It’s not all smooth sailing–er, landing

air canada

Air Cancun lands in Mazatlan—a landing so smooth that the passengers don’t even feel it. Realizing they’re on the tarmac, they cheer and applaud. Already in a holiday mood, the good vibes roll on.

Air Mali lands in Mopti—a landing that jolts and shudders along the tarmac. Looking out as the plane gradually slows, they see tires so bald their hearts jolt and they shudder with relief that they’ve landed safely in this old Russian plane, the entirety of Air Mali’s fleet–a fleet that should have been retired long, long ago. Next time they’ll take a bus.

Air France prop job descends into Avignon bracing against the Mistral winds. The plane jerks and bounces, tilting from side to side, as it’s buffeted by the winds. They pray that the pilot isn’t a rookie, clamp down on their nausea, and hold their breath until they’re on terra firma.

Air Canada nears St. John’s, Newfoundland. She chats with the young steward who has taken the only available seat beside her for landing. Suddenly, the plane drops a couple of hundred feet. She gasps. The steward assures her that there is nothing to worry about. The winds always do that in Newfoundland. Then he groans. She asks what’s wrong. He explains that he’s new on the job and forgot to collect the dinner trays from the cockpit. Trays and dishes will now be all over the place and the captain will not be pleased. She commiserates as they land smoothly, she relieved to be on the ground, he concerned about a stern lecture. She, somewhat older and wiser, tells him that the main thing is they’re all safe.


12 comments on “It’s not all smooth sailing–er, landing

  1. Doesn’t exactly make me want to fly, but I bet anyone who has flown can add a story to this collection. If you compiled all those stories no one would ever fly again, but how quickly we forget! Thank goodness.

  2. I used to have to travel on the small commercial planes and bush planes for a government job is Alberta. Now that’s an adventure – grass strips marked out by recycled 45 gallon oil drums, a plane that feels like what it might be like to ride on the back of a mosquito, and pilots who have far more faith in toggle switches than I do as they flip one having waited until that fuel tank says empty.

    • I’m sure it was about the same. No seat belts, some seats not even bolted to the floor and on one flight, a hole in the cabin floor that we had to step over to get into the plane. But we made it to our destinations and have the stories to tell.

      • That’s the main thing Darlene. It is always amusing in hindsight. If there were no tax free goods for sale I would accept it, but no seat belts is really alarming. I remember as a small boy stepping onto the Air Tanzania plane and being surprised to see no seats. They had forgotten to put them in and we had to wait around while they did so.

  3. Quite an adventure! I’ve only flown those hoppers from U.S. small airports and that wasn’t exactly something I’d like to do on a regular basis. But you’re right about safety in the air versus on the highway.

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