Anyone here been in an airline "incident"?

I was on a Hughes Air flight out of Sacramento in 1971, it was a small twin turbo prop. Just after I boarded the stew hustled us off and back into the terminal where we found ourselves isolated and surrounded by cops. They unloaded all the luggage onto carts and put us on a bus. They then transported the whole shebang to a remote hanger where the cops searched the luggage, questioned each of us and made us show ID’s. About two hours later we got back on the same plane and took off. No problems, other than the delay and inconvenience. Bomb scares were fairly common back then. There were several people caught doing it because they were running late and didn’t want to miss their flight.
I was once on a Super Connie (4 engine prop plane) enroute to No. Africa (1958) when we lost an engine and had to land in Bermuda. Spent two days there waiting for it to be repaired. Real hardship there? :wink:
I once landed at Pt. Mugu in heavy fog, we couldn’t see anything until a very few seconds before touchdown, I was very impressed w/ the skill of the pilot and the ground controllers.
Just remember, over 40,000 people die each year on U.S. highways, but there hasn’t been a loss of life on a U.S. airline in over four years.

My son is a pilot. :cool:

When I flew with him in his private plane (“Aircraft, dad…”) I was astounded that this easygoing, happy-go-lucky son I’ve known all his life turned into a professional, no-nonsense, serious-as-a-crutch, totally focused pilot. Impressive! Balls of steel and all business. I saw a side of him I’d never seen.

He has to deal with passenegers and all sorts of stuff, and I’ll never forget when he told me, “Dad, you don’t fuck with the pilot-in-command. Routine flying is pretty boring. We train for procedures we hope we never have to do.”

I don’t fly for an airline but the Dash 8 aircraft I fly is most commonly used by regional airlines.

So far the only incident I’ve had was a warning light coming on indicating that one of the fuel filters was being bypassed. The implication of this is that the fuel filter is blocked and the further implication is that there may be more crap in the fuel that may cause an engine problem. So, we go home straight away and be alert for engine fluctuations. Nothing untoward happened though.

In smaller aircraft I’ve had an aborted take-off due to a partial engine failure, had to conduct a go-around (aborted landing) because some clown was on the runway when he shouldn’t have been, and had to return home early because of abnormal engine indications.

I’ve had no incidents as a passenger.

Sattua, the fluctuating altitude would just have been a glitch in the system you were looking at. There’s no way an aircraft’s altitude can “fluctuate” over 10,000’.

Was that some time ago, or in an old aeroplane at least? Must have been scary at the time eh?


Unless you’ve developed a fuel leak or a systems problem that prevents fuel on board from being used, there is no excuse for running out of fuel, or even nearly running out of fuel.

To say that the Gimli Glider incident was caused by the malfunctioning fuel gauges is being a bit lenient on the pilots IMO.

Likewise, Jake, I would’ve been threatening to slug those Electra pilots in the face rather than hug them. But I understand that the immediate feeling is of relief and happiness.

Sattua, I think the best thing that can be said about this thread is that we’re here to tell the stories.

The truth is, airline flights are like weddings. Something goes wrong almost every time. 99.999999 percent of the time it’s a little thing that can be worked around, and again like weddings, leaves nothing but a charming anecdote remembered only by a few people.

I’ve been on flights that have aborted landings. I’ve been on flights where we came out the clouds on final approach and I saw funnel clouds outside the windows. I’ve had my luggage lost in cities ranging from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Osaka, Japan. To tell the truth, I’m more scared about finding my way out of a strange airport parking lot at night than I am about flying.

I don’t know all the details of this one, but I recall my father telling me about a flight he was on once, probably in the early 70s or so, when the little air-masks dropped down from the overhead console. I don’t recall the story involving actual depressurization of the airplane, so maybe they were having folks put them on as a precaution or something.

Anyway, I asked Dad what he did. He said, “I put the mask on, then went back to reading my book.”

Dad’s cool.

Not that long ago (a few years) but yes, the aeroplane in question was 40 or 50 years old, I believe. Nicely restored, and used for charter flights. For those of us who were unobservant/too absorbed in the food we’d been served, the length of time between the announcement that we would be landing and our actual landing was almost too short to be scary. I’m not sure that the fact that we had engine trouble and were going to land had really sunk in before we landed. I was much more scared a few days later–because I boarded a much smaller plane. I don’t mind commercial flights, I can live with commuter flights, but I don’t like light aircraft. I don’t consider myself scared of heights, but I don’t do well with ladders, and I think that’s why I didn’t like the itty bitty airplanes.

I was not kidding when I said that boredom and irritation because things weren’t going according to schedule was the biggest problem.

This happened to me once on the tarmac at Vancouver. It didn’t bust a fuel line but it did put a big hole in the plane, effectively knocking it out of service.

