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“I Thought We Were About to Die.”

He’s already plotted his flight, and when I talked to him about an hour ago, Michael told me he and Mel will leave around 10:00 in the morning, and will fly to Hesperia, CA. That will be the longest trip he has flown as a solo pilot. The weather is supposed to be good and he sounded confident.

Having just had that conversation, this little news blip caught my eye a few minutes ago. Now although I am a calm flier, if I had been on the plane noted here, I too would have experienced great apprehension.

An injured passenger is transported to hospital from Calgary International Airport on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008. (Larry MacDougal / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

An injured passenger is transported to hospital from Calgary International Airport on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008. (Larry MacDougal / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

CTV.ca News Staff

Passengers on an Air Canada flight from Victoria to Toronto Thursday say they thought they were “about to die” when their plane suddenly jolted and shook uncontrollably in midflight.

Ten people were injured when the Airbus A319 they were on jerked from side to side and even plunged from its cruising altitude over the Rocky Mountains. The pilot was able to get control after about 10 or 15 seconds, but passengers say they had the scare of a lifetime.

The complete article is here.

I think I’ve talked about it before, but I don’t believe I have ever been in a plane that developed serious problems in the air…at least I didn’t know about it, if it did. I’m thankful.

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My devotional blog is here.

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Asleep At the Controls

Shafts of Light Near Las Vegas, originally uploaded by Shirley Buxton.

My favorite part of flying is the takeoff, and it goes from that to the leveling out segment, and then the landing. I love to fly and am not nervous about it at all. But when I read this report of commercial pilots being sound asleep as they approached Denver in an Airbus jet, inwardly I yelped. What? How could this be?

A pair of commercial pilots fell asleep in the cockpit on their way to Denver in 2004 and sped toward the airport at twice the speed allowed, according to an anonymous report by the captain on a federal safety Web site.The unnamed pilot of the “red eye” flight said he woke up to frantic calls from air traffic controllers and landed without a problem.

(I snapped this picture recently on my return trip from Portland. I believe we were ready to land at Sacramento here.)

The ASRS self-reporting site reveals details of the harrowing near disaster.

A commercial pilot had recently switched schedules to flying three “red eyes” in a row between Denver and Baltimore with only one hour in between flights. On March 4, 2004, during the third late-night flight, the pilot and his first officer were approaching Denver in an A319 Airbus jet — about the size of a Boeing 737 — and they were fast asleep.

“LAST 45 MINS OF FLT I FELL ASLEEP AND SO DID THE FO,” or first officer, a one-paragraph report in a NASA-run public reporting system says.

“MISSED ALL CALLS FROM ATC (air-traffic controller),” the report continues, saying that the plane was supposed to be traveling at less than 290 mph, but they were moving at a clip of about 590 mph.

“I WOKE UP, WHY I DON’T KNOW, AND HEARD FRANTIC CALLS FROM ATC. … I ANSWERED ATC AND ABIDED BY ALL INSTRUCTIONS TO GET DOWN. WOKE FO UP,” the report says, adding that he then followed all the controller’s instructions, “AND LANDED WITH NO FURTHER INCIDENTS.”

Unbelievable, I say. Makes me slightly less confidence about boarding those beautiful birds and plunging into the sky.

(Approaching Las Vegas on Southwest Airlines plane.)

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My devotional blog is here.