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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Anchorage & Adventure Flying Home

Yesterday I flew to Anchorage for a quick trip  to visit my friends Karen (center) and Julie (right). Karen was in the state visiting from St. Lucia and its been over a year since I saw her.  I was in the city for just about 24 hours before heading back this afternoon.

Flying into Kodiak can be brutal. The island often holds clouds and weather systems right around it, which can lead to fog, poor visibility etc. The scene I describe below is an example of something that happens so often to people in Kodiak.  

2:50 PM- we leave sunny, 70 degree Anchorage. No mention from pilot about bad weather in Kodiak. Approximately 1 hour later, we approach our "Island Terrific in the North Pacific". The landing Gear comes down out of plane. The flight attendant takes her seat in the front.

I look out my window and see clouds, fog and a few small islands in the ocean RIGHT BELOW US. I think, 'there is no way we are landing'. Within a few seconds, the engines are thrust into high gear and we feel the plane take a sharp angle up. Up. Up. A pit forms in the bottom of my stomach.  The landing attempt was aborted.

Everyone aboard waits on word  from the pilot. My heart races and pounds. I don't want to have to fly back to Anchorage.  After a few minutes the pilot announces, "Well, folks, the visibility there in Kodiak is pretty low. We're going to circle here for a bit to see if it clears and give it a go in a few more minutes." We ascend way above the clouds once again where it is bright and we can see blue sky.

5 minutes pass. Then 10. Then 15.  Then 20. I try to internally analyze every increase/decrease in elevation. Is he going back to Anchorage? Is he going to try to land again?

Once again, we begin to descend into the clouds. The landing gears comes down again. The pilot announces a second chance. My heart is going to pound out of my chest. I take a few deep breaths to try to slow it down.   I grasp my hands together and make a prayer-1st to land (so we don't have to fly back to Anchorage), and 2nd that we don't die and I can see my kids again.

This time we come from under the clouds and I can see town.  It is obvious now that in the time we circled, the clouds lifted enough for us to land. I can see the airport in the distance.

"Yes. Thank you. Thank you."I whisper under my breath. I don't think the mass of tourists on board realize how close we came to not landing. The gal next to me with a young baby is estatic, as she had been trying for a day to get back to Kodiak.

The plane makes some sharp angles in the air before landing on the airstrip. A round of applause is initiated throughout the cabin and smiles are on everyones face.

As we depart  the plane I give the pilot a smile and a big "Thanks!" as I step off the plane. A job well done. He seems pleased with his work.

Just another day of air travel flying into Kodiak.

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