Falling Out of the Sky

For those of you who know me, you know that I get nervous about flying. I know it is a convenient way to travel since you can get there quick, not have to worry about driving, traffic, or all of the other idiots on the road, but it is the fact that many people survive car crashes and not so many plane crashes. That and I feel like I am not in control, which I am not.

So yesterday I get to fly from Greenville, NC (site of East Carolina University) back home after working a basketball game for CBS College Sports. First flight, I get nervous as I am leaving Greenville with a sports team on board – the Memphis men’s golf team. So I text my son and brother about the oddity. The flight ends up being OK, landing in Charlotte.

Then I have a 3 hour lay over in Charlotte. About an hour before the flight, I see the Marshall women’s basketball team walk in and sit down near where I am. Now I am terribly nervous as my thought processes start going a million miles a minute… flying back from ECU on a plane in a storm with a Marshall sports team. I know the likelihood of something like that happening is VERY VERY small, but I always think about the possibilities. Some call me an alarmist. Some call me a realist. Others call me ridiculous because I worry.

So before boarding, they start announcing that the flight is overbooked and they need 3 volunteers to come forward to give up their seats and that they will give them $275 in air miles and fly them home tomorrow, etc. No one budges so they said OK, we will see who gets left off, here’s how we are going to do it. They asked for all of their preferred travelers, etc. first, then the basketball team. Long story short, thank you Coach Chadwick for ensuring I got on to that flight.

So we board and the stewardess kept telling people to go to the back, back up, you have to leave your seats in the first couple of rows, etc. but are not explaining things. Finally they let others on and eventually board even those that they had originally asked to stay behind. The stewardess was a hoot… best ever. She admitted that the captain had a weight balancing issue with all of the baggage and people and that they had to move around luggage and had to shift people to ensure an even load because it was so full. She even said that originally the captain had asked to leave 6 people behind.

So we take off. Uneventful flight, all is normal, good weather until just outside of Charleston. When we were nearing the airport, I could see lightning in the distance and started to think, ah, no biggie, that storm is long gone. It was late so of course I couldn’t tell how hard it was raining, etc. but as we neared the runway, I could tell that it was barely raining but as he came down on to the runway, which of course, rises up out of nowhere, it was as if the fog just rolled in, thick. The surprise must have gotten the pilot’s attention as well as he brought the plane down on to the runway, hard, and fast. When I say hard, it was really hard, hardest landing ever. The stewardess even joked afterward and said told you all we were heavy… we may have just popped a tire back there. Glad she tried to take the pressure off of the situation. And then, as soon as we taxied in to the terminal, it started POURING. I kept praying the entire flight and immediately smiled, thanking over and over. It seemed surreal. Thought to myself immediately that the hard landing and being able to keep control of a speeding aircraft may have been different in a downpour.

Now I am left to wonder… was this landing or the one in Huntington a couple of years ago where the plane touched down, nearly tipped to one side before righting itself and then slamming the thrusters on that short little runway worse? Personally I didn’t like either one of them… no I didn’t. I don’t like falling out of the sky.

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