The Istanbul Flight Incident

The view from the roof (breakfast room) of our hotel was worth it. (Click image to see lareger size)My father and I went to Istanbul, and we learned some valuable lessons.  One was very noteworthy because it led to one of my most serious near death encounters.  It turns out that when Turkish people fly planes they… well… hold on.  Let me give you some background information first.

Keep in mind that all this is based off of the inhabitants of Istanbul.  It (probably) doesn’t represent all Turkish people.  But, when they walk, they tend to walk directly towards where they want to go.  It doesn’t matter if there are people, animal, cars, or anything else in their way.  If they believe that it physically can move, they expect it to.

Also, they ride motorcycles the same way they walk.  They climb on and load it with any cargo they need.  Then, they fire it up and aim in their desired direction.  Buses, trams, and even trees seem to be expected to move.

I loved these colorful lamps in all the bazaars. (Click image to see larger size)Cars really only have one difference:  a horn.  They drive where they want, when they want.  If anything blocks them, they can always honk for a while.  They seem to know they’ve now come to a higher point in the food chain with this vehicle, and they love it.

Buses are just giant tools of destruction.  We rode on a sightseeing bus that stopped periodically throughout the city, and one of these points was in the middle of a big pedestrian square.  By definition, no moving vehicles should be allowed here, so walkers let down their guard.  We sat in the front seat on the top level of a double-decker bus and watched an old man with a cane almost go underneath our tires.  He wasn’t saved because the bus stopped for him – the old man just realized it was there two seconds before his life was over.

Boat captains employ the same strategy as everyone else.  There are a ton of ferry boats, and my dad and I watched them in their chaos from a bridge our first night there.  They would just pull away from the dock and gun it in the correct direction.  It was like they were aiming for each other.  “They would lose their license in New York for doing that,” he said to me.

It was difficult to tell where the water ended and the land began. (Click image to see larger)Finally, back to the airplane incident.  If you haven’t figured it out, they seem to fly the same way they do everything else.  We had a nice approach flying low over the city, and I was loving looking out the window and getting a visual map of the city I was about to explore.

Suddenly, the plane started floundering side to side.  I would have a good view of the ground, and then a great one of the sky.  Then it started doing it from front to back – the nose was pointing up, and then the tail.  Finally, the pilot pointed the nose towards the sky and the engines roared to full power.

The plane shot up into the sky like a fighter jet (I didn’t even know that was possible for passenger planes), and it was only seconds before we were out over the sea since the airport was near the coast.  The engines were still roaring, the plane was still flopping in all directions, and we were bumping through the air as if we were about to fall at any second.

The guys on the boats (right) would make grilled fish sandwhiche and toss them over to the salesmen on the land. (Click image to see larger)Eventually it leveled out and went back to a semi-normal state.  While we started to turn around, the pilot gave a speech in Turkish before giving one in English.  The explanation wasn’t very helpful.  It was something along the lines of:  “We are going back to land now.  We have to land on runway 23 and not on runway 32.”

We safely managed to land (after another great view of the city), but I spent the whole time wondering who it was that mixed up 23 and 32 – our pilot, another pilot, or the air traffic controller.  But, after spending some time in the city, I realized it’s just what they do.  Probably both pilots saw the runway they wanted and decided to just go for it.

Other than that, the food was tasty on the fight.

 These creative cats think they're safe behind that grate. (Click image to see larger size)

Hungarian word of the day:

Törökország

This word means „Turkey” (the country), and it’s kind of pronounced „Ter - ook (rhymes with hook) – or – sag.”  The two Os at the beginning with the dots over them are pronounced the same, so just do your best.  But, it’s probably safer to go somewhere else, so you can always just learn the name of another country.