Friday, August 3, 2007

747's path had Ohioans fearing terrorism

Hi everyone. I'm back from vacation and never realized how much I rely on a computer until I went a week without one. Thanks to those of you who've been checking this blog over the last few days even though I had nothing new to report.

I did come across one story that I just have to share:

I heard quite a tale from some folks on the Kelley's Island ferry. They had no idea I was a reporter and were just passing this story along to me in conversation.

A ferry worker says that about three weeks ago, a 747 swooped down from the northwest at a high rate of speed. He told me that it was losing altitude so fast that some on the ferry thought it was going to crash into Lake Erie. The pilot wiggled right, banked left, pulled up and zoomed only 200 feet over the ferry headed due east.

If you know the area, then you can guess what the folks on board were thinking. Cedar Point. The attraction is within sight to the east of the Island, and the 747 was headed right for it. The ferry worker told me that everyone on board was silent as the plane continued on a collision course with the amusement park.

After a few tense seconds that dragged on and on, the pilot banked left and gained altitude into the clouds much to the prayers of those on the ferry who were thanking God. Within a minute, the plane was out of sight, and those on board were looking at one another wondering if they were in an episode of "Lost."

Turns out, he says, the plane was from NASA and had been flying all over Lake Erie and Lake Michigan doing tests that day. I'm not sure how he confirmed that, but it makes sense to me. About ten years ago, I was invited to ride NASA's "vomit comet" for a story. That's the plane NASA uses to train astronauts in zero gravity. The pilot climbs and drops over and over again to create weightlessness. It's the same technique used to film parts of Apollo 13. I still have a picture of me floating around and all of the raw tape too!

I'm not sure if the plane over Kelley's Island that day was the same training plane, but if the story is true, I'd like to find out why NASA is flying so low near populated areas instead of conducting those tests farther out over open water.

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