The plane was in a 45 degree nosedive as I wrestled with the yoke to control the plane. I could hear passengers screaming with fear. How am I going to slow down this plane? My arms burned as I reached forward, and pulled the lever to deploy the speed brakes to 100%. My whole body was falling forward; the only thing holding me in was my belt that carved into my stomach. I must have lost all of my air; my heart beat faster, and I was panting to stay conscious. I used all of my strength to reach forward, and grab the control column. I gripped it so tightly my knuckles turned white. I heaved it all the way back, my muscles tightened as I struggled to hold the yoke back. The plane slowly pulled up, exerting a great deal of G-force on the airframe and everyone on board. My legs stiffened so much that I couldn’t feel them. They must have hit the rudder pedals because the plane yawed left and right a little bit. I ignored the passengers’ wails as best as I could. One of the overhead baggage compartments got unlatched, allowing suitcases to fly about the cabin. As the overspeed alarm continued to go off, I was thrown into the bottom corner of my seat. The altimeter on my instrument panel now read 3,000 feet.
The plane plummeted at an extremely dangerous rate of descent at 25,000 feet per minute. While the rate of descent had slowed to 10,000 feet per minute, we were still alarmingly close to the ground. The altimeter was violently spinning counter-clockwise. When we hit the 2,000 foot mark, what felt like every terrain alarm blared. Pull Up Terrain, pull up terrain, pull u-terrai-pull u-terrain… All of the alarms blurred together into one undecipherable word.
At 1,000, feet I looked at First Officer Charlie Walters. His resigned eyes looked back at me as he picked up the phone, and said solemnly, “This is your First Officer. Brace for impact.” I gazed up from the instrument panel and felt a strange sense of peace. My muscles relaxed as I saw an open, lush, green field, dotted with grazing sheep. The yoke fell back into a neutral position. We’re not going to hit the ground. There were a few men running in and out of a deep red barn in the distance. One of them looked to the sky, and they stopped in their tracks and looked straight at me. We can’t hit the ground! The men dropped everything in their hands and ran to the sides of the farm.
Oh, God, no. There was a loud bang. Then everything went black.