Flight Delayed

Flight Delayed

A Story by michael x moore
"

Albeit much is fact-based, the actual flight is fictionalised. I wrote it in the departure lounge at the Grand Bahama airport, waiting for my flight to arrive.

"

It was supposed to have been easy �" real easy.

 

Same as it’s been about a dozen times previously…..on a flight out of Montreal to

Ft. Lauderdale �" hang around a bit, then connect on a flight to Freeport, Grand Bahama.

 

Why Freeport?  Well, I have these great friends/clients �" we go back about 30 years….. Del & Bill. Designed their beach house �" 30 miles outside of Freeport �" about 10 years ago. It really is, special. No �" it’s a whole lot special……

 

I think the first time I did this run was in 1982 or so…….and when I was employed by Royal Caribbean a few years back, I was in and out of Ft Lauderdale �" Freeport on a weekly basis for a spell.

 

And it is �" usually easy. Little puddle jumper aircraft �" 30 minutes from lift-off to touchdown. Simple.

 

Except this time it wasn’t. This time was different……the first part was easy. Arrived FLL at about 1:00 PM on Sunday �" texted my buddy Ryan who, with his wife Brenda, picked me up. We went for a fabulous lunch at My Big Fat Greek Restaurant on Griffin Rd just east of the airport.

 

Had a great afternoon �" great food, really nice staff……you gotta try it if you’re ever in the area.

 

They dropped me back at the airport at 4:00 PM for my 7:00 o’ clock flight. All easy.

 

So, we did board on time �" one of those little twin prop jobs, one seat on each side of the aisle…..and we taxied out of the gate at about the right time. This aircraft had two sliding doors between the flight deck and the passenger area,  that closed in the middle �" but the latch wasn’t working, so, as we would take a turn on the runway, a door would slide back….and as there was no flight attendant, the co-pilot had to reach behind him and try to yank the door closed again. How about that for cockpit security?

 

As I was in the second row, whenever the door slid open I had a direct view into the cockpit. To me, just a confusing jumble of dials and toggle switches.

 

So �" we idled at the end of the runway awaiting tower instructions to turn into the take-off lane.

 

The thrumming of the engines, combined with the heat, the big lunch, was making me very sleepy. I would doze off �" jerk awake, only to find that maybe a minute had passed.

 

I suppose the next time I dozed off, a greater time had passed, because next thing I know, we’re airborne at cruising altitude. As I looked at my watch I could see we were probably about 75% to our destination. It was about 7:25 �" not quite dark, but getting there……

 

As I rested my head against the window, still half asleep, I could see through to the cockpit. I could see the co-pilot gesticulating rather emphatically, pointing to a couple of gauges and one of the switchbanks overhead.

 

Of course, with the drone of the engines I couldn’t hear anything. And, I was really only halfways aware of it all.

 

Must have dozed again for a moment and was brought wide awake by a loud crack just near my head….against the side of the fuselage. I jumped, alert �" my glance caught a sight of the co-pilot wrestling the yoke to port…..I looked at the window. The outside was covered in a bloody smear.

 

‘What the hell is going on?’, I remember yelling.

 

The plane lurched to port �" to the left, the nose swung down at a steep angle. I grabbed the side of the armrest. The woman across the aisle from me was shrieking. I could hear shouting back and forth from the cockpit.

 

I looked again quickly at the bloody mess smeared across my window, and almost threw up. An eyeball was dead center, in a pile of slick blood and tissue, the strings of muscle or whatever, streaming back along the glass.

 

My brain knew it was an eyeball……my brain realized that it probably wasn’t human.

But was, sure ugly and messy. A couple of whitish feathers slid across the glass and I realised that we must have hit a bird of some kind. The propeller, just beyond, was stuttering….would return to smooth rotation, then would kindof stop/stall.

 

The nose of the aircraft was following a corkscrew, downwards to the left. The angle felt impossible! Everyone behind and around me was shouting.  A baby was screaming somewhere. The doors to the cockpit were banging closed and sliding open.

 

Everyone was freaked.

 

A voice came over the intercom.

