Paul stared at the wreckage in awe. He knew how dangerous birds were to planes, but what they experienced was out of this world.
For a moment, Captain Paul Thompson, his co-pilot, Tony Jones, and everyone else that was on their plane thought they weren’t going to make it.
Paul blamed the birds, but he would come to realize that they had a different motive for doing what they did.
Another Day In Paradise
Paul Thompson had been a pilot for over five years, and he loved the job. Especially the long international flights that allowed him to see the world and meet new people.
So when he got into his plane for the next international flight on his list, he was ecstatic. “Yet another day in paradise,” he said to his co-pilot as he took his seat.
However, this flight would be unlike any other.
Same Old Oddity
At first, everything was completely normal. They did their preflight checks and lifted off. As the plane was climbing, Paul noticed the birds coming in. To anyone who didn’t know what was happening, it would be a strange sight.
But Paul had seen it with every single flight he had in the last month, so he wasn’t too bothered.
It was odd at first, but he eventually got used to it.
However, on this particular day, the birds were acting differently. In the past, they would fly around the plane a few times and disappear as soon as the plane went too high for them to follow.
But this time, they were all focused on one side of the plane.
They would fly along the side, but most of them were crowded around the wing.
He Realized Something
Things only became stranger when Paul tried to turn west. When he did that, the birds seemed to be pushing back, even though some of them got hurt in the process.
That was when Paul realized that the birds were actually guiding the plane.
For some reason, they didn’t want him to make the turn, and Paul found that very strange.
His Gut Instincts
Paul’s gut feeling was telling him to turn around and report the incident to the airport. And Tony strongly agreed with that.
Paul would’ve done it on the spot, but there was a lot to consider in a situation like this one.
For example, how angry the airline would be if a flight was delayed for absolutely no reason.
No Idea What To Say
Plus, Paul would have no idea what to tell the air traffic controller. It’s not like he could tell them that they were afraid of a bunch of birds that were stalking their plane.
If he went that route, they would laugh him off and ignore the situation.
But was continuing worth the risk they were facing?
The birds had put Paul in a very bad position. His instincts were screaming for him to act, but his logic was telling him not to.
But the worst part was that he wouldn’t be able to make that turn without harming a lot of birds.
He would have to push his way through the crowd, and ultimately many of them would crash to the ground.
Paul decided that the best thing he could do was continue the flight. That way he wouldn’t get in trouble over something he assumed to be serious.
However, if he wanted to do that, he would need to make that turn and do it quickly before he interrupted the flow of traffic.
But how could he do it safely?
Trying To Avoid The Birds
Paul thought that making a sharp turn to the east would disorientate the birds. And while they were trying to compose themselves, he could turn west.
That way, he would avoid the birds and get on the right route. He had no idea that a simple turn could turn into such a massive tragedy.
He turned, and everything went downhill from there.
As soon as the plane tilted to the west, every single alarm bell they had went on. Smoke billowed from the wing, and it only took a few seconds for Paul to see the bright orange flames spewing from the engine.
At this point, the birds were the least of his concerns.
He needed to get the plane on the ground before he lost all control.
So Many Screams
Terrified screams ripped through the plane. The passengers saw the flames and started to panic. Many people know that an engine fire could mean only one thing.
And because of that, the passengers were freaking out. Children were crying while their parents ran amok.
And the four air hostesses on duty couldn’t do anything about it.
Calming The Passengers
Paul called the air hostesses on duty to inform them that they had to get control of the situation before things got really out of hand.
He understood how those people felt, as he felt the same way.
But he couldn’t focus on what he was doing with all the commotion that was going on outside.
The air hostesses tried their best to calm the passengers down, but there was only so much they could do in such a situation.
They were just as afraid as the passengers were, so their reassurance didn’t help much.
People wanted to get out of the plane, and they weren’t going to let anyone stop them.
Calling The Tower
Trying his best to remain calm, Paul radioed the control tower. His first call went unanswered, and so did the second.
He was starting to panic. The pilots needed a new route and a safe place to land. And they needed it right away. But their distress calls went unanswered.
Tony was panicking just as much as the passengers were, and Paul knew it was only a matter of time before the man snapped.
Paul shoved the receiver into Tony’s hand and tried to talk him down. He asked Tony to keep radioing the tower until they responded, hoping the distraction would keep him calm enough to see it through.
