June 12, 2009

Welcome Aboard Flight 6578….

Good morning! A huge thank you to Anna for having me visit today. Let me just say that I’m thrilled to be here. As thrilled (but in a good way) as an experience I had a couple of months ago….

I’ve been flying for years. For the past ten I’ve traveled by air 3-4 times annually for work, plus usually took some sort of vacation with my sisters or family. No problem. Board. Stuff my carryon in the overhead. Take my seat and hope for the best--that is, hope not to be scrunched by the person next to me as his or her arm or leg encroaches into my area. I hate that. I always keep my arms within my allotted space. But isn’t it amazing how, without even the slightest twinge of guilt, someone can keep their arm on the entire armrest for the whole trip? It happens all the time. Once I sat next to a man who, for no reason I can fathom other than wanting to be contrary, wedged his briefcase and knees—didn’t know it was possible-- against the back of my seatback so I couldn’t recline.

During flight I’m not much for talking, but I will if my neighbors seem friendly and want to. I’m happy to carry on a conversation. But mostly I read or sleep or think. It’s amazing how trusting we are as a whole, allowing a total stranger, the pilot, to hold our lives in the palm of his hand, whether it be a steady, trustworthy one, or one less experienced. Who’s to know?

This is where my story begins. In March, my extended family--sisters, brother-in-laws, nieces and grandnephew--had to travel from California to Kentucky. We were all on one flight, and the reason for that would be a topic for a whole other blog. First let me say, I had the worst seat on the plane. Last row, middle seat, engine covering the window. There was no way of seeing anything unless I got up and looked over the shoulder of the person in the row ahead of me. We were descending into our connecting city, Fort Worth.

On my right was a sleeping soldier, and on my left my husband, next to the isle. When you can’t see, everything seems to slow down, so I wasn’t surprised when I began to fret that our descent seemed to be taking a very long time. Just then the plane surged forward, as if the pilot had stepped on the gas for some reason, instead of slowing down. I froze. The acceleration let up. I exhaled. Moments later we plunged forward and slightly downward again, like a rock pitched by a mighty arm. This time I grabbed for my husband’s arm and gave him a look. His eyebrows arched up knowingly. I looked around. Tried to stay calm.

The plane continued to surge forcefully forward, then let up for a moment or two. Each time it happened, I thought that would be the end of it. My husband, realizing my state of near-panic, began to crane his neck around to see out a window; then he told me we were almost down. He could see the ground. We would touch the tarmac in moments. Well, if that was the case, why were we thrusting forward yet again with a power I’d never experienced before?

It was then I knew this was it. I believed with all my heart I was about to die. At least my boys aren’t on this plane, I thought desperately. My youngest couldn’t get out of his advanced individual training with the Army and my oldest, who was in school at Purdue, was driving down. Thank God they would be spared.

The plane was deadly quiet, as I believe everyone was having the same thoughts as I was. We were ready for anything. To crash. To explode. Something was very wrong. Then, again unexpectedly, the nose pulled up sharply and the throttle, if that is what it’s called in a plane, felt as if it had been pushed completely forward, the ascent was so strong. Of course I was praying for all I was worth. After a minute or two, the pilot came on the sound system. He said that the wind was very strong and the gusts (I was so rattled I can’t remember how strong he said they were) were making landing too dangerous. As a result, the tower had advised him to abort the landing and try coming in from the other direction, where we’d be going into the wind, instead of with it. From there it was an easy landing, if you can call drenched in sweat and shaken to the core “easy.”

In my eyes, this pilot was a hero. He brought us back to earth in one piece and, happily, I’m here to tell the story. Like a bad dream, it’s in the telling that makes the nightmare less potent. I’m sure lots of you have similar accounts. Since we’re all getting ready to board for Nationals, I thought (in a crazy sort of way) it would be fun to share our stories. Have you had a flying experience that was less than wonderful in some way? Or, on the other hand, what is it about flying that you absolutely adore? We’d love to hear....

And, speaking of flying high, to celebrate the coming release of my debut novel, Where The Wind Blows, I'm giving away an advance copy to someone who leaves a comment. Also, August 1st. will kickoff my Under a Western Sky Contest, with a grand prize of a night’s stay in a bunkhouse (with an outdoor shower and a bed as big as Montana!). So be sure to check out my website www.carolinefyffe.com for all the details.

Don't know why my book cover uploaded in the strange blue tones. Just pretend it's at night.....


Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Hi Caroline. Thanks for blogging today. I enjoy flying, but I understand the feeling that you've put your life in the hands of a strangr. Still, I figure the odds are I'd be killed *driving* to the airport, than in a crash!

I don't have a horror flying story, but I was forced to spend the night sleeping on JFK Airport's floor years ago when I missed my connecting flight. I draped myself over my luggage so no one would steal it. It wasn't a very peaceful night's sleep and more stuff happened during that trip, but it is when I learned: put a change of underware in your carry-on bag (or at least in each suitcase).


Caffey said...

Hi Caroline! I've only flew twice. The first time I flew, was a few years ago. See I never flew as a child or many years after I married. I got to fly when I went for a conference for work. It was my first experience and I tried to prepare myself and it was just a 45 minute flight but it felt like forever. See I don't like heights! So I didn't do well with that. At least I had the week to stay and not worry about flying back (And I was in Washington DC and it was so beautiful. FIrst time I've gone anywhere far and I still have so many clear memories after all these years! Last time I went was one for just a meeting during the same day so flying there and meeting then flying back. I didn't do well, physically got sick and I shall not fly again. LOL. I think I just can't handle the height. Nothing ever happened. I'm just a wimp :) BUTiI love train rides!!! I could move around, I was close to the ground and love to read on it!

LOL on the blue tones, but I thought the book cover looked great! And so great to meet you and check out your book!

Caffey said...

Caroline, I just read about your book and saw your video on your site! Beautiful! A western historical romance! Sounds like an emotional read of Jessie and Chase (I read all I could find at your site on it!) Truly a great video for it as well. I'd so love to be in the contest for the ARC. Thank you!

Caroline said...

Good morning~
Thank you again for having me on your blog!!

Nights spent in airports can he a horror of their own. Especially with worrying about getting your things ripped off. I'm always worried about my purse or loosing my passport in a foreign country. Your idea of sleeping on them was a winner. I'll keep that tucked away for the future. JUST IN CASE!

Have you ever had a rude isle mate?
Have a great day and thanks for the greeting...~<3


Caroline said...

Hi Caffey, good morning!

Your train ride sounds great. I actually have my ticket to fly to conference but I’ve been longing to look into the train thing. Not because of my bad experience but because I’ve ALWAYS wanted to take an extended trip across country. I think one would be able to see so much. I’ve done a dinner train once with my father for his birthday but that was only like a three-hour trip and it was just up and then back on the same track and was only like three hours.

You’ve encouraged me to look into a REAL trip to say, Kentucky to visit my sister.

Speaking of conference and DC—will you be attending this year??

Thanks so much for coming by this morning. (I’m late)


Caroline said...


Thanks for the flowers on my book and video! I love this story because it's my first and I feel like Chase and Jessie have lived in my heart forever!

What do you write?


Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

WOW, Caroline, how scary for you. SO glad that pilot brought you down safely.

Coming home from Nationals in Dallas a couple of years ago, we all sat in the plane watching something that looked necessary to propery flying was flowing from the wing outside my window. It wasn't a small drip, lots of it ran down the tarmac. When the pilot refused to take off after they had the regular workers and then the expert workers check it out we were very relieved. Mind you, at Nationals I try to keep up with my group of much younger friends and I was so tired it made what was happening even worse. Coping was difficult. We changed planes and then halfway home, a woman walked down the aisle and fainted at my feet. When they decided she was about to upchuck, I wanted to get off the plane and walk the rest of the way home. All was well when we finally landed a couple hours late because hubby was there to greet me with a nice cold Pepsi in his hand. Not as scary as yours, Caroline, but memorable none-the-less.

Mary Ricksen said...

My DH is a private pilot. He flies the little planes. The ones that remind me of the inside of a volkswagon in the sky.
The only scary thing that happened to me while flying is when one time the plane I was on suddenly dropped 800 feet and scared the living bees outta me!

Paty Jager said...

I hate flying- I have sinus problems and being in planes unless I remember to take a sinus pill makes me nauseous and light-headed.

I'm one who stays bound up tight not encroaching on others space and I'm not a talker unless the person next to me starts the conversation. I'd rather stay focused on a book or sleep and forget I'm in a plane.

My first flight was in a 6 seater that flew clients into a remote ranch in the mountains. I was going to help out in the kitchen for a weekend. I was stuck in the very back with the provisions. I couldn't see out, had to smell the fuel fumes, and was sick by the time I arrived. But it was a good thing I couldn't see because they landed the plane in a meadow, where they had to drop over trees and then stop before crashing into the mountain.

Laura said...

