A user posed the “AskReddit” question to pilots: “What was your biggest ‘We’re all f—–‘ moment that you survived and your passengers didn’t notice?” The responses ranged from amusing to disturbing and included everything from near catastrophic mechanical failures to man versus nature struggles – all while passengers remained unaware of impending doom.
For passengers, ignorance is bliss when it comes to close calls in the air. Most air travelers would prefer not to know how close they came to meeting their maker on that bumpy flight to Cleveland, but now one Reddit user is doing their level best to shatter that innocence by asking pilots the question: “What was your biggest ‘We’re all f—-d’ moment that you survived and your passengers didn’t notice?” The answers are both chilling and, in some cases, more than a little bit amusing.
A first officer on a Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) to Narita International Airport (NRT)-bound Boeing 747 told the story of a jumbo jet that almost didn’t get off the ground at all. The pilot recounted that as the aircraft used more and more runway, the plane stubbornly refused to leave the ground, eventually gaining altitude seconds before disaster struck. While passengers were in the dark as to how close they were to tragedy, the flight crew was at a complete loss as to why the plane was so slow to gain altitude.
“Nothing was wrong, and we were at full power anyway,” the now-retired pilot wrote. “It turned out that extra cargo had been loaded in error, and we were well overweight. Apart from me wetting the seat and a raised heart rate, the passengers were none the wiser.”
A commercial pilot on a much smaller aircraft related a story about the time the plane door popped open over the Appalachian Mountains. Not wanting to cause a panic among his passengers, the veteran aviator assured everyone onboard that this sort of thing “happens all the time.” Faced with the choice of trying to get the jammed door to close or to concentrate on flying the small plane, the pilot opted to land A.S.A.P. It wasn’t until the plane was safely on the ground that the captain made a confession.
“After the trip was over I told the passengers that was the first time that had ever happened to me and I was slightly panicked as well,” the pilot admitted.
A passenger on a 16-seat passenger plane admitted to not having a clue why there was a loud explosion mid-flight followed by all of the cabin lights going dark. Fortunately for these air travelers, the flight crew had no intention of keeping passengers in the dark.
“After a few minutes the lights come back on and the pilot comes in the PA says, ‘Sorry about that folks but we were just struck by lightning. No need to worry, everything seems to be working. Except for the radar. It’s fried.’ I may have worried a little.”
Along Came a Spider
A certified flight instructor explained that making sure students are not distracted while training is one of the most challenging parts of the job. The CFI said this sometimes involves stealthily squishing the occasional spider, but one particular student in a panic admitted to a deathly fear of spiders when he spied the instructor sneakily dispatching an eight-legged intruder.
“For the rest of that flight I squished spiders behind my student’s back as they came forward from the nest I had just spotted in the back of the plane,” the instructor wrote. “He never knew.”
There are also times when it takes a little work to convince a passenger that danger is close at hand. A student just beginning his flight instruction did not believe his instructor was having a health scare, certain at first that the events were a test or an elaborate prank until the ailing pilot began making mayday calls and asked the student to help him control the aircraft.
“We land like a kangaroo with a rocket up its a–,” the student pilot wrote about his last ever flying lesson. “I’m surprised the wheels didn’t fold. Must of been four big bounces, but it’s a big runway. Scrub speed, finally get the plane to stop and instructor passes out. He had a heart attack.”
Don’t Tell Me That
While passengers don’t always know what’s going on in the cockpit, still other flyers sometimes become privy to information they would rather not know. In those cases, the truth can be hard to swallow.
Take the case of the flight attendant who received her captain’s uninvited confession following a seemingly routine flight. “We landed, everything went smoothly, as we’re deplaning the pilot steps out of the flight deck and goes ‘Wow, I’m glad we made it, we lost 2 hydraulics on the way down.’”
Or better still, the unsuspecting passenger who allegedly gleaned some unwanted insider information from the crew following a Christmas Day Southwest Airlines flight in 1997. This new mother says she was left counting her blessings following a surprise holiday gift.
“I was one of the last people off the plane because I was having to haul the baby and his car seat off, and either the pilot or copilot came off behind me with a flight attendant, and one said to the other, ‘I wasn’t sure we were going to make it down in one piece,’” the lucky flyer reported. “Not something I wanted to overhear. Yikes!”
[Image Source: Shutterstock]