Back in Sydney

What a day this has been and we aren’t home yet!

We left Melbourne on a beautiful morning, had an on-time departure from Melbourne to Sydney and then an on-time departure from Sydney to LA. However, as we were building up speed on the runway, just as we took off, the plane blew a tire! It sounded like the plane hit some potholes on the runway and we didn’t think anything of it because we were excited to be coming home! We had a great view of the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House as we flew out, but we didn’t gain the altitude that you usually gain as you take off. A few minutes late the pilot made the announcement that we blew a tire and that we needed to return to the airport. However, to do that, he needed to dump some fuel over the ocean and land with near-empty tanks. So for the next hour or so, we flew in large circles out over the ocean with jet fuel spewing from the tips of the wings. Our seats were such that I could look out the window behind me and see this steady stream of liquid gushing out. It was a bit unsettling, to say the least. The pilot had assured us that we really didn’t need that one tire to safely land and not to worry. Later, he came back on the speaker system to say that the landing gear may have been damaged when the tire blew and that made things a bit more risky. He gave instructions to the crew to review the brace position with the passengers and the prepare the cabin for evacuation upon touchdown! Then time seemed to stand still, it took forever to see the runway and when we did it was lined with emergency vehicles. But, I am very happy to report that the pilot put that big plane down as gently as could be and there were no gear failures. The plane coasted to a stop and then we had to sit on the tarmac until the fire department determined that we weren’t on fire or about to be on fire. A large tow cart slowly pulled the plane to our gate where we disembarked. The plane was surrounded by emergency personnel and most of them had their phones out, taking pictures of our plane!

Was I scared? You bet, scared to tears! I am exhausted from the stress of the ordeal. It was not the way I would have wanted to end our time Down Under, but it is a blog-worthy event!

The plane crew was great during the whole 2 hours of our short flight. I wish I could say the same thing for the ground crew. United has put us up in the airport hotel and we had a better $20 dinner than we thought we would. However, United told us we were on our own for re-booking our flights. They provided us with a letter that included a phone number to call for re-booking, but that office was closed for the day when we tried to call shortly after getting the number. Jim worked very hard to get us some new reservations and he had success, but it didn’t come easily.

So, hopefully we’ll be home 26 hours later than originally planned, with no excitement!

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Serenity now!

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10 comments on “Back in Sydney

  1. Amy says:

    So glad you are OK. Praying for a relaxing flight back home for you.

  2. Beannie says:

    So glad to hear you are okay!!!! Look for Dave at the airport in Sydney when you leave. You may be crossing paths! Looking forward to seeing you.

  3. Chris Culp says:

    Just flew United last week and I was complaining about their cramped seating. Don’t know how they could not be responsible for re-booking you! Hope you’re flying the friendly skies right now and will soon be home.

  4. ttaber2@rochester.rr.com says:

    There should be a not like button! Bummer! Glad you are both OK. Prayers were and are still being said for you guys! Maybe you will find a safer adventure today in Sydney that you missed!

  5. Anne Y says:

    So sorry to hear about your delay in returning home but glad that your are safe. May your next attempt at returning home go well.
    Anne Y

  6. perthians says:

    Wow great post! I was watching this on the news tonight and I said to my husband ” can you imagine how long and awful that hour would be flying around in circles knowing you could be crash landing”
    Whilst you were in the air the news reports were saying ‘we will keep you posted, united is going to have to do an emergency landing and we’re unsure how bad it will be’ glad you’re safe

  7. Roger Flint says:

    Gosh that must have been really unnerving, so pleased all turned out well. It seems typical of most airlines to leave you high and dry to sort out rebooking of your onward flight when there is a major problem. These days with computerisation it should be possible to sort out such problems very quickly, provided the will is there. Trust all will run smoothly from now on and look forward to hearing you are safely back in Apollo Drive.

    Love from us both Roger & Mary

  8. Joanie and Bob says:

    Unbelievable! When I checked your flight this morning and saw it had been cancelled, I wondered but never expected this. Glad you are safe.

  9. Betty and Doug says:

    SERENITY NOW!! Jim used to say that to me when I got overly stressed at work but that was NOTHING compared to your stressful experience. Well I know you guys are safe as I saw Jim at work yesterday… don’t you guys ever rest??? Glad you made it home!

  10. Maryanne says:

    We were on the runway right behind you on a Virgin Australia flight when our pilot told us that the United plane bound for LA blew a tire on take off. We waited an hour and a half for the ground crew to clean up the shrapnel on the runway, but our thoughts were with you on your plane, wondering how and where you would land and hoping for your safety. Glad to hear all went well and you’re home safe and sound.

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