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No Fly Zone

by Kevin Kurz / Philadelphia Flyers
Philadelphia endures scary plane flight to Ottawa


(Ottawa, Ontario) – Anyone who travels by plane on a regular basis has at least a story or two about bad flights. After Monday, the members of the Philadelphia Flyers and their traveling party can claim one of their own.

Soon after takeoff the 3:00 p.m. takeoff, which was delayed a bit to begin with, the charter flight began shaking violently as the plane made its way through a large, ominous cloud. Turbulence on a plane flight is certainly not a new phenomenon, but the bumps and dips in the air continued to progress and get worse by the minute.

Not once, but two separate times the plane seemed to lose altitude in dramatic fashion. After about five minutes, the plane was finally able to climb to an altitude over the cloud it had been passing through and make its way to calmer air. Afterwards, the explanation of what caused the incident seemed to generate more questions and than answers.
Jason Smith, Riley Cote and Kimmo Timonen play some cards on a flight earlier this season. (Flyers images)

The captain explained that:

-    The plane took off in a different direction than originally planned, due to high traffic.
-    The air traffic controller would not allow the plane to climb out of the altitude it was experiencing the turbulence, due to high traffic.
-    Nothing was showing up on the radar of the air traffic controller signifying any turbulence.

The comments from the flight crew were also somewhat unnerving to the passengers, even after the ordeal was over. One of the flight attendants said she had never experienced anything like that in 20 years, while another, who was in the back of the plane looking down the walkway, said she could see the fuselage bending as the plane rattled along.

Some of the players were asked about the experience following the morning skate at Ottawa on Tuesday.

“It was as rocky as I’ve even seen it. And not for 30 seconds, for five minutes, which felt like a half hour,” said Martin Biron.

The goaltender was asked who appeared to be the most rattled on the flight.

“I would say Mike Knuble, although Scottie Upshall, you guys would not have been able to have a recorder anywhere near him because you wouldn’t have gotten any uncensored quotes,” he joked. “Knuble said his socks were soaked by the time the plane stopped shaking.”

Knuble laughed when told of Biron’s assessment, although he didn’t quite see it that way. Regardless, the experience was certainly not very pleasant.

“You get sweaty palms and sweaty feet when you’re a little bit bumped around. I wouldn’t say I was the worst, but I definitely was not comfortable,” he said. “That makes anybody uncomfortable; I don’t care how much you fly.”

Biron, as is his nature, continued to crack jokes.

“I think the FAA is mad to keep us at 12,000 feet and fly us through a storm instead of clearing us up there,” he said, referring to the team’s current losing skid. “Thank goodness for those pilots and the engineers that put the plane together.”

John Stevens is obviously hoping that the flight will somehow help the team on the ice.

“It’s as bad as a takeoff as I’ve ever had. Maybe it shook some of the losses out of there and we can get back to our winning ways [Tuesday],” said the head coach.
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