1. The Day My Plane Was Struck By Lightning

The old caravan parked by the roadside beneath the tall eucalypts in the Australian bush, my home (such as it was) until only yesterday, seemed a lifetime away. 

(How I came to be living in a leaky old caravan is explained in Chapter 2.)

As we gently cruised at around 30,000 feet, I became alarmed as I watched the endless expanse of white fluffy cloud below lightly brushed by the late afternoon sun give way to a dark menacing tentacle of trouble reaching high above us in the distance.

The plane dramatically changed course and began losing altitude. Just then a voice from the cockpit broke the silence: 

“We’ve just been informed by the control tower at Chicago Airport that a severe electrical storm has knocked out one of the two runways there. We are one of about a hundred aircraft in the air maintaining a holding position waiting for a clearance to land. There are currently four holding positions over nearby alternative airfields in case landings are not possible at O’Hare. 

"We are now in one of those holding positions. We have enough fuel to last about half an hour in the air. If we are unable to land at Chicago then we will be following emergency landing procedures at our designated airport. We’ll keep you posted as the situation develops.”


We entered the darkness of the storm and day turned to night. 

For an eternity the plane droned on and on, swaying and lurching in broad circles like a scary theme park ride. 

The darkness outside lit up momentarily as a ball of light skidded across the wing outside my window. 

The voice from the cockpit announced that we’d just been struck by lightning but there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Yeah, right.

We’d been asked to fasten our seat belts and not to leave our places for any reason. 

Even the flight attendants were looking anxious and had found vacant seats for themselves. 

I overheard one of them say how the crew must have copped a decent jolt from the lightning strike which would have hit the cockpit first.

My palms were sweating and my heart was pounding. 

Surely by now we must be almost out of fuel. There had been no announcement from the cockpit for a while. 

Was anyone still flying this plane? 

I did a quick revision of the folder in the seat pocket in front of me and noted the nearest emergency exits. 

Had it not been for a three hour queue at L.A. airport I would have been on an earlier flight and well on my way to New York. 

Want to read the whole story? Click here!

Illustration by Jeff 'Wizard of Draws' Bucchino at www.cartoonclipart.com

Note: Illustrations are used only in this blog and are not included in the book

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