December 23, 2010
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We were gliding through the air, so smoothly yet with a silence of such magnitude that if a pin were to be dropped, it would be equivalent to the sound of an atomic bomb detonating. No one was too jubilant to express it, neither were they too distraught to show it.

Earlier, the captain had announced over the intercom, “ Attention all passengers, this is your captain speaking, a while ago we experienced a little hitch, the small explosion that occurred was actually the sound of our fuel valve collapsing. Therefore, we have lost all of our fuel for the rest of the journey. Ladies and gentlemen, I urge all of you not to panic. Please follow the instructions of crew members incase an emergency landing is needed. Thank you.”

A sense of uneasiness followed the announcement. The pressure and tenseness in the cabin could be tasted. A few people burst into tears. Parents hugged their children even closer, unable to contain their feeling of despair. Several kids smiled cynically, unaware of the dire situation commencing.

While trying to contain my misery, I stared out of the window, it was night time. A darkness so shrewd, I thought that it would engulf me. Accept for the light from the perfectly circular moon, resonating its ray of light that gives hope to other people, yet it may be my last scenic view before I plunge into the chilly ocean.

Ever since the explosion occurred, we have lost all four of our engines. We were descending rapidly. Who would believe that this beast of a man made marvel was dropping so unceremoniously like a pile of scrap metal falling on the surface of the earth. It was now nothing but a complete man made failure.

From my seat, I then glimpsed down. The ocean, pure black and dark. Like a whirlpool of a black hole. With waves crashing high, I thought to myself, this can’t be it. The place I declare as my final resting place. No! I can’t accept it. What a horrific way to die as coldness creeps into our body from the freezing sea, inducing hypothermia and finally, causing death. What a solemn grave, I thought to myself. For the 400 people onboard this 747 Boeing aircraft, it would mean a whole graveyard.

The chief steward came storming down the aisle. He was clutching a yellow life jacket in his hands. A calm face was etched upon him like this was just practice in cabin crew school. I admire him for his professionalism. He gestured towards us to reach under our seats and produce identical life jackets. We were briefed on how to wear them and also on the procedures of a crash landing. He continued walking down the aisle and stopped by mine. He asked whether I was fine. I only managed a nod. I then realised for a split second how bright his eyes were.

Suddenly, another explosion. I snapped out of his mesmerising gaze as he ran towards the cockpit door. At the moment the door was ajar, I managed a peek into the cockpit. It was absolutely hectic. The pilot was struggling to control the plane and at the same time keeping a lookout for the various meters, monitors, switches, buttons and knobs. This added with the blaring sounds of alarms and warnings proved to me that flying an aircraft was never easy.

In all the silence, we could hear the billowing of the sea. This was it, the moment of truth. True to what I expected, the captain shouted three final words, “ Brace! Brace! Brace! ”. I immediately held on to the seat in front of me while the lady next to me placed her silent baby on the floor as instructed. She closed her eyes and uttered a silent prayer. A final request to god.

As the nose of the plane broke the water surface, it shattered into pieces, dismembering itself from the fuselage. The compartments above head wobbled dangerously as more parts of the plane broke off. Finally we skidded to a halt. By this time, water was already reaching my thighs. With the agility of the young woman that I am, I unbuckled my seatbelt and cantered to the nearest exit. I swung the door open and was shocked to see the black sea staring at me. I hesitated, was this the right thing to do?

A man behind me shouted, “ Jump! ”. I looked at my surroundings, closed my eyes, and jumped. As soon as my body touched the icy water, I shivered uncontrollably. It felt like millions of pins were being jabbed into my skin. I remembered to inflate my life jacket and was immediately pulled to the surface. I became the first to witness the most horrific accident. Many people were jumping among piles of metal debris, floating on the surface. It didn’t look like a plane anymore. Everyone was screaming. The noise was piercing. Now came the hardest part, waiting to be rescued.

Seconds turned into minutes, which turned into hours. I lost track of time. It was getting unbearable. The atmosphere started to get quiet. Many people were actually dying of the coldness. I was floating among dead bodies. I was at the edge of my limit, pushing the boundaries of what my body could provide, until that last breath of air.

After what seemed like a millennium, I heard a sound. It was familiar, wings beating, more like chopping. A helicopter emerged. It was a beautiful sound to hear. A sense of relief flowed through my body as an ecstatic beam of light bathed onto me. Adrenaline started pulsing in my blood. My prayers have been answered.

They lowered a cable into the water. I immediately grabbed onto it and held tight. It was my sole lifeline. Then, the unexpected happened. The cable snapped. I was flung into the sea, again. Maybe it was the wind, or the heavy water currents, whatever it was, my monologue ended when another cable was thrown down. This time, a commander wearing a grey suit was attached to it. Feeling a wee bit safer, I was hoisted up.

Finally, I was free of the incident. Inside the helicopter was another man, the head steward. I was glad to see him as much as I was glad to be saved. We were transported to the nearest airport where rest and medical help were waiting.

Out of the 400 people onboard flight MF2109 that day, 350 lost their lives. Mostly were women and children who were unable to endure the harsh conditions. A few days later. It was time for me to go home. I had to board another flight since it was the only way possible to return to my country of New Zealand. After much persuading from friends and family and the longing to return home, I braved myself to enter the plane.

All was going well, until the pilot spoke over the intercom, “ Attention all passenger, we have a little problem ”.

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