Steve and I were scheduled on a 6 pm flight. During lunch, we found out that it would be delayed by an hour, but by the time we got to the airport a few hours later, the flight was back on time.
We boarded the plane without a hitch about 45 minutes late, and waited on the runway for about 10 minutes. We finally took off with the usual stuff of wheels going in and the flaps being retracted. About 5 minutes into the flight, we heard the flaps going in again. This is when the fun began.
The pilot came on the loudspeaker and told us that the front flaps wouldn't retract, which meant we couldn't get to the cruising altitude, so we were going to go to Tampa and get another plane, and there shouldn't be a problem landing. Terrific. The next thing was the loud sound of the wheels going down - which is really loud when you're going faster than landing speed. The pilot announced that we had too much fuel and needed to fly around and burn some. With the wheels down, there was more drag and would burn more fuel faster. It is also very loud and leaves you wondering if the wheels are going to fly off. The pilot said the back flaps were down and the front were not acting right, but the plane was handling okay and we would be landing in 20 minutes.
Twenty-five minutes later the pilot said that we still needed to burn more fuel so we were circling Sarasota and when we burned off enough fuel that we would land in Tampa and it should be a regular landing. Finally enough fuel was burned off and the pilot came on to announce that we were getting ready to land. He also said that Tampa would have fire trucks meeting us and would be racing us down the runway, just as a precaution. Lovely.
We landed and saw the firetrucks out the window. The landing was smooth, we slowed down, and everybody clapped - just like in the movies. We pulled up to a gate and boarded a plane at the next gate and eventually landed in Nashville two hours past our original arrival time.
It was not a flight I would ever want to be on. I don't like flying and this certainly kept me on edge. But I always wondered if I would get on a plane if there was such a problem. There was, and I did.
I am still not a flying fan but I'm still a Southwest fan. I just wish it were Southwest Bus Lines instead!!
Things that make today great: Jury duty; Seventh Heaven dinner; race picture collage