2nd blog entry for the day
I was listening to the radio this morning before arriving at work. The hosts talked about an incident that took place on a flight yesterday. An Air Canada flight (from Victoria to Toronto) plunged 2000 metres within 15 seconds. Passengers who didn’t fasten their seatbelts suffered injuries as they were thrown everywhere. To add to the mess, it happened while drinks were being served, so carts tipped over, things hit the ceiling etc… The autopilot system failed to function, miraculously, the pilot managed to regain control. The aircraft made an emergency landing in Calgary airport.*
Coincidentally, what I read the first thing in my inbox this morning is the daily meditation by Henri Nouwen:
Trusting the Catcher
Trust is the basis of life. Without trust, no human being can live. Trapeze artists offer a beautiful image of this. Flyers have to trust their catchers. They can do the most
spectacular doubles, triples, or quadruples, but what finally makes their performance spectacular are the catchers who are there for them at the right time in the right place.
Much of our lives is flying. It is wonderful to fly in the air free as a bird, but when God isn’t there to catch us, all our flying comes to nothing. Let’s trust in the Great Catcher.
Linking these 2 pieces, I suddenly realize there is indeed very little we can control in our lives. It might seem as if we can do things at our own will (i.e. flying freely), in the end, however, all we can count on is a reliable pilot/catcher who can guarantee our safety. Nothing else matters if there is no one we can count on. Let us all remind ourselves that God is the only One we can count on. Let us not be misled to believe that counting on ourselves is sufficient.
Report on the incident:
15 seconds of terror on Air Canada Flight 190
January 11, 2008
Petti Fong in Calgary
Emily Mathieu in Toronto
Passengers screamed and hit the ceiling as Air Canada Flight 190 plunged thousands of metres through the sky during 15 seconds of terror yesterday that became the longest moments in Liam King’s life.
"It was really quick … but it felt like an eternity," said King, one of 88 people on board the aircraft that was forced to make an emergency landing in Calgary after it bucked in midair, violently pitching people, dishes and drink carts about the cabin.
Ten people, including two crew members, on the Victoria to Toronto flight were treated in hospital in Calgary for a range of relatively minor injuries and later released.
"I can’t describe the screaming. No movie does it justice. There was a lot of screaming – a lot of crying," recalled Jayne Harvey, 45, a nurse from Keswick, Ont.
"I thought it was over for me," said Harvey, who helped tend to the injured. "I will admit I was saying my prayers because I really thought I was about to die. I said,
`Just take care of my family.’"
Some passengers had gripped their armrests so tightly they were bent 60 degrees.
"The people who weren’t belted in were the ones that got injured the most and those who had other people flying into them," said Harvey.
"All of a sudden there were three big drops," said Andrew Evans, another passenger. "The cart tipped over and there was a lot of squealing."
What caused the aircraft to plunge so suddenly was unknown. Canada’s Transportation Safety Board was investigating but said it was too soon to determine whether the "control problems" were caused by turbulence, mechanical problems or a mistake by the flight crew.
Harvey said it was a "miracle" that the pilots were able to regain control of the Airbus 319.
"They came on the intercom and explained they were flying manually and that the computer had been knocked out. And I don’t know if it was knocked out before, and that caused the lurch, or it was knocked out after, because of the plane lurching back and forth."
Both Air Canada and passengers praised the actions of the crew.
"The flight attendants were amazing, because a lot of them were injured themselves so they had cuts and were trying to dab blood out of their eyes," said Harvey.
She described one flight attendant rushing down the aisle of the plane with a cloth pressed to her bleeding forehead as she came to the assistance of injured passengers.
One woman, speaking to reporters outside the Calgary airport, said she was sitting in first class when one side of the plane "went up sort of sideways and then came back down."
Her friend was one of those rushed to hospital after flying up and hitting the ceiling.
Meanwhile, relatives and friends at Pearson International Airport in Toronto paced the floor as they waited for passengers who had been aboard Air Canada Flight 190 to arrive.
Clutching a bouquet of roses at arrivals was Geoff Norris, 70, waiting for his wife Anne. Norris teared up as he spoke about his wife’s experience and her frantic attempts to reach him.
"Well I was appalled that this nightmarish thing – we all think about from time to time – happened to me," he said. Norris missed the first few calls from his distraught wife, because he was in a hospital at the time, and had his cellphone turned off.
"For which she castigated me mightily," Norris said, adding his wife was extremely upset. "She doesn’t like flying at the best of times," he said.
When Anne Norris arrived around 5 p.m. on Air Canada Flight 164, her face was pale and she was still obviously shaken by her ordeal.
"The whole experience was horrible. We thought we were going to go down," she said.
Anne Norris had her seatbelt on, and was sitting in a window seat when the plane started to plummet.
"You could see the wings going side to side," she said. "At one point, people thought it was going to go over, but it didn’t.
"It was just totally unexpected," she said, right after she was reunited with her husband. "A lot of people were hurt."
Elise Fullerton, 16, of Mississauga, said she first heard the news when she was in class at Lorne Park Secondary School, and got a text message from her boyfriend, Stefan Linge, 19.
"He texted me and said `baby, I almost died," said Fullerton. She said she then called him.
Linge had been wearing his seatbelt, but told her there was a lot of turbulence, and the plane shook from side to side.
Dr. Rob Abernethy, associate chief medical officer for the Calgary Health Region said all the injuries suffered were minor.
"Most were orthopedic, soft tissue injuries," Abernethy said.
"These are mostly muscular skeletal injuries that one would see if one was bounced around, having falls, that type of thing," he said.
Other passengers described the turbulence inside the plane as feeling like being in a car that was rear-ended, with shoes, jackets and dishes flying about the aircraft.
"I thought that was the end of everything," said passenger Nisha Gill, describing looking at her 2-year-old daughter during those terrifying moments.
She was on her way from Victoria to visit her sister in Toronto. "We were just praying it would land properly."
"We will be co-operating fully with the Transportation Safety Board to determine the cause of the incident," said Rob Reid, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Air Canada.
Last fall, nine passengers on a WestJet flight were hurt and three of them sent to hospital with non-life threatening injuries after the plane hit turbulence on a flight to Halifax from Calgary.
According to a preliminary Transport Canada account of yesterday’s incident, the pilots advised air traffic controllers of an "aircraft upset" that resulted in the Airbus’s sudden manoeuvres.
At the time, the flight was just over 100 kilometres southwest of Cranbrook, B.C. and under the control of air traffic controllers in Seattle, Wash.
Federal authorities say it’s not known whether the sudden upset was caused by air turbulence or a problem with the jet’s sophisticated flight-control system.
加航機3次急墜數千米 乘客餐車拋機頂 10輕傷
加航機師協會(Air Canada Pilots Association)主席威爾遜(Capt. Andy Wilson)說，加航機師受到全球最好的培訓，懂得應付突發事故，該協會亦會盡一切配合有關調查。