“Mayday!” Tony shouted into the receiver, but once again, there was no answer.
Paul looked out of his window to see how severe things were and realized he had another problem on his hands.
More Birds Approach
The birds that had been there since they lifted off were still circling the plane. They weren’t bothered by the fire at all. But that wasn’t all.
More birds were coming toward them, and it wasn’t only one or two of them. There were birds as far as the eye could see.
And that was quickly becoming a problem.
The more smoke barreled out of the engine, the closer the birds came. And once again, they were starting to gather on that side of the plane.
What was just an amusing reaction at first quickly turned into something incredibly dangerous. Even more so now that they were only running on one engine.
One mishap could send them crashing to the ground with no way out.
Birds Vs. Planes
Most people know how dangerous birds are to planes. There’s a reason why airports do everything in their power to deter birds.
And the reason is that birds and plane engines don’t get along very well.
Because of the speed at which the turbines rotate is so high, something as little as a bird getting into the engine could be disastrous.
That risk is amplified when the plane is in mid-flight. If one of those birds had to get caught up in their only working engine, the plane would crash down in a matter of seconds.
And with the state the plane was in, Paul couldn’t afford to take the risk.
He had to shake the birds off right away.
Just as Paul was formulating his plan of action, the control center got in touch.
They informed Paul and Tony that it was far too dangerous for them to return to the airport, as they had already gone too far.
But not all hope was lost. There was a small airstrip nearby, and even though it wasn’t built for planes that size, it was the only option they had.
Can They Make It?
Paul immediately changed direction, so he could line up with the airstrip. But then a warning light went on that had him questioning everything.
The plane was losing fuel faster than they expected it would.
And if it kept dropping at the rate it was, they would hit the ground before the airstrip came into view.
Even though Paul was extremely concerned, he kept quiet. Everyone was already so stressed out about what was happening, and adding this problem would make them freak out completely.
Paul just had to find a way to deal with the situation.
He’d worry about the rest when they touched down and got out of the plane.
A Final Announcement
As Paul was scanning the area around them, he decided to make his final announcement.
He took a deep breath and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to ask you to return to your seats and fasten your seat belts.”
Suddenly, everyone became quiet. “We’ll be making an emergency landing. So we need you to brace for impact.”
The Severity Sets In
Tony looked at Paul with big, shocked eyes. Paul knew it was a silent question—a confirmation of his suspicions. “We’re not going to make it to the strip,” Paul whispered.
As soon as he said the words out loud, the realization set in.
Paul knew that even though he was trying his best, there was no guarantee that any of them would make it.
He Had No Choice
Paul tightened his grip on the yoke and steered the plane toward a river he had seen a few moments before.
When he was aligned with the river, he pushed down.
Tony closed his eyes and started praying. The river was getting bigger as they approached, and at that moment, Paul only had one thing on his mind. “I’m so sorry,” he said.
Bracing For Impact
Paul grabbed Tony’s hand, and even though he wasn’t a religious man, he started praying.
When he opened his eyes, he saw just how close they were to the end.
Paul pulled Tony down, and the two of them covered their heads with their arms. The force of the impact slammed Paul back into his seat, knocking the air from his lungs.
Not The Softest Landing
For a moment, Paul was afraid to open his eyes. But eventually, he managed to force himself to do so.
The plane was in the river, and it was slowly filling with water.
But even though the landing wasn’t as soft as Paul hoped it would be, they were still alive, and the plane was mostly intact.
Escaping The Wreckage
Paul laughed as relief washed over him, but it was short-lived. They weren’t out of danger yet. Paul helped Tony to his feet, and as soon as they left the cockpit, they started helping the rest of the passengers.
Pretty soon after that, everyone was on the riverbed waiting for the rescue teams to arrive. It seemed like the disaster was finally over.
But it was something that would haunt Paul for months to come.
The airline launched an investigation into the crash, and six months after they managed to gather all of the debris, they had the answers Paul was looking for.
All this time, he had assumed that a bird got caught in the engine, but the birds weren’t out to ruin his day. During the last service, a screw wasn’t tightened properly.
As a result of it falling between the fins, the engine caught fire. The birds were just trying to warn Paul.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.