Subject: Takeoffs and Landings: Jared and Matt’s Story (Chapter 16) Jared That morning started like any other. My wakeup call came at 5:00 AM and after I showered and shaved I got dressed and headed downstairs to the continental breakfast. I was at a Hampton Inn outside Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. I’d arrived at around 8:00 PM the night before from Minneapolis. I drank three cups of coffee as I ate my waffle and sausages and finished it off with a glass of milk. I rolled my suitcase out to the front desk area which was where our captain and one of our flight attendants were waiting. Our captain was Mark and our flight attendants were Natalie, Jessie, and Lisa. Once we were all together in the hotel lobby it was time to ride the shuttle to the airport. It was 6:15 and our show time was in 15 minutes. Thankfully the terminal was only five minutes away. Once we arrived we headed to the Northwest crew room and took our seats. There we went over our preflight briefing where we would discuss fuel needs, how many passengers, any special needs passengers we needed to know about in advance, and just anything else that we all needed to know about. Once that was over we went through security and then up to the gate. Flight 684 to Detroit. Our total flying time would be about 2 1/2 hours from gate to gate and we were about 3/4 of the way full. After that we were supposed to go up to Flint, which was a 37 minute flight that covered about 55 miles. Then we’d go back to Detroit and then we’d spend the night in Charlotte. We had another day of flying scheduled after that in which eventually we’d return to Minneapolis and then our trip would be done. Once we arrived at the gate we received the departure report from the gate agent and headed down the jetbridge. Mark and I began our preflight checks as the flight attendants prepared the cabin for the passengers. About 20 minutes later the first passengers boarded the plane. Right on schedule we pushed off the gate and taxied to the runway. Once we received our takeoff clearance I pushed the throttles forward and we went thundering down the runway. The weather was absolutely beautiful, one of those rare days that if you’re a pilot you just have to go flying. Nothing was out of the ordinary whatsoever. We climbed to our cruising altitude and turned off the seatbelt sign so the flight attendants could serve the passengers. We were flying over southeastern Missouri, not far from where I grew up in southern Illinois, when ATC gave us an instruction. “Northwest 684, descend and maintain five thousand.” We were at 32,000 feet. That was the first time either of us had instructed to descend that far at once. “Kansas City Center, say again please?” Mark responded over the radio sounding. I was the one flying that leg so our captain was working the radio. “Northwest 684, descend and maintain five thousand,” they repeated. We turned the seatbelt sign back on and began our descent. That’s when a message came through on the ACARS. BEWARE COCKPIT INTRUSION. ALL NEW YORK AIRSPACE IS CLOSED. AMERICAN AIRLINES AIRCRAFT HAVE BEEN HIJACKED THIS MORNING AND FORCED DOWN. UNCONFIRMED REPORTS THAT UNITED IS HAVING THE SAME PROBLEM. WE ARE STOPPING ALL TRAFFIC TO THE NEW YORK AREA. TWO AIRCRAFT HAVE BEEN FLOWN INTO THE WORLD TRADE CENTER. THERE IS WORD THE ENTIRE ATC SYSTEM MAY BE SHUT DOWN. BE ON HIGH ALERT. “What?” Mark replied as I read the message to him. “Oh my god my brother is a flight attendant for United,” I said with a terrified look on my face. “We need to call the flight attendants now so they know to be on guard,” I finished. “Northwest 684, descend and maintain five thousand, expect vectors runway two three right at Indianapolis,” they instructed. I turned to Mark and said “Jesus fucking Christ,” as I took in the look of fear in his eyes. We were passing through 25,000 feet when Mark called the flight attendants on the cabin interphone. Jessie answered but Natalie was the purser, or most senior flight attendant, so we had to talk to her and give her the message to pass along to the rest of the crew. “This is a NITS briefing. There is no pilot incapacitation. The nature of the emergency is that there’s been a terrorist attack in New York involving hijacked airliners and the FAA has shut down all airspace over the United States. The intention is to divert to Indianapolis. The time until landing is approximately 30 minutes. Special instructions are to make sure all of the passengers remain seated for the rest of the flight. Nobody gets up for any reason. Get the flight attendants together in the galley and make sure none of the passengers hear what I just told you. Repeat back to me what I just told you.” Natalie repeated the instructions and then we decided to make an announcement. That was the easy part, but deciding what to say erdemli escort was the hard part. