Only a few days prior to our KK-Manila flight an air France Airbus flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappeared in the Atlantic Ocen with 228 people on board. Everyone knows what this means, and so the idea of flying did not make me very happy. Some people like flying, others don’t- I would fall somewhere in the middle , with a slight tendency to the later.
However the sun was shining and I had had a good day’s rest the previous day in Manukit island, right off KK. Plus I was on my way to the Philippines, a country I did not know what to expect of and that I have never thought I would visit this soon. I always believed I would make it to Antarctica before!
One hour into the 2 hour flight the plane entered some clouds. It did not move much and proceeded calmly through the mist. Liza had her head on my lap trying to sleep a bit, I was reading a good book.
But as I glanced out the window I suddenly and out of nowhere saw a ray of lightning come too close to the plane, probably hitting it. Right after I swore and as Liza was sitting wondering what I had seen the plane started to drop and shake, engines blaring at a deafening pitch. The flight attendant who was standing besides us almost fell, but held on to the seat besides us a, sat on it, and buckled up with a serious and scared look.
We were in the middle of strong turbulence, passengers were screaming and the next 4 to 6 minutes were scary-very scary. And long, very long. The pilot managed to control the plane and pick up before dipping again. I could not keep the Air France flight off my mind and it appeared that the pilot could not steady our airplane. I saw 2 more lightning, though not as close, but eventually the turbulence diminished and the Cebu Pacific Airbus was steady again.
A few minutes later the captain said we would be landing shortly (25 minutes ahead of schedule), told everyone to buckle up despite having left the turbulence behind, and prepare for landing.
The remaining 15 minutes were a smooth flight, enough time to calm down. Liza was not in tears any more and we very much regretted having flown to Manila from KK instead of catching a ferry to Zamboanga in Mindanao, southern Philippines. Once out of the plane we saw that there was a firefighter truck wating just in case, which meant something had gone wrong.
It is generally accepted that in the past year or so there has been an increase in flight accidents, and with experts explaining that, in general, airplane safey can’t be improved much more only more accidents are bound to happen because there are more flights every day.
I am not completely certain about what happened during our flight, but my belief is that our plane was struck by lightning. And it feels good to write this while on a ferry taking us from Cebu to Bohol 4 days later.
* Almost a week has gone by since I wrote this, and I was not sure about whether to post it or ot because of the bad memories it can bring. But a blog is a diary after all, and not everything in life is sweet. I’m sure I will not read this post very often though.
Have you had any scary experiences? What happened? Has it affected how and how often you travel?