I was very nervous to read in the news that the airline industry is about to lift the ban on cellphones on airplanes. The lifting of this ban will bring to an end the way I’ve been able to avoid airplane crashes.
It has been my pleasure to avoid four different crashes on airplanes over the years. You haven’t read about them, of course, because no crashes took place. Indeed, neither the other passengers or the stewardesses or the pilots knew I was doing this.
The way it worked was this. Let us say that I was on an American Airlines flight going from Kennedy Airport to San Francisco leaving JFK at 11:42 a.m. on November 12, 2005. About two thirds of the way to our destination, the plane began to shake and the pilot came on to say we were heading over the Rockies and there would be some turbulence ahead so please fasten your seatbelts.
Suddenly, just as everybody was doing that, the plane began a descent. I wasn’t sure if the pilot had planned this or not, but when the nose pitched forward and down and the speed began to pick up suddenly, I knew we were in trouble. I reached for my cellphone in my breast pocket—which is where I always keep it when I fly—and pulled it out. I’d put it away in the off position, not in the “deep sleep” off position where it takes a while to power up. So now, as the nose fell dramatically, and the deep dive began, I was ready. The engines were getting louder and louder. People were shouting. I tapped the phone once. It blinked on. And then, while everybody was looking around panicky, I held it in my right hand at arms length in front of me, lowered my arm downward, and searched for it to link up with the plane.
And there it was. I felt the force coming up from my hand through my arm and into my shoulder. It was working. Now, I squeezed the phone tight, and slowly, stiff-armed, raised my arm toward level. And with that, this 767 slowly responded and lifted itself out of the dive and back to normal. With that, I quickly turned my phone off and put it back in my pocket.
Everyone relaxed. Nobody had seen what I had just done. A few minutes later, the seatbelt sign went off and we continued on our way.
Actually, on one occasion, a stewardess DID see me do this. It was on a Delta Airlines Flight out of LaGuardia bound for Charlotte at 11:45 a.m. on May 17, 2009. We had just gotten out over West Virginia when the plane got in trouble. Lightning and a thunderstorm, the pilot said over the PA. He battled with it successfully for a few moments, but then lost it. We were going down, down, down and everyone knew we were done for, but then I pulled out my cell phone and as I did, I saw this stewardess, who had seen what I was doing, head down the aisle toward me. But before she got to me the plane took this really bad shiver and she lost her balance briefly, which left me just enough time to press the button, guide the plane back up and put it back in my pocket. So it was over. When she arrived at my seat, she began to speak, then thought better of it. So now she just brushed off her skirt and walked past to the back of the plane to take her own seat, which really wasn’t necessary anymore because the crisis had passed and we were smooth and level again. Once again, the seatbelt sign went off.
The thing about allowing us to use our phones again is that obviously they have figured out a way to block our cellphone wave lengths from interfering with the aircraft. There can be lots of cellphones. They’ve got this blocking device up in the cockpit.
I am sure, of course, they now have stronger cellphone wave devices in the cockpit itself to pull the plane out of steep dives. This is why they are now allowing cell phones. They block ours. They are back in control. Or are they?
I find it very upsetting to be unable to help out in a pinch as I have done all these years. You can’t have too many backup plans, in my view. Now with me and my cell phone blocked, after all I’ve done, they won’t have my help any more. Good luck, I say.
I’ll be taking the train from now on.