Fez - Yesterday was a day I will never forget. On Thursday, March 26, I lived through an experience I hope I will never go through again, an experience I wish upon no other human being.
Fez – Yesterday was a day I will never forget. On Thursday, March 26, I lived through an experience I hope I will never go through again, an experience I wish upon no other human being.
As we prepared for departure from New York’s JFK airport for Casablanca, it did not occur to me that I would undergo a terrible experience during my flight. I was just looking forward to arriving in Morocco and seeing my family for a few days.
The plane took off from JFK at 7:30 pm local time and was supposed to arrive in Casablanca at 6 am Moroccan time. But not 15 minutes after our departure, I and the over 200 people on board the AT 201 flight lived through an experience that will surely change forever my perspective on life.
The plane took off and was gaining altitude, when all of a sudden, it started to free fall. It may have been only for about a minute or two, but it felt like an eternity. I can’t say how many meters we lost during that free fall, but by the account of all passengers who were on board, I think we must have lost about 200-300 meters in altitude.
Within moments, most of the passengers were screaming, and many were reciting the Koran and the profession of Islamic faith. The loss of altitude was so abrupt and so severe that most people, including me, thought we were living our last minutes.
But we were lucky enough to have entrusted our lives to a seasoned pilot who almost immediately retook control over the plane, restored things to normal, avoiding what could have been a terrible crash. The cabin crew helped to diffuse anxiety by talking to the passengers and trying to reassure them that all was well. I was struck by how calm, cool, and collected they were throughout the incident.
Afterward, I was so shocked that I felt the need to talk to one of them, who did his best to downplay the gravity of the incident and to explain to me that he had seen worse in his career as a flight attendant. I can say that after talking with him for 10 minutes, I felt much better and more hopeful that the flight would arrive safely in Casablanca.
However, the incident created a lingering state of panic among many passengers for the remainder of the flight. Many spent the remaining hours counting the minutes and praying that the worst would not happen. In fact, the shock caused by the incident was so tremendous that during the rest of the flight a considerable number of passengers started screaming in terror any time the plane experienced any turbulence at all.
I still don’t understand how during the moments the plane lost altitude I kept calm and didn’t’t scream. All I did was pray and recite the Koran. I told myself that if my destiny was to die that night, I would die regardless of the cause. However, I kept my faith and the hope that nothing bad was going to happen and that we would arrive safe and sound at our destination.
But throughout the remaining long hours of the flight I reflected on the meaning of life and what really matters to any human being who goes through such terrible moments as those we lived through on Thursday.
I realized that to me, and to all the passengers I spoke to on that flight, all that mattered was to survive that incident and arrive safely to see my family. While living through that terrifying moment, I didn’t’t think about myself; I thought mostly about my family. I told myself that if something bad had happened to me and the others on the flight, those who would suffer most would be our families suddenly losing their loved ones.
Finally, thanks be to God, we landed in Casablanca. As we deplaned, people were relieved that the worst case scenario had been avoided. I am thankful that I am still alive, and I commend the pilot and cabin crew for the professional way in which they handled a very frightening situation.
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