At around 4 PM, I read an article on Yahoo! that a JetBlue plane that had taken off from Burbank Airport an hour earlier had a crippled front landing gear and was circling LA in an attempt to make an emergency landing. The front wheels had somehow completely turned sideways during takeoff. So as I spent the rest of the afternoon presenting concepts and reading emails, a pilot was nervously preparing overhead, burning off as much jet fuel as he could before trying to land at LAX.
About a year ago, a plane I was on had a mishap
where the front wheels also ended up getting damaged. But luckily the jet was only halfway off the ground before the pilot noticed something was wrong, and he was able to slam the front end back down and skid to a stop. Those few seconds were bad enough, so I couldn't even begin to imagine what the poor bastards were going through up there for three hours. And if it couldn't get any shittier, JetBlue's got inflight TV screens for every passenger, so they had the convenience of watching their hobbled plane live, as news anchors discussed with air disaster experts whether or not they were going to burn to death in a fiery crash.
Our agency's pretty close to LAX, and on the north side of the building you had a perfect view of the airport. So at around 6:15, when the pilot decided to go for it, my coworkers and I were standing transfixed, staring at the eastern skies for the approaching plane. On the distant runway you could see the long row of flashing lights from the tops of firetrucks and ambulances.
We saw the plane cautiously descend upon the runway while listening to the reporter on the live Webcast streaming from a nearby computer. When the jet looked like it was just a few feet off the ground, I turned to the moniter to get a closer look of the perpendicular front wheels slowly touching the runway. People briefly gasped when the tires burst into flames ... but you fuckers know how it all ended.
Speaking of escaping disasters, good luck and Godspeed to all the Houston-area readers and anybody else who's trying to get the fuck away from Rita. Be safe, take your pets with you, and pray that by Saturday Rita weakens significantly into a puny fart of a storm. And let's all hope Bush learned from Katrina and isn't playing a banjo or bongo drums when this hurricane hits.