I’ve long considered American Airlines to have the best pilots in commercial aviation.
Last night, the pilot flying Flight 1152 from Dallas into Baltimore proved that to be true.
The flight was totally uneventful until about seven minutes before landing. The winds were obnoxiously bad the closer we got to the airfield, then we were in some kind of crosswind. Shortly afterwards, the thrust seemed to go up and down. I was sitting in a window seat and I could feel the aircraft wall touching my arm, then moving away. No freaking kidding, I held my arm next to my body and the wall would touch my arm.
If you’ve flown in turbulence a bit, you’ve heard people go “whoa” once in a while when the plane bounces. Last night, after a few whoa’s, it stopped. Dead silence, except for the guy insisting it was completely normal. It wasn’t normal. When its dead silent, there is concern. I felt a cold sweat and then I thought, “we are in trouble.” Several more bounces up and down…it was as frightened as I’ve ever been on an aircraft. Not even the C-130 that caught on fire was that bad.
When we actually touched down, the pilot put it down on the end of the strip, a bit hot but no problem. Thank you Jesus! I was trying to send my wife a text, but my hands were shaking so badly I couldn’t.
People were talking about the landing in the terminal and on the trip to the rental cars. I found out later there were winds up to 50 MPH out there. I believe that’s the limit on crosswinds you can land in. I didn’t see any other planes flying in or out after we landed.
I used to work for an airline called Reeve Aleutian. It was an airline that made landings like last night’s routine. But those were bush pilots in the Aleutian chain, the worst flying weather in the world! It’s been a long time since I’ve been in one that bad, and certainly the first time I’ve ever felt the plane flex.