Monday, February 25, 2008

Flight into danger

I read a couple of news items today. In this one, an American Airlines flight attendant refused to provide oxygen to a passenger with a breathing problem. Later they relented and tried to administrer oxygen, but found the oxygen tank empty. The passenger eventually died mid flight!! In the other one, the co-pilot died mid flight(of natural causes)!!! Considering all the flying I do, my mind started imagining various scenarios..
After all those elaborate safety instructions, which you never listen to nowadays anyway, your flight takes off. Mid flight a window blows off and there is fall in pressure at 35000 ft. Promptly the yellow oxygen masks drop down. You remember the instructions and strap it on and.. breathe in.. nothing happens.. no oxygen!! Looks like somebody forgot to fill up the oxygen tanks.. you can't do anything about it at that point, I guess. Pretty hopeless situation.

Now this actually happened on my flight back home yesterday.. The airport in my hometown is a pretty small one, meaning there's not so much traffic.. It was mid afternoon and the plane was on the final descent. It was wobbling a lot more than it ususally does and my experience (looking out the window week after week on the same flight) told me something was not right. The plane was very close to the ground but had definitely overshot the runway! So the pilot aborted the landing and immediately lifted off to circle the airport.. A very shaky voice trying to sound calm, announced over the P.A System "This is the captain speaking. We haven't been cleared for landing yet. We will get you on the ground as soon as possible." I don't believe a word of it. Man, was it scary!! We eventually did make it down, safe and sound, on the next attempt. I looked around at the other faces around me. The frequent fliers did know the difference!!

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