Good old A320
October 03, 2012

Dear Old Bolds and friends

Writing to you alive and well in Washington DC. I say that because almost 24 hours ago both might have been a little teensy weensy bit in doubt.

Everything was absolutely great until we went to land at DCA. Well, OK, maybe not perfect. In Chicago we had this slight delay while they replaced one of the navigational computers (both were defective), but I thought, no big deal, right?

I was having a wonderful conversation with the guy next to me who works at Toyota, and we had plenty of acquaintances in common (I worked there from 1998 to 2001). Everything was proceeding as normal as we were coming down to land except it was a little foggy. I had no idea how high we were.

That is, until we broke through the clouds and fog. Within about 1.5 heartbeats I saw some street lights right (RIGHT) underneath us. But no runway. I can't really confirm there was no runway because 1) I did not have a great view from row 14, and 2) we immediately started a very sharp climb like I've never experienced in a commercial jet before.

We passengers all went silent as our hearts were pressed back against our spines and we (I am assuming here) all started a very devoted communal prayer. In any case, when I actually said softly Oh My God I think there wasn't a soul on board which did not echo the sentiment. I'm not kidding here, but soon I got that dizzy feeling in my head that you get when you are hanging up on TOP of a rollercoaster about to go DOWN, but we were going UP.

Thinking a collision might be imminent, I counted the seconds as an impact became ever less likely. Then the pilot's voice came on over the intercom as we leveled off above the cloud layer. She calmly explained that the ground fog was too thick to really land at DCA, but that we were going to make another attempt anyway.

I wanted to vote against this idea, Dulles and Baltimore being so close and all, but unfortunately, since I had no parachute handy and there was no democratic process to the decision, we went in again.

Since I had Bill Hardy's story on my lap and fresh in my mind, I thought of
his return to the fleet after dark, after shooting down those Japanese planes, and how hairy it must have been, running low on fuel, with no radio communication, and darkened ships to find them and land. So, of course, it gave me heart.

But I have to admit that, for the first time since I was flying in a small plane with my alcoholic and stoner friends (one of my less smart decisions) in a storm along the edge of the Rocky Mountains, I was a little concerned.

The second time around seemed somewhat closer to the airport and a possible runway, but resulted in a slightly less exciting ascension back above the clouds. Soon the pilot let us know we would be landing at Dulles, which was a considerable relief to us, even if we ended up busing it back to DCA at 11 pm.

Today in general was something of an anti-climax, though it has me thinking about my choices in life. I saw someone recently with a t-shirt on that read across the front "this body will be a corpse someday". Nothing is ever guaranteed, is it?

Carpe diem! Miss you and look forward to seeing you again soon.



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