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Florida Guide > Travelling

After a delay of 36 hours we have completed the first leg of our flight to Orlando, via Gander in Newfoundland. Now we are about to fly down the eastern seaboard towards Florida and Orlando International Airport.

We have had a short but fascinating time at Gander International Airport, which feels as if it is in a time warp. Hardly changed from the day in the 1950s when our Queen, Elizabeth 11, opened the terminal, it has one claim to fame. In 1985, a charter flight from Cairo, transporting troops home to their base in Kentucky, took off on the morning of December 12th. Tragically, soon after take off it stalled and crashed, killing all 256 passengers and crew on board the McDonnell Douglas DC-8 jetliner. The cause was never fully determined, but the most probably reason was ice on the wings’ leading edges and upper surfaces. During my visit to the gift shop I find a postcard showing the beautiful memorial dedicated to the victims of this air disaster.

After a long journey we are finally at the end of the runway, waiting for clearance for take-off. The engine bursts into power, and the plane surges forwards down the runway, bouncing like a pogo-stick as it gathers speed. Then, almost imperceptibly, it is up and away, climbing through thick dark clouds that have engulfed Gander. The sun disappears and suddenly there is an almighty flash inside the cabin, seemingly across the video screen, accompanied by a loud thump. ‘This is it! ’ I think, it must be the infamous electric cables of my nightmares.

Andrew and I grab hands and sit looking ashen, peering around the ‘plane for any signs of black acrid smoke. The lady next to my husband is similarly disturbed, and like us, is searching around to try to see what has happened. The stewardesses walk quickly to the front of the aircraft. We wonder if they are putting on their parachutes ready to abandon ship? There is no word from the captain, we do not seem to be going into a steep dive, and most of the passengers seem unaware of the panic that is gripping us. Then the captain speaks, and in his calm American drawl he tells us that we have been hit by lighting, and that there is nothing to worry about.

Nothing to worry about? He must be joking!

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Page added on: 15 July 2011
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