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FF Sparks (Casual)

Plane crash...

Okay. Since it comes up every so often, and electricsoup and technoshaman and others have all asked about this on various occasions, I bring you...

The Story of Sparks and the Plane Crash

I was in jr. high, going to Japan as an exchange student. We were flying from Seattle to LAX, and from LAX to Narita. We got our Seattle to LAX leg of the trip done just fine; we were getting on the plane in LAX at about 9:00am or so. Plane taxis out to the runway just fine... and suddenly stops.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot speaking. I don't want to alarm you, but...all the warning lights just went on here in the cockpit, so we're going to taxi back to the terminal and let them check over the plane just to be safe. We apologize for the delay."

So, we taxi back. We sit there for about two hours while they check over the plane. The captain tells us they assured him it was just an electrical fault, which had now been fixed. Finally, we start out onto the runway again... and again, we stop.

"Alright, folks...all the warning lights are still on, so we're going to go back and let them take a look again."

This time, they unload us back into the terminal so we have restaurants to go to for lunch and whatnot. Finally, about five hours later, they let us back onto the plane. They've gone over it with a fine-toothed comb, we're told, and nothing's wrong with it. We start down the runway...and stop!

"Well, folks, this is the pilot again. The warning lights are still on, but they assure me that there's nothing wrong with the plane. We're already running really late, I know, so we're going to just try anyway. Third time's the charm, right?"

So we all are a bit nervous, as the pilot brings us around for another run. We go down the runway, take off, get maybe 100 feet in the air...and the engines die. Plane falls, pilot swerves to keep us on the tarmac. Everyone's badly shaken up, but no one is actually hurt beyond bruises. We all stay at the LAX Hilton courtesy of the airline, and abuse the little charge-cards they gave us for the hotel restaurant, by buying meals for anyone who walked past by letting them put it on our cards. (The next morning, they confiscated the cards and gave us cold cereal at the terminal...I guess they were a bit cross with us doing things like ordering 20 of the really expensive steaks.)

We made it to Narita fine that time, but ever since then I've been reaaaally nervous about takeoffs, and when the plane is actually taking off I tense up a lot.


youch. understandable.

takeoff always was my least favorite part of the flight. when i flew. :)

Bad PILOT! no donut!

This is the kind of idiocy that gets people killed. In fact, in aviation we have a name for it. Get-there-itis.

After the second time with the warning lights, as the captain I would have demanded a new airplane. Particularly on a long-ass flight like that. Umpteen hours over the trackless Pacific with a gimpy engine and 200 souls in back is NOT where you want to be. Don't go near there! Hell's bells, when Jen and I flew to Cali to get married, and the aging L-1011 broke AGAIN (Delta can't keep their birds fixed, but that's another rant), they promptly yanked it and called in a fairly new B-767... sure, we were an hour late, but they had already made the call before we even checked in. As a crew chief, I would have promptly fired and blackballed the pilot; as a passenger, I would've steered well clear of that airline for a while...

As for takeoffs in general: yes, as safe as aviation is (and my father and I flew little planes all over the southeast from the time I was six weeks old until I left home for good, so I'm fairly steeped in the subject) (No, he did all the flying until I was four or five... and I did all the flying after about 11 or 12 :) takeoffs are the most dangerous part... you will always see me in Condition Orange during a takeoff despite the fact that 999,999 times out of a million absolutely nothing will happen.

The flip side of that: How many of us have been in a car wreck? You betcha. How many of us even know anybody who've been in a plane crash (other than present company)?

That's what I thought.