[373/441] A scare in the air

Last night, I flew back to Chicago from Omaha.  The trip included a part which significantly scared me, but I am all right now.  Let me recount the story.

The weather was perfectly fine in Omaha, and I made it through security very easily.  When I got to the gate, I saw that the flight was delayed by about 30 minutes, due to a “weather advisory” in Chicago.  The good news: It allowed me to get my grocery price book up to date before boarding the plane.

The plane pushed off from the Omaha gate at 19:10, which was only 20 minutes after the original scheduled departure time.  However, we were held on the Omaha tarmac for 15 minutes, to await signal clearance (i.e. air traffic controllers in Chicago did not clear us yet for departure.)  Oh well–I successfully got some journaling done.

The estimated flight time was 54 minutes in the air, and 1 hour and 20 minutes gate-to-gate.  The beginning of the flight went swimmingly, including the funny second half of the safety talk.  “This is a non-smoking, non-complaining flight. … If you want to light up, feel free to take it out to the wing, while we all enjoy the double feature Bye Bye Birdie and Gone With The Wind.

Come to think of it, the “non-complaining” leads me to an idea for a blog post tomorrow!  Stay tuned!

Anyway, on the flight, I journaled, played (and lost) a hand of Klondike solitaire, and watched the clouds that we went through.  It was white and dark, since it was night time.  As we approached Chicago, the captain came on the PA ssytem, and said, “We’re about 58 miles outside of Chicago.  … We should be on the ground in about 18 minutes.”

My watch said 42 minutes elapsed at this time.  Let’s fast-forward ten minutes.  I noticed my watch, and exclaimed “Two minutes.”  We, however, were nowhere close to landing, and so I counted down the seconds from fifteen as my watch readied the fifty-four minute quote.  When it hit 54 minutes, I made my BUZZER noise, followed by the Sad Trombone, a-cappella style.

A few minutes later, the wings began to make noise, as the landing gear was engaged.  I could see some city lights peeking out from the thick clouds that we were in.  But then gradually but scarily, the velocity vector shifted from a negative z-component to a zero z-component, and then to a positive z-component, while also accelerating.

(Non-mathematically: We started ascending and accelerating, and the landing gear was disengaged.)

I started getting into a little bit of a panic on the inside (even though I may not have shown it on the outside), since the captain had not made any announcement about a change.  Though I wasn’t suspecting any sort of terrorist plot, I was still quite scared, as No News is Bad News on a plane, in my opinion.

I asked a nearby flight attendant, and she said that there was nothing to worry about.  A few minutes later, the captain came on the P.A., and said, “We are in a holding pattern.  The runway at Midway was closed due to the snowstorm.  We have enough fuel to try again in about 10 minutes, and if we cannot land, then we will divert to St. Louis.”

That information was enough to calm my nerves.  Thankfully, we managed to avoid the diversion, and landed at Midway after one hour and 32 minutes in the air.  We had to wait on the tarmac for a bit, and at least the flight attendant made it enjoyable by singing to the tune of These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things.

The good news: it did not take long to get my luggage, unlike when I returned from Lincoln in October.

But, another delay happened on the Red Line: the operator left the train to deal with a signal problem… yet on the CTA website, it claimed that there was “police activity” at the station that this delay occurred.

Despite all these travel irritants, I still managed to get back to Evanston, and asleep before Tuesday hit.

I feel that Casey may be transferring her Travel Curse to me for a little bit…

==============================================

Today is the three-hundred and seventy-third day of Mission 441.  Sixty-eight days remain.

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