My brush with infamy, airplane edition

A friend of mine from Norway, on the way back home from a visit to New York (although he didn’t eat at Piccolo Angolo, and is therefore in the doghouse forever), had an interesting experience when, 45 minutes into the flight, his plane began losing cabin pressure and had to return to Newark for servicing. It was newsworthy because Norwegian ski star Aksel Lund Svindal happened to be on the flight as well; a Norwegian website, Aftenposten, recorded the event (you can run it through Google Translate for a fairly readable English version). ABC also briefly mentioned the incident.

This put me in mind of my own scary story, which took place when I was 11 years old and journeying from New York to Salt Lake to visit my mother’s brother for the summer. The plane I was flying in, United Airlines flight 725, lost partial hydraulic power and were not sure what kind of landing they would be able to accomplish. Pilots managed to lower the landing gear manually, and operate the flaps with a backup electrical system; the flight was diverted to Hill AFB in Ogden, which had a longer runway, and the landing was uneventful. However, the stewardesses (that’s what they were called back then, not “flight attendants”) duly gathered up all sharp objects from the passengers, passed out pillows for us to tuck under our seatbelts, and we spent what seemed like an eternity in “crash position.” I remember being intrigued, but not afraid; I think at that age, I wasn’t truly aware of my own mortality, and I don’t think I understood how serious the situation could have been.

The thing that miffed me the most at the time was that I didn’t get a mention in the article as the youngest passenger on board. Ever the attention-seeker, it would seem. At any rate, here for your gratuitous pleasure is the news article from the Salt Lake Tribune of June 29, 1962, chronicling the near-disaster.

19620629 - United 725 2

19620629 - United 725 1

In retrospect, of course, boring and anonymous is much better than burned to a crisp and famous.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

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One response to “My brush with infamy, airplane edition

  1. You were neither in a position of authority nor female. Therefore, the reporter had no interest in you. Makes sense, right?

    Did you do a lot of flying as a kid? Makes sense that you would. I don’t think I flew until I was 14—and me an Army brat!

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