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Monday, November 21, 2011

The Plane, the Buzzard and No Regrets

Friday, October 18th could have ended much differently for me and many others. On a full flight from Panama to Newark I had that moment in life when you get to consider the fact that you have reached the end of your stay here on earth. As the plane sputtered and the smell of smoke filled the cabin I had nothing left but time.

I watched the people in the plane. There was no crying. No yelling. No tears. Only hope and acceptance. The cabin crew sprang to life and prepared the plane for impact. Their professionalism in this terrifying moment astounded me. I didn't get to lay eyes on the man behind the voice that kept his cool and managed to land a limping plane full of gas safely. I wish I could have told him how much his skill was appreciated by not only those on the plane but also by those who loved us.

To the captain and crew of Continental flight 1022 from Panama to Newark - thank you.

At first I was going to carry on with this blog and write about how much the people in my life mean to me. But the thing is they know this. In fact I make sure to tell those closest to me the difference they make in my life as much as I dare. So it was in these moments in the plane when I thought I would not have a chance to do this again I was not troubled. Although I am far from ready to leave this world, I know that one thing I have done and done well is love. I have beyond a shadow of a doubt the most incredible, brilliant, kind and giving people in my life. In fact, I promise myself daily never to take them for granted.

So in this moment of acceptance I realized that I really didn’t have any regrets - just was tremendously heartbroken that I would not see my amazing son again.

But then as my eventful day carried on, something else happened. While making my way back to the hotel in Panama City my taxis driver and I narrowly escaped a major car accident.

My reaction? Laughter. Like someone shaking me from a deep sleep came the acknowledgement how very alive I was. Fate had intercepted and given me a tremendous gift.

You see flying is one of my greatest fears. Rationalization fails me on this one thing. I do it, but I loathe it. Even try to avoid it. But no more. As I felt the plane struggle to gain altitude my fear became my reality. I had no choice but to face it. Accept it even.

As cliché as it sounds “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I certainly feel that way. I have lived a great life, but now it’s about to get even better – I simply won’t accept anything else.
Acceptance is for moments when you’ve given up on life – and frankly I don’t have time for that.

PS. For a bit more information on the Continental Flight 1022 see below...

Incident: Continental B739 at Panama City on Nov 18th 2011, bird strike

By Simon Hradecky, created Friday, Nov 18th 2011 18:46Z, last updated Friday, Nov 18th 2011 18:47Z

A Continental Airlines Boeing 737-900, registration N53442 performing flight CO-1022 from Panama City (Panama) to Newark,NJ (USA), was in the initial climb out of Panama when the left hand engine (CFM56) ingested a bird and repeatedly surged. The crew shut the engine down and returned to Panama City's Tocumen Airport for a safe landing on runway 03R.Panama's Civil Aviation Authority reported the aircraft was headed for Houston,TX (USA), however, this flight reached Houston on schedule.Continental Airlines confirmed their flight 1022 returned to Panama due to necessary maintenance.

Reader Comments:
panama birdBy enrico boehme on Friday, Nov 18th 2011 19:18Z
i was in an warehouse in the cargo area when the noise started like a turboprop is landing next to me.. we run outside and over my head i have seen fire and noises like explosiones from the left engine.. we thought first is going down and is not climbing anymore.. pilot was bringit it under control and left kerosin in the pacific before landing.. landed save with scared people. good pilot and the landing was good..however those stupid birds here always are treath beside of heavy rains and storms.. friend of mine was in airplane and she said stuff flying around, people screaming and big noises and vibrations.. good they turned the thing off before explosion..

For a video of the landing refer to the editorial link

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