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Air traffic control is currently having an issue and we’re going to have to divert to Indianapolis. There is no emergency and no danger, this is a routine thing. The seatbelt sign will remain on for the rest of the flight, please return to your seat if you’re moving about the cabin. I’ll give you an update when we get a little closer.” We finally arrived at 5,000 feet and ATC began giving us our approach directions. My stomach had been in knots this entire time and I wasn’t going to feel okay until we were on the ground. I’m going to tear up telling you this part but I couldn’t get Matt off my mind. I was hoping and praying that Sam wasn’t flying right now. Finally we were cleared to land and established on the glideslope. We extended the landing gear and armed the spoilers. At 200 feet I disengaged the autothrottle and pulled the throttles back to idle. At 100 feet I disengaged the autopilot and pulled the yoke back gently to flare for landing. Just then I heard the tires screech against the pavement of the runway and the second I did I felt the tension ease. We turned off the runway and waited for further instruction. They had us taxi to an auxiliary area away from the terminal where they brought an airstair up to us. Once we were all off the plane they put us on a bus to the terminal. That’s where we all saw what was happening on the TV screens. Some people were crying, some were just dumbfounded. When I saw the video of the second plane hitting live on TV my jaw dropped. That’s when it hit me how Matt had to be terrified right now. I pulled out my cell phone and punched in Matt’s number as fast as I could. I heard those three obnoxious beeps before that woman’s voice said “We’re sorry, all circuits are busy now. Would you please try your call again later.” I tried again, same thing. And again and again with no luck. “God damn it,” I muttered under my breath and I started wandering through the terminal. I knew there were pay phones somewhere and when I reached into my pocket I found three quarters from the change from getting coffee in Dallas that morning. I sighed with relief. Eventually I found a bank of phones and a line of people waiting to use them. I stood in line for a half hour and I tried my best not to get impatient. All of these people felt the same way I did. They had someone they loved and cared about that they had to let know they were all right. Finally it was my turn and just putting the quarters into the phone and dialing our house phone felt like forever. He picked up after two rings. Matt was pretty freaked out and I expected him to be. As soon as I said what I needed to, that I was safe and okay and that I didn’t know when I’d be home and how much I loved him, I knew that I was going to have to go into supportive mode. Matt can get overwhelmed by his emotions at times but I’m always able to bring him back and I knew that I was going to have to do that for him. I went to the crew room and found a bunch of pilots, flight attendants, gate agents, and ramp personnel sitting around watching the news coverage. That was when I learned just how bad it really was. There were four jets that had been hijacked and crashed. I didn’t know anyone who died but quite a few people I worked with weren’t so lucky. Five hours later I finally got a call from Northwest. They finally told me where I’d be staying until we got an update on our operations. I ventured out of the terminal to the curb where I waited for the hotel shuttle to pick me up. As I stood there I finally had time to stop and think about what had just happened. A couple tears rolled down my cheek as the footage of the buildings collapsing went through my mind. I got to my hotel and as soon as I got in the door I fell onto the bed. I just laid there for a few minutes staring at the ceiling as my mind started to settle down. I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like to have been on one of those flights. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and dialed my parents’ house. They picked up almost immediately. “Jared?” said my mom. “Mom I’m fine, I’m in Indianapolis,” I said quickly. “I’m sorry I didn’t call sooner.” “Jared it’s okay, we knew you were safe. We talked to Matt earlier. It’s just good to hear from you though,” she said with tears in her voice. I called my brother Brady after that and he was really glad to hear from me too. It was a peaceful but still very painful conversation. He told me that he loved me and that he was worried but he was really happy to hear from me and that Matt knew that I was okay. Around 9:00 PM I got a call from Northwest. It was a recorded message they sent out to all the pilots tarsus escort and flight attendants. We had to stay where we were until the FAA decided to allow