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When Life Killed Death...
By Sanford D'Souza

October 13, 2012 
 
"Cabin crew take your seats for landing," announced the purser. The crew had just prepared the cabin for crash landing as advised by the Captain. This was due to a defective nose gear (front wheel).

An inoperational nose gear means that the aircraft has to land on the main gear (hind wheels) and crash the belly on the ground, which could lead to an explosion. Hence the Captain of the flight was circling the aircraft mid-air to empty the fuel, so as to avoid a major blast when landing. All passengers had their seatbelts fastened and were already advised on the emergency procedures by the Cabin Crew.

The Crew were now seated in their respective seats and were mentally preparing for the most important day in their life. Flight emergencies rarely occur, but when it does happen in your presence, your life starts going backwards. You start seeing the faces of loved ones flash in front of your eyes.

This was also an important day for a young man named Chris who was seated on 10A near the window. He was travelling to New Jersey to see his sick father.

He looked to his right and could see the nervous faces of passengers, most of them with their eyes closed and some of them shivering. Chris was nervous too, even though he had faced death once in life.
 
It happened when he was about 10 years old and was on a vacation in Thailand with his parents. He left his sun-bathing parents and went into the sea. His mother cautioned him not to go far away from the shore. Chris being an obedient boy stayed at a level where his feet touched the ground.
 
The waves were relatively calm that day hence no one really paid attention. But unfortunately the waves slowly became aggressive, dragging him away from the shore. He tried to yell but could not capture anybody's attention and he couldnt feel the sand under his feet. The water entered his mouth and he couldnt breathe.
 
But destiny had other plans. A large wave rose from nowhere and pushed Chris to the shore with its mighty force. He rested on the shore for a while trying to regain his breath. He later went back to his parents but didnt share the incident with them or his freedom to move around would be cut short.
 
Chris survived that day but this day was diferent. On this day death was lurking over his shoulder.

He looked outside through the window, and saw the terrains way down below. Crashing there would be sure death for everybody on board. But what could he do? well what could anybody do? It was upto the pilots to bring the bird down slowly and steadily and try saving everybody. Well, this could be the only hope of all passengers and crew on board.
At that moment Chris remembered his father. Since his parents divorced when he was 12, he hardly spoke to his father. He lived with his mother ever since the court gave his mother his custody.

His father always had a drinking problem, but he never abused Chris. He loved his son dearly.

This may be the only reason why Chris thought of visiting him, when he was informed of his father's struggle with the final stage of cancer.

The plane started moving swiftly reducing altitude over the distance covered. The rapid movement of the aircraft swaying left and then suddenly to the right evoked loud noises in the cabin. Passengers were screaming as loud as possible. A lady in her fifties sitting next to Chris was all in tears screaming "God help Us, God help us".

She made him more nervous and he started sweating.

The aircraft was now 200 ft above the ground, and the Captain announced "Brace, Brace". All the crew started yelling "Brace... Brace....Brace....Brace". (Brace is a method of positioning one's body so as to minimise injuries)

All the passengers including Chris immediately bent forward, to avoid the impact of a hard landing. Chris closed his eyes not to see what was coming. This was his chidhood habit of avoiding the fear factor. He would always close his eyes when sitting on a Rollercoaster or a Giant Wheel. But this was not the fear of the giant wheel, this was the fear of losing his life.
Close to the runway, emergency fire fighting vehicles, and ambulances waited readily.
Reporters from a local news channel were already present to scoop up the latest breaking news.

The aircraft landed with a thud that shook its entire body. The loud noise almost deafened the noise from the screaming passengers.

The pilots were trying to put more stress on the main gear, so as to bring the aircraft belly down smoothly. It was a dangerous strategy, but that was the only available strategy. The wheels screeched and sparks flew out.

Inside the cabin, the cries of passengers could be faintly heard. They were only hoping not to die.

The plane charged ahead for a few more metres until the belly hit the tarmac. The impact was heavy, and all the overhead lockers opened with bags falling out of it. The noise of the aircraft belly rubbing against the tarmac was very loud.

