fall of Hercules

Cheryll Fiel’s face was washed-out—her lips chapped and pale, her eyes mirrored unspoken fear—as the aircraft struggled through the thick clouds over Davao skies Monday night.

Around 20 minutes before the scheduled touch-down of the Cebu Pacific Flight 5J 969, set to land at around 8:30 at the Davao International Airport , the aircraft experienced turbulence in the air.

Apparently, it was not just an ordinary turbulence as minutes after the plane--which left Manila at 6:30 pm--finally landed at the airport, the military C130 plane crashed off the sea of Davao killing all of its nine crew members, including the captain.

(Earlier, the Cebu Pacific plane captain announced that the airplane would be arriving Davao earlier than scheduled.)

Gasping for air, Cheryll, the managing editor of the online magazine Davao Today and one of the newly elected members of the directorate of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), frantically rummaged through the pocket of the plane seat in front of her for a litter bag.

She might threw-up, she said as she slipped herself out of her red sweatshirt. She found no litter bag. Her state was contagious and I suddenly had the urge to call for help from one of the cabin crews but they were nowhere near.

She stiffened her small body and nailed her attention to the valves beaming soft lights on the headboard.

Peeping at the window, I could see not a faint light from down below—except for the distractive red one flickering from somewhere the plane’s right wing—although I know, after the captain announced shortly before that the plane was already making its final decend—that we were already flying over Davao.

There was nothing outside but ghostly shades of white film that broke into what appeared to be rain or bed of water when sliced by the plane’s wing—visible only through the faint light of the aircraft.

The descent was extremely rough, sending a frightening sensation worse than the one being felt when riding an extremely fast ferries wheel. Difference was this one was not a ferries wheel ride and inevitable, the question dangling in my head was whether or not the plane will touch-down safety and we disembark alive.

The female voice over was assuring, if not reassuring, but did not promise any hint of a safety landing: “We are experiencing turbulence…please remain seated and your seatbelts remained fastened.” The Tagalog translation, which was contextually incorrect compared to its English version, was obviously tensed.

As the plane was making its descent and broke through the clouds, leaving a scary shudder to the aircraft, all passengers fell into silence—even the group composed mostly of children who were earlier boisterous.

“It is raining in Davao ?” Cheryll nervously asked. Outside, still the dark clouds are only exposed with few streaks of lightning.

Another nagging question was: “What if we will be hit by lightning?”

Terrified, Cheryll said: “I am experiencing motion sickness…this one is definitely one of my roughest flights.”

The situation was even made worst by the ringing of a mobile phone from somewhere at our back which made a nervous male plight attendant to run towards the direction to curtly remind that it was prohibited. Few minutes after, the same phone rang again.

As the turbulence painfully dragged, Cheryll looked me in the eye and said: “God…we will still be hovering back to Samal Island .”

By that time, though, city lights have started to emerge, signaling that the we were already approaching the airport.

“No. The captain said were on our final descent…and we are already flying under the clouds,” I told her.

In the morning, a text message reached me that made me imagined the worse—a C130 plane crashed shortly after we landed safely.


Lyka Bergen said...

That was rough! Am glad naman at safe kayo. The person with the ringing cellphone should be charged. Safety precaution lang dapat at di nya sinunod.

jericho said...

kalokang experience... i mean yung masusukang hindi ha. chos! good thing you're ok.

Kiks said...

this made me tense naman.

(ano ba ang mga posts ngayon - halu-halong emosyon ang ineelicit sa akin?!)

thanks to the gad you're both okay.

johnnypanic said...

ikapila pud nag tuyok-tuyok sa samal ug sasa ang eroplano nga among gisakyan ni claire pabalik ug davao 3 weeks ago. grabe pud ang turbulence, PAL pa gyud to amo gisakyan. murag kog mamatay: i hate flying.

maglaag bitaw ta mam, soon. ngano nawala man imo phone oi?