Disaster on the Road – Pt. 1


The texts stopped coming 

I knew something was wrong when the texts stopped coming. Constant messages from my family, which had been coming in consistently every few seconds, had screeched to a halt. I was left with my thoughts and concerns, of which there were many. But time wasn’t on my side. The main cabin door was closed, the flight attendants were ready, all checklists were completed, and I was going to Paris. So, I strapped myself in, put my phone in airplane mode, and focused on the task at hand, which was assisting the captain as first officer in taxing and departing, before I went on break for a few hours. It was a very long taxi.

In the air and back in the bunk, I connected my phone to WIFI and tried to get in touch with anyone in my family who had been on their way to my house. The cause for concern was a warm front that had vacated the area near my home, warmed the ground after early morning storms and rain, and afternoon gusty winds that greatly destabilized the atmosphere and set off a 13-count tornado outbreak across the Chicago area on the evening of July 12th, 2023. Being a true Midwesterner, I figured I may be missing a shingle, or my deck chairs may have blown away, or a tree branch fell. Afterall, reports were of a radar-indicated tornado, but at that moment, no damage was being reported.

The first message to come in was from my partner, who is always up for a practical joke trying to get people to stress out about nothing. Prior to this, he had asked me if he should go check on the house, given the reports of a possible tornado and the fact that the power had surged for just a moment. I advised him to send a good friend of ours over to check on things and call him if things looked bad. What I wasn’t being told at the time is that in addition to the reports and the power surge, from the Ring camera, he also could see glass on the ground in the front yard. He had already been on his way to the house as we texted prior to my departure.

After a long year of building our brand-new dream home, we had just moved in a month and half prior. Most of the boxes still needed to be unpacked, and we didn’t even have all the blinds on the windows. We had made time however, to have a little housewarming party two weeks before, and our brief stay had really started to make things feel like home. Surly, karma wouldn’t hit this brand-new house with a tornado – right?

Me: Is everything okay????

Codie Do you really want to know? 

Me: … yes? 

Codie: … Andrew, I’m so sorry, but know I’m taking care of everything. 

Me: Haha, okay right, I’m suuuuure something happened. 

Codie: I’m serious

Me: Well then send me some pictures… 

A house with a broken roof

Description automatically generated

Me: … wow… I really wanted you to be messing with me…

Next month, we continue the journey of dealing with disaster while on the road.

SOURCEAero Crew News, January 2024
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Andrew Ross is a pilot at a major airline flying the Boeing 787, and previously the Boeing 757 and 767 domestically and internationally, and previously flew the Embraer 145. Andrew is part owner of VATH Publishing and is a co-author of The Airline Transition Manual and hold various other publication credits throughout various medium. Andrew has served as an Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) representative, committee chairman, and is a member of the ALPA National Education Steering Committee. Andrew has also worked as a line check airman and holds a Gold-Seal flight instructor certificate as a CFII. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA), which furthers collegiate aviation education through competitions all over the United Sates. Andrew holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership and was recently appointed to serve on the US Department of Transportation’s Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Task Force (YIATF). As a Board-Certified Coach (BCC) with additional certifications from the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Andrew also owns a consulting company that provides executive leadership coaching along with consulting services to various aviation interests.


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