Eight Minute Flight

by

Brent Cannon

Laura and I were in L.A. this past weekend. Saturday evening, when we returned to our hotel the winds really kicked up. In fact, the windows rattled all night, and my first thought was about the fire danger. I woke up Sunday morning and could see a plume of smoke billowing to the west. It was the Malibu fire.

Our flight out of Burbank was to leave later that afternoon. The only fire I could see from where we were was the one in Malibu, but as we left for the airport I suddenly noticed a new plume of smoke to the east. It was dark and thick and I knew a big one had erupted, and with the high winds it would spread quickly.

By the time we checked in – the new fire was massive. We were set to board, when the ticket agents said there were problems taking off. Due to the high winds and safety restrictions, the plane had to be lighter. That either meant kicking people off, or dumping a lot of fuel. Since all other flights that day were already at capacity – they didn’t want to kick people off and cause them to be stranded.

So, they decided to lighten the plane by carrying less fuel. But that meant we would not have enough to get to San Jose. So they decided to have us fly from Burbank to L-A-X. We could refuel there, and since they have longer runways the safety restrictions are different. We took off from Burbank, made an eight minute flight to L-A-X, “got gas” – and headed to San Jose.

Once in the air we began to grasp the scope of the fires. Smoke filled the air as far as we could see. In fact, at one point we were engulfed in smoke – making it impossible to see the land, the blue sky above, or the Pacific Ocean. We were in a cloud of dusty, orange brown. I wanted to take a cell phone picture for NBC11@veeker.com – but we were not allowed to have them on at that point.

I feel so badly for the people in Southern California, but also very blessed that the Bay Area has been spared.

Brent Cannon
NBC11 Anchor

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