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Phu Tho - Vinh Phuc - Vietnam

January 15th, 2009 started like any day

January 15th, 2009 started like any day.
I woke up.
YAY!
HOORAY!
It was 5 days before President Barack Obama was to swear in at his first inauguration.
It was only 6 days before Mitch McConnell would set up a meeting of top Republicans who vowed to make Obama a one-term president.
Despite rumblings from the racist Senator from Kentucky, there was hope in the air.
And change in the weather.
It had dropped to under twenty degrees that Thursday afternoon.
I had a busy day ahead. I had to warm up the crowd for the Late Show with David Letterman, meet my friend Dheya for dinner, and then do a set at the Zinc Bar in the village.
The Zinc, located at 82 W Third Street between Thompson and Sullivan, was the exact same stage I started working on in NYC, 25 years prior.
It was the club I helped start and eventually ran, formerly called, The Paper Moon.
I also had to pack. The next morning I was getting ready to take my first of two road trips to audition folks for the second annual Great American Comedy Festival, which honors Johnny Carson. I also had some gigs of my own on the trip as well.
I was about to visit six cities in ten days.
LA, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Ft Lauderdale and Washington DC.
The Late Show had ten weeks off a year and this is how I was able to get away and do some extended traveling.
Then it happened.
At 3:31 pm, about an hour before we started taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater, a 57 year old former fighter pilot, Chesley B. (Sully) Sullenberger, safely landed US Airways flight 1549 onto the Hudson River.
The icing on the nearly frozen water cake was that everyone made it out alive.
The Miracle on the Hudson!
The term used for landing an aircraft on a body of water is ‘ditching.’
It has only happened with a commercial airliner a few times. Supposedly, only one other time did everyone on board survive.
In 1963 an Aeroflot jet landed in a river near St. Petersburg, Russia. All 52 people lived.
Ditching incidences also occurred near St Maarten in 1970, and with a hijacked flight off of the Comoro Islands in the Indian Ocean in 1996.
Yet in both cases, many people lost their lives.
The next morning my flight was on Continental Airlines from Newark to LAX.
Six-plus hours to try and think of anything but river landings.
As we pulled back from the gate I could feel some tension in the air on the plane.
It was palpable.
The guy next to me was white knuckling his armrests.
All of a sudden, I thought of the upcoming flight attendant announcements.
“In the unlikely event of a water landing, your seat cushion may be used as a flotation device.”
I heard that hundreds of times, but always scoffed it off, knowing that it would probably never happen.
Yet, just the day before it was not only a likely event, it was an actual event.
Would they say those words today? Would they change it?
At this point the flight attendant was talking about the oxygen mask and I knew in my gut that the ‘water landing’ segment was next.
She continued on:
And NEVER mentioned the words WATER or LANDING.
She skipped that line and said, “Your individual lift vest is located in a pouch beneath your seat. Should its use become necessary, remove it from the plastic packet, slip it over your head and pull downward on the front panel. Bring the strap around your waist and insert it into the buckle on the front. Pull on the loose strap until the vest fits snugly”
The guy next to me panicked. He raised his hand and yelled out a big, NO!”
He said he couldn’t fly today. He was visibly shaking.
Even though no one mentioned any alternative type of landing, this guy wasn’t buying it.
We had to go back to the gate and drop him off.
Poor fella.
For some reason, I was very calm.
I have flown a lot in my life and in fact had recently become a million miler on Continental.
I couldn’t afford to panic. I was about to take seven flights over the next ten days.
I just took a deep breath and smiled.
I had been bumped up to first class and achieved the unlikely event of no one sitting beside me.
If you still want to explore more destinations in Asia, a Thailand Cambodia Vietnam itinerary will be an ideal choice for you.
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Update : 12-03-2018
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