The screeching sound became more intense and sparks flew rapidly. The aircraft was moving really fast even after the flaps were opened and breaks were applied.

A few more metres of dragging and the aircraft finally halted. Inside the cabin all were silent for a moment. Some passengers had vomitted on each other, while some had cried till their eyes were deprived of all tears, and some of them had screamed till their throats were hoarse.

But at this moment, reality was in front of them and all were silent. They had survived the landing. Within a couple of seconds there was loud clapping, and all were smiling, now that they survived. But it was not over yet. Nobody knew, that there could be a chance of a fire or explosion.

The crew opened all doors to evacuate the passengers. Everybody was trying to jump over each other to get out out of the aircraft. Chris was shivering and was cold and was still in his seat. He knew behind all the fear that had blanketed him, he would survive to see his ailing father.

The crew yelled at him to get out as soon as possible.

He came out last, and was followed by the crew and the pilots. All of them were ushered away from the aircraft and fire fighting vehicles came closer to the aircraft.

Chris looked back at the battered aircraft and smiled. He had just overcome death to see his father who was in the jaws of death. And death had indeed lost that day.

 

Sanford D'Souza Archives:

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Comments on this article
manisha, goaFriday, October 26, 2012
Really superb story I thought im in plane n was very scared. very well written.keep writing
Comment on this message     

lorna, MIRA-ROAD-DUBAISaturday, October 20, 2012
VERY CHILLING ARTICLE. keep writing.
Comment on this message     

Sunitha Farias, Kallianpur/MelbourneFriday, October 19, 2012
Interesting write-up from the start to the end. Keep it up!
Nobody should go through this in their real life!
Comment on this message     

Sr.Severine Menezes, Belur, Hassan, MangaloreWednesday, October 17, 2012
Good one, Really nice to read when life killed death....Beautiful...
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ammi, putturTuesday, October 16, 2012
very intresting story
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Sylvia Lobo, kinnigoliMonday, October 15, 2012
Very well written. I felt i was in the plane. i felt i was watching a movie. Keep it up:)
Comment on this message     

Mabel D'Costa, Mulki/Sion - Mumbai/USASunday, October 14, 2012

Very well written Sanford.
Comment on this message     

Sanford d'souza, Mangalore/DohaSunday, October 14, 2012
@Luca D'Silva - Thank you for your comments. Your point is valid. Please note that the picture of the aircraft is added by Daijiworld for referential purposes and not by me. It is ofcourse misleading for a person from an airforce background like you, but unfortunately I cant do much about it.
Also please note that your comments are justified if this story was a newspaper article. But as it is an entirely imaginative story to keep the readers on the edge certain terms have been modified. This has been done only after initial reviews from a few readers who lost grip on the story because of too many technical inputs. Ofcourse this kind of non-usage of technical terms is taboo for an article,but this is only a story. A story with a purpose of entertaining a reader. Cheers!!!
Comment on this message     

Sagar, BantwalSunday, October 14, 2012
Yeah Its ok Sir,Sometimes it just happens,Actually i got Confused for a While coz am reading Aviation Articles Since 2-3 Years,Anyways it was a Rare kind of Article,Actually i dont read these kind of Article,But when i saw the pic of Aircraft and that first Sentence 'Cabin Crew' just Read it...It was Awesome,Keep Posting,Best of Luck!!Cheers!!
Comment on this message     

Sanford d'souza, Mangalore/DohaSunday, October 14, 2012
Thanx for reading my story Rohan. 5 years in this profession has got me used to it. The fear will only arise when we face the deadly situations. I try to always go to work with a positive spirit hoping to come back home safely
Comment on this message     

Sanford d'souza, Mangalore/DohaSunday, October 14, 2012
Thanx Sagar for the good observation. It is indeed 'spoilers' and not 'flaps'. I realised it when i proof-read it earlier but unfortunately i had already sent it to Daijiworld and couldnt correct it. Apologies to my readers.
Comment on this message     