flights to resume. When that happened we would continue onto our original destination and then have to wait there for further instructions. After I’d called everyone I needed to I crawled into bed and fell asleep pretty easily. In my dream I was waking up next to Matt in our bed back home. The next morning I woke up at five and couldn’t fall back asleep. I went down to the continental breakfast just out of boredom. I wasn’t hungry, I just needed something to do. Once I came back to my room I turned on the TV and watched some of the coverage. I turned it off pretty quickly because it was just too depressing. I was also stuck, I didn’t have a car and there was nothing to do within walking distance. On September 13 the FAA allowed stranded flights to continue to their original destinations. I got a call from Northwest informing me that our flight would be leaving at 6:00 that night. Out of the 75 people or so that were on the flight when we left Dallas only 13 showed up. It was a very quick flight and before long we were at the gate in Detroit. Once we arrived I noticed I had a voicemail on my cell phone. Once we were in Detroit we would be released from duty and would be free to return home once flights resumed. I took the shuttle to the Clarion Inn with the rest of the crew but once I dropped off my bags in my room I went downstairs and asked the shuttle driver to take me back to the airport. I started going from ticket counter to ticket counter, airline to airline asking how much it would be to buy a ticket to Sacramento. “Sorry we don’t fly to Sacramento,” said the woman at the Spirit counter. “To go tomorrow is going to be $988,” was the answer from TWA. “Sorry we’re sold out until next week,” said US Airways. Feeling frustrated I tried Delta and they were able to come through for me. “It’s going to be the day after tomorrow and you’re going to have to make two stops. You’ll leave here at 4:00 to go to Cincinnati and then you’ll go to Salt Lake City and get there at 9:08. Then you’ll leave Salt Lake at 10:10 and get into Sacramento at 10:52. That’s going to be $117,” said the lady behind the counter. “Deal,” I said reaching for my wallet to pull out my credit card. She typed my information into the computer and handed me my itinerary. I felt so relieved. Afterwards I took the shuttle back to the hotel and even though it meant another two days of doing nothing, at least I had a ticket home. I was going to get home and sleep in my own bed and be with the man I love soon enough. That was what mattered. Knowing I had a ticket home made the rest of the wait even more excruciating. I had nothing to do but lay around my hotel room and watch TV. There was nothing on. All of the major networks had been covering the attacks continuously since it started and there wasn’t much worth watching on cable either. The wait staff at the Big Boy down the street from the hotel knew me by name by the time I finally left to go home because that was the only restaurant within walking distance of the hotel. Finally at 1:30 PM that Saturday I headed downstairs to the lobby to ask the front desk staff to call the shuttle. I had no idea what the security at the airport was going to look like. I really didn’t want to get on a plane at that moment but the only thing I could think about was getting home to Matt. When I walked through the double doors into the terminal I saw police officers with bomb-sniffing dogs walking up and down the ticketing area. The first leg of my trip was on a Bombardier CRJ-200, a small 50-seat regional jet. I went and got in line to get my boarding pass. I flashed a small smile to the ticket agent once it was finally my turn as I gave her my driver’s license. Going through security wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but it was still a very tense moment. I took my seat, 9C the aisle seat behind the exit row on the right side of the plane. I sat there watching the facial expressions of the other passengers as they boarded. I could breathe a little easier knowing that almost all of them felt the same way I did. We taxied out and took off and everything went smoothly. The flight attendant came around and served drinks and it was like any other flight before this had happened but that didn’t change that there was still a lot of tension in the air. An hour later we were on the ground in Cincinnati and I thought about how I would kill my two-hour layover. I went straight to my gate and stayed there. Flight 1187 would be leaving at 7:15 and was on a big Boeing 767. It was almost 4 hours gate to gate and I was lucky enough to have a window seat with the seat next to me open. akdeniz escort I leaned up against the wall and watched the terrain below go by as we made our way west. We landed a few minutes early and I really had to hustle as I made my way to my final flight to