Friday, October 4, 2013

74. PANIC ATTACK!





PANIC ATTACK!


30th Aug 2013 2200Hrs


The flight EY0279 (call sign ETD279) has just disappeared from the live flight radar screen.  All of us had watched this AIRBUS A320 taking off at 2025hrs from Malé International Airport and climbing at 2000fpm on the live flight radar on the laptop screen. Once the aircraft gained 40000ft, we disconnected the data connection and went to have dinner as this was a 04 hour 15 minute flight to Abu Dhabi which is 3025 kilometers away.



We had dinner watching another episode of 'Burn Notice' as we do these days and returned to check the progress of the flight. I woke the laptop up, switched the data connection on and refreshed the page as the session had expired. 

Amazingly there was no trace of it! 

Then I  typed  ETD279 in the the search box of www.flightradar24.com  website and hit enter. 

Still no result would return.

Then I  zoomed in and checked all the flights on the flight path. Still no sign of ETD279. As there were over  eight thousand flights in the sky that night I used the filter to make only Etihad flights visible on the screen and checked each flight separately.

Still, it was missing.

I didn’t show my panic but sensed that both the other members of our family were very worried. Then I went to the Etihad’s official site and searched for the plane.

There were no updates. 

  

Then I Googled for similar live flight radar programs and searched again only to find that the flight that took off one and half hours ago, with our daughter on board, did not exist.  

I suppressed the sudden desire to turn on to a news channel to check out the Breaking News simply because I didn’t want my wife and my son to freak out.  I also tried to forget about the site that Ishara Gunawardene had said in a comment where one could get updates of the air crashes.

None of us were disclosing our true feelings to each other. We decided to go to bed declaring these flight radar programs could be very unstable, unreliable and malfunctioning any time.

Sleep didn’t come easily and I tossed and turned in bed.  Most of this flight path was over the sea, the Indian Ocean.  And to make it worse, it was a night flight. While we are lying in bed, we don’t know if she was trying to stay afloat among the debris in a cold stormy sea, in the pitch dark, thinking about us. Well that was if she was alive. And the sharks! And several tons of jet fuel floating on the sea waiting to ignite…

Did they have a chance to put on the life jackets, or was it so sudden? Bad weather was a major contributor to majority of the air crashes. And human error. All the episodes of Air Crash Investigations began to replay in front of my eyes. Once a masking tape pasted over the altitude sensor during maintenance work,  crashed a plane. Another time the pilot misread the imperial and metric units and ran out of fuel in midair. Faulty doors, reconditioned parts, metal fatigue, stuck controls, fire in the AC ducts, oops, possibilities are endless!

Was it an irony that I felt like completing the last page of her passport with my details, to be notified in case of death or accident, just before her departure this time?

I felt so guilty to sleep, to be home and dry while my kid could be fighting for life.

Or did they discover something was wrong and return to Malé for and emergency landing?



All this started, when she came to Maldives from Russia to spend her summer vacation with us. 
  
Friday the 5th July. 1450Hrs:

I was there watching the LCD displays of the ARRIVALS lounge at Malé International Airport.  ETA of her connecting flight, Etihad EY278 was 1455 hrs. There were five minutes more. The sky was cloudy and the weather wasn’t so good. Suddenly it started to rain heavily.

The display showed 1455 and the flight didn’t land. I was getting worried. 

The problem with me is I always get worked up unnecessarily. 



Then to my immense relief, the word LANDED started flashing against her flight.

After a long delay at the customs she appeared in the doorway pushing her luggage trolley.

She had flown from Moscow to Abu Dhabi and after a long wait as a transit passenger flown the rest of the way from Abu Dhabi to Malé

While we were walking out pushing the trolley, she paused to check the SMS she just received. It was from her friends. “We saw you landing.” It said. They had watched her landing on the live flight radar.

We reached our island several days later as the final leg of our journey was by sea on a ferry which took 13 hours. 


And the rest of the vacation was a blur. 

As all the good things has to come to an end, the vacation just slipped through our fingers. It was time for her to go back. 

