|Posted by Jeevan ॐ Mirthu Gupt on August 17, 2011 at 7:45 PM|
Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi was sitting in emergency exit row 8F reading a magazine on a flight from Montreal to Philadelphia when the in-flight attendant approached him.
“The lady whispers to me, ‘Sir, can you please put the magazine down and free your hands.’ And I am like, 'ok, why?'” Qureshi recalls. “And she says, ‘because we might need you to operate the emergency door.”
That got Qureshi’s attention.
The 70-minute flight to Philadelphia had been bounced around by severe turbulence the entire flight and passengers were already nervous. Then the pilot announced that they would be in a holding pattern for about 30 minutes longer.
Finally, with landing gear down the pilot began his approach to the Philadelphia International Airport. With the runway in sight, he quickly aborted landing and the pulled the plane nose up and back up into the storm clouds.
Rohan Bopanna and trainer Shayamal “Veg” Vallabhjee were sitting in the front row.
“I could hear the flight attendant talking with the pilot on the phone and she kept telling him that he needs to tell the passengers,” says Vallabhjee. “And she was not looking to happy about the situation.”
The pilot soon announced that there were problems with the wing flaps and they would be circling the airport for a short while longer while they performed tests. As the plane circled and the pilot began dumping fuel in anticipation of an emergency landing, some passengers started crying while others prayed.
Bopanna was not having any of that. Instead, he took out his Blackberry and started recording a running commentary. He thought it might be his last. So he threw in some jokes to help his trainer relax.
“What can you do except take it like a man?” says Bopanna. What else would you expect from Rohan ‘Thunder’ Bopanna? Vallabhjee was not as calm.
“Every time the pilot made an announcement Veg was about to wet himself,” laughs Bopanna.
Finally, the pilot made one final announcement.
“Folks, please don’t be alarmed at all the fire trucks and ambulances that are lined up on the runway,” the pilot said. “It is just a precaution as we are going to land at a high speed and on a special runway.”
The flight readied for another landing attempt and now was flying very low over water.
Many of the passengers thought that the plane was going to land in the water and not the runway and began holding hands and praying out loud. Bopanna kept filming and Qureshi read the safety card for emergency evacuation for the 20th time.
As the plane touched down fire trucks race alongside. Finally, the plane rolled to a stop and everyone was safe, but more than a little shook up.
As for Vallabhjee, he managed to make it to the toilet just in time.
By: Robert Davis.