Flying AA 1011. With Chop.

1 hour out from DFW (Dallas) on flight back to NY. 37,000 feet up.

Heavy chop. Heavy.

Seat belt alert pops up.

Cabin is quiet.

Pilot comes on the intercom: “Flight attendants, please take your seats.” Never a good sign.

I close the lid on my iPad. I note that others around me put down their gadgets.

Captain is back on the intercom: “Apologize folks. Bumpy ride here. I checked with air traffic control. Heavy turbulence in both directions, at all levels. We’re over Nashville. Expect this to clear in 8 minutes. Please take your seats.”

8 minutes. Not: We expect this to end soon. Or: We hope this ends soon. Or: We think it will end soon.

8 minutes. God, I Love technology.

I look up the aisle. Left wing drops and then right side counters to stabilize. Back, forth, up, down. Replay. Over and over. How does this Bird not blow apart in pieces? Why is your head going there? How is that line of thinking helpful at all?

Pilot takes the plane up. And accelerates. Plane groans as it grinds against the headwinds. Oh I agree Captain. Too rough here. Let’s get closer to God for help.

Gratitude surges, for living, and for life. Just get me home. I promise I’ll be better. At every thing. A bloody saint. I’ll be nice to Sawsan, and Dale and Kiki. Maybe even throw out a compliment or two and pretend like I mean it.

I grab the loose end of the seat belt and pull it snug around my belly. I’m short of breath. Could I be hyperventilating here? I need to lose 10 pounds. I clutch my iPad with both hands. Can’t possibly damage this device. Hitting another passenger does come to mind, secondary concern behind damage to the iPad.

We’re 10 minutes in. He said 8 minutes!

We’re 14 minutes in. Chop continues to be heavy. But he said 8 minutes!

Pilot does not come back on the intercom. He does not offer: “only a few more minutes folks.” It’s silent in the cabin. I let go of the arm rest with my right hand, still griping with my left. Middle Age + and still needing my soother, I start gnawing on my nails, what’s left of them. Does Captain get anxious and bite his nails? No chance he’s nervous. Routine flight, this is. Totally routine.

16 minutes. This giant bird, 150,000 pounds, has beak, wings, but no feathers. She settles in to glide. Ryōkan’s “crane softly floating among the clouds.”

Gadgets come out. The seat belt sign turns off. There’s a bull rush to the Toilet and a line, a need to Empty. I sit calmly watching. They were rattled. Not me. No need. Look at me paging through Ryōkan’s Haikus from the 1600’s. I got this. A Rock.

I’m dragging my luggage down the aisle to exit the plane. There are four passengers in front of me, each being greeted by the pilot. His hat, his wings on lapel, gray hair, white guy, shortish, full smile. He’s thanking everyone for flying American.

Thanking me? Really?

I approach him. I’m one passenger back.

I wasn’t sure whether I should drop my brief case, drop my luggage, grab him by the lapels and give the little man a full on Mano to Mano hug. And then a smooch on his forehead, in case he missed my appreciation the first time. Or not. Of course not.

I smiled, thanked him and walked down the jet bridge.

Lighter. Joyous. Alive.

I’m sure I had my moment. No doubt whatsover. I saw Him. He got us home. Me home. He seemed so Human.

And, yet I felt a wee bit of disappointment.

I fully expected one of God’s direct offspring to be taller.


Photo: via Newthom

Comments

  1. I, for one, am glad you made it safely!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Creado, Clint P says:

    Oh boy, Dave. Been there, too often. It’s only Devine intervention that gets the pilots to bring these birds back down. Hope you and the fam are well. Had lunch with Link a couple of weeks ago. Blessings. Clint

    Sent with BlackBerry Work (www.blackberry.com)

    From: [wordpress.com] Live & Learn <comment-reply@wordpress.com> Date: Tuesday, Apr 09, 2019, 5:36 PM To: Creado, Clint P [GCB-CCB] <cc95607@imcnam.ssmb.com> Subject: [New post] Flying AA 1011. With Chop.

    Live & Learn posted: ” 1 hour out from DFW (Dallas) on flight back to NY. 37,000 feet up. Heavy chop. Heavy. Seat belt alert pops up. Cabin is quiet. Pilot comes on the intercom: “Flight attendant please take your seats.” Never a good sign. I close the lid on my iPad. I “

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am glad that I have never had such experience in all the times I have flown

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful post. Your writing put me right there with you. Loved the end!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I could identify with wanting to give the pilot a hug. Glad you didn’t though. Haha. That would have been funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. OK… So. Now that you are safely on the ground (and I can HONESTLY say I am truly glad for it)… Imma focus on one little paragraph…(call me petty) ahem:

    “Gratitude surges, for living, and for life. Just get me home. I promise I’ll be better. At every thing. A bloody saint. I’ll be nice to Sawsan, and Dale and Kiki. Maybe even throw out a compliment or two and pretend like I mean it.”

