The twentieth century brought us the most technologically advanced way to travel en masse yet--airplanes.

Airplanes are nothing short of a miracle. By rising above the clouds, we get from point A to point B more quickly than we ever have in the past. But like most things, there are moments when this doesn't work as well as we want.

Sometimes it gets outright scary. Planes are very sensitive, and if even one thing goes wrong, it can really change a trip from quick and painless to frightening.

u/jm1ce asked:

Flight attendants, pilots, or other airline crew: Has there ever been a time on a flight where you were genuinely scared or nervous about the flight, and if so, what happened/what did you do?

Here were some of those answers.

Ice Ice Baby

My mom was a flight attendant for U.S. Air before I was born, and I know her scary story.

She was exhausted at the tail end of a shift that had run longer than it should have because they got paused in Philly for nasty winter weather conditions. They were finally finished getting de-iced and about to start taxiing when one of the passengers called her over and told her that he'd been watching carefully and he didn't think they'd de-iced both wings of the plane, just one side. She sort of reassured him that she would go check but he was probably mistaken, and then even though she was really tempted to wave it off as just a jumpy passenger, she went to the pilot just to check.

Welp! Passenger was correct and the plane was only half de-iced when they were getting ready to leave. If they'd taken off like that, it probably would have been disastrous. Mom told me that even though it didn't happen in mid-air, it was her all-time scariest moment during her tenure as a flight attendant because she knows how close they came to a very dangerous situation and she knows that she almost didn't stop it from happening even when warned.


No Air

One time we were stuck between a thunderstorm and the Iranian border ended up having to fly through the thunderstorm. Another time we had a fire on board and a lot of the crew left their oxygen regulators on full blast while we were dealing with it. After about 45 minutes I realized we are almost completely out of liquid oxygen and had another 2 hours left to get home.


Something Old

I was an aircraft electrician for the Army for a number of years. One of the first systems you learn about after getting to your unit is the APR-39. It's a radar/laser detection system that is integrated with other systems to tell crew if they are being tracked, when they have been "locked", and what direction incoming is actually coming from. All of this is related through a (archaic) display and the worst synthetic voice you have ever heard. Spent many days troubleshooting this system and never thought much of it, until I deployed for the first time. I volunteered to fly back-wall security for the MEDIVAC unit that I repaired birds for. MY FIRST FLIGHT we were on pick up from Kandahar to South of Pasab and passing through the mountains and I can hear that damn voice in my headset. Thought about nothing of it, even wondered why the crew chief was hanging out of his window looking aft of the bird. I didn't dawn on me till after we hit a very steep left dive, aaaaand the chaff and flares firing from our the right that we had just been locked and fired at.... Genuinely scared the crap out of me.


Sudden Twists And Turns

My dad is a captain at American Airlines. Won't tell me his worst flight because he doesn't want to freak me out. Fair.

As someone who has flown since before I can even remember, my worst was flying to Indianapolis from Orlando. It was July so basically that entire corridor was poppin with thunderstorms. We got put in a holding pattern over Indy for 2 hours then diverted to Louisville for fuel. Normal enough.

What's not normal is that in the half hour it takes to fly to Lville from Indy, a line of thunderstorms had popped up over Lville. We're coming in for approach and I can see the way the clouds look outside the plane. I'm a meteorology nerd and knew they meant wind shear in the area was starting to form.

As we came in to land, a gust of wind hit our plane almost knocking us sideways. Pilot pulled the throttle back so hard for a missed approach. So cool now we were back up in the thunderstorm filled sky. We are hitting severe turbulence at this point and people are praying, holding hands and crying.

The Captain brings us back around and absolutely plows it into the ground and basically said "eff your wind shear". I've never been so happy to get on the ground.


Going Down, Down

Not me - but I was on a flight at the same time. My collegues landed and said that mid flight a lightning bolt hit their plane making a massive noise and killing the power for a few moments. Everyone was screaming and crying in a total panic. Apparently it was THAT bad.

My colleague looks to the other and says "Well, we're both sales guys so I guess I'll see you in hell"


Rough In The Sky, Smooth On The Ground

I was flying a 737 on final approach five miles behind a 787 when we got into their wake turbulence. Aircraft banked left sharply then immediately went into very steep nose down right bank. I immediately corrected this attitude but for a quick second I thought it might go over a 90° bank angle. I have never fought that hard in an airliner to recover, but I recovered, and had the smoothest landing of my career.


Sudden Issues

Flying home from FL to NY. Scheduled to land at LaGuardia. Right after takeoff we could all hear the motor that retracts the landing gear straining. And the landing gear would not retract. When it finally did, everyone seemed relieved but I was thinking 'I hope it comes back down when it's time to land.' Lo and behold, about 1/2 hr before landing, the pilot announces that we were being diverted to JFK because of landing gear trouble.

We needed a longer runway to stop the plane. So now people are praying and biting their nails. We could hear the motor trying to bring the landing gear down for several minutes before it finally came down at almost the last minute. We land and the plane isn't slowing down. We hear all kinds of horrible sounds, smell smoke...people are now really freaking out. Plane stops after using up almost the whole runway. There were emergency trucks all over the sides of the runway, foamers..etc. Was never so happy to get off a plane!!



My scariest moment was after we got within 700 ft of landing. The pilots whipped the plane back up because of heavy winds and announced that we were diverting to a nearby city in another country.

It was a short flight to the other city, and it was bumpy so I was strapped in. A couple of other flight attendants were standing up though. All the sudden the entire cabin went bright white. Specifically I could tell that the light was entering the plane from the other side around the corner I couldn't really see behind. The flight attendants nearly jumped all the way to their seats and strapped in. There was one passenger that I locked eyes with at one point. Her and I both both made this nervous smile at each other like, "Lets not die here!"

We did end up landing alright. It took 4 hours for us to get off the plane because of all the other planes that diverted there. They also told us the next day that we got hit by lightning at least 3 times. They could tell because of little pin pricks that the lightning makes when it hits the plane.

By the way, I still feel so much safer in a plane than almost any other mode of transportation. The statistics don't lie. The regulations and redundancy on safety measures are unparalleled.


Rollin' Rollin'

Hit crazy turbulence in a prop plane flying into Saginaw from Detroit. Plane was all over the air like a roller-coaster.. Up down, side to side, I swear I thought it was gonna barrel roll at one point. Seemed to never end, but was probably only really a few minutes. Time kinda slowed down. My girlfriend and I were the only two people on the plane who weren't Marines going to some Marine thing. Those guys were cracking some pretty dark jokes while I contemplated my time on earth.


The Limit Does Not Exist

I recall being in a very small plane trying to land at John Wayne International during a storm. No door between cockpit and passengers or at least it wasn't closed. There was turbulence but nothing as dramatic as some of the other stories here. Listening to the cockpit crew arguing with ground control over the flight path was not comforting. I think we were approaching the end limit for flights and ground control wanted them to approach by going more over the ocean. Neither I nor the crew cared for that too much.


Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay

Now that college has become a standard requirement for so many jobs and careers, there is a massive push by high schools to get their graduating students accepted and enrolled at an undergraduate college.

On the whole, that's undoubtedly a great thing. A more educated workforce will be prepared to solve the most complex issues facing human beings in the next several decades.

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Image by Gianni Crestani from Pixabay

*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.

The person on the other end of a 911 call has a truly remarkable job.

For those who don't play that professional role, we hope to never encounter the 911 call interaction. But if we do find ourselves making that call, the moment is an anomaly in our lives.

The chaos, the panic, the racing heart, and the desperation are all emotions we, ideally, don't experience on a regular basis.

But for the operator on the other end, our call is one in a long line of calls they've received all day, and all the workdays before that one.

It's difficult to imagine being embedded in those uniquely urgent, emergency moments all the time.

Some Redditors who are on the other end of that call shared their experiences on the job.

WhimsicalxxButcher asked, "911 dispatchers what has been your most creepy/unnerving call?"

For a few, the most unnerving moments were the calm callers.

There was something just so eerie about how level-headed the faceless human being on the other end could be through such a desperate, tragic moment.

Almost Clinical 

"I had a friend who worked as a 911 dispatcher and he always said the worst call he ever had was a ~20 year old kid who committed suicide by mixing a bunch of chemicals together in his car to produce hydrogen sulfide gas."

"He said that the most unnerving part was hearing him calmly listing off the chemicals, the type of gas produced, and the effects of hydrogen sulfide on the body (namely the almost instant death it causes at high concentrations)."

"He ended the call by providing the address of the parking lot he was in and saying that nobody should approach the vehicle without hazmat equipment."

"Apparently after that there was a whooshing sound as he dumped the last chemical into the mix, and then the line went dead silent aside for a quiet fizzing noise."

"I know that call screwed him up because he almost never talks about stuff that happens to him on the job. He quit a few months later to go into construction management, and frankly I can't blame him."

-- iunoyou

Planned Out 

"A woman called me, saying she was going to kill herself. She was gassing herself. Gave me her name & address then said she was just going to lie down and 'go to sleep.' And stopped responding to me."

"I kept the line open, trying to get her to speak to me, and eventually heard officers forcing their way in to find her body. I guess she just wanted someone to find her body."

