• Call to Action: Marketing and Communications in Higher Education

    A space to discuss the ways in which we market and communicate about higher education and the collegiate experience.

  • College Ready Writing

    A blog about education, higher ed, teaching, and trying to re-imagine how we provide education.

  • Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

  • Conversations on Diversity

  • Digital Tweed

    Digital Tweed® is the work of Kenneth C. Green, founding director of The Campus Computing Project. If successful, these posts will inform and entertain, and at times also annoy. A little dissonance can be a good thing.

  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

  • GlobalHigherEd

    Surveying the Construction of Global Knowledge/Spaces for the ‘Knowledge Economy’

  • GradHacker

    A Blog from GradHacker and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online

  • Higher Ed Gamma

    MOOCS and beyond.

  • Just Visiting

    A blog by John Warner, author of the story collection Tough Day for the Army, and a novel, The Funny Man, on teaching, writing and never knowing when you're going to be asked to leave.

  • Law, Policy -- and IT?

    Tracy Mitrano explores the intersection where higher education, the Internet and the world meet (and sometimes collide).

  • Library Babel Fish

    A college librarian's take on technology

  • Mama PhD

    Mothers attempting to balance parenthood and academics.

  • Prose and Purpose

    After 25 years on the job, a former provost examines the world on campus and in higher ed.

  • Rethinking Research

    How scholars and researchers are working to restore confidence in peer-reviewed science.

  • Sounding Board

    Analysis and advice on questions and issues of individual ethics and institutional integrity, from Jane Robbins.

    Do you have a question or comment that you wish to make anonymously?

    Click here to send it to me.

  • StratEDgy

    The StratEDgy blog is intended to be a thoughtful hub for discussion about strategy and competition in higher education.

  • Student Affairs and Technology

    News, tips, and practical insights about technology for student affairs practitioners by Eric Stoller.

  • Technology and Learning

    A space for conversation and debate about learning and technology

  • The Education of Oronte Churm

    Oronte Churm is the pen name of John Griswold, who teaches in the MFA program at McNeese State University, proudly nestled in Cajun country on the Louisiana Gulf.

  • The World View

    A blog from the Center for International Higher Education

  • University Diaries

    A professor of English describes American university life.

  • University of Venus

    GenX Women in Higher Ed, Writing from Across the Globe

Title

31C

On Thursday, sitting in an aisle seat next to an empty seat next to a pleasantly silent young Irish woman following a successful trip to Dublin, life seemed relatively fine; then the pilot came on to tell us that we had to turn back because of something or other so after a half an hour in the air Continental flight CO127 turned back to Dublin rather than, as he put it, “run the risk of running into problems over the Atlantic.”

March 21, 2010
 
 

On Thursday, sitting in an aisle seat next to an empty seat next to a pleasantly silent young Irish woman following a successful trip to Dublin, life seemed relatively fine; then the pilot came on to tell us that we had to turn back because of something or other so after a half an hour in the air Continental flight CO127 turned back to Dublin rather than, as he put it, “run the risk of running into problems over the Atlantic.”

As we began our descent the plane was rattling, pitching, shuffling, straining, yawing, and generally doing all those things that I don’t personally want a plane to do when I’m in it. The young woman began praying, someone puked a few rows behind me, a guy was being consoled by his very hot redhead girlfriend, some guy said, “Whoa!, I began to notice that the view through the window past the praying young woman was switching from grass to sky with all-too-much rapidity, then the pilot pulled out of the landing.

Someone said, “Shit,” or else that was me in my brain.

I offered a reassuring little smile to the girl, she smiled back, then went back to praying. I talked a little with the man across the aisle from me, a musician; he was headed for Long Island to sing some Irish ballads to a dinner crowd. The Irish Sea looked unusually choppy; then the co-pilot came on to say that there was a problem landing because of wind, but that we would now try the other runway. I assume the co-pilot spoke because the pilot was curled in a fetal ball sobbing gently in the furthest corner of the cockpit from the controls.

We began our second descent in a surprisingly quiet cabin, some retching behind me again, the redhead trying to calm down the boyfriend, a whole hell of a lot of praying…I suppose it’s hard to make noise when you’re praying. The descent seemed normal, than we were back to “generally doing all those things that I don’t personally want a plane to do when I’m in it.” This time the tires touched the tarmac, which would have been fine if they’d stayed there, but instead whichever of the pilots lost the toss pulled us up again.

I was, perhaps, too calm, too sanguine about this whole thing because they never asked us to get into “crash position,” but in retrospect they’ve probably figured that that’s a bit like going under a school desk if there’s a nuclear explosion. And, anyway, it might cause panic among the weaker passengers.

I thought, “Is there where they do the foamy-stuff landing?” I remember thinking that this would be a good thing, but this might have been because foam sounded a lot better than landing in the decidedly non-placid Irish Sea.

As we began our third descent, it occurred to me that Dublin Airport only has two runways. I said to the praying woman, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to die in a plane crash, I’ve always thought I’d have one of those ironic deaths: “He was on the way to join a gym…” She smiled a little, but God looked better to her than cheap gallows humor. The monitor on the seat-back in front of me registered our flight path as a yellow line which now looked like the work of a particularly un-artistic four-year-old.

We touched down to only scattered applause, perhaps because like me most people assume that stopping is the hard bit – well, it usually is in the movies. I heard someone mention pursuing emergency trucks. We seemed to be going pretty fast (as opposed to “fairly fast”), but we eventually stopped.

For about an hour, we waited on the tarmac to get off the plane so that I could have a cigarette and a vodka and tonic. I overheard the hot redhead tell someone on the other end of the line, “Tommy was a rock!” Note to self: fall in love again! The woman who was praying told me she was a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics – who knew mathematicians were even allowed to pray? After two subsequent nights in a hotel in Dublin airport, some chores and a few drinks with friends last night, I am finally feeling at home again.

I think I shall always sit in seat 31C.

Anyone interested in a more technical account of the incident can find details at http://avherald.com/h?article=428d2c90&opt=0

Read more by

Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.

 

Back to Top