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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Matt Hickey's "Holy Shit!" Account of an Emergency Landing

Posted by on Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Responding to yesterday's post about the emergency landing of a test 787, Slog tipper—and contributor—Matt Hickey tells his recent tale of airborne peril:

That new Boeing thing is kinda scary, but I myself was in an emergency landing over the weekend. AirTran flight 619 from New Orleans to Milwaukee. I'd just dozed off when a man's voice came over the intercom: "Everyone, we're going to come collect all your beverages right now. We need you to put your seats up and close your trays immediately. Some of you can probably smell the smoke, we're going to make a rapid decent to Memphis where we'll be making an emergency landing."

More from Hickey after the jump.

To my surprise, there wasn't much panic on the half-full flight, with the exception of the poor girl sitting right behind me who completely lost her shit. She was hyperventilating, crying, and screaming.

Anyway, then everyone's ears popped and the guy mentioned that we'd lost cabin pressure. Then the cabin lights went out. He got on the intercom again and said, "We've blown a fuse, which is what you're smelling. It's having an effect on the other fuses in this box right here, which is why we lost cabin pressure. We're descending to 10,000 feet and will be landing in just a few moments. Don't worry, everything should be fine, we just want to be more safe than sorry."

Then the intercom went dead. No air pressure, no lights. That's when I started getting scared.

The man sitting next to the panicking girl came up to sit in my empty row. "First time?" I asked. "Yup, but I trust them," he said. Then I started reading my Esquire. I mean, what else could I do? Freaking out doesn't do anyone any good. We started talking about iPads.

We had a bumpy-but-fast landing at Memphis. Fire trucks raced alongside the plane, which was kind of exciting. We were all off the plane in about two minutes. They made sure we grabbed our stuff.

Then we waiting. Most of the people were put on another plane to Milwaukee. I was the only person going to Seattle, so they had to put me up for the night at the glamorous Raddison (Sleep Number Beds!) and fly me home the next day. I got in Sunday afternoon in time to watch the Seahawks get slaughtered.


Comments (16) RSS

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Posted by Eric Grandy on November 10, 2010 at 4:31 PM · Report this
Josh Bis 2
pretty sure he posted this from his iPAD in flight.
Posted by Josh Bis on November 10, 2010 at 4:45 PM · Report this
Fnarf 3
I've been on a flight sort of like that, a long time ago. Cabin lights went out, and they couldn't lower the landing gear, so the entire crew popped open a hatch in the middle of the floor, climbed down a ladder, and cranked the sonsabitches down by hand (there's a crank just for this). Much wimpering and light sobbing among the passengers, and I especially remember the fire trucks racing alongside too. We were fine. I think I was too fascinated by all the technical details to ever get scared until later.
Posted by Fnarf on November 10, 2010 at 4:49 PM · Report this
Fifty-Two-Eighty 4
I've had two flights that were hairier - but that definitely qualifies.
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on November 10, 2010 at 4:49 PM · Report this
lol livejournal story on slog
Posted by get a diary on November 10, 2010 at 4:56 PM · Report this
Joe M 6
Did you overhear anyone say "Pardon me stewardess, I speak jive"?
Posted by Joe M on November 10, 2010 at 5:00 PM · Report this
rob! 7
But did he get to use the emergency slides?
Posted by rob! on November 10, 2010 at 5:08 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 8
Personally, I like it when turbulence hits when you're about to join the Mile High Club.

He should use an electric yellow slide guitar when exiting.
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 10, 2010 at 5:17 PM · Report this
Enigma 9
I'm impressed you held yourself together, Hickey. I'm pretty sure I would have freaked out like the poor girl behind you.
Posted by Enigma on November 10, 2010 at 5:18 PM · Report this
Canuck 10
"Then I started reading my Esquire. I mean, what else could I do? "

Best line ever!...I totally want to sit next to you during an emergency landing. Reminds me of the "Unwilling Companion" of Martha Gellhorn (who I think was Ernest Hemingway) in Travels with Myself and Another, where he is staring at the ceiling of the plane as it's crash/diving, holding his drink cup: "I didn't lose a drop," he said. "The gin shot out of my Lily Cup and I watched it and caught it after it hit the roof. Not a single drop."
Posted by Canuck on November 10, 2010 at 5:23 PM · Report this
Julie in Eugene 11
Pretty sure I've related this story on Slog before, but it's a favorite of mine. The plane I'm on levels off soon after take-off (much too soon), captain says we're losing hydraulic fluid, need to turn right back around and land. I was sitting next to a friend of mine, who was dead asleep.... had to decide whether I should wake him up and tell him or just let him sleep. I feel like I made the right choice by not waking him up, but it was a little awkward when he woke up as we we're landing and was like "are we in LA already? Why are there all those fire trucks & ambulances out there?". Uh...

So, I like to ask people whether they'd want to be woken up in that situation. I would, but many people wouldn't...
Posted by Julie in Eugene on November 10, 2010 at 5:34 PM · Report this
Um, if I were about to die in a plane crash or maybe die in a plane crash I sure as hell wouldn't be letting them take my DRINK of all things.

Posted by durrr on November 10, 2010 at 6:03 PM · Report this
Thank you #3 for clarifying something that happened to me. I had a flight going into Abq. where we were told that they couldn't tell whether the landing gear were in place or not. Before the announcement I kept seeing crew go to the middle of the air craft and get down on the floor, but couldn't see what they were doing. I figured there must have been a way to look down at the landing gear - didn't know they could climb down there and do it manually.

Anyway, I knew something wasn't right because they kept coming back to the same spot. In the mean time the flight from Denver to Abq kept on going as if we were going to El Paso, then we turned and flew north again, way past Abq, then back south, then turned toward Arizona, then back. Finally they told us what was up. Got us in the crash position. The older hispanic woman next to me crossed herself over and over. I was at the stage in my life where I had given up catholicism and said I was agnostic. As we went to land I thought what a great test - and resolved that I would not pray, that there was no after life.

We landed fine, everyone started clapping, laughing then crying. Firetrucks rushed up, which at that point kind of freaked me out more than anything. Because they still weren't sure the landing gear was locked in place we had to stay there until mechanics could come look. It was at this point when the mid 20y.o. guy in front of me (travelling with his girlfriend) starting puking...

A memorable flight. It started from Seattle and I showed up to the airport and all of the America West flights were cancelled for some reason. Got bumped to Frontier. It was a very chaotic day.
Posted by jaysea on November 10, 2010 at 6:28 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 14
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on November 10, 2010 at 7:02 PM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 15
The only experience I've had that came close was when my plane ran out of gas while waiting to land at O'Hare. They landed us in a military base nearby for refuelling and made an announcement that if anyone were to leave the plane we would be immediately treated as terrorists and shot. This was before 9/11, so I wasn't yet used to airlines thinking of us as potential terrorists. The plane door wasn't opened, so I'm not sure how they expected us to leave, anyhow.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on November 11, 2010 at 12:58 PM · Report this

Not only do trains not have to turn around and land in Memphis, but they also wont be grope-searching you or X-raying you until you glow in the process. Plus, if you save your Amtrak miles, you can get cross-country sleeper car trips. Dinner in the diner, nothing could be finer.
Posted by amtrak crescent on November 11, 2010 at 1:28 PM · Report this

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