Sacramento. I had just over an hour and boarding started 20 minutes after I landed. It would be a Boeing 757 taking me onto Sactown and it was a quick, hour and 42 minute flight. As I made my way down the jet bridge I was physically and mentally exhausted. Matt and sleeping in my own bed were the only two things giving me any motivation. As if I wasn’t uncomfortable enough, I was crammed into a middle seat in row 44, the second-to-last row of the plane. I spent the entire flight staring at the ceiling with my arms crossed because my seatmates took both of the armrests. I was so tired and emotionally I was drained. It felt like forever but the time went by and soon we were on the ground at Sacramento International Airport. It took forever to get off the plane and then I stood at baggage claim for 20 minutes before our bags finally started coming around the carousel. I took the pedestrian bridge to the airport parking garage and climbed into my car that I’d left there eight days earlier. I got in and had to summon the energy just to put on my seatbelt. I wasn’t even sure it was safe for me to drive home. For a minute I thought about calling a cab but I pretty quickly thought better of it. I followed the way out of the airport and merged onto I-5. I set my cruise at 65 instead of speeding as I usually did and stayed in the right lane. I flipped on the radio and listened to the latest updates as I made my way home. I hoped Matt would still be up as I approached our neighborhood and pulled into the driveway. When I saw the lights were still on I hit the button on the garage door opener and took my usual spot. I went inside and Matt was across that room so fast. As soon as I felt his touch I felt normal again and there was no stopping what was about to happen next. Having sex with Matt that night was one of the best fucks we’ve ever shared in all the years we’ve been together. I fell asleep really easily that night and slept pretty late into the next morning. We had a talk the next morning about whether I wanted to keep flying or not. I told him I wasn’t going anywhere but on the inside I was hurting bad. I honestly wanted to take some time off but I wasn’t sure if I was going to. I knew that this had fucked with Matt mentally and I felt like I had to put on a brave face and deal with my shit just for his sake. I hated feeling that way because if someone else had told me that I would have told them that’s the worst thing you could possibly do for yourself. I spent the rest of that afternoon stewing on it and I was just going through the motions of everything else I did that day. When we went to bed that night I tossed and turned for a bit. Matt fell asleep pretty quickly and once I was alone with my thoughts I couldn’t hold it in anymore. One tear turned to another and before I knew it I was crying pretty hard. The images of that plane hitting, the fireball, the details of what the hijackers did to the pilots when the attacks began, it all went through my head in a constant loop. “Jared what’s wrong?” Matt whispered still half-asleep as he rolled over. “I can’t get it out of my head,” I replied. “Oh Jared,” he said as he put his arms around me and pulled me closer. “It must be horrible to think about,” he whispered into my ear. “I need you right now,” I answered. I turned my head around to kiss him and his eyes perked up. I quickly pulled off my shirt and shorts and I felt his bulge pressing up against me. “Are you too tired to fuck me?” I asked. “Never,” he answered. He grabbed the lube from the nightstand and got me ready as I started to breathe a little easier. We stayed right there in the spooning position as we made sweet, sensual love. “Mmmmmmmm,” I let out as my prostate rang out with pleasure. Normally when Matt and I fuck it’s raw and intense but there’s really something about slow, passionate sex especially when you’re hurting. It was just a quickie but in the moment it felt like forever. I could finally take my mind off the current events even if just for a moment. He let out a good moan as he came and he stayed cuddled up with me. I rolled back onto my back and Matt reached down and jerked me off until I shot. “I love you so much,” I said before I rolled back over to fall asleep. Matt yawned before he said “I’m going to give you the same advice you once gave me: give yourself some space.” I didn’t fly again for another week and a half. When I flew my first trip after that happened I was really nervous but once I got back into the cockpit the first thing that went through my mind was that there was no place I’d rather be. *** Hey everyone, thanks for reading! I love my readers and I love hearing from you! Drop me a line at hoo. Whether you like this story or don’t like it, I want to know what you think. Stay tuned for chapter 17 and for more stories down the road. See you there!