Another time coming into DFW, my plane had to DODGE ANOTHER PLANE. We pulled about a 2-3G turn. Let me tell you, I appreciate the physical fitness of fighter pilots more now.

I know how you feel, Sattua; I’m very frightened of flying - and I have to take 70, 80 flights every year. Really. You don’t stop being nervous but it’s something you can deal with.

You didn’t ask for my advice but I think you’re going about this the wrong way. Instead of concentrating on “what went wrong and how were you saved” just remember that airtravel is safer than walking across a city street. Airplanes fly by virtue of well known physical principles. Commercial airline aircraft are operated and maintained by trained personnel following strict standards. Their traffic is controlled by trained and experienced people from the start of taxi for takeoff to the final taxi at the destination. I think the only thing that will allay your fears is to grit you teeth and fly and if you do enough of it you will finally accept that you are quite safe doing it.

Oh yes. Stick to commercial flights by scheduled airlines in developed countries. I’m not so sure about some of the marginal carriers elxewhere, I wouldn’t fly them for any reason.

Commercial flights? Nope. Any problems with those were resolved on the ground before takeoff.

Military flights? Oh my God, yes. I could tell you stories that would make you never want to fly again, and I do that for a living.

I was on a flight to Tampa from Newark. It was delayed over an hour on take-off for maintenance. We took off and as we neared Baltimore the plane started bucking, drinks went flying; one lady returning from the bathroom fell onto someone. The Lifters{?}were making some weird noises and we turned around and flew back to Newark. It was a very choppy flight and babies were wailing and everyone was very tense. Thankfully we landed safely.
When we landed I expected to be let off the plane but they asked us to remain seated and relax while they checked out the plane.
I said something along the lines of, “I am not staying on this plane, and you have to let us off”.
The stewardess started to try and calm me down and then said, “If you get off the plane you will not be allowed back on and you will not get a refund.”
I got more belligerent and replied “You are letting me off this death trap, your mechanics already failed to fix the problem once and your airline is going to refund my money.”
About a dozen other passengers shouted out support for me and I was allowed off, followed by at least twenty others. I went to the Continental Rep and explained what happened and requested a refund, as I was not going to be able to get back on a plane that day. She processed the credit to my card and started helping many more ex-passengers. As I was leaving they emptied the rest of the plane.
I found out later that the flight was made on another plane and did not arrived until 2am when it was due to arrive at 1:40pm. I was very happy I insisted on getting off the plane.
I even got out of the parking lot without paying when I explained what happened and showed the parking lot cashier my credit.
My boss was very upset with me that I did not just catch a later flight. Somehow he did not understand why I was not willing to fly again that week. I did not make any flights for the company for about 18 months after that. That did honestly not upset me, as I do not really enjoy flying.
Lately, I have been flying much more often again.


About 15 years ago we flew from…hmm, I think it was Xian into Shanghai for a stopover, before going on towards California. The flight was very turbulent, and once in Shanghai we were hustled rapidly off the plane.

Workers all congregated around the plane, poking and prodding. Our mouths hung open as one of the engines literally fell off onto the tarmac! The workers all started running around, waving their hands and yelling. We were in a big waiting room with a large glass window, and could see everything. Scary, to say the least!

It took almost 36 hours for them to fly in replacement parts. We spent the time sleeping on the floor, being guarded by soldiers with machine guns (fun times!)

How could an engine just fall off a plane? None of us spoke Chinese, and our tour guides had been taken away as soon as we landed, so we never got a real answer.

It was a very nerve-wracking flight back to the US!

 -Wallet, who's still afraid to fly!-

The one that worried me the most was a night flight from Boston to Dallas. The weather deteriorating quickly as we moved into the South. There were thunderstorms every and the turbulence was getting worse and worse. I was sitting in the back and getting the worst of it. As we approached the Dallas area, the pilot announced that DFW was closing and we were going to have to divert to Houston so we turn towards Houston and the turbulence was bad but is also sustained. The flight attendants weren’t allowed out of their seats and only people that were allowed to throw up were allowed to kind of crouch and scoot along to the lavatories. We arrived in near the Houston area and both airports were closing due to the weather. The pilot decides a 2nd alternate will be New Orleans so we start their. We make it a little under half way their and New Orleans is getting socked in but more importantly, we reached the critical point of fuel and we were going to have to turn around and land at a closed Bush Intl after all. Most people were nauseated at this point and some were throwing up. People were more scared than I have ever seen on a flight and people were crying. The women on each side of me grabbed my hands for the last part (I wish they had been hotter BTW). Landing was rough but Ok. I had to stay in a hotel and then get bounced around from city to city trying to get home for 2 days.