I've had the SAME experience flying into DFW!! I think the wind there must be really strong. I got stuck on the tarmac there for about six hours once-- there were tornados in the area, so they closed the airport, and they wouldn't let us off the plane! (Just where you want to be in a tornado-- in an arodynamically-shaped box.) Then the airport lost power and they had to re-enter all the flight plans again.

So glad that your flight ended without further incident!!!

Caroline said...

Paisley, Hi gal!!

When I’m on a plane and they have to check something out I’d much rather get off like all you did. It does ad time and energy to one’s day but at least it’s better than flying on something you think is going to plummet to the earth at any moment, with you aboard.

And I can’t imagine you not keeping up with the youngsters. I think of you as the leader!

Thanks so much for dropping a line…
U R going to DC, right?


Caroline said...

Hi Mary, wife of pilot!

I’m not a fan of the little planes although you’d not think it. It seems wherever I have a connection the second flight is on a puddle jumper. I guess they are as safe as the bigger jets but still my imagination gets the better of me.

Your 800-foot drops sounds terrifying! Did they explain what the reason for the drop was….geeeezzz.


Caroline said...

How’s your cute horse? I just love him.

Your trip to Montana to help in the kitchen sounds heavenly. But not the trip there. Fumes of any kind make me so ill. Headache and stomach problems. I feel for you. I’m glad you made it safe and sound. Was the week totally wonderful?

Thanks for coming by!


Keli Gwyn said...


My worst experience flying took place over twenty years ago and had nothing to do with the plane or the crew. My hubby had accepted a job with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Germany teaching in an American high school. We were very exited.

My DH had to fly over two weeks ahead of me to begin teaching while I remained behind to oversee the shipping of our household goods. On my flight from SFO to NY, I got food poisoning. I was all alone in JFK feeling very sick, and yet I had to board the flight to Germany, which the Army had arranged.

I curled up in my seat with a certain little bag handy, slept the entire way across the Atlantic and arrived feeling drained. My poor fellow didn't know why I wasn't happy to see him waving the German chocolate bars I loved.

There were two good things about the ordeal. The flight seemed to take no time, and I didn't suffer jet lag. Once I recovered, I embraced the wonderful opportunity we'd been given. Our four and a half years in Germany were awesome.

Caroline said...

Hi Laura!
Another Bond gal. You did such a great job on the new, Nobody Writes It Better Blog. http://www.nobodywritesitbetter.com/
That took tons of work. Thank you! Today is the kickoff over at Rom Romance Island and there are a couple of great guests, for anyone looking for more fun.

Wow, the incredibly strong winds may be a Dallas thing. Your experience sounds nerve wracking to say the least. Six hours is a very long time to contemplate destruction by an oncoming tornado. I’d have been a basket case. Were your hubby and family on the plane with you? That makes a bad situation worse…worrying about them.

And, thanks for coming by today.

Big hugs,

Caroline said...

I didn’t know you lived in Germany for four and a half years! I’d love to pick your brain. I love it over there and would absolutely love living for a few years. I’m sure you have tons of stories. My family was military too and we lived in Wiesbaden for two years but I was too young to remember anything. How unfair! My sister’s have lots of memories.

How dreadful to be sink on such a long flight. Were all the seats taken or were you able to stretch out a little? Did you actually get sick? I know that’s a bit indelicate but I’ve always dreaded the possibility of that happening…

Good to see you!

Keli Gwyn said...


Our time in Germany was amazing. We were there from 1989-1993. We saw the troops from our Army post deploy to the Gulf War. We also witnessed the end of the Cold War and visited former East Germany and what was then Czechoslovakia, as well as many West European countries. Our daughter was born in a German hospital one block from the Nuernberg castle. We returned with a cuckoo clock, lots of German furniture and many treasured memories.

Regarding the flight. Yes, I was sick. Thankfully, the worst of it hit while I was in JFK. The flight was full. I felt for the two German businessmen seated next to me, but I felt too bad to explain what was wrong. I figure they just assumed flying bothered me. It does, but not like that thankfully.

Cindy Procter-King said...

LOL, Caroline, great post. Now I'm glad I'm not going to National. I would think of your experience the entire time!

Caroline said...

Cindy, DC won’t be the same without you! I remember running into you several times in S.F. last year. But, I know you have a wonderful thing planned for that time and I wouldn't change it either. We will be thinking about you!

Thanks to you, too, for all your work and continued work on the Blog. It looks great!

Thanks so much for stopping by.


Christie Craig said...

Hi Caroline!

