I was seated in first class on Sun Country Airlines flight 726 flying out of Jamaica. Seated next to me was my wife Margo, whom I was positive was cheating on me. I was staring out the window looking down at Cuba and wondering how I got myself into this mess when I realized that the captain was saying something garbled over the intercom. One of the flight attendants was a red-haired woman with fair skin. The plane started turning and she got on the cabin mic and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, the intercom from the flight deck in not working. The crew believes one of our engines is on fire and we must return to Montego Bay Airport.”
Everybody got a wide-eyed look of terror on their face. I looked at Margo. So I’m gonna die with this woman, I thought. The red-haired crewmember started reading out of the Cabin Emergency Manual. To this day I have no idea what she was saying, I was too busy trying not to crap my pants. I took a deep breath and tried to tell myself that we were in the hands of aviation experts who were trained for these very instances. Right about at that moment, the attendant suddenly turned beet-red and started to cry uncontrollably.
Oh God, even the crew thinks we’re gonna die!
That wasn’t that cool as a cucumber demeanor you want out of professionals in these situations. It was then that I realized we were truly going to die on this day. I was going to die a strange and tragic death just like my grandmother had years before. The plane circled around Sangster International for a while, dumping fuel so we’d make just a small explosion when we crashed instead a great big explosion, I guess. I just sat there looking at the beautiful palm trees and noticing how pretty and peaceful they looked from above. Then I looked around to see if there was somebody else I’d rather die next to. The flight attendant got back on the mic;
“Ladies and gentlemen, we will begin our landing approach into Sangster International in two minutes. Please remove your glasses or eyewear and, if you have them, please remove your dentures as well.”
I took off my glasses and put them in my breast pocket and then reached into my mouth to remove my dentures, and they wouldn’t budge. Then it struck me that I still had all my original teeth. Yes, I was that frazzled. I looked out the window and saw scores of yellow fire trucks lining the runway, waiting for us to crash. She continued;
“Please lean forward and get your head as close to your knees as possible. Remain in the crash position. Upon impact, there is a chance the fuselage will break apart; if you are able, get as far from the wreckage as possible as the plane will explode.” I was just waiting for her to wrap it up with, And thank you for choosing Sun Country Airlines today, but she just put the mic in its holder and strapped herself into her jump seat. I snuck a peek out of the window – we were making the exact same approach I’d made so many times before. Here we were now, whooshing into my home airport in an apparently flaming Boeing 737. The plane came closer to the ground, closer and …
It was one of the smoothest and most perfect landings I’ve ever had in an airliner. We could hear the fire engines spooling up their sirens and they started to pursue the aircraft down the runway. We finally came to a stop, and Red got back on the mic;
“Please remain seated until instructed otherwise.”
Screw this! I thought. You think this tin gas-can is on fire and you seriously want me to sit here out of sheer protocol? I rose up and moved to the door. Before a crewmember could yell at me half the plane had started to follow me. I used to love flying, but have hated it ever since that day. Though I wouldn’t have anymore airline mishaps, this wouldn’t be the last near crash of my life.