First Class Ticket To Disaster

October 12, 2007

in Airplane Stories

I was on an Alaska Airlines flight from Orange County to Portland. I had flown this route several times a year as my family lives up in Portland, and at the time I was living away in Newport Beach.

Since I was a frequent passenger, I racked up many air miles, and was usually able to upgrade to first class. For this flight, thank god I did.

I was sitting there, sipping my cocktail as we were above Eugene, OR. The pilot came on the intercom and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, it seems that our right engine has failed (we’re on a two engine 737!).” The stewardess came by and grabbed my free drink out of my hand along with everyone else’s. I said, “Hey, I may need that,” but they were way too serious to be joking around. We were instructed to buckle up and prepare for an emergency landing in Eugene.

I’ve never been at 35,000 feet above the airport where I was supposed to land before. Basically, the pilot circles his way down on the one engine while you are thinking: “what’s to keep the other engine from failing?” The whole thing took about 20 minutes (we could have landed in Portland!) and we touched down really hard, popping tires and rendering the aircraft immobile. Everyone cheered and clapped.

We sat on the runway late at night for 2 hours while we waited for the guy who knew how to drive the tow vehicle large enough to tow a 737. Of course, this only guy was asleep at home.

They sent a plane from Portland, and we made the Eugene to Portland trip in a 737 in 20 minutes.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

JH April 2, 2009 at 11:53 am

Although unnerving, don't worry quite so much about a single-engine incident. Not only are U.S.-certified jetliners able to fly and land on one engine, but they can take off on one engine as well. Incidents of dual-engine failure in modern jets are extraordinarily rare (but well publicized).


ryan h April 2, 2009 at 2:30 pm

if you handed with the force to pop a tire, had a failed engine… let me tell you… you would not be on the runway for 2 hours lol…


Scott April 3, 2009 at 5:48 am

A failed engine is not that big of a deal. It happens at least once a week somewhere in the world. Last summer coming out of Memphis we lost an engine on a MD-88 just after rotation. We leveled out at pattern atltitude, circled back and the pilot greased in one of the best landings I have ever seen. Not a big deal. It did help that since I work in the aviation industry I knew what was going on and knew the danger was minimual. I can see how your average flyer would freak.


Garrett July 25, 2013 at 11:00 pm

I live in Eugene and remember this! LOL


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