-- mozgw4

Before It Set In 

"When I got a call from a 6 year old who got home from school and laid down to take a nap with his dad. His dad never woke up."

"The kid was so calm when calling it broke my heart."

"I ended up leaving dispatch shortly after. I was good at compartmentalizing the job for the year I was doing it, but it would've broken me in the long run."

-- tasha7712

Other 911 operators were unfortunate enough to receive a call from the very last person they wanted to hear from: a loved one.

These dispatchers' unique position gave them the unexpected access to a family member or friend at their most dire moments.

No More of That 

"My family member is a long time first responder, and 'retired' into doing dispatch. He heard the address (someone else was taking the call) and realized it was his daughter's house."

"He rushed over there just in time to see them wheeling her body out. Overdose."

"Five months later, he was called to his ex-wife's place because his grandson (son of the daughter who recently passed) had his door locked, lights on, but wasn't responding to his grandma."

"He broke the door down and found him deceased in bed. Overdose."

"He's very stoic after years of all sorts of traumatic situations but my heart hurts whenever I think of what all of this must have felt like. Like sand through your fingers."

-- bitchyhouseplant

Knowing the Address

"Not me, but my grandma. I was sitting in the dispatch office, (very small one only 2 dispatchers including my grandma) but she put out a dispatch that there was a gun shot from my best friends address."

"My heart sank to my stomach and broke later that day. He committed suicide."

-- OntaiSenpuu

When it Happened 

"My uncle passing away. Worked as a small town dispatcher for a year or so. Had a bunch of messed up stuff happen on shift, but this call came in in the still hours of the night. Small town, so not many calls after midnight."

"I answered and recognized the name and address on caller id. Aunt was in a frenzy so didn't recognize my voice. I remained calm and got ems and fire rolling to them, but by my aunt's own words he was already blue."

"I went thru debriefing and mandated therapy for a couple other things that happened, but never really talked to anyone about this. I just try not to think about it."

"That was the call I figured out I needed to find a different job."

-- dangitjon

Finally, some simply had a front row seat to sudden tragedy.

These operators were flies on the wall when disaster struck. They never asked to witness what they witnessed, but sometimes that came with the territory.

A Holiday Tragedy 

"My mom is a 911 dispatcher. Early on she said one Christmas Eve while working she got a call from an elderly lady who's husband had just collapsed(and died) from a heart attack and in the background Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas music was playing on blast."

"The lady was screaming and crying and begging for her husband to wake up but my mom could hear his gurgling in his last breathes. She doesn't listen to or watch Alvin and the chipmunks since."

-- Blueflowerbluehair

What is it About Christmas?

"Christmas night. 911 call with crying child on the other end. A neighbor had run her car over her mom during a domestic."

"The mom crawled to the porch bleeding and the child saw the car coming back. I had her hide quietly in a closet with the cordless phone."

"The 10 year old child was crying and screamed that she hated Christmas. She was afraid of the police when they got there."

"I kept her on the phone until she felt safe enough to give the phone to an officer. I almost fainted after that call was over. Had nightmares for a while."

-- 2FunBoofer

Close to Home 

"Not a dispatcher but I handle radio communications for the Coast Guard. One night I was on the radio and got a call from an 11 year old kid whose boat had started to sink. He was out with his dad and 6 year old brother."

"They had been hit by another boat and his father got knocked unconscious. I remember the entire conversation up until the radio had gone underwater."

"They ended up finding his dad floating on his back alive but the two boys didn't make it. That one really fu**ed with me because my two littlest brothers were around the same age as the youngest."

-- HIRSH2243

A Horrible Clock 

"Another one that stays with me was the man who called in. It was the anniversary of his adult son having hanged himself. He'd now come home to find his wife had done the same."

"That date is always going to be a black day for him."

-- mozgw4

If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at

Again, we hope you never have to use the 911 call in your life. Nobody wants to be involved in a sudden emergency or a tragic incident.

But hopefully, if you do, an operator like one of these thoughtful, sensitive Redditors is on the other end.

Image by Nguyen Dinh Lich from Pixabay

When I was moving on from middle school to high school my parents had me tested for the "gifted" program. By some miracle I passed and was accepted. And then I turned it down. Everyone was irritated. "This will pave the way for any college you want! You'll learn so much!" his path will set you up for life!" Every adult tried valiantly to sell me this merchandise but in my gut I just wasn't buying it. So I "settled" a level below, merely advanced classes. And upon reflection... it was the best choice I ever made.

Redditor u/dauntlessdaisy was wondering how far some in life got by asking... For those of you who were considered "gifted" in school, what are you doing with your life now?
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Image by Markus Spiske from Pixabay

There's a million things that can happen to you while out on on the road.

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