FLYING AFTER 9/11 – was with my first plane ride to Team Hope training in Washington DC in 2003 as it was just under 2 years past 9/11.
My wife and I arrive at the American Airlines counter at the Calgary International airport. My wife is there to see me off and also as emotional support due to my (with age), newly acquired fear of flying. When the first question the counter attendant asked is; “Sir, if you are called upon during your flight, to defend this aircraft will you?”
Taken aback with this question and with rapid memories of the 9/11 flights 93, 11, 175 &77. I first looked and my unbelieving wife, as she knows how much flying is now bothering me. Then I said what one could only say and that was “Yes!” The second question that I was asked right after a, “well we have to ask these questions Sir” but “because I was to be seated at the window seat Escape Hatch, would I have any problems opening it for others in time of an Emergency?”
I explained to this inquisitive counter attendant that it can be guaranteed, that I would be the first one out on that aircrafts wing “No Worries about opening that hatch, should the need arise!”
So then began my very “White Knuckled Flight”, to Washington DC via a short stop in Chicago. The first leg of my trip went well even though I was watching any and all bathroom traveling passenger for any strange movements. Just as we were about to land, the plane lurched up and started to climb. Of course I freaked, dug my fingers into my arm rests until my fingers turned white. As I knew what this means, this means we cannot land for whatever reason and they have to dump fuel! That’s it I am toast, this could only happen to me and I was sooo glad now to be seated by this Emergency Door! Should I open it now was my only question but being once in the military, I knew orders must first be given. Waiting for these, is when the pilot announced that we had to circle for a bit, as the plane ahead of us blew a tire (I could see this event below me now), and thought airplanes get flats? Look at all those planes!
We finally landed and I could have kissed the ground. I loved the moving sidewalks (the Jetsons were ahead of their time) but this is such a big airport, looks sort something out of Star Wars. The last leg of my flight was in an even smaller plane and at the rear was seated a big guy who really looked Cop like to me. Thirty minutes out of Washington DC we were informed that we could no longer visit the wash rooms and if we got up the big guy (I was right), in the back would arrest or shoot us. With the plane, banking this and that way, this caused my white knuckle response again, one moment sideways to the point of (hey that guy is having a BBQ, wonder what’s on the grill?) to yes, that is a missile battery down there! My God, is this a way to welcome a Canadian, I wonder if they still remember my relatives who were here 200 years ago??? I hate flying as I wish we were down, so the Orange Alert at the Chicago Airport is really taken serious here!!! Darn it, another steep turn, I think I might lose my lunch…Oh well, Oh God.
Ahhhhhhhhh they are landing, finally down on Tera firma and just wait, yes just wait to get up and leave the aircraft, as it not good to scare the Yanks. By having this Canadian running out of the plane screaming like a little girl, yes just keep your cool, you did it, as have just flown after 9/11.
Witten by Richard Abbenbroek aka Sir Richard...
Photo by Sir Richard
9/11 - 10th Anniversary Tribute Song - My Immortal performed by Evanescence