    Imma let it slide, you being scared for your life and all that. All things considered, still luv ya.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. It’s a tough flight when the chop is both literal and metaphorical. Glad your inside synced up with the calmer flight, pal…😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. There is an App out at present called “WeCroak” it simply reminds us everyday that we are going to die by sending us quotes about death. Apparently in Bhutenese culture we must contemplate death 5 times a day to be happy. Clearly for you, facing death, conjured up feelings of gratefulness, promises of change, weight loss and kindness. You just proved it works Mr K ha! Now you need to follow up on all your great thoughts, or just get reminded again and again 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This will take more than a few fingering on my smartphone✒! Stay tuned my friend!👍🏻 I’ll be back on my computer later 💻
    But already, for now, a bunch of love, simply for coming back…. 💓

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Back with you, shaken and stirred high-flying traveller…. This was a horror story and I myself always was a very bad flyer in less then perfect conditions. Same with ships…. But I’m sure I never faced anything so bad and I feel with you. And I am truly thankful that you made it back to the soil in one piece.

    It’s good however to read that you wished to make amends with the shark trio we seemingly are (and which fits us so well)…. So be just very kind (and supremely boring) with us from now on or stay yourself and go right ahead with your continuous heckling 😉

    It’s quite interesting though that nobody dared giving a hug of thanks to the captain. Would that really be a no-no in the US? You Americans (and or two Canadians) usually are huggers, no?

    A stellar post in which I felt every detail of your terror-ridden flight, combined with an equally stellar photo. You get a 10+ for this (minus 4 pts for the heckling….)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. funny and amazing how our attitude changes immediately once we believe we are safe once more.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Could you guys (and girls mostly!) out there try to give me your sentiments re this, my question, as it really is of some importance to me:
    It’s quite interesting though that nobody dared giving a hug of thanks to the captain. Would that really be a no-no in the US? You Americans (and or two Canadians) usually are huggers, no?

    Liked by 3 people

  13. So glad you made it to your home safe!

    I’m sure it wasn’t funny up there but can’t stop laughing at this.
    Grateful for you just the way you are.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Delighted you’re back on the ground safely, pal. Masterful writing…I felt a little queasy while reading.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Ohhhhh so good!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. “Let’s get closer to God for help” … obviously, He did help! I’ve been on one or two flights like that myself over the many years of business travel. After your description of AA 1011, I think I would have hugged the captain, headed outside immediately, then dropped to my knees and kissed the terra firma. I do remember one flight when Brenda and I were going to Palm Springs for a winter holiday, the pilot tried to land the plane twice, and due to the heavy chop pulled up at the last minute both times. The wings were literally flapping like a seagull trying to make headway in a gale. After the second harrowing attempt, we diverted to LA and then the airline bused us into Palm Springs. I was NEVER so happy to see the solid ground as I was when we finally landed in LA, and never so happy to see a bus either! And to think some people were complaining that we had to ride the bus for a couple of hours to get to our final destination! The closer we got to Palm Springs, there were semis overturned on the highway. At least we arrived in one piece. Enjoyed your post Dave, and a great bit of heckling to your “shark trio!”

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Beautiful, masterful, your writing moves me.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Glad everyone is safe! Beautiful post – I was there with you while reading this post. And then, my Facebook wall shows this https://www.facebook.com/1557825057865287/posts/2285798661734586/
    What a coincidence.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. You are a funny, funny man. Glad it sharpened your senses. Now go home and love up your family. And the trees and flowers. And the sky. And the sunshine. Even the rain. We are lucky to be alive on Planet Earth. Good to remember that, always. God is alive in these sorts of mundane everyday details 😉 xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Great writing, David…and there is always something to make me laugh, like: “I fully expected one of God’s direct offspring to be taller.” Hey, who says you need to be tall to perform miracles? And, I can totally relate. I met a Facebook musician friend the other night (someone I only knew through Facebook)…and the first thing he said to me was, “You are taller on Facebook.” I get that a LOT because I’m barely over five feet tall…but guess I have a tall presence on Facebook. Sheesh. 🙂 Anyway, glad you made it home safely and thanks again for your words which always take us wherever you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Ohhhhhh noooooooo.

    I am a total weenie about turbulence and can take maybe 10 minutes of it, max, then I cry. Quietly. But I do and the hell with it. Here’s the only comfort and I hope it is….My NYT story about turbulence, written (very selfishly) to help me better understand it all and not FREAK OUT. My worst flight was 10 hrs, Taipei to SF, with flight attendants strapped into their seats for quite a while. UGH.

    I learned a LOT from deep reporting that I was not allowed to include (i.e. off the record/un-named sources) who were working pilots and FAs. I learned that there is a wide and deep network of support, weather and medical, on the ground helping pilots decide what to do next. That helped calm me a bit.

    NO airplane has gone down due to turbulence in more than 30 years and the planes are designed to withstand forces that do scare the shit out of us…

    Like you, I always keep my seatbelt VERY tightly buckled.

    Like

  22. Brilliant ❣️I hope I have the same humor and insight in when facing journey’s end. I’ve let go of my iPad now …. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  23. You had me. The whole time.

    Liked by 1 person

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