbulence or anything else out-of-the-ordinary. Unfortunately, both flights home had out-of-the-ordinary moments...

While on the ground at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, the captain launched into his spiel about the upcoming flight -- you know, the stuff no one cares about? "We'll be at 39,000 feet," he says. "We expect it to be a smooth flight." Do you ever hear the pilot say, "You're going to be shitting bricks, folks. This flight's gonna be a rollercoaster!" Of course not.

In the middle of his speech, something happened. "...we'll be in Newark in about 2 hours 32 minutes. The temperature there is about ---" Suddenly the entire plane goes dead! The lights went out. The air flow stopped. The engines shut down. We're on the ground, remember, but still, this eerie silence followed. After about 5 seconds, the pilot said over the intercom: "Oops."


After about another minute, the plane started up again, but it left me thinking the pilot just accidentally turned off the plane! I didn't even realize that was possible! Was there a key he turned the wrong way? Did he blow a fuse? Was there a big, red Off button he accidentally pressed? How does a pilot accidentally turn off a plane?

The rest of the flight to Newark was uneventful, but more than a few of us on the plane were awaiting his next "Oops." *SLAM* "Oops! Forgot to put the landing gear down. Let me make a note of that for next time..."

I thought the short, one hour flight from Newark to Toronto would be easier. Nope! The flight from Newark to Toronto was on a small, 50-person propeller plane. I hate these planes as they bounce around all over the place with the slightest breeze. And is it only me, or do the propellers look like they're going to just fly right off the wings?

In any case, we managed to taxi onto the runway without incident. (Sidenote: Why does a plane "taxi" anywhere, but taxis never "plane"?) The engines revved for take off, and we started moving forward at quite a clip. About halfway down the runway to take off, suddenly the plane lurched, like we were losing speed. It was obvious the propellers were being powered down and the brakes were being applied hard. The takeoff was being aborted.

It's not like we were losing control, but the first question that came to mind was will we stop before the end of the runway? The second question was why did he abort take off? Of course, the second question was only possible to ask because the answer to the first question was "yes".

After successfully slowing down, he pulled off the runway to a secluded corner of the airport away from everything. Everyone was trying to figure out what was happening? Is there a bomb threat against a prop-plane? Was there debris on the runway -- such as another plane?

After waiting for about 5 minutes, the pilot finally came on the intercom: "Ladies and gentleman, unfortunately, we've had to abort the takeoff."

Ummmm, no shit.

"During takeoff, an indicator light came on indicating the rear cargo door was open, so we had to investigate that."

Gee, thanks. Good idea. Someone in the plane mimicked the pilots voice: "...and will the guy who packed please go pick up his luggage that's on runway 29..." Everyone laughed. Better than "Oops."

A few minutes later, the pilot announced they actually couldn't find a problem with the cargo door and perhaps the indicator light wasn't correct. Oh good! We'll just have to test that out, won't we. I can see it now: We're in the air and the pilot comes on the intercom. "Ladies and gentleman. Yeah, that cargo light. It was actually correct! Look at that! Oh and your luggage is in Lake Ontario. In compensation, we'd like to offer you an extra bag of complimentary peanuts."

Finally, we make it back to the runway and just before we takeoff, the pilot announced he hoped to "make up time in the air" due to the delay. But there was a problem with that. The flight is an hour long. We'd been delayed an hour. We were supposed to be in Toronto at 1pm. We were taking off at 1pm! So unless he found some sort of wormhole to take us back in time, I don't think he was going to make up any time at all in the air.

Ultimately, I survived. The luggage survived. And this is why I hate to fly.

1 comment:

Jess said...

Haha, personally I have yet to actually fly on a plane.. I think i am scared to do so. But I think it's just people's stories that i am afraid of lol.I know that to travel via air it's less chance of me dying then in say a car. But still.. I think it's mainly the lack of.. well control that has me up in arms about flying. Also I haven't had anywhere to go really.. Nice to know that you are safe though.. haha. I am sure when i do fly somewhere though i will have a great story to tell. Also I checked out your pictures.. Awesome as per usual. Keep it up! lol.

- Skittle