30th Aug 2013 

This time we chartered a speed boat and took her to our domestic airport to catch the small domestic flight which would take her to Malé International Airport. We waited till the small De Havilland Dash 8 aircraft with her on board took off and disappeared into the blue sky.  As we sped back across the rough sea in the speedboat,  we found our hearts heavy. We had got off at the jetty and were riding  in a taxi when she called and said she landed at Malé International Airport. She had arrived several hours early so that she could check in without a rush. The night flight EY 0279 would take her to Abu Dhabi where she would be in transit before she boards flight EY 0069 to Domodedovo Airport in Moscow.


We watched this AIRBUS A320 taking off at 2025hrs from Malé International Airport and climbing at 2000fpm on the live flight radar on the laptop screen. 

And this is the flight that went missing.



31st Aug 2013. Early morning: 

I was drifting between wakefulness and sleep. Suddenly, I found myself wide awake at about 4.00 AM. I immediately opened my laptop that was sitting on the bedside table and booted up. Before anything, I opened Yahoo Mail. Yahoo Messenger notification popped up and  informed me of a new mail in the inbox. I was praying that mail to be from her. I couldn't wait  for the mail to load. And finally the inbox appeared. Yeah! A Letter from Her.



"Arrived safely in Abu Dhabi:




got the food coupon too. got a sheet too.now found a nice place to stay.took everything from the flight. didn't leave anything behind angels. going to set many alarms don't worry. i will send a message when i go to Moscow. dont worry ok. will send another mail  if net works before i go. gave rice in  the flight.  ate and  very full now. brought the biscuits and things in the bag.



dont worry and jump up. im fine ok





I was so relieved I jumped with joy and woke up both wife and son to break the good news. It is an awesome thing to be able to wake up someone and tell something good. The rest of the night (or morning) we slept peacefully, feeling at the top of the world. 

  31st Aug 2013. 0700Hrs


In the morning while she was still waiting in Abu Dhabi airport for her Moscow flight, I checked the live flight radar program and checked the situation. Though I didn’t notice the previous night, there were a number of flights with missing for status in the list of flights airborne at the moment. It was normal for a flight to be missing from the program and there was nothing to be alarmed about that.


By 0845 hrs she had boarded the Moscow flight for her 3707km 5 hour 25 minute journey. We zoomed into the runway and watched the aircraft take off from runway 2121 and climb. We returned to normal household chore after the flight leveled off at the cruising altitude. Now not worried any more about the sudden disappearance of flights from the radar screen.











At 1400Hrs we checked the progress and located the EY0069 (ETD69) approaching Moscow DOMODEDOVO Airport for landing. As soon as the plane touched down and slowed up my phone got the SMS,

“Angels, landed in Moscow just now. Still in the aircraft. Taking all the hand luggage. Don’t worry."




We stopped worrying.   

The eagle has landed.


And what was once shared on my son’s Facebook page brought a smile to my lips.

PS: This is not a story about aviation, 
but parenting.



20 comments:

  1. I have no words to tell how much I love you all. :X Reading this made me cry. :( I never knew you three were going through this while I was sleeping happily in the flight. As I always say you worry too much for everything. But then again that's why you are called family. :-f

    Angels, this is how you all are always. :D Remember how you loaded my bags with all most the whole Maldives, and the amazing food you prepared [even though I was screaming that they would be excess luggage] and squeezed into the bags while the zips were trying their best to hold together. :-O Remember how you kept taking my photos in the boat even when the sea was so rough. y-) Remember when I was packing to leave how many times you told me not to leave behind the bags and not to oversleep in the transit, and not to be in hunger.d-) Remember the joy in your voices when you heard that I ate from the shop in the Male' International airport waiting lounge. w-) Remember the first time I flew to Russia in 2009, and had transit in Qatar, you two were awake the whole night worrying that I would be stranded in an unknown land. d( It is for this and all the more reasons that I love you three so much. :X This is family in its' true sense. "The overly worried, very paranoid beings who would give anything to see you safe and happy" :-h

    Thanks for all the photos of my flight taking off and landing. And most of all thanks for being my family. :x

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank God!!!!and the crew.....The eagle has landed..finally.......This is what you call true parenting.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Replies
    1. Thanks for the comment Korale Mahaththaya. :)

      Delete
  4. by the way,after reading this post i came to know about flight radar 24.thank for the details.and must say your daughter should be proud to have a father like you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Live flight radar is a very useful program. Some years ago I came across it by accident. Now a lot of people I know, use it. You can try for yourself.
      And thank you very much for the comment හස‍රැල්.

