It was later we learned that due to pilot error he overshot the runway and this crash ensued.
In year 2011, my bonus mom had died some 2 years prior and I wanted my family to come together. My grandma had been the glue keeping us tightly knit together and I wanted that bond to continue.
We planned a family reunion and thus began our trek to South America at the end of July in 2011. The excitement was palpable … we had never all been back home at the same time since our separate exodus.
Ever since my first plane I had been a happy flier. I have been on numerous flights alone and was always very comfortable in that environment.
That comfort was about to take a nosedive, pun intended.
So that fateful day we left New York at 08:30 pm and was slated to arrive in Guyana at approximately 01:30 am. I loved this flight as it gave me a full head-start in the home-country.
My daughter was sitting at the window seat and myself in the center.
My older son was about two seats back with my mom and my sister and her son were seated in the same row on the other side of the plane.
We were all located behind the wing of the plane, a Boeing 737 jet carrying 163 passengers.
The flight was quite uneventful and some five hours later we began the descent into the Timehri international airport.
I usually get pretty excited at this point as the anticipation is at an all time high. I am going to see the relatives and friends I miss so much!
So we are getting closer to the ground and I realize that the lights of the airport had disappeared. I wonder to myself why this is so…is there a power outage?
Usually I am a very compliant passenger and will put my pocketbook in the overhead bin, but this night something told me to take it down and so I did. I had placed the straps about my ankles with my feet on it. You know women never put their feet on their new pocketbooks.
Suddenly the wheels touched down with a hard thump but no application of the braking system could be felt, the plane kept hurling at an almost break neck take off speed. I felt the smooth surface give way to rough and bumping ride.
The forward acceleration seemed to go on and on and by this time we all realized something was seriously amiss. Screams filled the aircraft as we continued careening to some unknown destination.
I was preternaturally calm as many thoughts raced through my mind. The foreknowledge that this airport was built on the top of a mountain was not a pleasing one.
I thought surely we are hurling to our demise.
Suddenly we came to an abrupt and violent stop and objects went flying everywhere.
Smoke filled the plane and utter chaos commenced. Families began rushing to find their loved ones.
I grabbed my child and, handbag thank God was magically on my lap at this time especially since it housed all our passports, documents and cash.
I called out to my other family members and yelled, “We need to get off this plane”.
I was afraid it would erupt in flames.
We all attempted to access the exit at the back of the plane, only to find it blocked by a woman looking for her chocolates. She barred the exit looking for chocolates!!
Can you imagine that!!! Sweets in the face of impending demise. Definitely a first for me.
I don’t recall how but someone moved her out the way.
Somehow we got to the back and someone opened the door but the shoot was not there, so I jumped down (I am 5 feet 10 inches tall) and helped the others down.
This was exactly the scene complete with darkness as we emerged from the wreckage.
We then began a long walk around some unfamiliar trail, following each other like ants in the dark to the airport main building.
And of course it was raining as well.
We emerged from the broken plane with my handbag and one carry-on bag belonging to my mother.
We were all relatively unscathed thanks to God. Some with a few broken bones, minor injuries and a lifetime of mental trauma that would follow.
Guyana was ill-prepared for such a disaster and had it been worse we would all surely died … this is a third-world country, no emergency ambulances. No one came to rescue us.
We eventually met up with our relatives who were so relieved, we had with us only the clothes on our backs…but so grateful to be alive.
When it was time to return to the US, that broken plane was still sitting in the same place and I experienced an anxiety attack. I had to use God’s words to calm myself down and be there for my kids.
This is another pic from a different angle.
To this day we all battle Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). And though I have flown many many times since then, I have lost my zest for flying and think of it as simply a means of getting from point A to B.
It was the nose of the plane that went into a sand dune and stopped it from going over the 20,000 ft drop that was barely 100 ft ahead.
The next year I had my third child. I believe that my story is a testament of how our footsteps are ordered by the Lord.
At age fifteen I had dreamt I would be a mother to three children. At the time of the plane crash I had only been blessed with two children. The third child was always in God’s plan for me.
Even though the devil tried to throw a wrench in God’s plan…today I have three children as told to me in a dream many moons ago. So much of what I dream becomes a reality.
I don’t know what my last child’s purpose will be for sure, but ever since he could talk he has stated he will be an engineer. He is utterly consumed with creating things.
And I have no doubt God has great things in store for him as well as my other kids, otherwise the devil would not try so many times in so many ways to cancel their mother before they made their entrance.
These are some of the reasons why my name is Gifted … I have been gifted with my life several times.
I have stared death in the face a few times, but God always has the final say.
That plane had finally come to a stop 100 feet from a 20,000-foot drop. Why did the plane stop? Why did we all survive? I know God is not yet done with me!