Shake, Rattle, Drop and Pop.

bad flight
It was a full plane. We were packed in like sardines, with ‘carry on’ baggage wedged into every corner and crevice, but the hum of conversation was pleasantly friendly. Or as pleasant and friendly as it gets when complete strangers are forced to rub thighs for an hour or so.

And then, without warning, about 45 minutes in to the flight, the plane hit a bump and then dropped.

The pleasant conversation was replaced with a chorus of ‘woah’ with the occasional ‘holy s#&t’ thrown in for good measure as we bumped and dropped and popped back up again. But it resumed quickly once the roller coaster ride was over.

But it wasn’t over.

As the plane dropped again we all grabbed on to our arm rests in a strange subconscious unison (As if that would somehow save us if the plane fell from the sky?!). A small child a few rows ahead began to cry and we all clung on for dear life as we shook and rattled and dropped and popped.

A curt announcement came over the PA “all passengers and crew return to your seats”

There was no calm, confident, somewhat sexy voice saying ‘this is first officer Peter MacMillan speaking…’, no ‘we are experiencing a little turbulence…’, not even a ‘please’… just a quickly spoken message to tell us all to sit down and hang on. We were already doing that.

In my head I imagine the cock pit as a flurry of tense activity as pilot and first officer fight desperately to keep the plane in the sky. There is no time for polite announcements, they are too busy trying to stop us plummeting to a fiery death. Or, they are too busy tapping out goodbye messages to their loved ones…

We hit what feels like hole in the sky and drop down suddenly with a thud as our collective backsides and the entire contents of the plant make contact with a solid surface again. And then up again and then down and up and shake and shake and woooooooaaaaaaah dooooooooooooown.

My stomach is not enjoying this, by my brain has already begun rationalising the situation. It is incredibly rare to die in a plane crash, and I can’t possibly be so unlucky and this will all be over soon. Right? RIGHT???

I close my eyes for a moment and think how remarkably like driving along an incredibly bumpy road it all is. I find that kind of amusing and I am sure I have a goofy grin on my face, which I guess is better than a look of sheer terror.

The lady next to me grabs my arm without thinking when we hit the next hole and then apologises profusely when we find the bottom of it. I smile and reassure her that I don’t mind at all and we both talk of windy weather and storms and how this is to be ‘expected’ but I know what we both expect is for oxygen masks to drop down from above our heads at any moment.

We scoot up suddenly and I am glad I didn’t eat before I got on the plane. We drop down again and I watch the wing flaps moving, correcting the planes movements as we hit each bump and I wonder if it will be like till we land… or crash… whatever comes first.

And with that thought we level out and the shaking and jolting stop. One by one the passengers let out a sigh of relief the pleasant conversation slowly returns. And I am struck by how truly odd it is to pack a bunch of strangers in a metal box and fly through the sky.

Do you fly often?
Ever had a bumpy one and questioned the validity of putting people in a metal box and shoving it into the sky?

{image from Zach Dischner via flickr}

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Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:

  1. says

    I’ve done a lot of flying. I’ve flown in a lot of different kinds of planes including little 5 seater single engine jobs. I’ve had a few ‘moments’ – flying home to Darwin over the arafura sea from one of the little islands off the coast of Arnhem Land as a cyclone closed in on the area. But I thinks worst flight experience was being on a flight from Japan to Amsterdam with a bunch of dutch football/soccer fans. That was way worse than any bumps & drops I’ve experienced.

  2. says

    Oh I know that feeling. Horrid and scary at the same time. My worst was flying from Sydney to Queensland not too lang ago. It was so bad I had to make use of the ‘sick’ bag conveniently located in my seat pocket! There was a point where all the flyers did exactly what you described, but then after about 50 minutes of it we all just wanted it end – anyway necessary. I’d like to point out that on landing the ladies had placed a bin for all the sick bags to be placed…..nice to know your not alone sometimes :) Glad you arrived safely and had fun :)

  3. says

    i flew four times the other week and during one trip we had an experience very similar to yours. Flying back into Brisbane from Melbourne we hit some crazy turbulence and as we fell and moved and tried desperately to stay in our seats I was frantically holding onto my 1 year old trying not to let her go flying off my lap. I looked beside me at my 5 year old while all this was going on to reassure her and make sure she was ok, and was surprised to see her giggling like crazy. She thought the whole experience was hillarious and “So much fun!”!!!

  4. Melanie says

    I flew from Brisbane to Rockhampton a while back when the floods were bad. We took off from Brisbane just as the storms hit and had a very turbulent take off in our tiny plane. While most people were holding tightly to arm rests and visibly tense, and a couple of teens were on the verge of tears, my 4 year old son and 2 1/2 year old daughter (who were sitting together, across the aisle from me) were cheering and yahooing and proclaimed it to be a fantastic rollercoaster ride!

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