Flight to Morocco Part II:

Firetrucks waiting for our problem aircraft

In my last post, our aircraft to Paris was turning back to Atlanta Hartsfield while dumping fuel. (Check out the previous True Airspeed Morocco blog if you missed the first part to the story.) I expected fire trucks would escort us to the gate, but ongoing events promised more.

Hubby settled back in the “comfy” economy seats and closed his eyes, probably hoping to fall back into dreamland knowing it was an hour back to Atlanta and predicting nothing exciting would happen until then.

My insatiable curiosity, however, kept me awake and attuned to anything that might garner more details about the plane’s situation. While I expected the flight attendants to be ready to answer passengers’ questions, the ones in economy were nowhere to be found.

Ambulance waiting for the troubled passenger

When they reappeared coming from business class, one attendant inquired, in a subdued voice, if we had a doctor in our section.

Sheesh, had a pilot become overwhelmed by fumes?
A doctor with his church contingent from the Midwest raised his hand. The attendant signaled him to follow. Another attendant whisked past our position and headed aft.

With the curtains open between sections, I noticed the attendant and doctor stopped at a row in business class. Although sorry for the stricken passenger, I felt a modicum of relief the person in distress wasn’t one of our pilots and thus a sign of more dire circumstances for the plane. The other attendant hustled past our seats again with some kind of kit in hand.

I gently nudged my hubby. “I think somebody’s a little uneasy with us turning around.”
I pointed up to business class and explained what had happened.
“Doesn’t take much to raise a passenger’s blood pressure,” hubby said.
“The attendant brought up something from the back. A defibrillator?”
“Could be, or communication gear. When there’s a medical emergency the pilots contact a medical service. The cockpit then patches through to the flight attendants for info on the passenger.”
A flight attendant reappeared. “Any one happen to be a nurse,” she asked.
“Pediatric,” one gal said as she raised a hand. The nurse quickly hustled off to assist.
“What do you think?” I asked my hubby.
“That there will be an ambulance waiting for us, too.” He smiled. “At least we should have priority for landing.”
“How long do you think it will take to fix the plane?”
“Depends on whether maintenance can reproduce the smell on the ground so they know what to fix.”
“If they can’t?”
“Airplane change.”
Five hours later, with a new airplane, pilots, and the baggage moved from the old to a new plane, they boarded us for Paris. From my seat I could see our old plane and noticed a catering truck pulling up to it. Hmm. Maybe we weren’t quite ready to take off.
The pilot announced that in the shuffle and unexpected return, catering had been delayed (ie. forgotten). So we waited another forty-five minutes and finally took off for an uneventful flight to Paris where, of course, we had long missed our connection to Casablanca.

  1. Hi Sandy – glad you guys landed safely back at Atlanta. Like you, flying never worries me…it’s certainly safer than getting in your car and driving. I hope you were able to have a nice time in Casablanca after. 🙂 Often, when I’m in a commercial jet, I like to be conscious of the feel of the plane as we’re landing…and try to predict if the landing’s going to be a good one or not – based on my estimation of the glide slope and flare. I’m usually pretty correct in my estimation, as well. Great post(s)!

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