Fire on the plane?


Final leg of my month-long journey. Delta flight 1145 from Detroit to SFO: What you don’t want to hear.

The plane is loaded and ready to go. We are being pushed back from terminal, getting ready for take off. Suddenly we hear over the PA, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is the captain speaking. There has been a report of smoke in the rear of the plane. Apparently a hydraulic system has failed. This is not a problem… I think.”  “I think?”  Really?

I look out the window to see three fire trucks right outside our plane. Then, down the aisle in full fire-fighting regalia come two firefighters, moving quickly to the rear of the plane. One has a smoke detector in his hand. There is lots of shuffling around in the back. All three of us in Row 16 are exchanging worried glances. I’m thinking, “There are at least two ways this is going to end. Either they decide it is nothing, and we are on our way in five minutes, or… on the other end of the continuum, all hell breaks loose and we all evacuate down the slides and it takes two days to get home. 

Five minutes go by. The captain comes back on, “Uhh, ladies and gentlemen, they can’t find what the problem is, and so we are going to have to change planes.” My compadres in row 16 are taking it lightly. Not me. I’m muttering out loud, “Goddamn it. This is going to take three or four hours. When the hell am I going to get home.” As usual, my main thought was, “This is all about me.” 

A few minutes go by. Finally the captain again, “Well we have found a plane two gates away that is ready to go. It is the exact same model as this one. All you need to do is walk back out and re-board the new plane.” I’m starting to calm down. Sure enough, we get off the plane, walk literally 100 feet through the terminal and in 15 minutes we are boarding the new plane. I am happy to see my seat mates back in row 16. The whole incident delayed our flight into SFO by less than an hour. 

Mary picked me up and quickly advised me not to be such a pessimist. I advised her that, “We pessimists are never disappointed!” 

I hope that in your travels, you never see firefights charging down the aisle. All’s well that ends well. Felt very good to sleep in my own bed again after 27 days on the road.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *