Saturday, December 9, 2017

Family Search 52 Stories Week 44

Earlier this week a friend was telling me about a harrowing flight she experienced while traveling from New Zealand to Australia. That made me think about the time I was truly convinced my plane was going to crash.

What is the scariest flight you have ever been on?

When I was the Vice President of Marketing and Risk Management for a medical malpractice insurance company, one of many responsibilities was to inform doctors and their office staffs about the reasons lawsuits were filed. In order to accomplish that, in addition to brochures and newsletters, I set up seminars around Missouri and Kansas. The program consisted of having various speakers, including the president of our company (a physician), one of our defense attorneys, someone from the claims department and myself, explaining how mistakes had been made, the consequences of the mistakes, and suggestions on how to prevent such mistakes from happening.

similarly sized plane
On one such occasion the president, claims manager and I boarded a small, six seater plane at a regional airport to head to northwestern Missouri for an evening seminar. As the pilot attempted to move the plane towards the runway, we kept experiencing a bump. After a couple of attempts, it was determined that the pilot had forgotten to move the wheel chocks. That ended up to be an omen of how this flight was going to go.

We flew first to Jefferson City to pick up the attorney who was going to be joining us on the program that night. He boarded the plane, and the pilot placed the lawyer's materials in the cargo compartment before resuming his seat. As we began taxiing, alarms went off in the plane necessitating a return to the terminal. This time the pilot did not tightly shut the door of the cargo area. Strike two.

As we approached the airport of our final destination, the pilot made a series of sharp banks - so sharp that the alarms went off in the cockpit. I thought we were going to crash, and I'm pretty sure that our president, who was seated beside me, had my fingernail imprints in his arm for a week following this adventure. The pilot was able to right the plane, and we landed without further incident. But that was strike three in my book. And we still had to fly back with him that night!

It did not help my piece of mind to listen to the claims manager, whose previous job included investigating plane crashes, discuss our mishaps. If you have ever known anyone who worked insurance claims, they usually love to regale folks with stories they have come across. This was one time when I did not want to hear any of it.

We conducted our seminar, successfully dropped the attorney back in Jefferson City, and made it back to St. Louis without further mishaps. We drove to all future risk management seminars, and I have yet to fly on a plane of that size again. Perhaps we shouldn't have called the pilot Shirley? Ha, ha...

from the movie "Airplane"

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