Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stalling in the sky: probably not good for your health

The final day of the ACES conference was busy. I went to three class sessions and then had to catch a flight. After the plane backed up, and then started rolling forward, it just completely stalled. I mean, all the power went off and the engine died. It was complete silence. I've never been on a plane and had dead silence like that. I don't mean the people, I mean the sound of the plane. The plane is always running when you get on.

Well, a few minutes later, it all started up again. And the pilots don't mention it. They just take off. All I can think is, what if that happens in the air in five minutes? Shouldn't they explain what it was so that we know that isn't an issue? I tried to reassure myself that the pilots are on this plane, too, and they probably aren't much more in the mood for dive bombing into the earth than I am, so surely they must be sure it's OK.

Nevertheless, I had what may be considered an anxiety attack. I'm not one for drama. I don't like to call attention to myself. I don't scream and carry on when I am afraid. I just sit there and slowly have a heart attack or stroke or aneurysm. I believe I had all three. My heart palpitated for hours after that, but at the beginning, my blood was just pumping so hard that I knew I'd get a migraine if I didn't calm down. My stomach felt kind of sick.

It didn't help that the man across the aisle, one row up, apparently was terrified of flying. Usually, when something scares me on a flight (say, turbulence) I look around at other faces and feel better that they look perfectly normal. Well, every time I got scared, this guy would look petrified. So then I would feel worse. The guy, by the way, was the tannest man I've ever seen. He makes Bob Barker look like Nicole Kidman. I couldn't stop staring at him, which was freaking me out for multiple reasons.

I already had only 45 minutes to get off the plane and get to another terminal to catch my connecting flight. Then we were 10 minutes late. I figured I'd never make it, but this is cool:
Knowing some people couldn't make their next flights, they took aside all the ABQ and Portland passengers just as we stepped off the plane and were in the tunnel thing. Then they opened a secret door there and we went down some stairs to the Tarmac (AP used to require this to be capped and I can't let go). There was a bus waiting and they drove us straight over the tarmac (trying to let go -- that wasn't so bad!) and we climbed the stairs and got right on our plane!

I figured there was no way they could get our luggage over to our next plane that quickly, but they did. I have to give kudos to American Airlines, aside from the stalling planes.

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