Friday, October 28, 2011

De-nice way to respond to De-lay when we De-ice

            As our plane sat on the runway, awaiting for take-off from Akron-Canton the other day, passengers grumbled about the delay as the pilot requested " de-icing of the wings".


            It was a very cold morning. 


            Tanker trucks appeared out of nowhere and drenched the plane in a greenish grey fluid designed to eliminate ice. 


            More grousing from the cabin.


            "Do we really need to do that?"  complained the woman in front of  me.


            I was immediately transported back to January of 1982. 


            I was in my old 1978 Chevy Impala on my way back from law school at Georgetown University in Washington DC.   The snowfall was pretty heavy.


            I was a half mile from crossing the 14th Street Bridge into Arlington, Virginia when traffic came to a halt.


            We were stuck in a tunnel on the George Washington Parkway so we couldn't see what was ahead.


            After a delay of about an hour and a half, we were rerouted completely away  from the bridge, which I never really got close to.


            Air Florida Flight 90 took off from Washington National Airport at 3:00 p.m. that cold January day in 1982. 


            The pilots noticed ice building up on the wings but  felt  they could power their way through takeoff, expecting that the ice would blow off as they gained air speed.


            They were wrong.


            Flight 90 couldn't achieve the lift needed.  That front edge of the wing is designed to create upward pressure needed for ascent.  Ice on the wing compromises this lifting effect.


            The jet crashed only two miles from the airport, smack into the 14th Street Bridge, killing numerous commuters who, like me, traveled that bridge into Arlington daily.


            The aircraft collapsed into the frozen Potomac River where some passengers were plucked from the icy water by brave rescuers who dove into danger as the fuselage began to sink into the murky waters.


            This river made famous by the father of our country  allegedly tossing a silver dollar over its depths now became famous for another reason more menacing.


            The video of the horror and carnage on the news that night put me on my knees in prayer of thanks that I was spared. 


            Seventy-eight soles were lost in this disaster. 


            I looked at the crabby passenger ahead of me as my mind refocused on the current moment.     


            Calm down, sweetheart.


            De-ice all you want to, baby.  Take a bath in that stuff.


            I would say it's worth the delay, wouldn't you?



David M. Lynch

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