Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Where Were YOU When Jet Blue Landed?

After meeting after meeting, I headed my gym via subway and went straight for the pool for my hour of laps to unwind and relieve the pain in my body. Then, at the end of one lap, I noticed all the guys gathered around the TV sets - entranced - and some women, too. I though this odd as I could not think of what game would be on at that time that would be so... engrossing.

Then at the end of the another lap I saw everyone jumping up and down and clapping though the glass windows. This aroused my curiosity . But a few laps later, and everyone was back to their workouts and I was back in my cycle and forgot all about it.

Then when I got back to the office, I clicked on my computers, hit the LA Times web site - and got the whole story about the Jet Blue emergency landing with... no landing gear. Yes, that's right - I got my first news of the story... on the LA Times website! Bet that has got to be a first - and - likely - a last.

But when I checked the date of the story - it was two hours AFTER the plane had landed, but I can't say if that was the first story - or if it was just an update. Likely an update with a story this gripping.


Looks like my experience was replicated in thousands of places across the city:

City Holds Its Collective Breath

People in offices, sports bars, restaurants and health clubs all over the Southland are transfixed as the drama unfolds on television.

By Carla Hall and Kurt Streeter

September 22, 2005

For a few hours, the city watched and waited and watched some more as the JetBlue aircraft seemed to circle endlessly in the sky, preparing to land somehow, somewhere.

With nonstop television coverage from shortly after 3 p.m. until the moment the plane touched down and safely stopped, people in gyms and bars, restaurants and offices gathered around TV sets — turning the real-life drama into a surreal TV movie, a collective cross-town moment of fascination and anxiety.

At Grunions Sports Bar in Manhattan Beach, a good number of the 40 TV sets were tuned to the JetBlue plane coverage. Other TVs were still playing sports games, but the volume went down on those and up on the sets showing the plane.

"Everybody was pretty much enthralled by the scene," said Michael McLaughlin, one of the bar's owners.

Forty or 50 gathered, some in their seats, some standing by the screens in the bar. Quietly they watched as the plane approached, finally touching down. When flames shot out from the wheel, patrons offered advice out loud: " 'OK, OK, come on, you got it' — they were coaxing it down," explained McLaughlin.

When the plane came to a stop, the bar erupted into cheers and applause.

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