On the wings of a prayer

Clearly a self service airport

Friends of ours took off for the US yesterday for a relaxing holiday. Their blog entry this morning reminded me why, when it comes to flying, if given a choice, I always choose to stay home.

It was supposed to be a 13 hour flight, but before they’d even taxied to the runway they spent a fair bit of time sitting on the tarmac while the ground staff tried to work out what was wrong with the fuel gauge. Turns out the problem wasn’t so much the fuel gauge as the lack of fuel – seemed there was enough in the tanks to get them started but, once over the Pacific, there would have been a very real chance they’d get to experience a genuine Amercian ‘Hudson River’ style landing.

Not that this story surprises me – I have heard so many dodgy flying stories over the years, it’s a wonder anyone gets anywhere alive.

Another friend of mine had an incident when she trotted off to Indonesia for some R & R. On landing, one of the wings hit the ground and decided this indignity was the last straw, it was giving up the air industry entirely, and promptly left the plane. Some time after the passengers and crew had crawled from the wreckage, my friend rang her husband and told him her plane had crashed on landing.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” he told her. “Someone would have called.”

“I’m calling you, you stupid man!” she snapped at him. Turns out the trip was a bit of a failure at helping her to unwind, although she did discover a passionate devotion to strong cocktails which continues to this day.

Even my wife has near miss air travel story. When Tracey went off to Europe with a friend for a bit of fun their flight was taxiing out to the runway when Tracey called a stewardess over.

“Is that door supposed to be shut?” She pointed to an obviously ajar door and a crack through which the moving tarmac was visible. “Would you mind if they closed it? It’s winter in England and it might get chilly with a draft.” They also got to sit for a while on the tarmac while the maintenance people tried to get it closed and think of a good reason why no one noticed it.

So today, after 15 hours (two hours waiting for ground techs to fix the ‘fuel gauge’ issue and thirteen in the air) involving broken screens, seats and head rests our friends finally touched down in LAX and began taxiing to the terminal.

“Made it!” they thought prematurely. Suddenly everything shut down – all the lights, air conditioning, everything. Silence.

“Oh, well, it seems we’ve had a complete shutdown of the electrical system,” said the attendant. “I’ll…er…we’ll just crank that over and get it back up again for you.”

So guys, how’s things over there in the US of A? You feeling that relaxed holiday vibe yet?

What do you think?

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