I love to fly. And I've had some doozies of flights. Nothing too scary. There was one where the woman in the seat in front of me, grabbed the "airline" phone from the back of the seat and started beating her husband with it. They had drank a little too much.


Caroline said...

Oh my gosh, Christie, that is hilarious, but it would also freak me out. I don’t do well with confrontation of any kind.

I feel for the flight attendants (my sister is one for American) when they have to deal with tipsy passengers. Sometimes some people who aren’t drunk can be a real pain in the you-know-what too. I had a strange man sitting one row back who started talking loudly and obnoxiously when we’d been sitting and waiting to push back from the gate for takeoff for about an hour. He was saying the airline was holding us hostage, etc. Very crazy stuff. It didn’t’ take long before a very official, and stern woman showed up and told him any more remarks of the kind and he would be off the plain.

I was hoping he’d be off the plain anyway….

Thanks for coming by. Congrats again on your new YA books! That is awesome!!!


Caroline said...

Oopps, that's plane! LOL
I'm such an egg head sometimes.

Gail Fuller said...

Caroline, thankfully I've never had any scary plane stories. Hmm, is this the part where I should spit three times to ensure it never happens? :)

Christie, thanks for sharing your funny story. Poor fellow. I guess it wasn't so funny for him.

Caroline, I wish you all the success in the world with your book! Congratulations!

Gail :)

Caroline said...

Hi Gail,
Thanks for stopping by. No stories? Well, you are one lucky traveler. I hope that holds out for you.

Hey, great job with the Nobody Writes it Better Blog Kickoff. It was lots of fun….
I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone lots better.
Will we see you in DC?


Sandy DeTaranto said...

Great blog, Caroline. I've never had any harrowing experiences on airplanes *knock on wood*. The worst tale I can tell is that a certain airline recently charged me $2.00 for a bag of peanuts (yeah, those complimentary peanuts that are given to you on most flights).

My story pales in comparison. Glad your flight landed safely :-)


Caroline said...

Hi Sandy, thanks for coming by. It's a sad state of the world when a bag of airplane peanuts costs $2--especially since they aren’t more than three in the bag.

I'm glad you don't have any scary stories. That's a good thing.

Have a great night,

Virginia said...

Hi Caroline, your book sounds like a great read. I have only flown twice in my life, once to Flordia and one time on a real small plain. One that had only four seats and you felt every bump. We took a small plain ride over the lake and country near where we live. To me it was a thrill.

Caroline said...

Hi Virginia~I've been in one of those tiny planes once too. I remember taking off because it felt like the plane just jumped up. My knees went weak.

Thanks for stopping by.

Caroline said...

Thank you, Anna, for having me over at your blog. It was fun. And thank you to all the people who came by for a little flying fun.

The winner of my book Where the Wind Blows is Caffey.

Caffey can you please send me your mailing address through my web page?

Thanks again--and happy flying!


robynl said...

one trip we were waiting forever to board the plane and finally they announced that our flight involved a 'new' airplane and they were having some problem with the instrumentation and we might be staying or be rather late. It turned out that we boarded another plane they brought in and we were late. But can you imagine boarding a plane that previously had trouble with dials/knobs or whatever. I don't think so. And this was the plane's maiden flight would it be that they had gotten the problem fixed.

Kristina McMorris said...

So I'm curious... did the soldier ever wake up, or did he sleep through the whole ordeal? LOL.

I've flown a lot in my life, rarely sparing two seconds of worry about the fact that I'm in a chair... in the sky.... entrapped by a metal tube.... tens of thousands of feet from the ground. Okay, so perhaps I've been oblivious. Anyway.

One of the few flights that has stuck in my head is the red-eye I took from Oregon to Chicago, leaving at 11pm, in a rainstorm, a few nights after 9-11. It was the first flight I was able to get after the Twin Towers tragedy; meanwhile, my hubby is in the Midwest, about to undergo surgery. Oy. Not the most relaxing of travel excursions under all those circumstances. But memorable.

Kristina :)

Caroline said...

Oh, Robynl--I would NOT like that at all. Thank goodness everything was okay!

Thanks for stopping by!


Caroline said...

Hey Kristina,
Yes the soldier did indeed wake up and he could see the fear in my face. He was young, and not much for talking, but he did take the time to assure me that he had been in much worse scenarios flying over to Germany. After a little while he actually went back to sleep. He really did have nerves of steel.

And that was not a fun flight for you worrying about your DH. I’m sure you were glad to get that over with.

Thanks so much for stopping by. See you at NWIB!!