Joe Sharkey on “The Most Harrowing 30 Minutes of My Life”

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  10.03.06 | 2:36 PM ET

Incredibly, New York Times reporter Joe Sharkey was aboard the corporate jet that collided with a Boeing 737 over the Amazon on Friday. The plane he was on landed safely, but the 737 crashed, killing all 155 people aboard. In today’s New York Times, Sharkey recalls the collision and the events that ensued, including an emergency landing in the middle of the rainforest. It’s a riveting account—the kind of frightening tale few people survive to tell. “With the window shade drawn, I was relaxing in my leather seat aboard a $25 million corporate jet that was flying 37,000 feet above the vast Amazon rainforest,” he writes near the top of the story. “The 7 of us on board the 13-passenger jet were keeping to ourselves. Without warning, I felt a terrific jolt and heard a loud bang, followed by an eerie silence, save for the hum of the engines. And then the three words I will never forget.”

He continues:

“We’ve been hit,” said Henry Yandle, a fellow passenger standing in the aisle near the cockpit of the Embraer Legacy 600 jet.

“Hit? By what?” I wondered. I lifted the shade. The sky was clear; the sun low in the sky. The rainforest went on forever. But there, at the end of the wing, was a jagged ridge, perhaps a foot high, where the five-foot-tall winglet was supposed to be.

And so began the most harrowing 30 minutes of my life. I would be told time and again in the next few days that nobody ever survives a midair collision. I was lucky to be alive—and only later would I learn that the 155 people aboard the Boeing 737 on a domestic flight that seems to have clipped us were not.


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