Bob Baker's The Buzz Factor
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November 23, 2007
Fear & Uncertainty at 25,000 Feet
My girlfriend Pooki and I were talking about the holidays and making notes about the things we needed to do once we got back home. Suddenly, there was a weird clunking sound and a vibration in the plane.
The only thing I can compare it to is the sound made when the cargo door of a plane is slammed shut after the luggage is loaded on. Crunch and shake. You expect that when the plane is stationary on the ground. But not at 25,000 feet.
(I'm sure we hadn't reached our top flying altitude when the unexpected crunch sound came, but we were pretty damn high up there. I'm just guessing it was 25,000 feet.)
Soon after the strange sounds stopped, the plane seemed to lose a little power and made a quick turn to the left. The pilot came on soon after and informed everyone that the left engine (one of only two on the plane) had just gone out.
He did a good job of describing it as a "non-event" but said "they always like us to head back to the airport when these things happen." Since the plane was taking a straight shot back to LAX, he said we'd be back on the ground in less than 15 minutes.
Now I've heard that planes can fly just fine with one engine. The aircraft appeared to be stable in the air. None of the passengers was panicking. But another interesting thing was happening: No one was complaining about the inconvenience or the delay this might cause.
Pooki and I held each other's hand and patiently waited. I wasn't outwardly fretting, but I must admit it was the longest 15 minutes of my life. It was a situation where you feel completely helpless. There's nothing you can do to make it better except trust -- in the pilots, in the only remaining working engine, in the Universe, in whatever it is you trust your trust with.
As we safely landed, I saw right away that this "non-event" had caused dozens of emergency vehicles to line the runway. As we taxied off the runway, several trucks and police cars, with lights blazing, surrounded the plane to inspect the engine and make certain an emergency evacuation wasn't needed. It wasn't.
Within minutes, we had pulled up to a gate and were exiting the plane. Still, no one was complaining about interrupted plans. Within an hour and a half, a new plane was ready and the same passengers, pilots and flight attendants climbed aboard for a smooth, uneventful flight to St. Louis.
Even though we were never in immediate danger, this experience made me think of a lot of things -- in those tense minutes before landing back at LAX and in the days since.
Mainly, I realize more than ever that I have a lot to live for and a lot to be thankful for. Which made Thanksgiving Day extra special this year.
I'm extremely grateful for Pooki, my daughter Kelli, other members of my family, and my many friends. And I'm incredibly thankful for you, dear reader, for continuing to give me a reason to write and speak about the topics that are so important to me.
Just yesterday, on Thanksgiving, I got this heartwarming email from someone I've never met:
I am thankful for ...
Your amazing writing
And all the great resources you put in our hands.
Hope your Thanksgiving is merry and bright, Bob.
Your random fan,
Thanks, Erin. And thanks to all of you who make my life brighter in so many ways!
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What About Bob?
Bob Baker is an author, speaker, teacher, indie musician and former music magazine editor dedicated to showing musicians of all kinds how to get exposure, connect with fans, sell more music, and increase their incomes.
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