At the time of the incident, I was about 8 years old and living in Germany with my military family. My mom, sister, and I hopped a cheap Air Force flight to Oregon where my grandparents lived - it was one of those giant, green, military cargo planes where the seating is made of nets and you have to wear earplugs to drown out the roaring of the engines. In other words, not your comfy commuter jet (but tickets were something like $8 per person).
Everything was groovy until just before landing in Seattle. My sister and I made friends with another little girl on the flight, and we all got to go up into the cockpit and "steer the plane" with the pilots. My sis and I had just returned to our seats since we were getting ready to land in Seattle, and as we began our initial descent, some sort of hatch popped off the top of the airplane, causing rapid depressurization and sudden loss of altitude. Sparks flew, a coffee pot exploded, people were screaming and rushing to put on their oxygen masks, and a male flight attendant was sucked up to the ceiling where the hatch was and then dropped back to the floor.
I remember asking God why he would allow this - my very worst fear - to happen to me (because it felt for some seconds that the plane was definitely going down). It was absolutely the most terrifying thing I have ever experienced, and I'm basically scarred for life. I'm like a nervous little hamster on airplanes now. Every strange whine of the engine and jolt of turbulence sends me into full panic mode... heart racing, palms sweaty, eyes darting around... I'm super fun to fly with.
But indeed, we made it out of that airplane alive. We never really were crashing, I suppose, it only just felt like it. But nevertheless, an ambulance was waiting to rush all passengers to the hospital, and I ended up with a perforated eardrum and could barely hear for two weeks.
After that experience, I like to think that my odds of dying in a plane wreck are even lower than they ever were before. I mean, seriously. Who survives an explosive decompression on an airplane and then goes on to die in a separate crash?
Let's hope no one.
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