Do not ask me to go anywhere right now that involves air travel. My fanny is parked right here on the West Coast until further notice. I am going nowhere unless my sedan can get me there, and it had better be before parking fills up on my street. There have been two recent stories of frightening flight experiences. One went viral when it was posted by the wife of a movie star and the other happened to the Los Angeles Clippers.
ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk wrote a piece on the Clippers’ recent turnaround, and the lede was about their flight to Denver on Feb. 25. Their plane was struck by lightning. This is no metaphor or hyperbole. Their chartered Delta flight was literally struck by lightning. After takeoff the plane made a sudden movement to the left, a loud bang was heard, and the plane’s altitude dropped several times. Bones Hyland saw this part of the article on Twitter, and shared it while giving a first-hand account.
For those who have seen videos and reports about the weather in Southern California since the turn of the year, this should confirm that it has been a lot for us out here. It has snowed at lower altitudes, streets have flooded, and the plane of a professional basketball team was struck by sky electricity. Last year the Super Bowl was in L.A. on Feb. 13 and the temperature was in the 80°s. In January 2023, the rain was washing people all over the SoFi Stadium concourse during the College Football National Championship Game. Some rain was necessary out here, but enough is enough.
Not just the Clippers
Two weeks ago, Camila Alves McConaughey was with her husband — actor Matthew McConaughey — on a flight from Austin to Frankfurt, Germany. It had to make an emergency landing at Dulles Airport near Washington due to severe turbulence that resulted in seven people being hospitalized. McConaughey posted footage on Instagram of the inside of the plane after it stabilized. The turbulence took place during meal service so trays and food were strewn all over the cabin. She claims that she was told the plane dropped 4,000 feet.
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Of course statistics prove that flying in an airplane is the safest way to travel. Unlike the American highway system, at 37,000 feet in the air, only highly trained professionals are operating large machines powered by engines. Another reason is capitalism. In order for the wealthy to continue to grow wealthier, many people have to fly all over the world. Those planes have to be staffed, and CEOs and professional basketball teams need to be on them frequently without worrying about plummeting.
These are two freak occurrences, but tell that to my shaking right knee the next time I’m on a plane vibrates from turbulence. OK, that may be a stretch. I would be in a main cabin seat so my knee would be pinned against the seat in front of me, and there would be no room for a restless leg.
The most persistent problem with flying is the price of admission and the fact that a less thorough TSA screening is available for purchase. A plane nose-diving and sending my dinner flying is far less likely than me cursing to myself because my flight was delayed on a sunny day.
However, perception is everything, and my perception is that the skies are angry, so I will be enduring these rainy days over here by the Pacific Ocean until summer.