I went out to Oklahoma City and went to the FAA Cabin Safety Research facility and worked on some interesting projects with airline professionals from all over the world. We did evacuation drills and saw that even the most experienced in the industry still have trouble evacuating a smoke filled aircraft. The fire exercises were the most difficult for me emotionally though. The flight attendant trainers made an interesting comment. “This is a step up from initial” I nodded and we talked to the FAA facilitator. She told us that this is a better simulation of an actual crash. I definitely have a new respect for smoke inhalation victims after doing this exercise. As I exited the aircraft and saw the light, and fresh air, I needed a second to recover. The rest of the night was a little difficult for me as well. The next day we did fire exercises to test the effective use of the flight attendant vs. fires. Later that night we all went into downtown Oklahoma City and did some of the touristy stuff such as boat tours and local restaurants. We had such as great time together. I would have to say though that the pool day was the best. The life raft drills were the best to show how flight attendants and passengers really need to work as a team to make sure that no one falls overboard or gets out the plane. I loved my “Crew” for the week and it was so hard to leave them. Luckily, I impressed the crowd with my ability to counter argue anything that was thrown at us by being able to photographically layout any accident or piece of information from research that was thrown at us. In the end it looks like I will have an internship lined up in a cabin safety-related field to better educate the future of flight attendants forever!
All I can say is sometimes you cannot help it, the action gets to you and you can’t tell the difference between reality and research or simulation. You start to believe that the events unfolding around you are real, the sounds of screeching metal, the smell of fire and burning furnishings, and the sounds of the screaming. You can forget how scary a deceleration process and post crash environment can be and there’s only one thing you can do…fasten your seatbelt!