So far you have heard all about the fun and adventure my daughter and I had while visiting California. As we packed our suitcases, turned in our rental, and headed to our Gate we had no idea that a new adventure was waiting for us that day.
We took off for Seattle at 12:30, sad to have to leave Cali, but I had a little surprise for my girl in Seattle and that would help with our mood. I always like to sit behind the wing and Em had the window seat, we had just flown over Lake Tahoe and we were eating snacks and feeling fine. I had noticed that the stewardesses kept looking out the left side of the plane and seemed concerned. It seems a passenger had noticed fluid leaking out of the left wing. Hmmm. The pilot came on the speaker and assured us that all was fine but that we were diverting to Portland. We were losing fuel from our left wing and it was unbalancing the wings. That didn't sound too good. Em and I were just getting back into our seats (potty break) when the pilot informed us that we all needed to buckle up and that we could not make it to Portland but were landing in Klamath Falls, Oregon. I must say, we all locked eyes with each other and everyone looked nervous. I have never dropped from the sky so fast as we did that day. We kept circling and dropping and we were all pressed up against the seat in front of us. Em and I held hands and I kissed her and we told each other nice things and decided that if this was it, we were glad to be together. The brother and sister in front of us grabbed hands, the family across the aisle were in a group hug. We came in so fast to the ground that when we landed I didn't think the brakes would hold. This is not an airport that usually has jumbo jets flying in. When we came to a stop, there was a huge collective sigh and we all started clapping. Captain Mike came on the PA and told us that he had had to shut down the left engine completely but that he had done most of his flying in the Navy like this so it was easy peasey. He didn't give himself enough credit. He did an incredible job of flying. We disembarked, to this tiny little airport which is home to the Air National Guard, and when I went outside, I said, "Look at all the fire engines!" and a man next to me said, "Didn't you see them racing down the runway after us?" I am glad I didn't, easy peasey indeed.
Huge credit to the flight staff and the lead stewardess, Toni. They kept us informed, fed, and comfortable. Another plane could not be flown in until 6pm, so we had about 5 hours to wait. Air Alaska handled all our connections via cell phone. Klamath Falls donated reading material and pizzas were ordered. We made 170 new friends. At one point, Em who is a trained EMT had to assist a woman who was feeling faint until a fireman could be located and I was so proud of her. Everyone pitched in and it was wonderful.
We flew out of Klamath at 7pm, with everyone cheering. 9 people decided not to risk fate and drove home. It did occur to me at one time. But I love to fly and I couldn't be frightened of it. As we headed over Washington state, I gave Em a card with her surprise in it. I had originally planned when we got to the Seattle airport, to take her for a nice dinner and to visit the Pan Am kiosk and get her the hand bag she had wanted for a long time. We didn't have time for dinner, we had to catch the last flight to Montana, but we did get the purse before we hurriedly boarded our flight. Another couple from our "doomed" flight sat across from us, and when the steward heard the story he happily re-filled our wine glasses all the way home. Nice touch. We flew into Missoula without incident, a little tipsy and very happy to be home. Not the perfect way to end a trip, but we made it home un-hurt and learned a lot about ourselves. We didn't panic, we comforted each other and tried to make others around us more comfortable. And for the most part, so did everyone else on Flight 513. 170 people and one dog, made it home safely. That is all that matters. Always, Kit