As one who travels by air only when it is absolutely necessary (once annually to Turkey is about all I can justify), I am drawn to stories of airline near misses, accidents, crashes, explosions, emergency landings, and the resulting injuries and death. My friends have heard me liken an airplane to a flying aluminum casket, or heard me say (to paraphrase Charles Grodin from the movie Midnight Run) "it can't go up, it has no business being up there". Once, during an approach to JFK in a THY Airbus, we were banking very sharply directly over either Giants Stadium or Yankee Stadium- I don't remember which- when suddenly we hit an air pocket and dropped what felt like at least 50-100 meters in a matter of seconds. I saw my life flash before my eyes, and had a white knuckle death grip on the armrests. Every baby and child on board was crying. On another flight from Chicago to Dallas (or vice versa) we had non-stop turbulence for 1-1/2 hours. From my window seat, I watched the wings of the plane, which literally were flapping like the wings of a bird. Every passenger's face was white like chaulk... I prayed silently and repented for every bad thing I'd ever done, during that flight, as I waited for the inevitability of a wing breaking off. Lately, airline disasters and other events are quite prevalent. Here's a brief round-up of some recent airplane news:
Thursday, December 8, 2005 CHICAGO, Illinois (CNN) -- A Southwest Airlines jet slid off the runway during a driving snowstorm at Chicago's Midway Airport and slid into at least one vehicle at a nearby intersection on Thursday night, a spokeswoman for Chicago's Department of Aviation said. Flight 1248, which was arriving from Baltimore, Maryland, slid through a fence separating the runway from the intersection, spokeswoman Wendy Abrams said.
Iranian photojournalist Mehdy Ghasemy mourns as he attends the funeral ceremony for the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) photographer Mohammadhasan Gharib in Tehran December 7, 2005. Angry and distraught relatives of more than 100 people killed in Iran's worst air disaster for three years complained bitterly on Wednesday that officials had known in advance that the crashed plane was not safe to fly.
07 Dec 2005 REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl
Sat Nov 26, 2005 NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) - A twin-engine plane carrying President George W. Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, made an emergency landing in Nashville on Saturday when smoke was detected in the cockpit, officials said.
No one was injured when the Gulfstream 4 heading from Texas to Washington with Card and 12 others aboard landed, Nashville Airport spokeswoman Lynne Lowrance said.
SOFIA, Nov 25, 2005 (Reuters) - An Alitalia flight with 146 people on board made an emergency landing in the Bulgarian capital on Friday after pilots reported problems with one of the plane's engines, Bulgaria's Transport Ministry said.
The Boeing 767, which was flying from Dubai to Italy, landed safely at Sofia airport, ministry spokeswoman Vera Deianova said. She said all passengers and crew were safe
Mon Nov 21, 2005 PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - A Nike Inc. Gulfstream corporate jet with faulty landing gear was circling over Portland on Monday to burn off fuel before attempting a landing, aviation officials said. The twin-engined Gulfstream V jet is a 19-passenger, high-end aircraft sold mainly to wealthy travelers and corporate executives. The plane's right-wing landing gear was stuck in its bay, while the left-side gear and nose gear were extended.
Sept. 22, 2005 LOS ANGELES - Emergency landing televised on JetBlue flight- Passengers watched their terrifying drama live via satellite. The airliner circled Southern California for hours, crippled by a faulty landing gear, while inside its cabin 140 passengers watched their own life-and-death drama unfolding on live television. While satellite TV sets aboard JetBlue Flight 292 were tuned to news broadcasts, some passengers cried. Others tried to telephone relatives and one woman sent a text message to her mother in Florida attempting to comfort her in the event she died.
11 November 2005 TEPYE SHAHEEDAN, Afghanistan (Reuters) - The crew of a Russian-made Ilyushin IL-76 cargo plane were feared dead after the aircraft plunged into a mountain near the Afghan capital Kabul on Friday, officials said.
Hours after the crash, a Taliban commander telephoned Reuters saying the Islamist rebels had shot down the plane, but Western military officials said the cause of crash was unknown. Taliban claims of responsibility are often not borne out.
Sun, Dec. 05, 2004 NORTH MIAMI BEACH - A cargo plane pilot whose engine failed Saturday morning on a run to the Bahamas deftly landed his craft on a lake here, avoiding
nearby trees, power lines, high-rise condominiums and marinas packed with
boats. Alejandro Bristol, 28, brought the plane down belly first in the middle of a
lake next to Biscayne Boulevard. With the grace of a baseball player sliding into home plate, the Convair 340 skipped across the water from the west to the east for approximately 300
yards. Bristol landed right between sailboats that were docked to the north
and the south.
(CBS/AP) MIAMI, Dec. 8, 2005 The air marshals who shot and killed an agitated passenger handled the situation exactly right, say officials and security experts. Rigoberto Alpizar ran down the aisle of an American Airlines Boeing 757 that had landed in Miami, claiming to have a bomb in his backpack. Once out on the jetway connecting the plane to the terminal, he ignored the marshals' orders and reached into his backpack. "There were like four or five shots and then everybody hit the deck," Flight 924 passenger Mary Gardner said Thursday on CBS News' The Early Show. "That's when everybody started praying I think. It was scary."
Here's a site which should interest those of you who want to learn about every aircraft disaster ever: http://www.airdisaster.com/
Tomorrow we must drive through a blizzard from Providence to New York. My mother in law is returning to Turkey after a six month visit with us. My father is on a flight from JFK to Istanbul as I type these words...