By now we’ve all heard the miraculous story of US Airways Flight 1549. What could have been a tragedy turned into a wonderful story of courage and heroism.
Yesterday Yankees announcer Michael Kay reminded me of another flight, about ten years ago, that could have been just as tragic but wasn’t quite as miraculous. In fact, it was really quite hilarious.
I’ve heard Kay tell this story many times on his radio show. He seems to bring it up every time there’s a flight disaster in the news. It involves his former broadcast partner John Sterling:
It was 1998, early in the season. The Yankees were on a flight from Minneapolis to, I believe, Texas. Suddenly, the plane was hit by severe wind shear. The plane was thrown around in the sky as if it were nothing but a toy made of paper. Grown men, most of whom were world champions, began to scream. There were cries of “Oh,my God!” and “Ay, Dios Mio!” Everyone thought this was the end.
Things became so bad that oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling. Michael Kay was understandabley very shaken. As he reached for his oxygen mask, he looked over at John Sterling in the seat next to him.
Sterling was reading a Robert Ludlum novel. Calmly reading a Robert Ludlom novel, I should emphasize. With a serene look on his face, he held the book in one hand and, with the other, reached up and touched his oxgen mask. All the while, the plane continued to shake violently.
Out of his mouth came a low chuckle. “Of course, we’re going to land,” he said, his voice full of amusement.
And, of course, he was right.
How hilarious is that? Kay said something about Sterling never getting ruffled in such situations because, and I’m paraphrasing, “That’s the kind of fairy tale world he lives in.”
I guess you can say this about John Sterling: He is high, he is far, he is [pause] gone!