This is yet another "Once upon a time, long, long ago" true story from my flying years!
Picture, if you will, a blizzard! Howling wind and snow galore greeted the passengers and crew. We were on an airplane that held over 100 people.
I wish I could remember what our final destination was. But the story really is about trying to get out of Detroit!
So the plane is loaded and the passengers are seated. I've looked at my First Class passenger list, and noted that sitting in the front row was a man named Vlasic! I asked him if he was in anyway connected with those wonderful Vlasic pickles. He smiled and stated that YES, that was his company!
I informed him that my sons and I loved his products, and just hearing the name made my mouth water! But it was time for the pre-flight announcements and take off.
Off in the distance I could see snow plows scurring in the dark, trying to get ahead of the falling, blowing snow. As we taxied to our take off position, the snow plows looked miniature in comparison to the ever growing piles of snow along the runways. I remember thinking that I'd be happy to get out of this blizzard, and off to someplace else!
So, off we roll down the runway! But then we slide to a stop! It seems that a snow plow had broken down on the runway, broken down to the point it didn't even have power to radio a distress to the tower. Another aircraft had seen the stuck/ broken down plow and radioed the tower, just as we started rolling.
The Captain came on the P.A., explained the situation, and said we were going to a different runway. Meanwhile, we were going to have to go back to the gate to be deiced- again. The passengers seemed calm enough. Thogh the snow storm was intensifying, all were taking this little set back in stride.
Of course, we had to wait to be deiced, but then were on our way to our new runway. I remember thinking how happy I was going to be to leave this blizzard behind! I was getting weary of the every falling white stuff! So down the runway we roll! Faster and faster- and then braking and sliding, braking and sliding!! The landing aircraft in front of us had just slid off the runway! Even though we slid around, we somehow stayed on the slippery cement! Whew!
I don't have to tell you that the passengers were now getting restless, and apprehensive! Mr. Vlasic, however, sat calmly looking out the window. The passenger next to him was making a few "Holy Cow!" comments, which Mr. Vlasic just smiled at.
Again the P.A. crackled with the Captain's voice, saying something to the effect that "number three" try for take off was surely the charm!
So- back again to get deiced! This time a longer wait, because all aircraft taking off were waiting for their deicing turn. We were down a few runways. The ground crews had yet to get the disabled snow plow and now "stuck" aircraft off of the runways! Plus, now you could hardly see anything out the windows! It was only a flurry of white! The snow plows were like little ants with lights, running up and down the runways, while Mother Nature filled them with snow again!
Finally, our turn to take off! We rolled down the runway, picked up speed, and just as the nose of the aircraft came up off the ground.... there was heard a pop popping sound! Down the nose came. Again a bit of sliding along with the breaks catching and releasing, then catching again! It seems our engines had ingested snow, causing them to pop and loose power!
Now I had passengers waving at me, loudly demanding we let them off the aircraft! First class passengers were talking to each other- and to me. The basic message was "Enough is enough! Let us off!" Again, Mr. Vlasic said nothing, sitting calmly during the caos!
I called the cockpit, explaining to them we had a mutiny on board. We had passengers requesting to "jump ship"! After a few moments of the Captain on the phone with the company, he once again was on the P.A.
He explained that though we were never in any danger, and once the crews got ahead of the snow, we would indeed take off, he would let off whoever wanted to leave. Back to the airport we went. As we pulled up to the gate, I expected a few people in first class to get off, maybe even a few from coach class. Well..half the passengers stood up and gathered their things! It seems they had had enough. My dear Mr. Vlasic was among those who stood up to deplane. And as he got off, he said to me "Good luck Marcy. I'm a bit concerned for your welfare!"
I can tell you that it was one long evening! Finally, FINALLY we closed up the aircraft once more, was once more deiced, and off we took! This time we made it out of Detroit, and on to our destinations!
Two days later we boarded passengers onto the aircraft, this time heading for Detroit. Who should get on my airplane but Mr. Vlasic. When he saw me he gave a little shout and gave me a hug! He said he was afraid to read the newspaper for a few days, afraid we didn't make it out of Detroit without incident!
It was about a week after my snow filled adventure that a package came to my home. Mr. Vlasic had sent a care package to my home for my family! Inside was an array of wonderful, delicious Vlasic pickles! My young sons were thrilled, having heard the story of Mr. Vlasic and the HUGE snow storm! A personal note was enclosed, thanking me for my love of the Vlasic product, my on board service, and added was a sincere wish for a safe career.! What a gentleman!
That was one of those unforgettable weather related flights that can't help but stick in my memory! Of course, looking back, it was kind of fun! But at the time, there was at least a moment that as half of our passengers were fleeing the aircraft, I wanted to go with them! It was not out of fear, but out of weariness! There were many such incidents in my 39 years where a short flight ended up being a very long one! And all of those memories are fun to look back on!
Remember that Life is An Adventure, even when it's a snowy, slippery, bumpy ride! And who knows, at the end of the adventure may be wonderful, crunchy Vlasic pickles!