Sagar, BantwalSunday, October 14, 2012
I understand Sameer Bhai...But i just mensioned the Mistakes,Coz its The Right of Readers to Get proper Information so that later on Reading this Article,They should not get Wrong info and should involve providing that info to others..It will be a Chaos!!!
Comment on this message     

asiya, mangaloreSunday, October 14, 2012
reality of Life and death, soul touching article, beautifully written! Best of luck for all future
Comment on this message     

zakir, indiaSunday, October 14, 2012
beautiful
Comment on this message     

rohan pinto(preetham), dubaiSunday, October 14, 2012
That was chilling...sany being a airpursor youself .. Dont u get scared???.. Air crash investigation programes always scare me while flying... Good going keep writing...
Yo college mate
pinto

Comment on this message     

Vinolia Dsouza, Nanthur / SharjahSaturday, October 13, 2012
Very well written Sanford... Keep writing more such articles..
Comment on this message     

Luca Alban D'silva, MudarangadiSaturday, October 13, 2012
When the nose wheel is malfunctioning, the aircraft makes nose landing and not belly landing, it is less dangerous than belly landing. Aircraft empties its fuel then reduce speed and align it parallel to the ground and lands on rear wheel and take a little diversion and touch the nose wheel on khacha, which is full of grass and no sand or stones. It never make it wings to touch the ground first as shown in the picture. i have seen fighter aircrafts when serving in Indian Air Force. Belly landing is done only on khacha and not on runway. Dear Sanford please note it....
Comment on this message     

Antony Fernandes, Mangalore / USASaturday, October 13, 2012
Very well written Sanford. If God want us to leave more he will save us from his mighty powers in the form of "Big wave" and "crash landing" too. And if our time has come to leave this world a small silly reason is also enough for our death!!!
Comment on this message     

Steevan, MangaloreSaturday, October 13, 2012
Dear people in trouble remember every moment in life struggle and happiness to God, He puts us in test so we may grow close to Him but He cares us in every struggles and troubles when we ask Him, so its better to be close to Him every moments in our life so we are safe from every sides in our life.

Well written my friend
Comment on this message     

Merlyn Dcunha, MangaloreSaturday, October 13, 2012
Well written.... I too was scared while reading...God save each and everyone during their journey where ever it is. Keep writing. Good article
Comment on this message     

Sameer, Mangalore/BahrainSaturday, October 13, 2012
Sagar Bhai, story hai enjoy karo. Thesis nahi hai koi PHD keliye. Well written story keep it up.
Comment on this message     

Rahman, mangaloreSaturday, October 13, 2012
First of all my SALUTE to PILOT for his great effort. Almighty accepted n graced him. If it is dirty AIR INDIA then finish no hopes.Like me - might lost their ANMOL RATAN.

Hell To Air India and their staff.

Jai Hind.
Comment on this message     

Francis Varghese, KeralaSaturday, October 13, 2012
Accolades of the first order to the writer of this article. My heartiest congrats to the Captain of this Aircraft for having done such a Marvellous landing which shall be sripted in the Hearts of all onboard forever. This Pilot has saved so many lives with his mighty skills & blessings from the Almighty. I Wish The captain of the Aircraft and his crew happy & safe landings in all their future attempts and may the almighty be them always...
Comment on this message     

Sagar, BantwalSaturday, October 13, 2012
"The aircraft was moving really fast even after the flaps were opened and breaks were applied."

Correction-Flaps are extracted before landing the plane,in order to increase Drag and to Stabilize the plane at lower speed

it should be Spoilers...which is on top of the wing which extracts soon after landing in order to Disrupt smooth flow of Air over the wing..So tht plane can reduce speed rapidly..  So it Should be Spoilers or Speed Brakes instead of Flaps in that Sentence
Comment on this message     

Melwyn , DubaiSaturday, October 13, 2012
Super young man, keep writing.
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