Last Friday evening, American Airlines flight 1186 roared out of Lambert International Airport, headed for Chicago-O'Hare. But by the time it hit 5,000 feet, it had collided with a bird, and had to turn back (this has happened
at Lambert more than a couple dozen times so far this year).
Here's how it felt -- more like "smelt" -- in the cabin, according to passenger Melissa Meinzer
(a former RFT
staff writer who now reports for Missouri Lawyer's Weekly
; she was trying to get to Boston.)Daily RFT
: So how did you know the plane hit a bird?
: Almost immediately after takeoff, the cabin filled with an acrid, panicky reek of burning plastic. Gross. Did people freak out, like in the movie Airplane?
No one started audibly praying a rosary, but there were some restrained
panic-faces exchanged between strangers. And human mortality may have
been contemplated by a few parties (me). So then what happened?
more than five minutes into the flight, the captain came on and told us
he was aware of the, uh, situation, and that we'd be turning around and
landing. Highly inconvenient, but way better than assured fiery
destruction. I suppose.
After we were safely
earthbound again, the flight attendants told us that a mechanical crew
was going to board the plane and find out what the problem was.
folks said it was probably a bird strike, and that we might be able to
be airborne again in minutes. They couldn't verify the safety of the
plane to their satisfaction. So we got off and boarded another plane
bound for Chicago, where I ran to my connecting gate and missed my
flight to Boston by minutes.That's too bad. What have you learned from this ordeal?
I am certain that I actually caused the entire kerfuffle through forgetting a key element of my travel ritual.
protest against the flip-floppification of our nation, I always
approach air travel as something glamorous to be celebrated. I generally
fly in vintage-inspired tailored dresses and always include a
particular ring and about seven strands of pearls, which I forgot for
this flight. So your failure to wear pearls caused the bird to hit the plane?
remembered the pearls for my return flight, and managed to get home
from Boston, moments ahead of Sandy on what may have been among the last
flights off the East Coast, without a hitch.Fair enough.