Monday, November 10, 2008
A Wing and a Prayer
I don’t like to fly. Never have. Probably never will. Unfortunately, my job often requires me to fly, and no matter how much I do it, I still don’t like it. So, don’t tell me that it gets better with time—it doesn’t for me. I’m glad if you enjoy flying and can’t get enough of it. For me, if I never fly again, that was still one time too many!
There are many reasons I don’t like to fly, I’ll save you from those reasons right now, but the story below gives me pause about how dangerous flying can be. And yes, I know this story is about a pilot of a small plane, and it could never happen on a commercial airliner, but do you really think that will help my irrational fear of flying? Of course not! I’m not going to let it!
It seems that a British pilot last week lost his sight after suffering a stroke mid-flight from Scotland to Essex. The pilot was eventually talked through a safe landing by a crew of Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots sent to his aid.
Jim O’Neill, 65, put out a mayday call after a suspected stroke caused blood to put pressure on his optic nerves, blinding him. A Royal Air Force team was scrambled to guide the two-seat Cessna to safety. (And, since I am afraid of flying—I assume to shoot it down if it became a mass destruction type of weapon.)
With help from air traffic controllers O’Neill managed to land the plane on his fourth attempt.
“I should not be alive. I owe my life—and those of dozens of people I could have crash-landed on — to the RAF. It was terrifying. Suddenly I couldn’t see the dials in front of me.”
RAF Captain Mark Hopkins told the paper, “The royal Air Force has the best pilots and air traffic controllers in the world. This team effort from Linton-on-Ouse lives up to its reputation. Shepherding aircraft in this way is something we do from time to time, but this is a very strange case.”
I hope it is strange! And, I hope they never have to do that again. Especially if I am ever on board a small plane like that with a pilot who has a stroke! Then again, if that were to happen, I’m glad to know they’ve got experience to help talk us down! I just hope they know how to restart a stopped heart—because I have no doubt that would be the case with my heart at that moment!