Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Thanks, Air Traffic Control...

I flew here today. Another eventful flying experience.

Air traffic control rerouted us due to thunderstorms between Chicago and New York. No problem. Just fly around the city and come in from the north side. No rain in NYC. Not a problem at all. Except that moments before the wheels of our airplane touched the ground, the pilot suddently surged forward and jerked us back into the air, flying over the runway instead of landing on it.

I nervously glanced at the passengers around me as they nervously glanced at me. We all nervously glanced without speaking. After about 2 minutes of flying over New York City, the pilot said over the speaker,

"Sorry about that, folks. We had to, uh, abort landing at the last minute. There was a plane sitting in the middle of the runway."

WHAT! There was an AIRPLANE sitting in the middle of the runway and we almost landed into it!? We gasped. We raised our eyebrows and looked at each other. I smiled in disbelief, a bad habit of emotional displacement. I thought to myself,

"Thanks, Air Traffic Control, for a bunch of nothin'."

I imagined it was a terrorist plot. They all had somehow maneuvered planes to sit on runways so that the flying planes couldn't land, anywhere...and the flying planes all just flew and flew until they ran out of gas and crashed into buildings and oceans.

We continued to circle the city, and a cell phone rang behind me. The cell phone belonged to a man who looked stoned. Why did he have his cell phone on? Didn't that interfere with communication and whatnot? Surely, he wouldn't answer it. Not after we almost rammed into a sitting plane.

The woman across the aisle from me looked at the man sitting behind me, then looked at me and said, "He ANSWERED his phone! I can't BELIEVE he would ANSWER his phone!" She gaped at the man with a look of disgust.

A guy a few rows back hollered out, "Hey, man, I don't think that's the best time for that right now!"

The pilot lowered the plane for a second attempt at landing. We bowed our heads and closed our eyes. I made peace with God in case it was the end.

Obviously, it wasn't. We bumpily landed and screeched to a stop.

Welcome to New York City, where airplanes like to sit still on runways reserved for other planes' landings.


Kat said...

Yikes! I'm glad everything turned out ok!

Seth Ward said...

That story makes me go off the wall crazy if I think about it too much.

It makes me want to drive up there and drive you back.

T with Honey said...

The ATC guy probably just had to go to the bathroom. It has happened before.

FancyPants said...

Thanks Kat. It did, thanks to our pilots.

Seth, well don't go too crazy over there in Texas. I'd like you better sane when I return.

T w/honey, quite an unsettling article.

Susanne said...

Glad you're okay!!!

euphrony said...

I've flown through Libery airport in Newark a couple of times. Not again. A few weeks after my last time there I saw that within a week's time they had two planes clip on a runway and an incident like you described, with a plane trying to land on top of another plane. I'll give them time for all the air traffic controllers to either be transfered, fired, or die before I'll fly there again.

truevyne said...

Don't let t with honey fool ya. ATC aren't allowed to go to the bathroom. Once in the mid-shift they are permitted a "biological break".

And Fancy, I'm sorry this happened, but you can only expect more. These guys are pulling 6 day mandatory overtime shifts every blasted week. You've probably heard me whine about it before...

kddub said...

yeah that would freak me out, especially landing, or not landing in NYC. Glad you are safe, and that everything went well!

tiny dancer said...

Hey there, Amber! This is Elise, Shan's sister! She enjoyed showing me your blogspot & I LOVE it! I am now going to read it a lot. :) I especially loved seeing the pics of you in Sound oF Music- sooo cool! I named all the characters to shan, who was very impressed that I knew them all. But I love SOM (and was a nun in it at Waco Civic theatre in my former days)...so I was disappointed that I couldn't see you in it. SOO cool that you're moving to NYC. I love it! Miss ya, soul sista! keep in touch. elise-syer@aminternational.org

FancyPants said...

Hey Elise! I'm so glad to see you here! I wish we could really see each other more often. Now you get to hang w your sista' lots, huh? And my bro!

I wish you could have been in this production of SOM with me. It was a blast. No worries about not being able to be there. Maybe another time.

Give those two crazy kids a big hug for me and keep them happy and well fed. (?) I don't know, it sounded kinda sisterly....

unquenchableworshipper said...

Actually, you should thank the pilot who landed before you for a "Big bunch of nothing" and thank the diligent Air Traffic Controller for avoiding a disaster.
This is what is known as a "go around" and at a busy busy airport like Laguardia, where the runway configuration is lousy, and it is busier than spit, go arounds happen a lot more than you'd think, probably at least one an hour if not more.
So, pilots like to blame us since we aren't there to defend ourselves. But rest assured, we always have your safety in mind, and send the guys up in the tower a pizza, since they wont let us leave to get food anymore.
and if you see my wife..tell her I miss her..

FancyPants said...

Unquenchable Worshipper,

Oooh, sorry about that. Didn't realize.... Is your wife (Truevyne, right?) in NYC?

Truevyne, actually I haven't heard you complain about it....

Sorry, guys, I guess I happened upon a sensitive topic without knowing it.

unquenchableworshipper said...

noooo problemo..
oh and the story that "t with honey" linked to is all because the FAA has failed to properly staff their facilities then deny that there is a problem. Just like they understaffed Lexington a year ago.
But if you think your story is scary.. try this one http://angrytoxicologist.com/?p=47
or just google "air traffic" and "carbon monoxide" .. a lovely combination.

oh..and I'm usually not a complaining about my work kind of guy, just ask True.
who is NOT in NYC.. I was just joking about how much I work, the bloggers get to talk to her more than I do.

truevyne said...

Oh dear, Fancy. You think you've upset us, but I assure you, we are not upset! I wouldn't have liked a fly over like you had one bit. I'm just glad you are okay. And now you know much more about the state of air traffic control than you ever wanted as an extra bonus.
P.S. I made my husband read your post and research what happened to you.

FancyPants said...


Shucks that True isn't in NYC, and double shucks about your amount of work. A friend told me today that at some job orientation here in NYC, the guy wrote on the board three words.




And said, pick 2.

Ha! I hope it gets better.