I don't know why this came to mind today, but I'll ask this question:
Have you ever had any scary moments on an airline flight?
In past years I did a lot of flying for business purposes and also extensive vacations. Two or three of the business flights could be best described as "white-knuckle-arm-rest-gripping" experiences.
Event #1 took place in the late 1960's when I needed to fly from Minneapolis to Denver. The big Western Boeing 707 took off normally, but then, slowed to circle numerous times over nearby farmland. While circling, I heard repeated mechanical groaning sounds plus heavy clunking and scraping noises.
After about 20 minutes, the pilot announced that the landing gear was stuck in a partially retracted position. He said they would try to lower it manually and return to Mpls. The co-pilot came into the passenger cabin and removed a large piece of floor carpeting from the aisle. Then, after un-bolting an access panel, he lowered a long hand-crank tool down through the access hole and began to turn the crank handle attempting to manually lower the landing gear.
After the crank wouldn't turn any more, we flew back to the airport. All aircraft left the area while we flew low over the tower so the underside could be quickly examined. The gear appeared to be fully down, but was it locked? There was no way to know for sure.
All passengers assumed the crash position as we came in for the landing. When we got very close to touching down, I quickly looked up to peek out the window. It became even more exciting when I saw numerous fire trucks racing along beside our plane as it landed.
Well, the gear held, and I took the same plane to Denver the next day after they repaired a major leak in the hydraulic tank.
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Event #2 happened in the early 1980's. Do you all remember the passenger plane that crashed into the river while on its approach into Washington National Airport?
Well, I was on my way to Wash. D.C. on that day. My plane was following closely behind the one that crashed, and was the next one to land. I knew there was something wrong when our approach was aborted, and we suddenly went into a steep climb. I recall looking out the window, but didn't see the crash below us because it was snowing heavily.
Instead of being diverted to another airport, we returned to Mpls. On the way back, the pilot explained the problem, and that he had a bird's eye view of the crash as it happened.
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There are a couple more of them, but enough for now.