The plan for my Monday is usually pretty simple, get to the airport, get on the plane, fly somewhere, and get to work. Today was not much different, right up until the point where we passed up our destination, New York’s LaGuardia airport, did a 180 degree turn over Connecticut, then started our approach to the airport. That’s when things got really interesting.
As we approached LaGuardia, I looked out the window and saw what looked like a wall of water in front of us. The captain had informed us that there was weather in the area but that they were still taking arrivals so I thought the rain may have been isolated off our left side. On final approach, right around 200 feet, all hell broke loose. Day turned to night and our plane dropped suddenly. I heard the engines spool up and felt the plane’s nose go up. We made a sharp left turn over the main terminal building and continued climbing.
Ten minutes later and the pilot announced that due to our long approach, the plane’s fuel was low and we would not be able make another attempt at landing at LaGuardia. Instead, we would be diverting to Newburgh’s Stewart International Airport. That landing was normal and we taxied to the FBO (fixed-base operator) that United contracts with at Stewart Airport where we sat and sat and sat. Eventually the weather at LaGuardia cleared and our plane was refueled and we were on our way back to New York City.
Almost three hours later and we landed at LaGuardia. In the United States I have never experienced people clapping after a landing, but they did after this touch down. Can’t say I blame them; That missed approach was one of the more hair raising flying experiences I have ever had, but it did my make Monday interesting.
I should add that the United crew did a great job keeping everyone informed of what was going on and at Stewart Airport they walked around handing out drinks and giving free access to DirecTV. They were even letting people who wanted to deplane and drive to NYC from Newburgh do that. So, my hat is off to the crew of United 1280. You handled a less than ideal situation professionally and with a lot of courtesy and I appreciate that.