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It wakes me up from my slumber

31 October 2000

“Singapore Airlines flight SQ006, daily service from Singapore-Taipei-Los Angeles, crashed on takeoff from Taipei’s Chang Kai Shek International Airport at 23:18 local time. The weather in the area was poor, precipitated by a typhoon. Weather five minutes prior to the accident was reported as 69F/21C, pressure 29.59in./1002 hPa, wind from 020° at 37 knots, gusting to 56 knots, visibility 1/4 mile in heavy rain. Subsequent investigation of the accident confirmed that the flight crew mistakenly attempted takeoff on Runway 05R (9029x150ft), instead of the planned Runway 05L (12008x200ft). NOTAMs showed that, at the time of the accident, Runway 05R was closed for repairs, and that numerous pieces of construction equipment were parked on the runway. Approaching 140 knots, the 747 impacted the construction vehicles, breaking the fuselage into three parts and igniting a large post-crash fire.”



I was supposed to be on this flight but changed my mind when MAS offered a cheaper seat!


It was actually the first time for me to board a flight to LA that transits Taipei. Even on a SIA. The others were always transiting in Narita.


It was 31st October 2000. I did not sense anything amiss at all except that when we landed Taipei all I noticed was a heavy rain. As I wander around looking for a place to smoke I looked at the glass windows atop the boarding hall and all I could see was a strong wind that was trying to force through the building. Wow that was enraging!


SQ006 was the flight behind us and was supposed to depart minutes after we were cleared off the runway. Almost everybody in the boarding hall sat quietly except my kids who were fooling around with each other.


After about 45 minutes or so we were called for boarding. So were the passengers of SQ006. My kids were happy. I was wondering whether it was a good idea to take off during a stormy weather. I can still see the storm raging. I kept it to myself.


We took off smoothly but I could feel an enraging vibration inside as we were ascending. Everybody was so quiet. The captain announced that there was turbulence ahead. I made sure my kids were seated safely with the seat belts intact. It was about 10 minutes long and it felt like 10 hours. Finally we are out of the storm. The flight was smooth and we touched down LA in the early evening.


As we disembarked my wife overheard a crew talking to her mate that SQ006 which was right on our tail crashes in Taipei on take off. I could not believe my ears. My wife also knew that we were supposed to board that flight! But that was not the issue as I thought both flights were cleared to take off at about the same time.


We quickly checked out and get a cab to bring us to our motel in Anaheim. After checking in I quickly took my shower and called for pizza. I turn on the TV to see the breaking news about the crash. True enough. SQ006 did not make it. It crashed at the Chang Kai Shek airport on take off. They were right behind us! It scares the shit out of me!


I thank God. It was a wake up call for me I thought. Syukran! Alhamdulillah!


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