Friday, June 20, 2014

Island Hopping: Getting There

When traveling to the smaller islands of the Bahamas, there are a few options.  One option is Bahamas Air.  It is notoriously late, but is the largest regional airline.  It also has the biggest planes.
There are also several small operations, Pineapple Air, Southern Air and Flamingo Air.  None of those really inspire confidence in me, so we chose Bahamas Air.  It is only a 30 minute flight, so how bad could it be?
We took a Dash 8 aircraft because it was the biggest.  I don’t like to fly, but it is necessary at times, so I just do it.  Here we are on board with about 50 people.  All is well.
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Despite my father being a pilot and my mother being a stewardess, I get motion sickness while flying.  So embarrassing, but it’s true.  Keeping myself distracted is the best for me.NIK_6975
Jackson and I are looking at the sunrise out the window.
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Miller and Allen are too.NIK_6982
I had just closed my eyes to catch a few minutes rest when Jackson asked me what that smell was.  I thought because it was an older plane, it was just bad exhaust smell so I told him to just breathe through his mouth. 
Shortly after that I hear a commotion from the seat behind Allen and Miller.  Two women were very upset and pointing out the window.
You know those times in your life when time just totally stops? 
The engine right outside Miller’s window was on fire.
Not smoke, but fire coming out of the side of the engine.  I immediately started praying.  In my mind we were going down.
So many things go through your mind at a time like this: When do  we put on our life jacket?  I’m a stronger swimmer than Allen, so should I take Miller? How many rows to the door in case I have to count and can’t see?  What is the safest crash position to be in with the boys?
Allen was very calm.  The stewardess was very calm and reassuring.  The woman behind Allen was having a full panic attack.  All the passengers were on edge.  After trying to put the fire out with the built in fire extinguishers, the pilot shut down that engine and the fire went out. 
Then we were flying on one engine. 
Just one.
I thought we would kind of tip over since the engine on one side was still going.  We kept going.
Another minute or two later the pilot came on and said that the situation was under control and that we would be landing in Rock Sound shortly.  I had to explain to Jackson what was going on and that the pilot was doing his best to get us there safely.
One great thing about this situation is that when you have your kids with you you aren’t allowed the luxury of panicking.  Staying as composed as possible was my only choice and I did it for them.  We prayed harder than we have ever prayed.
It was probably ten minutes after the fire that we landed safely in Rock Sound, Eleuthera. After we landed, Allen took this picture out of Miller’s window.
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That hole is where the fire was coming out.
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I waited over here for Allen to exit the plane.  Since I had left my camera on the seat, he waited to get it for me.  So glad I didn’t lose it on the plane.
See the smiles of the people getting off the plane?  Every one of us was all smiles.
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We were about 50 miles south of where we thought we’d land, but that didn’t matter.  We happily took a taxi the rest of the way.
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I could go on about how emotional it was, but let’s just say I’m not ready to go yet and I’m so thankful that we made it there safely.  Thank you God!
We pretty much had to take Bahamas Air home.  I wasn’t getting on a smaller plane, the ferry wasn’t until Thursday and I knew we would be on a different plane. 
Also, I had to do it for the boys.  They needed to see that we were going back up and despite feeling uneasy we were going to do it again.  Miller must have said 50 times, “This is my first Bahamas Air flight that didn’t catch on fire!”  At full volume.  Out of the mouths of babes…
A few days later, one of the local newspapers ran this story.  It is pretty vague, but somewhat typical of news stories here.  Another article is here.
After having some time to process things, I know one thing for sure. I’ll never fly on a single engine plane in my life.  Ever.  Flying is a risk, but so is crossing the street.  I’m not in control, so I just have to make the best choices I can and hope for the best.

3 comments:

  1. Oh, wow, this is CRAZY!!!! So glad you survived this! :-)

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  2. I love your post only because I knew it all came out alright. The funniest part was who would take Miller of the stronger swimmers....I'm Just saying I would pick Miller as the strongest over either of you. ;-)
    Aunt Chele

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  3. Oh my goodness! I am so glad everything turned out okay!

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