Captain Garrett Wilson with eighteen years of flight experience gently taxied the Boeing 737 to take off position. This flight was extra special for him. It was one of the few times when all of his immediate family was on board; Helen, his wife of nineteen years, along with Brian his seventeen year-old son, and Nikki his fifteen year old daughter.
The family was planning on spending Christmas at Disney World. Both kids were old enough now to handle themselves without constant supervision, which meant that he and Helen would actually have some time alone on this trip.
It might have surprised some people, he thought, that after nineteen years of marriage he was still excited by the prospect of spending time alone with his wife. This, he thought, would be a chance to ‘court’ her again and get a glimpse of what their lives were going to be like without the kids. Brian was six months away from college and Nikki would soon follow. In as little as two years, he and Helen would have their lives back.
As he reached up to set the plane’s radio frequency to match that of the tower’s a little voice whispered, “don’t go”. Startled, he looked around to see if one of his cabin mates was playing a trick on him. His First Officer, Bob Nelson, was going about his pre-flight checks as normal. Did you say something, Nelson?
Nelson looked up from the instrument panel and shook his head. “No. I didn’t say anything.”
Being the intuitive person that he was, Nelson set his clipboard down and turned his attention to his friend.
“Is something wrong?”
“No, must have been one of the passengers. Check the door and make sure everything’s OK back there, will you.”
“Sure.” Nelson unbuckled his seat belt and made his way over to the door. He cracked it just enough to peer out into the cabin of the plane. Janet, the senior flight attendant was in the middle of the emergency evacuation procedure, which to him looked like a mime act.
“Everything’s fine, he said over his shoulder before climbing back into his seat and resuming the checklist where he’d left off.
Now, Captain Wilson wasn’t sure whether or not he’d actually heard the voice. For a second, he considered turning the big jet around and heading back to the terminal. He hesitated between duty and superstition.
“You sure nothing’s wrong?” Nelson asked again.
He shook off the sense of foreboding the voice had brought and continued with his checks. He decided to be extra vigilant. He rechecked the radio frequency with the tower. He checked on the weather conditions, the condition of the runway and had Nelson re-check flaps, engines, fuel levels, and hydraulics. Everything checked out fine. There were no glowing red warning lights on any of the instrument panels. Nothing was out of the ordinary.
With that, he notified the tower that he was ready for take-off. The tower radioed back their OK, headings and altitude. The First Office signaled the flight attendants to take their seats and gave the usual greetings to the passengers.
As the big jet rolled past, Lester Schuster’s heart soared in his chest almost lifting him out of his hiding place. A smile of triumph and joy crossed his face as he saw the red glow of the plane’s engines. They were off! He was so excited, he had to hold the camera with both hands. He was salivating with delight.