Over the weekend, I took the littles to Dallas for my cousin's wedding. As we were in the Dallas airport waiting for our plane to leave, I texted J.C. with this:
Is it a bad omen when one of your flight attendants falls out of the plane and is taken away by ambulance?
That depends. Did she fall or did she jump?
I never did find out the answer to that, but I definitely think it was a bad sign for the trip ahead. Most of the flight was fine, but as we were making our approach for landing, Nina looked out the window and said, "Mom, why are we going back up?" I looked out, and sure enough, we were heading back up into the air, away from the airport. I assumed air traffic control had routed us away from another plane or something. A few minutes later, the pilot came on and said, "Well folks, as we were coming in for a landing, the flaps didn't come up as advertised. We are going to circle around and try again." Visions of last week's Asiana's crash in San Francisco haunted me as we descended again. Then, as we got closer to the ground, the pilot said, "Please remain in your seats with your seatbelts securely fastened until we arrive at the gate... unless you are told otherwise." I've been on enough flights to know the "unless you are told otherwise" is NOT part of the usual speech. That was definitely not reassuring. The landing went fairly well. We skidded off to the side at one point when I think the pilot must have had to use extra brakes or perhaps the flaps hadn't deployed evenly on both sides. We came to a stop though and everyone applauded. Nina asked, "Why did everybody clap?" You've gotta love how clueless kids can be in a situation like that. Sometimes it would be nice to have their naivety. I said, "Because the pilot got us here safely even though there were problems with the plane." Then, Nina looked out the window and said, "Look! There's a fire engine! And an ambulance! And another fire engine!"
Fire engines and rescue vehicles who had clearly been waiting for us were coming at us from every direction. It was at this point I realized that we hadn't landed on one of the usual runways. We were in a more remote location that must be used for emergency landings. I knew we were on the ground. I was pretty sure we were safe, but it was all very disconcerting to see what they had prepared for. The firemen in the space-age silver suits examined the plane, took pictures, and boarded the plane. Then the pilot came on again to say that the plane was being inspected to see if it was safe for us to taxi to the terminal or if we needed to deplane there. They must have decided it was safe to taxi. We were able to get off the plane at the gate, but the firetrucks and spacemen followed us there. We all deplaned a bit shaken but happy to be home.
Nothing like an emergency landing to make you appreciate the ground like never before.
"If black boxes survive air crashes, why don't they make the whole plane out of that stuff?" ~ George Carlin