I'll never forget one of my first November weather experiences flying out of Detroit, heading to places like Lansing, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, and Escanaba- all "bumpy, swaying, jerking, banging around the sky" type flying!
I was hanging onto the overhead for dear life, serving half cups of coffee and juice. (I didn't dare serve a full cup, for fear the passengers would be wearing their beverage for sure!) In those days, we served every flight, no matter how short, and no matter what weather! It was a combination of serving, plus picking up sick bags and trying to comfort frightened passengers!
On one particularly rough day, we landed in Detroit, but had to head down to Cleveland and back before we were done. I personally felt like I had been beaten up! It had been a day of enduring more bumping, rocking, rolling, and swaying than I had ever encountered before!
My Captain came into the crew room with a piece of paper in his hand. "I need someone to witness this!" he said. I asked what it was, and he said "My Last Will!" I paused, looking at him. He wasn't joking! He had that "blood drained from his face" look. I silently took his paper and signed it without reading it. He then told some scheduler that if anything happened to him, his will was in his mail box!
I looked at the First Officer, who looked more than a bit uncomfortable. I think my eyes and mouth were all in a big O! He shook his head and said, "Naw. It'll be okay." But he wasn't laughing.
I reviewed my options:
(1) Quit, right then and there!---Nope.
(2) Suddenly be "Sick". ..(That probably I could've carried off. I think I had a rather green cast to my skin from being air sick)
(3) Pray! ..And hang on tight!
I chose #3. I was almost done with my flight day, and had survived so far, so off I went to Cleveland and back. Going to Cleveland was rough and tough, with a full airplane and turbulence that made my head and stomach spin!
Flying back from Cleveland, the air became smooth as glass. I heaved a sigh of relief! Whew! I was going to live to see another day and maybe even fly another trip! (If I could get my courage up!)
I asked the Captain how he was doing, and he said he had never encountered air that rough! (Really??) The First Officer said he felt the same, but had tremendous faith in that Convair. He knew that sturdy bird could take a whole lot and keep going.
Three things I learned that day:
Even Captains can have an off day where they feel a bit unsure!
The Convair is indeed a tough bird!
" Facing fears and going on anyway" is the best way to overcome those fears!
It wasn't until I got home and listened to the news that I learned that severe wind damage had been done in several places in Michigan!
During this experience I was still pretty new at the job. (Less than a year). It wasn't long before I became aware of all the procedures and rules that governed what conditions a particular aircraft could fly in.
And as the years went by, new and improved safely precautions were put in place to assure the safely of the passengers and crew. Stewardesses (Now Flight Attendants) are no longer required to be serving during severe weather, and warnings are now in place for down drafts and such.
From that day on, though- I held fast to my love of- and faith in the Convair 580 Turbo prop! It proved over and over, sometimes in dire circumstances, that it indeed was an airworthy, wonderful, sturdy old bird! I'd jump on one of those old birds and fly into the sunset today, if I could!
Life is indeed and adventure, even when it's a bumpy ride!!