#131 When the plane touches down on the runway

I sat beside a Curled Up Ball on a flight recently.

Poor girl hadn’t been on a plane before and was gripping the armrests, gritting her teeth, and eyeballing the barf bag the entire trip. Me, I was enjoying unlimited tomato juice, an insightful in-flight magazine article about hotels I should stay at in cities I will never visit, and a beautiful red sunset over Care-A-Lot. But even me, Joe Cool, still suffers from Last Minute Freakout, always suddenly believing in those final few swervy seconds that we’re about to crash land.

It doesn’t help that the plane cabin dims all the lights before landing, either. It’s like “Welcome to an evening of theater!” In this evening’s production of ‘Will We Land Safely?’, the role of Peeing-His-Pants Passenger will be played by … you.

Curled Up Ball and I made brief eye contact as the Seatbelt Sign glowed brightly on our sweat-shiny foreheads. She looked at me for support and I’m not proud to say I offered none, instead giving her a fake smile and a loud gulp.

We swerved, we curved, we lifted, we dropped, and suddenly out the window it looked like we were at ground level but hadn’t touched down. Buildings whizzed by and we held on quietly and stiffly with our heads back just in time to finally feel the loud bounce of those tiny wheels slamming into the runway.

When the plane touches down everyone releases their collective breath and we get a loud and skiddy sign that we’re finally home.


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Photos from: here and here

30 thoughts on “#131 When the plane touches down on the runway

  1. I usually fall asleep before we take off and the runway, thankfully, wakes me up.

    Btw, did you know that there’s a mall in the sky?

  2. I love this! My family likes to play the “Air-Force or Navy” game. You try to guess if your pilot was in the Air Force or the Navy based on how the landing is (most pilots were trained in one or the other). If he hovers over the runway for a bit before touchdown he’s Air Force because he learned to land with plenty of space, if he puts the wheels down quickly, he’s Navy because he’s used to landing on a short runway on a ship. Stupid but mildly entertaining.

  3. Hmm… Personally, I prefer #656. Much more exciting to us fresh-faced flyers who rarely get the chance to be on a plane.

    The plane touching down, for me, is more “Awwwww…” then “Awwwwesome”.

  4. Good feeling. But strangely enough, the better feeling is when the plane parks by the gate and the light comes on. Sometimes I feel like there is always a chance that some drunk pilot will be driving around the runway and we are going to hit them and burst into flames. So, that final jerk of the plane when they hit the parking brake is the one for me. I love flying though.

  5. I’m loving all the posts about airplanes :D I’ve been travelling a lot lately, so it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Last time, I left from Seattle, and I looked out the window of the airplane in the hopes of seeing my friend’s apartment building. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it :( But Seattle is awesome in the early morning. And finally touching down in Florida was amazing (even if I did lose my luggage for about half an hour in Atlanta. Ooops)! It was nice to finally get there after travelling all day.
    I fly again on Monday. I am SO ready for this :D

  6. I always tense a teeny bit when we’re landing. Flying is okay with me but I can’t let my mind think too much on it, especially when there is the slightest turbulence. The fact that I’ve started watching Lost (on season 1) doesn’t help things either haha.

  7. My husband returns from Paris this afternoon after 6! days away. Thats right 6 days as a single mom of 3 rambunctious boys. NO-ONE will think it is more awesome than me when that plane touches down. Thanks for the smile!

  8. To all the “little curled up balls of fear”, we sing to calm the nerves, “These are a few of my favorite things.” It works<3

  9. A flying-related awesome: Once, a woman sitting next to me asked if I would hold her hand during take off and landing. I said “sure”! Then, the flight attendant offered her an upgrade to 1st class and she didn’t want to go because she had found someone who would hold her hand. The flight attendant promised he would hold her hand, so she took the upgrade and I got an empty seat next to me on the plane, which is also awesome.

  10. I’ve often wondered if a barf bag would do for “peeing his pants passenger!”
    I suspect gulp, grip, grit, grin, and bear it are likely more fitting!

  11. I love it so much! It’s even more fun when you’re the one at the controls while the beast turns from aircraft to landcraft.

  12. My father always said there was something wrong with me because my absolute favorite parts of the flight are take-off and landing. There’s not much to watch out the window during most of the flights I’ve taken except clouds. Although, flying over the Alps as the sun rises is one definite Awesome.

  13. I find it interesting how fear from the media leads to fear for the audience. Plane crashes cause fewer deaths than car accidents, yet everyone is so worried. I think we should leave auto driving to qualified professionals too, because that jerk next to me on the road I trust a whole lot less than turbulence in the air.

  14. Even landed at LaGuardia Airport? There’s one runway that extends all the way out into Flushing Bay. EVERY TIME I land on that runway it feels like we’re going down into the water (you get so very close to it), and then the tires catch the tarmac. It’s a crazy feeling.

  15. in Latvia (Europe), some people even applaud after landing – which is a bit amusing, confusing… but makes the moment even more awesome :)

  16. The first think I thought of when I saw the title was, “I HAVE TO LEAVE A COMMENT!”. Having been in a plane which was almost crashed and burned into pieces (the plane didn’t touchdown smoothly, but thank god, the pilots were AWESOME, hence my presence to date), i have learnt to never underestimate the power of sitting sweetly on my seat with the seat belt on at all times. And, of course, the power of prayer, too.

    But, having a place landing on the ground does not only signal my survival after hours being on board, it also means I get to finally bid that person who snored with all his lungs on my right, and that crying/screaming babies on those persons-with-babies designated seats at the very front.

    So, I totally feel you. I can totally relate to your post as I personally have those moments where I just want to snap at the person to my side. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I have prayed, there has not been an instance whereby I can sympathize with my seatmate, my fellow passenger. May be, just may be, I am person with tough luck.

  17. If you are flying in or to Colombia (where I’m from) you would see everybody applauding when the plane lands! it’s hilarious and of course… awesome! :D

  18. I don’t fly often, but I enjoy it. I remember being real happy after a safe touchdown in Melbourne, Australia after 3+ hours in the air from Auckland, NZ. The wind speed was probably 60 mph and the 747 was landing sideways to the wind. This huge jet was really tipped for a few seconds on the runway before the pilot put it down on all wheels. Even some of the flight attendants had a look of fear with that landing!

    Another time landing in Chicago, USA, after a 5+ hour flight from Shannon, Ireland, was a great relief. A small wild 3 year old, who had earlier in the flight spit crackers on my wife from the seat in front of us, screamed quite loudly for the whole last hour of the flight. The nanny didn’t have a clue how to control the boy. The flight attendant talked to the young woman in Arabic, but to no avail. You wouldn’t believe how fast all the passengers got off that plane!

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