Tragedy brings scary flight to mind


A Comment By Joe Lee III

   As the mystery of what happened to Malaysia Flight 370 continues to unfold, one can only speculate as to what really happened to the airplane and the persons aboard, as one can only speculate why the tragedy and the hunt has mesmerized readers and viewers across the world.
   Maybe we have such an interest simply because it is a baffling mystery.
   Maybe we have such an interest because many of us have flown, and, if we have flown frequently, probably have a scary tale to tell.
   I remember one such incident years ago when both of our children were young.
   We had gone to Colorado for a ski trip and were in Denver awaiting our return flight.
   Weather-wise it was a terrible day. Flights were being canceled. Others were being de-iced and de-iced again as they exceeded wait-times at the terminal while the tower searched for a weather window by which to leave Denver.
   Finally we were loaded onto a crowded plane. Due to cancellations and re-ticketing, the four of us were split into two pairs.
   Finally, after two or three additional de-icings, and other tarmac delays, we got off the ground and up to cruising altitude.
   We found out later that the airport was closed right after our plane took off.
   Things were fine.
   All of a sudden the big machine commenced a fast emergency dive. I was petrified. It seemed to last forever. I knew this was the end.
   It is funny what goes through one’s mind when faced with what looks like a terminal situation.
   All I could think about was our two kids.
   “I got on the plane of my own free will. It was my decision. These children are here because I put them here,” kept playing in my mind.
   The plane seemed to be going down faster and faster. It was buffeting and shaking. I was scared, but managed to reassure the terrified young daughter sitting beside me. I told here everything was fine. No problem. She trusted me. She was fine. I was a internal wreck.
   Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the plane leveled off.
   Shortly, the captain came on the intercom and explained that an alarm had gone off in the cockpit indicating loss of cabin pressure, and that rules required him to get to a lower, oxygen-rich altitude,  immediately when that happens.
   The alarm was apparently faulty. We had not lost cabin pressure, but I lost a few more hairs that day.
   I am not comparing our minor ordeal to the terrible tragedy in the Indian Ocean, I am just saying maybe there is so much interest in the disaster because those of us who fly are thinking “that could be me or one of my loved ones.”
   Pray for the victims, the searchers, and the families.

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