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This Week's Story that Didn't Happen


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It may have made a mention, but thank goodness at least one big story didn't happen this week.

It "didn't" happen on Monday, when among the chatter on the bank of police and fire scanners, we heard an alert called out at the airport. A commuter plane was coming in. Apparently an instrument panel message showed a landing gear malfunction. Other chatter continued, there were 34 passengers listed on board.

Emergency equipment and personnel scrambled to the runway and staged as the plane made final preparations for landing. The plane landed without any incident at all. In fact I'm not sure anyone on board even knew there was an emergency.

Over the years, I've come to understand these kinds of things happen fairly regularly. Thankfully, the bad stuff only happens very rarely, that's what makes it news. Still, we had sent a reporter to the scene to be there, just in case.

As we were waiting for news, I couldn't help but wonder how it all would turn out. Would it just be another semi-routine landing, or would the worst happen? Did the people on board know what was going on? What were they thinking? What were the crew thinking? What were their potential rescuers thinking?

I've only had one experience even remotely similar to that. When I was a child my family had traveled to Idaho for a vacation. When our truck broke down, someone offered us a tow. My brother and I were riding in the back of the truck -- different times. My parents were in front. As we approached the freeway off-ramp, it occurred to my dad that we had power brakes, something relatively new at the time. He wasn't sure if he'd be able to stop the truck without hitting the other one. So, my parents instructed my brother and I to stack pillows against the bed of the truck and brace ourselves. There were a few anxious moments, but of course the brakes worked and we stopped with no problem.

We were prepared for disaster. But the guy in front of us had no idea what might hit him.

Such is the nature of some of the stories we cover. They're stories about humans reacting to real, and sometimes seemingly unreal situations.

Some of us, far away from the airport and the aircraft, knew what might happen on Monday night. We were prepared to do our jobs if needed. But I feel fairly safe in saying none of us who were listening wanted it to turn into another big story.

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Marc Giauque

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