Controllers on the ground, pilots of other planes, even a flight attendant back in the cabin tried to alert the crew as the Northwest airliner zoomed past Minneapolis at 37,000 feet. Worried about who was actually at the controls, officials asked the crew to prove who they were by executing turns after they finally were contacted….With no response from the two pilots Wednesday night, the plane flew 150 miles past its destination before turning back…
On the ground, police and FBI agents prepared for the worst, and the Air National Guard put fighter jets on alert at two locations as the drama unfolded…..the Airbus A320 was over Eau Claire, Wis., and the pilots had been out of communication with air traffic controllers for over an hour. They turned back and landed safely in Minneapolis, the plane's scheduled destination.
Commentators on TV and radio, talk show hosts, newspaper writers and others have made a big deal out of this. How in the world could pilots miss the airport by 150 miles???
Whatever they were doing seemed to defy belief. There was an air of incredulity in the news reports.
It seemed odd to me also, but, unfortunately, I also could identify with it – somewhat.
We were on a family trip to California years ago and were scheduled to compete on “Family Feud,” which we did twice, by the way. On this particular trip, we used one day to visit one of Mom’s co-workers, a friend in Marina del Ray. I was at the wheel of the rental car on the return trip from Marina del Ray back to Hollywood.
From the interstate, I totally missed Hollywood. I missed Los Angeles. I missed all of those exits. I remembered seeing a sign for Burbank, but didn’t think that’s where we were supposed to go. All of a sudden we were seeing signs for places far north of Los Angeles. How could this be? How could one just pass by Los Angeles?
How does one miss a city the size of Los Angeles? I don’t know. I wasn’t napping at the wheel. But I was arguing. And I was being stubborn. (This is the first time I have admitted that!)
Maybe because the city is SO large, there were no exits marked simply “Los Angeles” or “Hollywood.” Perhaps they all just had names of streets and of small communities – names I wouldn’t have recognized.
Yes, the pilots who missed Minneapolis are professionals; I was just a regular driver. Just the same, I understand that sometimes you just don’t see the big things right in front of you!