Protoblogging: Bumpy flight to Quito*

(From a post in an online travel forum, 2000))

Our plane was sitting on the tarmac in Houston, waiting out the wind, when the lightening struck. Torrential rain and sharp bolts of lightning striking the runway were not what I wanted to see while crammed into that hot metal tube. Finally, after about thirty minutes, the weather cleared and we rolled to the runway and off we went, at the front of a pack of at least 20 planes all waiting in line.

Some four hours later, airborne over the Andes, it was dark, but there was just enough light in the sky to see the huge billowing cumulous clouds below us. Then I saw more lightning, illuminating the clouds from within. Flashes of lightning bursting at a frequency of every six or seven seconds blasting through the clouds. It was a remarkable show which reminded me of old black-and-white aerial footage of the blitz. It was certainly more entertaining than the movie.

Entertaining, that is, until I realized we were flying into those clouds. For the next thirty minutes we bounced and bumped through some of the worst turbulence I've ever felt, accompanied by constant flashes of lightning. The worst part is that since we were flying through clouds, the plane even sounded different--the damp air howling over the fuselage reminding me of the way planes sound in movies just before they crash into the side of a mountain.

Eventually, we flew out of the storm and then landed almost immediately in Quito. The man next to me, a native Ecuadorian, had advised me that Quito's runway was the bumpiest he's ever landed on, and he wasn't wrong. It felt like the plane was touching down on on a logging road, but at least, finally, we were on the ground!


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