What the hell was I thinking? I thought as the jet barrelled down the runway for takeoff. It was too late. The plane was in the air. At about 500 feet, the plane banked sharply to the right towards its destination while the mechanical whir of the landing gear stirred noisily beneath my feet, both of which events sent me into a heightened state of fear and panic. My grip on the hand rests could have crushed the neck of a moose.
It was a morning flight. My traveling companion and co-worker knew that I was afraid of flying but had never traveled with me before. He did, however, notice my edgy nervousness. Our trip consisted of two short flights with an hour or so layover at the connecting airport. The first flight started and ended without incident.
During the layover, I took the opportunity to consume several beers along with another Gravol pill to calm my nerves before the connecting flight. This shouldn't be so bad after all, I thought after the self-prescribed relaxants kicked in. Just before our second flight was scheduled to depart, we were informed that the aircraft that was to take us to our destination "not reach yet", but we would be transferred to another carrier that would accommodate our schedule. There would be a twenty minute delay in boarding, during which time another beer was consumed.
The plane was small, consisting of about eighteen seats arranged in two single rows of on either side of the cabin. My six-foot tall, 240 pound co-worker struggled down the aisle to reach his seat. I sat directly across the aisle from him. About four or five other passengers had also boarded the plane and occupied the seats in front of us.
Despite the meds and alcohol, I was still extremely nervous but finally relaxed a little twenty minutes into the flight. As the plane reduced altitude and speed for the landing approach, we encountered some turbulence and I immediately put a moose choking grip on the head rest of the empty seat in front of me. I glanced at my co-worker with wide eyes: he was chuckling at me. I then looked out the window and noticed the wings were flapping in unison to the bumps of the turbulence. Great, I'm trapped inside a fucking mechanical albatross.
Two minutes later, the plane made a sharp bank to the right for the landing approach. All of a sudden me and my co-worker were cheek-to-cheek. Evidently, his seat was not anchored to the floor on the window side of the cabin. The plane then levelled out and his seat returned to its upright position. We looked at each other: WTF??? My co-worker was no longer chuckling. Welcome to my hell. Again the plane banked sharply to the right and I reacted quickly, reaching across the aisle to brace his seat with my hand. After levelling out the second time, we both started to laugh hysterically. The plane made one last turn before landing with me bracing his seat upright.
As we started to depart the plane, both of us were nervously giggling down the aisle toward the door and I was about to tell the co-pilot of the unsecured seat but, just then, I smacked my forehead into the top of the doorway. Fuck it. Let somebody else enjoy a Disney-ride "Airplane" experience.
Okay, so I can be mean.
On the wake of the recent uproar to the breaches of passenger screening, did anyone not think to see if the planes themselves are airworthy?? How about checking those lug-nuts on the landing gear, eh??