I flew to DC yesterday. The flight out of Atlanta was really rough, but over Virginia the skies cleared and it was smooth flying.
On landing in Washington we descended smooth. We descended lower and lower and lower until we were over the airport. As we were just passing the first broad white stripes on the ground, with wheels down imminent, the plane surged and the engines whined lowly. The pilot threw up the nose and jerked the plane right. The engines were at full power. We headed, as best I could tell, straight for the Capitol dome.
We flew directly over where they keep Marine One — the President’s helicopter. One of the helicopters was sitting right in the center of the landing pad. I could see the Washington Monument, very close out the window opposite from where I was sitting. Everyone was dead silent and looking at each other. I looked at the guy next to me and said, “We didn’t realize we were suppose to go to Baltimore.” He laughed that laugh that you do when you want to lighten up, but are rather nervous.
The pilot jerked the plane to the right again, heading south by southeast. Finally he came on and said we were having a do over at the landing. He said a commuter plane got on the runway just as we were about to touch down.
I know what was going on in my mind and in the mind of the guy next to me and the women in front of me and behind me. I don’t know what was in the minds of the others, but I bet it was the same thing.
i’ve flown hundreds of times and had that happen numerous times. But only after September 11th did I ever start getting that feeling in my stomach.
Ironically, on the second try, the landing was perhaps the smoothest landing I ever experienced landing at Reagan National.