Summer 1977. Our first flight as a whole family. Following the menfolk in our family meant me and my sister joined a tribe of travelers called Oilfield Brats.
Over the years and through many countries, we amassed a collection of dramatic departures and arrivals.
Schipol Airport. Amsterdam. Gathering speed down the runway, I already have my headphones in. Fly Robin Fly plays as I watch a rabbit run beside the runway. We leave the rabbit behind and I feel the familiar lurch and adrenaline rush as the plane lifts.
Airborne and gaining altitude, the song still in my ears; headed “home” after four years in Dubai. A summer vacation/family vacation.
It doesn’t take long to notice that we’re flying, but just circling the airport. The Captain speaks, I suppose, but me and my younger sister are settling in with our headphones on. We’re oblivious, just settling in to pass the time. As darkness falls, we’re still circling the airport instead of making our way “across the pond.”
Still circling the airport, we’re served breakfast. I see an empty window seat, so I snag it. (Our parents did move us from our window seats into the four center seats so we sat together.) Soon we’re told to prepare for landing. When I spot the runway, I notice it’s covered in some sort of material and there are fire trucks and ambulances all round, lights flashing. Hoses are out.
We have an uneventful landing, considering the circumstances. Turns out, the announcement made by the Captain that two Oilfield Brats missed was something like:
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain. We have a malfunction with our landing gear, so we will circle the airport until our fuel tanks are empty, at which time, we will land once again at Schipol. Meals and beverages will be served. All precautions will be taken to ensure your safety and comfort and thank you for choosing to fly Royal Dutch Airlines.”
That Captain landed smoothly. I forget what transpired as we left the plane, even lost some time until we were airborne again.
What I do remember is every second of the view outside the plane’s window…rabbit racing our plane. The browns of the rabbit matched the stubble and grasses beside the runway. And I was listening to Fly Robin Fly as our bird became airborne.