An Airplane Story
(all true more-or-less)
By Russell S. Dowd
In these days of missing airplanes I reminded myself of this story of the Alaskan Airliner that fell from the sky into the Pacific Ocean right outside my house. Unseen by me, for I was writing and drinking and drinking and writing and it had been a long day so when I heard all this cacophony outside my house, I chose to ignore it and eat something and pass out.
The next day I woke up to find out what all the fuss was about. An airplane had fallen from the sky. And I missed it! So, what to do? Nothing, of course, and so I went for a walk on the beach as usual, expecting nothing spectacular. How wrong I was. For here’s what I found.
As I walked the beach I came across a line of seagulls standing at the water’s edge. They don’t usually and perhaps never do this. They usually group themselves up shore in the dunes but here they were lined up at the water’s edge—by the hundreds.
But why? And that’s when I looked closely to see what it is that had so caught their attention. And then I saw it. Small brown-purple worm like things. Except they weren’t worms. They’re something else. And that’s when I realized they weren’t worms at all. They were blood vessels! Brown-purple tubular blood vessels. You would think the seagulls would be eating these, but they weren’t. Instead, as I watched them, they were waiting for flecks of flesh to wash up on shore. My god, what’s happened?
And that’s when I began to piece the story together. As near as I tell, this is what happened. Picture a flight out of Mexico, Mazatlan, I think, and as it flies over LA at thirty-five thousand feet to get its latest coordinates and such, the plane suddenly drops like a stone to eleven thousand feet.
Inside the plane here’s what’s happening. If you don’t have a seat belt on you’re now floating, pressed, banged, tussled and tossed about along with all the overhead luggage and food service carts. It’s a mishmash of humanity and detritus and screaming and yelling and wailing. But the pilots save all and the plane levels out at the coast.
For a minute or two the plane flies. People and things and stuff all fall to the floor. People wail and whimper and cry and try to gather themselves. But at least they’re alive. When suddenly, just as they pass from land to fly over the ocean, the plane violently turns upside down and flies nose down toward the ocean floor at a speed that has to be somewhere in the range of seven, eight, or nine-hundred miles per hour.
Once again the passengers are weightless. Only this time, they and all the baggage and stuff are forced, pressed, and compacted to the back of the plane. More yelling and screaming and shrieking.
When the plane hits the ocean, it compacts. You might think it dives into the ocean, clean and swift, but that’s not the way it happens. It compacts! And in physics when this happens, it’s not when too many atoms are stuffed together that causes the problem, for they are mostly empty, but the repulsion of electrical charges that creates the explosion. A repulsion of electrical charges in a magnitude that causes us to say, “Blown to smithereens”!
Days after the event, fisherman and boaters are patrolling the waters looking for survivors. But none were found, as you can see.
But a fisherman friend of mine did find this. A finger floating with a ring on it. The family was most grateful.