      Delete
  5. Hey Dude .... You made our selves are exciting when reading. in spite of all the thoughts of this journey, it was implied that how good English writer you are in explaining such a situation to readers. this is the first time i was read such a long English article in any media. because i am very lazy in reading English. may be it because of my poor knowledge in English and inability of writing as well as hearing in proper manner. how ever it is pleasure to me because this is the longest comment in English i have ever published. thank you dude. you make me read this article. similarly i must say that you are a very good English teacher.......keep it up dear brother.......

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ivan, I was so happy to read your comment. Thank you very much for appreciating me. In return, I appreciate your effort you made to read this and comment.

      And keep it up. You'll find a lot more posts here, I think you would enjoy reading.

      And commenting in English is easier because you simply type into the comment box. No copy & paste.

      Delete
  6. OMG!!! I got panicked too...
    Dude!! that was awesome.. but dont do this again... It made me cry.. then again laugh at the same time!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really? Don't want to make people cry, but when I hear that I was able to make a reader cry and laugh at the same time with my writing... well. it's something I can be proud about.
      Thanks.

      Delete
  7. I can understand how you felt about the disappearance of the flight your daughter was in. Even in homeland, we worry about our children when they get delayed to return from tution classes. How frustrated and anxious you must be during that time! I am happy that everything ended well.

    I have noticed this article on the day itself you published it but wanted to read it leisurely. I learned few things which have not known before. As usual, precisely and beautifully written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much. You've become a huge fan of mine now.

      Delete
  8. OMG!!!!!!Even I myself was on the verge of getting a panic attack while I was reading this post. What can I say dude..you just keep on proving that you are a great writer again and again. The way you have presented the whole story is simply superb. You just wonderfully maintain the suspense… and that is why I told you that even I was about to get a panic attack.

    Parents…hm…through my own experience I know they worry way too much. That image at the bottom of your post just explains it all. There were numerous times when I couldn’t answer my phone when my parents called. They just got so worried...and later when I saw the missed calls and called them back all hell broke loose ;) While I was getting used to traveling alone by bus they made a huge fuss over it. They wanted me to call or text them when I got into the bus, when I got out of the bus, after crossing the road, etc etc. At the beginning I was complaining a lot about this whole process but later gave in because I understood that they demanded all this not because of anything else but bcoz they truly love me. If my parents were that much concerned while I was traveling in a bus, I can understand what you would have gone through while your daughter was traveling abroad.

    Oops..my comment is as almost long as your post :O Anyway this is a post that I can relate to, so I guess I just couldn’t stop typing everything that came into my mind after reading your post.

    A wonderful post dude….. glad you gave me the link… :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love longer comments, Chams. The longer the better.

    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences with us.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Dude I was surfing through ur posts super fast and just clicked to see comments in this one because I wanted to read ur daughters response, hahahaa....

    I remember once my father complained the police that I was missing while I took the public transport (I just forgot that he is coming to fetch me) from tuition class to home and was sound asleep. :D :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bassi, thanks for the comment. That's what the parents are like, no matter how old you are. :)

      Delete
  11. Hi ayya!
    Every word in this post reflect the weight of parents love. I don't think the young
    generation could recognize that.
    This is the ultimate protection a child could have!
    Children never know how much parents care about them, how much worry when they missed to
    inform their safety.
    Happy to see lovely parents like you!

    ReplyDelete
  12. too much knowledge about things some time made us crazy....If dude didn't know about this flight tracking system, he will not get this panic. He will have a nice sleep and next day morning await for a call from his daughter.( if call gets late he will start to panic cuz he never thinks that is because of battery ran out :D) by knowing this tracking system what he gained ?nothing but panic..

    ReplyDelete

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