ALAN FREW

Musician. Author. Speaker.

Dear Canada Blog #37 April 1st 2018

What happened to me today was unbelievable. I have NEVER in my life experienced anything like it. I still don’t believe it myself. I apologize for it’s length. It’s truly unfrigginbelievable..............Yet, here it is;

I should have known today would be a strange day. It just began all wrong. Something bizarre happened to my alarm and it didn’t go off on time. I had a mere 20 mins to shower, dress and pack up a huge mess of stuff into my enormous suitcase that I have been living out of this past month or so.....AND I had to get my ass down to the lobby to catch a cab for the airport. In shear panic, I went through the motions that I have gone through like a robot these past 37 blogs and managed to get down there in 27 mins to a cab driver who had the meter running for 7 mins already, I had no time to care and in I jumped. But wait, where is Sean I thought to myself? He is supposed to be in this car with me. Have I left him? Has he gone ahead? I dialed his phone but to no avail, he didn’t answer. I was worried but hey, he is a big boy and can sort it out for himself. 

IMG_3141.JPG

The cab driver spoke to me and when I paid attention I noticed how uncanny it was that he looked like George Clooney! I know that sounds crazy but he did. “Has anyone ever told you how much you look like George Clooney,” I asked. “No!” he said abruptly, but I got the sense it’s because EVERYONE tells him he looks like George Clooney😱  Then he said, “Has anyone told you you look like the guy from Flock of Seagulls?” Ok now I knew he was fucking with me. He was angry at my Clooney comment and he was just taking the piss out of me. “Yeah, I get that a lot,” says I, and for the rest of the trip it was total silence. When he dropped me off I thought, “I am not gonna tip this cheeky bugger,” but I did anyway. And then ...  “I ran ...I ran so far away...” no, I ran to Air Canada and checked in. I asked if a young guy named Sean Andrews had checked in yet but was told that he had not, causing panic to slowly set in. I called his phone again but still, no answer. Boarding was within minutes and what was I to do? I began thinking that since Sam and Al had gone on the early 7am flight that perhaps Sean had done the same, although I had booked his flight with mine. I knew me missing my flight would serve no purpose and I knew if Sean was delayed somehow that he would figure it out, although I was worried he might be at a hospital or something. One way or another I knew I would hear from him and so I decided to board. 

IMG_3140.JPG

It was a small plane, one of those prop-planes, a Dash-8, and I am not sure how many it seats but there couldn’t have been more than 10 of us on it and interestingly enough there was only one other man. A very elderly man at that. The rest were women and a few kids. The door closed and we were taxiing to the runaway when my phone “pinged,” from Sean; ALAN I HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY...; that’s as far as I got. For some reason, interference from the tower or whatever, that’s all I got before my phone stopped transmitting. Now I was panicked. Taken by whom? Had he been taken by bad guys? Kidnapped? In Sudbury? Come on, surely not, yet my heart was now pounding. “Excuse me, I said to the stewardess seated in front of me, ready for take off. Can we go back?” “I beg your pardon,” she said. “Can we go back to the terminal,” I think I may have an emergency on my hands. The young man who works for me may have been kidn.....” suddenly I was cut off by the fact that the engines were roaring and we were on our way up to the clouds. Shit, now what, I thought. I couldn’t possibly make them turn the plane around from the sky thinking a bizarre thought such as Sean has been kidnapped. I decided since the flight was only 1hr 20mins that I would ride it out and get on it the second we landed. 

IMG_3142.JPG

About 45mins or so into the flight an extremely distraught stewardess comes out of the cockpit saying, “Ladies and gents we have a problem. Both our flight crew are experiencing a health issue. Something that looks like it may be food poisoning. We are diverting the plane to the nearest available runway which is in Huntsville (north of where I live, by car, 2 hrs) they have a small airport there and we can land. “Man, I thought what else can go wrong?” Well Dear Canada I was about to find out because no sooner had she made her announcement, when one of the flight crew, stumbled out of the cockpit, in a vain attempt to reach the toilet and he passed out on the floor basically in front of my feet. “Woah! I blurted out,” as a woman behind me screamed, sending a panic wave through the entire plane. “Can you help him, please? the stewardess said to me. I will go to the cockpit and check on the Captain.” Man, what a nightmare was unfolding Dear Canada. I got the co-pilot into his side in case of vomiting and I checked his pulse and breathing which were rapid and shallow but at least he was still with us. Suddenly the stewardess asks me, whispers to me, if I can go into the cockpit for a moment. I was stunned. “Please, she says. No fuss, I will look after him, you just go chat with the Captain for a moment.” Holy shit! What was happening. 

I entered the cabin of this little plane and what I saw was terrifying. A man basically slumped over the controls, sweating profusely, gagging every two seconds. “Sir, I said, What is happening?” “You got any flying experience? he croaked. “ None, zero! I answered. “You ever sat in a pilots seat while in the air?” Now I cannot lie I have been up numerous times with pilots and they have allowed me to experience (for a few minutes only) what it’s like to fly a plane but this....? I explained that I had but barely. “Well that might just have to do my friend because my stewardess tells me that of the 10 humans on this plane as passengers, you’re the most likely to be able to assist me. Take a seat.” 

This just cannot be happening kept racing like a sped-up mantra in my mind. This was a bad movie waiting to happen. And so here I am in the co-pilots seat with a sick-as-a-dog pilot who looks like he is one breath away from croaking and we are 12,000ft up in the sky trying to get back down safely to Mother-Earth.  Meanwhile the stewardess is explaining to everyone what is happening and I can here wailing, and screaming and praying, oh man, wake me up I thought, let me open my eyes and I am back in the Best Western, in Sudbury. 

IMG_3143.JPG

Meanwhile back in hell, the Captain is talking PFD and ND, airspeed and altitude, rate of decent, autopilot etc and I am like my dog Harry, with my head cocked not understanding any of it. He then asked me to take the yoke to get a feel for what it might be like if it’s my hands bringing her down. I have never been as scared in my entire life. And so for the next 20 mins as we descended I took part in headset conversations with someone at ground level describing what I was seeing. I turned knobs on command and answered questions and watched the pilot closely. He never lost consciousness but told me,” We have to get her down ....NOW!” With no runway in sight he asked me what I saw, and I answered, “ A farmer’e field.” “Then we go there,” he whispered. For the most excruciating 5minutes of my life we brought that plane down together. Me as his eyes and ears, he gasping to hang on. He even had both sticks working with my hands on one and his on the other and he showed me the breaks should he pass out completely. The thud was monstrous. The screams, deafening. The sigh of relief, overwhelming. “WE DID IT!” I said. “You did it,” said the pilot before passing out. When I stepped off the plane a farmer came gunning over in a 4x4 and asked if we were all okay. The wacky part is he looked like George Clooney, but I dared not mention it. “We got two very sick pilots, I said Call an ambulance.” Suddenly reality set in and I realized that we were all alive but that Sean might still be in trouble at the hands of those kidnappers. I reached for my phone. I had a signal. I went to Sean’s message and read the following ; ALAN I HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY JUST HOW BRILLIANT YOUR APRIL FOOL’S BLOG IS TODAY! 

I turned to Sean seated beside me on our flight and said,” Ya think so?” “Oh, yeah, he replied. LOVE IT!” 

Now safely at home and ready for bed. My “own” bed. You are next Toronto.

Goodnight Dear Canada, until tomorrow. 

                                     ~Alan