This is another "once upon a time" true story that the feeling of Autumn brings to mind!
I was working on a North Central Airlines 580 turbo-prop airplane, flying somewhere over Wisconsin.
It was a beautiful Autumn day! Not a cloud in the sky! The colors below as we flew over Wisconsin were wonderful! Everyone was looking out the window!
I had a half full airplane - a whole 24 passengers. I had just finished serving and was walking back to the galley when we felt a lurch. All at once Fog was filling the cabin and coming out of the air vents. One man asked- "Is that smoke?! Are we on fire?" It wasn't smoke. I't was like a cloud was suddenly inside our airplane!
I knew what had happened, we had lost our pressurization! I headed towards the cockpit to find out what was going on!
Just then the cockpit to cabin phone rang. The first office informed me that we'd be doing an emergency landing. We had "lost" our right engine. (Meaning, it wasn't running)
The right engine controlled our pressurization. So when the engine stopped, a mist appeared - meaning we needed to get to a lower altitude.
The Captain and First Officer had their hands full with contacting the nearest tower/ airport and letting them know we needed to lower our altitude and come in for an emergency landing! I could hear the Captain talking to the control tower while the First Office was telling me what had happened.
Just as I hung up the phone, a woman seated on the right side let out a "Oh My God!" There was streaks of blood on her window!
The Captain came on the P.A. and informed the passengers we'd be making an "unscheduled stop" -
We had encountered geese!
I strolled the cabin, talking to people and reassuring them that we were fine. I promised them that the airplane landed smoother on one engine than two!
The woman who had let out the scream about the blood was upset. I stood by her, reassuring her that everything was going to be alright.
...And then it happened. She grabbed ahold of my arm! Instead of calming down she was in a high state of panic! As calmly as I could, I told her this had happened before- it was ok- WE were ok. She stopped screaming, but would not let go! There was no one seated next to her to give me assistance! Everyone was looking out their windows, oblivious to my plight!
We were coming closer and closer to the airport! I needed to get back to my jump seat and strap in! I knelt beside her, all the while trying to loosen her grip! Now- I've always been a very strong woman- -but nothing short of cutting off my arm was going to get me away from this woman!
I leaned closer to her and told her she was hurting me! I whispered "PLEASE LET GO!" She continued to hold on with one hand, but now grabbed my uniform with the other! (OH NO!) I felt like she was choking me!
In we came to the nearest airport. ( I'm afraid my memory doesn't give me which town we landed at, only that it was a small airport.) I'm in this woman's death grasp, totally trapped! I relaxed. I was going to be there, kneeling on the floor when we landed. And there was nothing I could do about it!
We were coming in low. It felt like we were just above tree top level. And it looked like we were going to land sideways! We could see the runway out the side window! Then suddenly the runway disappeared from view, there was a "dip" feeling, and we landed- smooth as silk!
As I had foretold, the landing was perfect! You could hardly tell we touched the ground!
I told the woman that we were on the ground and to PLEASE let go! She slowly let go and began to cry. I got to my feet and made my way to the door, just as the Captain came out of the cockpit.
"What happened to you?!" he asked, pointing to my blouse. My blouse was ripped from the neckline down the front, exposing my slip! That woman had practically undressed me- tearing away at me in her panic! (Oh God! What a day!) I covered up the best I could! At least, enough to cover my front! I ran to put my jacket on as soon as possible!
Needless to say, we had to deplane the passengers. One man stopped by the Captain and myself to ask why the airplane landed so smoothly on one engine, as I had predicted. The Captain laughed and said "Concentration!"
The woman who had held me prisoner during the landing was almost too shaky to get down the stairs! That was my first true encounter with a passenger's absolute "fear of flying" panic! I had heard that panic can make someone's strength increase- and this made me a believer!
The underside of the aircraft had streaks of blood on it- while the right propeller was "messy" with remittance of "Goose". It looked like some geese hit the engine, and some hit the undercarriage.
A few hours later another airplane came and took our passengers to Detroit. We spent the night at a local hotel, while a mechanic worked on the engine.
In the morning we three crew members, plus one mechanic flew an empty airplane back to Detroit for further work. (And probably a good washing!) I had a torn blouse and five deep purple bruises on my right arm as souvenirs! From that point on- I kept panicking passengers at arms length! Well, for a while, anyway! (At least until the bruises healed!)
So, when flocks of geese fly overhead, I do remember that flight-- and for some reason my right arm starts to ache! Ha! And yet- it's one of those memories that I cherish! It was all part of my wonderful adventure, my wonderful career!
Life indeed is an adventure, even when it's a bumpy ride!
My Future Plans!
This coming Sunday I'll be heading back up north! This time I believe the colors will be magnificent! My dear friend Gail and her husband David will be my hosts! So follow along with me, and see what mischief we get into!