Bird Strike

I went with my honey, Brad, to Indiana recently.  We drove up, since it can be such a lovely drive from Charlotte to Indiana through the mountains.  Unfortunately, after visiting a few days, I had to head back, and he didn’t.  This meant I would have to take my first flight alone from Louisville, Kentucky to Charlotte, North Carolina.  “I can do this,” I kept saying to myself.  Even though I cried after the last flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Charlotte.  “It’s time to put on your big girl panties,” my work BFF keeps saying to me. So I was thinking positive thoughts and put on my big girl panties for the flight.

Brad was kind enough to drive me to the airport and walk with me all the way to the security check-in, which was the part I was most nervous about.  “What do I put in separate containers?  When do I pull off my boots?  Can my laptop go in the same container as my cell phone?  Will there be a mean security person there screaming at people like there was at the Phoenix airport last June?  Oh, Lord!  I can do this!

I made it through check-in like a pro.  Brad waived to me from afar, and I was on my way!  I had enough time to inhale a sandwich and glass of wine at Starbucks, which was great before my first solo-flight, so to speak.

I finally boarded the plane and found myself sitting next to a woman who was apparently on the flight with about 10 other co-workers.  We said hello, and I said to her, “This is my first flight alone, but don’t worry.  We won’t end up on You Tube or anything.” “Are you serious,” she responded?  I guess it wasn’t the best thing to say to a perfect stranger who was stuck next to me on a plane. I took half of an anxiety pill as I was directed to by my honey, then called him to let him know I was on the plane and just fine.

It wasn’t long before the plane was moving along to prepare for take-off.  I was fine.  A little nervous but not bad.  I could already feel the wine and anxiety pill working, so I felt reasonably calm. (Yes, that is what some of us have to do.  Don’t judge.) We started moving.  I clutched my coat in my lap and my neck pillow, thinking positive thoughts.  “This is fine – normal stuff – people do this everyday.”  We start moving faster and faster, almost to the point of taking off, and suddenly the brakes went on..and on..and on…..  People were looking at each other and mumbling.  I could only bend forward a little, holding the sides of the seat in front of me mumbling quietly, “Oh God, oh God, oh God!”

We finally came to a safe stop, and then the Captain spoke,”I guess you all are wondering why we stopped.  It looks like we had a bird strike, and we are going to have it checked over real quick before we take back off.” Great. My first flight alone and we have a bird strike.  I heard someone nearby say something like, “Where is Captain Sulley?”  Someone else said, “This has never happened to me before.”  Of course not. I wasn’t in the plane flying alone for the first time before. This kind of thing only happens to people like me.

We ended up back in the terminal for about 40 minutes while they checked the left wing. I decided to take a quick photo with a little camera I happened to have in my purse.


I have to say – it is a rather unsettling picture to see when you know you are getting back on the plane soon.   Anyway, by the time I got back on, there were quite a few people that did not come back.  They either had to re-book because of connections they were going to miss in Charlotte, or they simply weren’t going to dare to try again. I felt confident that the plane was just fine, and they were simply being cautious. Now my seat next to me was empty, so I took a quick selfie.

The second try to take off was a success. The trip was uneventful and safe, and I got home late, but in one piece.  Thank you, American Airlines, for doing a great job! Thank you, wine and anxiety pill, for keeping me calm. And thank you, God, for keeping us safe!

Happy trails,




Author: Denise Ratcliffe

Denise Ratcliffe was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She currently lives near Charlotte, North Carolina. Two of her adult children live with her, and she has 4 wonderful grandchildren. Denise loves to loves worship God, spend time with family, and travel to new places.

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