Greek beaches and losing plane engines

On our last morning in Crete we carpe diem-ed and went to the beach.  I’m rarely at the beach before 9am, but my goodness… they are such peaceful and lovely places at that time of day.  At first we were the only people there, spreading out wherever we wished and basking in mellow early morning sun.

We saw a bucket of old lost-and-found toys and Lena went to town with all those treasures!

Sometimes you want to splash and play and sometimes you just want a hug.

Eventually we headed back to the hotel to shower, finish packing, and head to the little airport.  Once again we had no idea if there would be space on the plane for me and Lena.  I waited in prayerful apprehension, watching as the waiting room of the terminal filled up with passengers.  The tiny C-26 we were scheduled to fly only has 10 seats:

And then suddenly the woman in charge of seating was standing in front of me, saying firmly and apologetically, “I am so sorry.  There are 11 passengers and just 10 seats.  You will have to stay behind.  We will try to get you on a flight back to Sicily as soon as possible, maybe tomorrow…” 

I gulped, anticipating a long weekend by myself in a hotel room, wandering around base trying to amuse a baby and sitting in the air terminal waiting for a seat.

Suddenly, once again, our hero in a flightsuit walked into the room, did an official count, and announced that there were only 9 official passengers.  There was space for us and Lena could sit on my lap.  What?!  The woman must have miscounted and included Lena and me (the 10th and 11th passengers) among the official count.  Praise God!  Within moments we were walking across the tarmac to the plane.

So close.  Both times, so close.  Crete is great, but… do I want to go through this every time?

We boarded the plane, ducking down the narrow aisle to find a seat.  Lena promptly fell asleep in my arms, exhausted from the beach and missing her nap.  I fell asleep only moments later.  

I woke up to hear a crewmember yelling down the aisle over the noise of the propellers.


Elliott and I stared at each other, eyes wide.  Outside his window I could see the left propeller slowly coming to a stop, then rotating lazily in the breeze.  Our entire plane was now flying on just one propeller engine.  The pilots were busily balancing the plane in the cockpit, making constant manual adjustments and pressing buttons that had turned red and yellow.

My mind started to go crazy thinking of all the things that could go wrong.  Where there parachutes in this plane?  What would I do with Lena?  I guess strap her to me with the Ergo carrier and then strap the parachute over both of us.  But there probably were no parachutes.  What would we do with life jackets??  And if the other engine went out, would the plane glide for awhile, or just… dive?

This was useless.  I prayed, closed my eyes, and determinedly slept.

About an hour later, I could see land below the plane.  Sicily!  We flew in south of Catania and in a moment I could see the base, and then the air strip, and then a small army of firetrucks waiting for us, lights flashing in the hot sunlight.  Oh boy.  Elliott wrapped both his arms around Lena as we dropped closer to the earth to land.  The wheels touched.  We bounced, jostled a little bit, raced down the runway.  Home safe.

After all the flying I’ve done my entire life, I would have to say that is the closest I’ve come to knowing our plane could go down.  Not fun in a tiny little metal tube you can’t even stand up in, with a baby in your lap and the love of your life beside you.  But then I think… how many times has this happened on a plane and I haven’t known it?  How many times has a reckless driver swerved right before connecting with my car?  How many times have I been within an inch of my life and yet here I still am, typing this, on an ordinary Friday, living this ordinary life, very much alive?

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:16
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5 Responses to Greek beaches and losing plane engines

  1. David Garber July 7, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    frea to the ky!!

  2. The Hitchcocks July 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    I just read Uncle Steve’s post on facebook. I have no good words for you, just that I am so sorry. We’re praying for you and your family.

  3. Mary Vartain July 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Dear Becca,
    You & I haven’t met, but I’ve known Elliot’s family for over 20 years and enjoy peaking in at his beautiful new family once in a while. Your words in this post speak so well to the fragility of our lives and utter dependence on our good and merciful God. Just wanted you to know that you, Elliot and your families are very much in my prayers as you wrestle and grieve over one so loved. May God bless you, shelter you under His wing, and grant you His peace.

  4. Mommy July 12, 2012 at 1:37 am #

    I do not know you or your family nor did I know Julia. I do know grief and I grieve with you. I lost my brother, Richard, in a car accident on July 7, 1987. The sudden tragedy, being notified by phone several states away, the plane ride to Georgia to greet the rest of my family. I know it all and join you in prayers for comfort, peace and mercy. I know Richard is with the Lord yet I still miss him, some 25 years later. He would be 56 years old now. He doesn’t know my children and they don’t know him. But, one day, they will greet on the other side in joy!
    Laura Warren


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    […] working dogs at the tiny little base in Souda Bay.  We came with him last year, too, and had a harrowing journey back when one of our plane engines died […]

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