Parked Plane Gets ‘Discovered’ – During A Landing

December 5, 2007

in Odds & Ends Stories

In August of 2001, my mom, younger sister & I flew from our home in D.C. to Phoenix, Arizona for my older sister’s wedding. At the time it was cheaper to use BWI than National and we didn’t live within sight of Dulles until a few years later. Because we had booked a flight earlier in the day and had no specific plans – we had an entire day to kill in Phoenix, resting, whatever until leaving the following day for Tucson – when an agent announced that volunteers were needed to take a later flight due to overbooking, we agreed it was fine with us. For compensation, we were to be driven from BWI to National for the next flight, then put in first class.

We relaxed, stopped preparing for the flight, and as the door started to close we received word that they weren’t overbooked after all (???), so we could board this flight, still in first class. As we boarded, they said there were only 2 seats; there were 3 in our party. So my mom had us up front. Then they informed us that a very large (extremely huge is more like it) man needed BOTH extra seats to be accommodated (hold the extra snacks). So they bumped us to the first row of coach, together, which worked out well – plenty of legroom, and still the service we would’ve received in first class.   The rest of the flight was going as planned until landing. We were just seconds away from touching down (as in, nose pulled slightly upwards) when suddenly we began to accelerate at the steepest angle I’ve ever seen an airplane ascend in. This was less than a month before 9/11, but the first instinct wasn’t hijacking, just pure confusion. After about 5 minutes, people started getting nervous. No one would tell us what was going on, and we wanted to know why we suddenly pulled up that way and why we were now at a height much greater than normal for being almost directly above an airport. Finally the pilot comes on and says, “Ladies and gentleman, sorry for the disturbance. We’re going to try landing one more time. Just as we were about to touch down, a plane was discovered right in front of us on the runway. We had to pull up at that steep angle to avoid a collision. We should be on the ground shortly.”

How did they miss a plane on the runway? It was sunny outside and planes are big. Oh well, guess it was better to see the plane right before impact than right after.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anthony April 2, 2009 at 1:48 pm

It's called a "go-around"… kind of startling if you've never been through one, but they're somewhat common…


Anonymous April 3, 2009 at 7:04 am

Happens. Pilots pull onto the runway before they're supposed to when another plane is landing. It's scary as Hell.


ls April 3, 2009 at 7:55 am

Don't think he needed to tell the whole plane that, could have made up another reason… lol, but as the others said, it's scary unless you know what it is all about.


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