Two weeks abroad gave plenty of chances to answer
a common question:
"Are things getting better over there?"
I usually answer with a question: "Compared
Flying into Yerevan two nights ago gave me a
new metaphorical answer:
Landing lights . . .
After a series of delays, threats of cancellations
and mostly weather-inflicted obstacles to a safe
and comfortable journey we were approaching Zvartnots
Airport when the captain of the airplane said
the visibility over Yerevan was 30 meters. Should
be at least 300 or so for safe landing.
On a trip that had us snowed in, in London and
snowed out of Tbilisi (and nearly stranded in
Baku) we were now fog bound over Yerevan. A look
out the window was like staring into a pillow
and a near-empty plane carried the uneasy quiet
of collective fright.
The captain said we may have to turn back. And
then he didn't say anything for awhile and we
felt the plane lowering into the ocean of textured
mist from a hidden surface.
In an instant there was a yellow glow behind
the fog and the plane's wheels touched the bumpy
runway and we rattled to a welcomed stop and a
return to normal breathing.
Nobody, including the pilot, knew where we were,
except that we were on the ground between some
The fog was so dense nothing could be seen beyond
the landing strip and we had to sit on the runway
while authorities sent a car out onto the runway
to look for the plane then lead it to the terminal.
None of us knew how that pilot got us on the
ground and were not sure we wanted to know.
But we know this: It is likely that in a not-so-distant
past that landing couldn't have happened. (It
occurred, by the way, on the same night 75 people
died in a crash caused by fog in Turkey.)
Are things getting better over here?
Some things, yes. Some, no.
The fog hasn't cleared, but at least there are
landing lights for any captain who knows how to