I’ve had two very scary flights in my life and I’m adding them to the collection even thought I can’t win ‘cos I’m staff (I run the blog :) So, here’s the first of my two stories.
We were returning to Boston on United Airlines (from memory a 757) in the mid-90’s. It was coming up on winter and the weather was grey, windy and lots of rain. The pilot came on the PA to advise that due to weather, Boston Logan airport (our destination) was going to be closing. We were to be the last aircraft that would be allowed to attempt a landing and that the crew would give it their best shot to try and get everyone where they were going on this dark & stormy evening.
He also told us all to ensure we buckled up tight and stowed all loose gear because it was probably going to be a bit of a ride. Oh joy.
All cabin crew were strapped in, lights were off and window shades were open as we descended further into the soupy clouds. I had a window seat behind the wing on the right hand side and was watching the outside world as we descended.
The turbulence started to kick in as we got lower and then we broke through the overcast, coming in over the grey, seething waters of Massachusetts Bay. Now the thumps and rattles which had us all shaking about in our seats were “enhanced” by rocking & rolling as we got closer to the surface.
Looking out the window, I was seeing alternate dark grey sky and then very dark grey sea. The aircraft was rolling with the engines surging while the ailerons & spoilers were deflecting madly as the crew fought the variable & gusty winds down the approach path.
Soon we were over the inner harbour and I was starting to see some of the navigation equipment that’s anchored in the water. We were still having quite the roller coaster ride but it eased off as we got over the tarmac, although the crew were still working hard to keep us aligned.
Finally we thumped it onto the deck, the spoilers deployed and almost immediately the thrust reversers were applied. Through the rain on the window you could see the airport buildings and aircraft looking very windswept and miserable.
As we taxied off the runway, the lead flight attendant came on and in a slightly shaky voice said “Welcome to Boston, folks.” There was some laughter but it was mostly a quiet cabin as we all breathed a huge sigh of relief.
On the way off the plane I stopped to chat with the captain as he stood at the cockpit door (remember when they used to do that?). I congratulated him on the landing and said it was the hairiest ride I’d ever had. He agreed it was a pretty good one but noted that he was ex-US Navy, at which point we both agreed that night landings on a carrier are the most intense experience of all (I think there’s a joke about that, right? :)
Given this is my personal blog, I can share the joke with you:
The best things in a pilot’s life are a good landing, a good orgasm & a good shit. Night carrier landings are the only way you can experience all three at the same time :) :)