At one moment, listening to the drone of the engines and random chatter around me, I began reflecting on interesting flight experiences over the years. I'm sure I've been on well over 500 airplanes--so the law of large numbers means you are going to have a memorable experience every now and then. Here are a few I recall...
- On our way back from China, a 13-hour flight turned into a 17-hour flight when another passenger had a heart-attack and died. For some reason, keeping a dead man on board wasn't an option, so we made an emergency landing in Anchorage to drop off the carcass and continue the trip. (Note to Sarah Palin--I most definitely could not see Russia from there).
- My wife flew on a private jet with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and was returning to the South Bend airport. I went to pick her up and was standing in the FBO terminal as I watched the plane come in for a landing and then take-off again without touching down. It circled and did the same thing again--never touching down. As it circled a third time, all the airport firetrucks and rescue vehicles raced out of a building next to us and went to the end of the runway to wait. The third time the plane landed and then all the emergency vehicles rushed toward it. Yeah, I was scared. Evidently their indicator light was out and they had no way of knowing whether the wheels were down. I'm glad they were.
- A couple years ago some cops came on the plane as we were leaving. We asked around--evidently a couple was arrested for "doing it" on our flight a few rows behind us.
- Sometime in the late 90's I was flying with Mark Beeson. He reaches in his bag and pulls out a knife with at least a 6" blade. This isn't the kind you carry in your pocket, but more like the kind you pull out if you are being chased by a bear. He was so surprised he hadn't taken it out of his bag. I encouraged him to put it back and stop talking about it.
- In the Seattle airport, I didn't realize the seats in the terminal were the same color as a cup of hot chocolate--and were perfectly shaped to hold an entire 20 ounce cup. So I sat in it with my light blue jeans. I had no change of clothes and had to fly back to Indiana with a poop-colored stain covering my entire back-side and a smell that got worse as the day progressed.
- When Rob, Mark and I landed in Albania in 1999, I remember the stark view of burned-up airplanes, tank frames and abandoned turret stations along both sides of the runway.
- Jim Belushi was on our flight to Mexico one year. He stood around the baggage claim telling stories to everyone who would listen.
- A few weeks after 9/11 -- Tony and I were on a flight returning to Chicago. There was an Arab man (wearing a turban) who was sitting in the terminal with us. When we were all boarding, he didn't follow us. He was intently reading a book. He finally got up to board after everyone was in line and I saw the book he was reading: "Pilot Operators Manual." I was freaked. He got on the plane and sat in the row behind us. I called Beeson and said, "Just in case this plane goes down, here's what just happened..." He was just getting ready to preach on a Saturday night. Evidently I threw off his concentration. We landed without incident, but I called the FBI and reported it.
I realize this post adds absolutely no value to you. But thanks for giving me a minute to reminisce.