The Mid-air Almost
We were nearly in a mid-air collision last night....
It felt like getting to the top of a roller coaster and starting to go down. My back side lifted off the seat and my stomach went straight up to my throat. But I wasn't scared. If the first officer had not been a fast thinker and an experienced pilot, I probably would not be alive right now. I don't really have a flair for dramatics, and I tend to tell things as they are. But, sitting in the position that I'm in right now, I realize that I am lucky to be alive.
Think about this: if the pilot of the other plane had decided to dive the same moment we had, we still would have ended up in midair collision. The fact is, air traffic control had us on the wrong course, and nobody knew what was going on. The two planes could not communicate with one another because they were on different radio frequencies. Neither one knew what the other was doing, air traffic control was not communicating properly, and the whole thing was just a huge mess.
We had to dive to avoid the other plane - we were doing about 300knotts, or 380mph, and the other plane was going nearly the same speed at us - so there would have been nothing left!! We dove to avoid the other plane, but then had to shoot straight back up to avoid crashing into the mountain! It was an extremely narrow miss.
I was in the very front of the airplane at the time and I couldn't help but notice just about everyone on the plane grabbed a hold of their hand rails for dear life. It was a wild ride, and one I would prefer not to repeat now that I know what it was all about.
I fly with some of the best pilots in the business - and I thanked my lucky stars for that last night.