Plane Trouble

There are moments in your life when you feel as if you have narrowly avoided being part of or involved in something that is dangerous to your health. I have several of these stories each with varying degree of danger.

This post was prompted by the JetBlue incident that took place yesterday. I have been planning a business trip to New York for quite some time now. For a number of different reasons I have had to reschedule it three times, but at one point in time I had been looking at this week and had intended to fly JetBlue out of Burbank.

None of this really means that I would have been on that flight yesterday, but it is still closer to home than I like. Some of that is because I am not real fond of flying anymore. I used to love it, but now I simply tolerate it as a necessary evil in my life.

Along the lines of being a part of a dangerous situation there was an incident that took place a little more than four years ago. I remember it very well because of what happened and because it took place a week before September 11.

Here is the skinny on that. The family had flown out to Chicago for a family celebration. My son was just short of being nine months old and it was his first flight. If I close my eyes I can still see him looking around the plane, his face rapt with attention.

Due to limited vacation I had to come home a few days earlier than everyone else. And that is how I found myself on the Saturday night of Labor Day weekend waiting to pick everyone up at LAX and I do mean waiting because the flight was supposed to arrive at around 6 PM but didn’t actually land until after 1 AM.

For several hours I paced through the terminal with limited information about what caused the delay. All I knew was that the plane had had some minor mechanical difficulty. Around 4 hours or so into the delay I found out more about what caused the delay.

The person sitting next to me answered a ringing cellphone where they learned from their son who was a passenger on the plane that they had almost been forced to make an emergency landing and that the minor mechanical difficulty was far more serious than United had told those of us waiting for the flight to arrive.

I was both somewhat relieved and more upset to learn that. The moment also taught me more about the incredible love and fear you can have as a parent.

On a side note that can be filed under weird happenings I can also relate that during the waiting at one point in time we were confined to a section of the terminal because the L.A.P.D. were trying to apprehend a suspicious person. I never found out why they wanted this person but I can tell you that in the aftermath of September 11 I wondered from time to time if there was any relationship to that incident or if it was just an odd moment.

I think that this it for now, back later.

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  1. Ezzie September 22, 2005 at 9:02 pm

    Interesting point, Q… Though they sometimes shut off the TV’s upon takeoff/landing. Perhaps that is what they did here? Or, better, by explaining everything, and then seeing the news about it that showed the problem, they understood that they were not being lied to, and there was no reason to panic.

    It would be interesting to find out.

  2. Jack's Shack September 22, 2005 at 8:23 pm

    Hi Q,

    I can’t imagine watching the flight from the interior of the plane. It is kind of crazy.

    JetBlue is about 5 years old and to the best of my knowledge they are the only carrier to provide this type of in-flight entertainment.

  3. Stephen (aka Q) September 22, 2005 at 8:14 pm

    The bizarre part of the story is that the in-flight televisions were carrying live news coverage of the event for the passengers to watch!

    Is this typical of American flights? During flights in Canada, we get sanitized news that’s 24 hours old. I’m sure it’s so we don’t hear any disturbing stories about terrorist acts or flights that crashed and burned.

    Never mind live coverage of an incident on the plane you’re in!

  4. Jack's Shack September 22, 2005 at 5:11 pm

    Hi Ezzie,

    Agreed on all counts.

  5. Ezzie September 22, 2005 at 4:50 pm

    Jack – still recommend JetBlue… we’re using it from LA back to NY after Sukkos.

    In addition, there are the countless statistics that flying is safer than driving…

    But most importantly, JetBlue will probably be doing far better checks of their planes for a while, making them the safest airline for a few months. Interesting how tragedy or near-tragedy does that…

  6. Jack's Shack September 22, 2005 at 4:32 pm


    That sounds like a hell of a moment.


    You are correct, life can be so very fragile.

  7. Bill September 22, 2005 at 4:05 pm

    Somewhere in my collection of travel photo’s I have a very rare collectors item that relates to this thread.I shall scan it and post it if I can find the time.

    Somewhere over Lake Nassar Egypt, our plane hit a small area of clear air turbulance. After a few minutes of slight shaking the Oxygen Masks dropped. Before anyone could react and start strapping them on the pilot anounced “do not use them, this is a minor mechanical problem with the oxygen mask release system, there is no danger.” this is when having my camera out to photograph Lake Nassar, allowed me to photgraph something I hope never to see again.

    Welcome to Air Egypt, Coffee Tea Softdrinks or Oxygen anyone?

  8. BarbaraFromCalifornia September 22, 2005 at 3:44 pm

    These incidents do in fact remind us of how fragile life is, and how it can hang by a thread. I posted on this very topic myself today, being consumed with all that is going on in the world.

    For me, I try not to live life in a could have, would have should have mode, because I will always come out on the loosing end.

    Be well.

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