Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nose-diving in a Burning Plane

The boys and I went on a little trip this past weekend. With the help of my brother, Andrew, we flew from Dallas to Birmingham, Alabama to see my dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. More on this trip soon.

After a full weekend, we loaded up Sunday afternoon and headed back to Birmingham to catch our 7:55 flight. The plane was delayed so we didn't end up leaving Alabama until about 8:40. I was a little concerned about Eli and Landon and how they would do, but after taking off, everyone was calm and quiet and I was so thankful.

Here are a few relevant details to keep in mind for this story:
* When flying, we have to split up because there is only one extra oxygen mask per row, so only one lap child is allowed per row. Landon and I were sitting right in front of Andrew and Eli.
* There were no less than 6 or 7 babies/small children on our flight that night
*  On our flight the previous Friday, I sat by the most amazing woman, Sheri (who I will refer to as my guardian angel). She was a tremendous help to us and throughout the course of the flight. We figured out that we also were on the same return flight, so she found us at the airport and sat with me again. I seriously love this lady.

Back to the story...We're on the plane and everything is great. Sheri is on my right and a really nice guy, Fritz is on my left. We have all become friends and talked the entire flight. Fritz was SO nice and patient with the boys. He entertained them, he let them crawl all over him, and he even let them kiss him several times. Seriously.Nice.Guy.

About 30 minutes into our flight, I feel the plane go slightly up and then it felt like we were going straight down. "Nose-diving" might be a little extreme, but please believe me when I tell you that we were descending very quickly. Sheri immediately looked over at me with huge eyes and said, "Something is wrong. We're going down really fast."

It was at this point in time that I quickly let Sheri and Fritz know that I do NOT handle crisis situations well. They both started reassuring me, but I could tell they were just as scared as I.

Soon after, the captain of the plane came over the speaker in a forced calmness, but a very panicked tone and said, "Flight attendants: secure the cabin. Fasten your seatbelts, stow your tray tables, and return your seats to the upright position. There is no time to talk."

Really? Was it necessary to say "There is no time to talk"? If I wasn't panicked before...I sure was now.  I held Landon as close as possible and he looked up with me with big, pleading eyes, as if he knew we were in danger. I wished so badly that I could have Eli with me as well, but I knew he was safest back with Andrew.

I prayed. I prayed as hard as I could. I didn't care what happened to me, but I was terrified that my babies would be hurt. It was the first time I have ever been scared for their lives and I now know that there is no fear like the fear of losing your children. I would die 100 painful deaths to keep them from hurting.

It felt like an eternity. The cabin of the plane was completely silent. I suspect that everyone was praying. The captain came on a couple of times trying to reassure us that everything was okay, but that we would be making an emergency landing in Mississippi as a precaution. It didn't feel okay. We were dropping so fast, I thought my head would explode.

We made a rushed and bumpy landing in Jackson, Mississippi. After landing the plane, the Captain came on again and explained that the cockpit had been filling with smoke and there was also a visual indication (of fire I assume). There were several fire trucks waiting for us on the runway. They quickly checked to make sure the plane was safe for us to evacuate and then they dumped us right out on the runway.

I had Landon, Sheri had Eli, Fritz had all our bags, and Andrew was helping someone in a wheelchair I think because he was far behind us. We got our stroller and headed into the deserted airport in Jackson, Mississippi. I have never been so glad to be on the ground. I couldn't stop kissing my babies.

We spent about an hour in the airport and then we boarded a brand new plane. The pilot of the plane came out to personally apologize and reassure us that everything was okay now. He offered to talk to anyone who was uncomfortable getting on another plane and said he understood that we were all shaken up.

Unfortunately for all of us, the fuel crew had already gone home for the night, so they had to be called back to work to fuel up our new plane. We waited a good 45 minutes on the plane, just sitting on the runway. Eli and Landon were less than thrilled. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I have never wanted to be home so badly.

My favorite part of the night was when Fritz called his mom to explain everything (sitting right next to me on the plane). She asked him if he totally freaked out and he responded, "Actually no! There was this hysterical lady on my row and I had to keep it together so I could help her." I thought to myself... he has no idea what hysterical is if he thought that was it!

When we finally took off, whichever baby was sitting with Andrew just screamed and screamed, so we finally just broke the rules and got them both up with me. Trust me when I say that they were not the only ones screaming. It was quite late (11:30 ish) and all of the children were beyond tired. The sweet flight attendants just looked the other way. I think they realized that we had all been through enough that night. Poor Sheri and Fritz had to deal with two babies crawling all over all three of us. They were such troopers.

And speaking of them, I would not have made it through Sunday night without them. Sometimes it amazes me just how good people are. I hope they are very blessed for the way that they helped me.

So maybe "Nose-diving in a Burning Plane" isn't quite accurate. It was more like "Quickly Descending in a Smoking Plane", but either way....it was nothing I want to relive again. I also do not EVER want to travel by plane without Dustin. It is just too hard.

And to be honest, I'm not in a hurry to get on a plane again, even with Dustin.

We finally got to mom's house about 2:00 in the morning. It had to have been the longest day I've ever had.

You know I couldn't let Sheri and Fritz leave without a photo. Here we all are in the Mississippi airport


Jami said...

Oh.My.Goodness! I cannot even imagine! Thank God for getting you all home safely! Wow!

Katelyn said...

Look at those boys faces!! Awww:'(
Even though i already knew all of this reading it put a tear in my eye! I love you sis

Kristin said...

Awwww Amy- I was crying just reading this. I can't imagine how scared you must of been. Glad that everything turned out ok, and also glad to hear that there are still people out there willing to help people out and not get so impatient with kids.

Jana Hall said...

WOW! What a tough night! I cannot even imagine what all you were feeling!! Thank goodness you had some people there to help you! I'm so glad everything turned out all right!

Crystal said...

You are officially the bravest person I know. I would have lost it! I don't think I will be flying with my boys any time soon, if ever.

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