 

‘Please try to remain calm. We’ve had a mid-air incident �" involved some birds. They hit the propellers of the port engine. We’re doing our best to correct the situation. Keep your seatbelts on, and hold tight. We may have to ditch. If we do we are only about a mile offshore, and we should be fine.’

 

‘S**t!’, my brain said. You always half-listen to all those pre-flight instructions �" the ones about flotation devices, and tubes, and blowing and sucking �" all that crap. And you never really hear it. 

 

We all kindof calmed down a little…….the pilot corrected the crazy corkscrew turn of the plane, and we started to level off again. But it was fairly dark now. Could not see how close or far away from the water we were.

 

The plane started to turn right �" to starboard. Then I could see quite clearly �" the port engine stopped. And smoke started to drift out of the housing.

 

As the doors slid back and forth it was apparent, that although the flight crew wasn’t panicked, there was a lot of desperate wrestling with the controls going on.

 

The plane started again to level off, but seemed to be dropping rapidly.

 

Then with a bang as we hit!

 

The seatbelt prevented me from whacking my head against the overhead.

My breath exploded out of my body. Someone �" or two or three �" or everyone, started to scream, to cry, to swear. I’m sure I was doing my share.

 

The plane bounced �" seemed to be airborne once again, then the nose tilted down, sickeningly, like in a roller coaster drop, and it must have dug into a wave because then everything went crazy �" really crazy.

 

The body slewed to the right….I felt, weirdly as if we were a stone, skipping across the water. Just like when I was a little kid and we’d throw flat stones against the waves of the lake and see whose could take the most number of skips.

 

It was dizzying, sickening because everything was now a blur as we spun wildly.

 

Then we hit something �" had no idea what it was. Someone later said they thought it might have been an abandoned pier pipe sticking out of the water.

 

We hit it on the right side, which was lucky for me as I was on the opposite side.

Not so lucky, as it turns out, for the poor woman sitting across the aisle from me.

The plane bounced back….there was a terrible crumpling sound. The engines stopped. There was, for a second �" maybe only three or four,  silence.

 

Then I was aware of the pilot, or the co-pilot, stumbling out of the cockpit, blood streaming down his face. A large gash was bleeding badly. He struggled to hold himself upright, and as he did so, he yelled out, ‘Everyone �" get out of your seatbelts �" grab the seat cushions �" move forward to exit here at the front. Try to be calm about this �" it seems worse than it is. Help is on the way.’

 

There was panicked movement all about me. I thought about my laptop and camera in the overhead bin. Did I dare to try to grab it? Didn’t matter �" I couldn’t get out of my seat. The pilot was blocking the aisle trying to un-fasten the seat belt of the lady across from me, who was, at the very least, unconscious.

 

We always hear, on TV, or in movies, ‘Don’t panic!’ Have you ever panicked?  And, what is panic? Is it the burst of sweat over your heart and on your forehead as you realize, ‘This is serious…..I gotta get outta here!’ Whatever it is, I had it…….the co-pilot had come to help the pilot……they struggled to un-latch the seat belt.

Meanwhile the passengers had nowhere to go…..they were backed up in the narrow aisleway, pushing and shoving. I couldn’t move. I was completely blocked in.

 

Mostly all you heard was the slap of the waves against the fuselage between the yells, screams and curses of all onboard.

 

Finally, with a resounding click, they un-did the belt. One lifted her out of the seat �" the other grabbed her under her arms and they struggled to move towards the doorway.  Water was now lapping about our feet, as the plane was settling.

As soon as they managed to get her body by my seat I attempted to stand up but was hit by someone �" someone very big, and dazedly I fell back against the fuselage.

My head was spinning, I tasted blood in my mouth. I was vaguely aware of pushing and shoving in the aisleway as the dozen or so passengers fought and struggled towards the entrance. Dimly I thought everyone had passed, and I tried to pull myself upright, but as soon as I got almost to a standing position, everything changed. The plane lurched, as a wing was swamped by a wave, and I fell back hitting my head. It was the last thing I remembered as everything got fuzzy black.

 

As I slipped into unconsciousness, I do remember, vaguely hearing another scream of panic….I’m not sure but It sounded like, ‘OhMiGod! What was that? Is that a shark? Help!!!’

