By Avi Selk | Washington Post
Above the clouds and the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, a starboard engine fell apart, and 373 people held together.
We don’t know much about what happened on the United Airlines flight, not mechanically at least. The outer casing ripped off the rightmost engine midway through the San Francisco to Honolulu flight. Passengers heard a boom, followed by a high-pitched whine, and then they all shook violently with the entire plane.
For the better part of the next hour, passengers watched shreds of metal flap like feathers on the wing. Metal flew down to the ocean. When the partially disintegrated Boeing 777 finally descended toward a runway in Honolulu, hundreds of people braced their heads against seat backs, prepared for who-knows-what, and lived.
United’s statement on the incident is brief and vague and antiseptic enough that we’ll quote it verbatim:
“Flight 1175 traveling to Honolulu from San Francisco landed safely after the pilots called for an emergency landing because of an issue with the #2 engine. Our pilots followed all necessary protocols to safely land the aircraft. The aircraft taxied to the gate and passengers deplaned normally.”
There will be no further comment while the federal government investigates, the airline added. That is all.
Except, of course, for the people — who countered terror with acts of courage, grace and love, and even humor and bad puns.
Jeff Carter, who showed us how you stare down fear
When the engine’s shell ripped off and fell hundreds of feet to the water, there was no land in sight from any window on the plane, KITV reported. Oxygen masks fell from the ceiling, and the plane shook violently, sometimes banging when a loose chunk of metal hit the wing.
So naturally, people panicked. But panic only lasts so long. The flight crew told everyone to sit down and buckle up, the New York Times wrote. That’s what everyone did.
In his aisle seat, a technical engineer named Jeff Carter pulled out his phone and turned it toward his own face, which was serene, though it shook in the frame. He panned the camera to show that every man and woman behind him wore the same expression. Calm, silent, though everything shuddered around them.
“What a United 777 full of people calmly preparing themselves for death might look like,” he later wrote beneath his video. He had thought the vibration would rip the plane apart.
But none of that showed …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World