Actually the worst thing has been that the airlines have lost my baggage 5 times permanently and temporarily at least twice that number. No one can explain it and the airlines even suggested I was committing fraud. When people travel with me, their bags tend to disappear as well.

[hijack] Dude, aren’t you s’posed to be in Bagram now? [/hijack]

If so, go to Yuri’s and get yerself a toque too!

I think that my fear of flying encompasses two different fears:

  1. The fear of death, which I logically and for the most part subconsciously know is not a risk. Driving, buses, trains, walking across the street, walking down stairs, and eating breakfast are all more dangerous.

  2. The fear of being afraid, mostly because the plane moves so fast, turbulence is scary, and from experience on rollercoasters (where I literally can’t breathe on the downhills) I know that any fancy maneuvering would be an extremely unpleasant experience.

Maybe there are pilots who can assure me that turbulence is never, ever dangerous?

That’s actually what bothers me so much. I’m not at all afraid to die. What I am afraid of is the idea of knowing I’m about to die and wigging out in the few minutes before it happens.

I read a few years back about a Japanese airliner that crashed. The passengers had time to write farewell notes to loved ones. To me, this is far, far more horrific than a sudden explosion which causes instant death.

That’s why doping myself up works so well. I happily curl up and go to sleep, comfortable in the knowledge that if something awful happens, I’ll sleep right through it.

I was on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne several years ago when one of the aeroplane’s engines caught fire. It was actually the one just outside my window, so it was a little unnerving. The plane returned to Sydney and we passengers were warned to prepare for an emergency landing. In the end though everything went smoothly.

If I understand it properly, it was caused by multiple simultaneous system failures - the combination of a bad sensor, improper training of the ground crew for the new fuel system, and a badly-labeled fuel receipt compounded by a late conversion of the fuel system to metric. Add to this an all-glass cockpit with no unsimulated fuel gauges, which was never intended to be used in an unfueled aircraft. Any one of these failures would’ve been discovered and accomodated individually, but together they pretty much obscured one another and made for one hell of a cock-up.

It’s hard for me to blame the pilots on this one.

On a civilian commuter flight from Minneapolis to Seattle, back in 92, we were somewhere over South Dakota when the pilot announced that “things were getting weatherish, folks, but we’ll have you on time, don’t you fret.”

So dude flies, apparently, straight into, a huge thunderstorm. The light around the cabin went *green[i/], then the plane dropped about 300 feet. Everybody screamed, the oxygen masks dropped, I swear my hair stood on end. Then we made a midair altidude correction, and once we’re s&l again, the captain gets on and says “Folks, we seem to have experienced a negative electric discharge, and we might be landing sooner than we thought.” Several hours of circling later, we finally get off at SeaTac without incident. Looked at the pilot when we got off, and he looked like he’d aged thirty years in an hour…

Your experience sounds truly horrifying. It reminded me I am flying Monday and I have to unsubscribe from this thread or I might not be able to.


As Subway Prophet mentioned there were multiple failures starting with the design of the fuel totalizer by Boeing.
Air Canada tried to hang the pilot. The Canadian government’s investigation cast serious doubts about Air Canada’s procedures.
Bottom line was there was a fault in one circuit of the fuel totalizer, it did not switch to the functional circuit automatically.
A mechanic checked it out and found that by killing one circuit breaker that the system functioned. Not having parts he ordered the parts, and left the breaker off and tagged. He noted in the log that the tanks had to be “dipped” to ensure correct fuel levels. At Dorval Airport a worker tasked with dipping the tanks, without authorization, authority, or training, decides to fault trace the problem. he turns the breaker back on. This takes a functional system and makes it non-functional. This knuckle head does not kill the breaker before leaving the flight deck. <- This was the critical failure, if this mellon head had left the damn breaker alone there would not have been a problem.
The next morning the refueler uses the pre-printed factor on his refueling sheet to calculate how many kilos of fuel are on board and how many need to be added. The pre-printed conversion factor is 1.76 which is the correct factor for every plane in the Air Canada fleet except the 767. The 767 measures it’s fuel in kilograms, not pounds. The correct factor is .8. It is legally the refueler’s responsibility to put the correct amount of fuel on board under a dipping case. The pilot and co-pilot went over the figures three times, but using the pre-printed (wrong) conversion factor. It should be noted that neither the refueler or the pilots were trained in this process. The pilot also consulted the Min Equipment List to ensure it was legal to fly. He was assured by maintenance personnel that it was legal to fly with no fuel indication when a full dip had been done.
After a brief flight to Ottawa the pilot insisted on having the tanks re-dipped. Using the same incorrect conversion factor it confirmed (they thought) that there was plenty of fuel for the trip.
Here is a good PDF
Hard for me to fault the pilot for such a systemic failure.
This is just further proof that that asshole Murphy is always standing there just waiting for you to overlook some little detail.