30. June 2005 20:20
The Boise trip wrapped up this morning with a final meeting and a mad dash to the airport to make the flight. I am not usually unnerved by flying, but this morning's flight was jinxed and I had a terrible feeling that our plane was destined to crash.
We were running late for the flight, and were debating on getting gas for the rental car or returning it and taking the $5/gallon hit for not filling it up. If we stopped to refill, we might miss our flight. As we passed the final gas station, still debating, our low-fuel indicator light blinked on at the very moment we passed the station. It was like a beacon trying to get us to pull over and get gas so that we'd miss our flight. Like a guardian angel that was a split second too late. (The rental agency charged $80 for the gas!)
We made it to the ticket counter and found out that our flight had been cancelled, but there was a flight leaving immediately that we could jump on. When we got to the gate we learned that there had been some fog in Seattle that had delayed the 6am flight for 5 hours, so those passengers and the passengers on the cancelled flight were all combined into a larger plane (still so small that we had to walk out on the tarmac to board) for the 1130 flight.
After we boarded, the pilot came over the intercom to tell us "the rest of the story." The plane that was supposed to have departed at 6am had just had some mechanical work done to it, but the mechanic forgot to sign off on it. They flew the mechanic from Seattle back to Boise to sign off on the work, but by that time the fog had settled in to Seattle. To complicate matters, the construction crew working on the new Seattle runway sliced a power line that ran the approach lights for the runway. No approach lights and some fog meant no flights coming into Seattle at all for a few hours. With all the back up on the beginning of what is supposed to be the busiest holiday travel weekend on record, there were piles of delays of planes trying to reach Seattle. The pilot then said we were going to take off, but if the weather went sour we were going to go to Yakima instead!
I was fine until we started speeding up down the runway, and then I had one of my psychic moments; I felt like the flight was doomed to crash. A few times in my life I have just known something was going to happen - like if my name is in a hat and someone draws it out, there has been two distinct times that I knew it was going to happen, and one of the times I even told the guy standing next to me so I do have some collaboration. This feeling was sorta like one of those times where I just knew something was going to happen.
We got off to a bumpy ascent as we plowed through the thermals rising off the desert plains. When we were a few minutes off the ground everything evened out, and the pilot reported the weather in Seattle was improving. By the time my Coke had arrived, I had forgotten all about my premonition. That is, until we started our descent.
We descended through a couple layers of clouds that bounced us around. By the time we were a few thousand feet off the ground the wind started whipping us around and the plane tilted back and forth like a see-saw. When we were about 50' off the ground, a gust of wind knocked us sideways and to the left; and I was sure the wing was going to clip, but we made it safely to the ground and the pilot taxied us to the tarmac. At that point, I remembered to say a little thank you prayer as I dried my palms on my dockers.
All I can say is it must take some nerves of steel to fly one of those birds day in and day out.
How was the business trip?? Well, it went smoothly, but it wasn't as interesting as the plane trip home!