Friday night I had a near death experience - well as near as I ever want to get that is! I was on a turboprop plane from Detroit, MI to Champaign, IL and if anyone lives in the midwest they know Friday night was a bad one for storms capable of creating "tornadic" activity.
The flight was scheduled to leave Detroit at 4:50pm and land in Champaign at 5:3opm - there is a time zone change in there so really only about an hour in the air with take off and landing time. We were delayed in taking off by about 40 minutes because the plane was late getting in and through customs (came from Canada). Then we zipped into the air and we were off. About 40 minutes into the flight things got bumpy. We kept on going through it, but apparently losing speed flying into storms, another 40 minutes passes, very bumpy and rough. The captain comes on we will be landing in 20 -30 minutes. Finally we start descending, we come out of the clouds and the storms are raging. Rain is pelting the plane, lightening is flashing on all sides, the plane is pitching violently from side to side and the ground is in sight. I am dying to get me feet on solid ground, grasping the arm rests and trying to breathe deeply to calm myself. I am a good flyer - but this was awful!
Finally it seems we are not landing after all but heading up, up, up again. Captain comes on - diverting the plane to Cincinnati because the wind shear is just too great and we can't land. 20 minutes later captain is back on - we do not have enough fuel to make Cincinnati - we are going to make an emergency landing in Evansville, IN. We land - they tell us to stay put, we are on a deserted tarmac, and the entire airport appears deserted. (Anyone see The Langoliers?) Finally a truck comes to refuel us - they tell us we are awaiting authorization to take back off and try Champaign again - this time dipping south below the storms and then coming in from behind the cells. We are patient - I use a bathroom that is smaller than my office chair in desperation. This plane holds 34 people total - the bathroom was the tiniest thing I've ever seen but it was necessary. THANK GOD my ass didn't get wedged in there! I was really worried for a few seconds but the full bladder won out. As soon as I emerge from coffin/bathroom they announce that we are going to deplane so we can get in the air conditioned terminal. But they warned us not to leave the terminal area as there were no TSA agents and we would not be allowed back through. No problem for me but the smokers were jonesin bad!
In the terminal everyone is breaking out cell phones. One guy's wife was at the airport in Champaign when we were coming in and there was an actual tornado warning and they were all funneled under the escalators - safest place I guess? She told him the board was showing our flight cancelled - 5 minutes later they announce the same to us. Great - I'm going to be stuck in Indiana? BUT the airline actually chartered a bus to take us the rest of the way. It took 3.5 hours by bus.
I finally got to Champaign airport, had to take a taxi cause the car rental counter had long since closed, and my nice early flight ended up getting me to the hotel and in bed by 12:30am.
This morning I'm wiped - got home on 2 very uneventful flights thankfully but very late - it was 12:30 when I climbed into bed. I am nearly dead today.