 

•          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •          •

 

The coolness of  a soft breeze was washing over me. A sensation of cool, crisp sheets against my skin was a comforting feeling as soft light began to nudge me into consciousness.  It might have been that I was wrapped in a cassock, ready to meet the Maker…….what it was was clean white cotton fitted against my body, snugly.

 

My eyelids fluttered….my breath caught. I must have made a sound for suddenly both my hands were grasped by others. One, soft and comforting �" the other rough and strong.

 

‘Michael. Michael. Can you hear?  Hello?’

 

It was like a long distance telephone call, fading in/out. My head was woozy, mouth was dry, eyes gritty as I tried to open and focus.

‘Hey Buddy!’, a deeper voice resonated. ‘You in there? You okay?’

 

‘Nurse is coming……try to relax �" you’re safe…you’re okay.’

 

After a moment or two of washing dizziness, another voice chimed in.

‘Mr. Moore �" you’re okay. You’re in Freeport Clinic, and in good hands. Dr. Miller will be in shortly to see you. Do you want water? Here �" take a sip �" not too much now…..’

And gentle hands raised my head so I could manipulate the straw in my mouth. Nothing ever tasted so good……cool, clear water washing over my tongue, through my mouth, back to the deep back of my throat.

 

I think I drifted off once again, for next thing I remember was actually waking up �" like after a long night’s sleep. But to darkness and stillness. My eyes popped open �" and scanned the ceiling. A gentle light framed the space beyond the bed. I didn’t move for many moments as I recalled those last minutes of panic in the aircraft.

 

‘I’m alive….I’m alive, at least’, I said to myself. ‘I guess the rest can only be okay.’

 

I turned my head to the left, and the movement must have woken her, because next I heard was, ‘Michael….it’s Del. You’re back �" you’re okay. Do you want more water? I need to call the nurse. Just don’t move �" everything is going to be fine. I’ll be right back’

 

Well, some days have passed �" not many, but it’s remarkable how one can recover from such horrendous events so quickly.

 

As various people spoke with me, clued me in, the story became clearer. Yes �" the plane crashed �" a freak accident. Happens, so I’m told. And I know that to be true.

 

Yes �" there was pain and suffering �" but no loss of life. The lady across the aisle from me actually brought me tea and cookies a day or so later. She’s okay �" at least physically. The flight crew have been celebrated for their coolness and bravery……even my laptop and camera were recovered as the plane didn’t actually sink.

 

Seems the collision with the birds caused a mechanical mal-function in engine one…..but the pilot and co-pilot were remarkable in the way they handled the forced landing �" and in the way they shepherded the passengers to safety.

 

I actually asked about the sharks �" and yes �" there were sharks in the waters thereabouts. But, apparently they are predominantly nurse sharks �" a fairly benign  type of shark. But, I was also told, there is always a couple of hammerhead sightings in that area every summer.

 

So �" I’m recovering now. I will spend the rest of the week at Bill & Del’s �" in the villa adjacent to their beachhouse. It is lovely and tranquil �" with a 40 foot long screened porch overlooking the Caribbean. And I may even end up finishing the job �" the project �" which they brought me here for in the first place.

 

I suppose, quite simply, the lesson learned is, don’t ever take things for granted. Life can change in the blink of an eye.

 

My post is late this week �" hopefully you will all be understanding as to the reasons why…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

The foregoing is a work of fiction…….I apologise for missing my Monday blog  post deadline. Fact is, I am in the Caribbean now �" I am in fact working with my old friends and clients �" and I do have many pix and interesting design info to pass on to you in next Monday’s post.

 

 

 

 

© 2013 michael x moore


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michael x moore
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Added on January 25, 2013
Last Updated on January 25, 2013
Tags: flight, plane crash, sharks, seagulls, pilots, fright

Author

michael x moore
michael x moore

Ile Perrot, Canada



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1sT:: professional interior designer [35+ years experience] - 2nD:: - certified Graphic Designer (www.rgdontaio.com) 3rD:: - teacher/instructor/tour guide - part-time, 20+ years at college level -.. more..

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