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Dentist Stipe Vrsalovic from Gornji Humac on the island Brac, who works in Bol, experienced something over a month ago on his way from Zurich towards Los Angeles, and it was enough to write a scenario for a good movie, writes Slobodna Dalmacija.
Stipe flew on a plane with four of his colleagues in a Swiss airline on a world dentist congress in Las Vegas. Total of 217 passengers boarded the Boeing 777 in Zurich, who touched the ground of Los Angeles airport in 12 hours.
- We flew over through Germany, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and half of Greenland to Canada, where we should have went down to the United States. We flew at an altitude of 12 thousand meters and halfway somewhere between Greenland and Canada problems began to happen. I was asleep a bit...
At one point I heard in the distance, giddy, someone saying that the plane has technical problems and that the captain asks us to remain calm and that they will repair the malfunction and that everything will be fine. Because i wasn't sure if i was dreaming or not, i woke up and i could see on the screen in front of me that we changed our direction for 90 degrees.
That is when i asked my friends if they heard the same. They confirmed "my dreams" and i have to say i felt really scared, but i wasn't the only one - said Vrsalovic.
Captain lowered the altitude of the plane to five thousand meters.
- We asked for more detailed information from the crew of the plane, but the stewardesses said they know as much as we did. After some time, the captain spoke again and said that we will have to make emergency landing because the problems are big. From New York to Montreal we had four more hours, and three to Edmond.
That is why they started searching for some "handy" airport where we could land. And they found it in a small city Iqaluit, 321 kilometers south from the Arctic circle. We flew two hours to there on a temperature 37 degrees below zero.
Even though there was heating in the plane, it was really cold so they gave us blankets and pillows, to keep us warm and cozy. The landing was terrible, the plane jumped a few times, the snow was flying all over the place... You could hear screams, shouts, cries in the plane, some were praying, and when we landed the sound of relief was heard in the entire plane - said Vrsalovic.
There were only few hangars on that small airport, dusk, there was almost no one alive, besides necessary staff.
- They told us nothing for three hours. And then, someone over the speakers said that they won't be able to fix the malfunction and that someone else from the same airline will come for us. We stood there for 14 hours, and then the plane from New York came for us, which should fly on the line to Zurich. Than plane landed near us and we were taken with school buses there. We flew and after 4 hours we were in New York and it was then when they told us that one of the engines has failed. We couldn't feel our feet.
During the time of this misfortune, we were spending our time playing "Who wants to be a Millionaire", it was one of the options on the screens of our plane. We were very hungry and thirsty, they gave us freezing cold pizza and only a bottle of water to drink. Guess they did not expect for problems like this, so they supplied the plane with enough food and water, they didn't allow us to light a cigarette - said Vrsalovic
In New York they asked us if we wanted to spend the night in the Big Apple or to continue to LA?
- We decided to continue flying, straight to Las Vegas where the, congress was taking place. While we waited for the flight at the airport, the five of us from Croatia received a coupon to have something to eat and drink. We boarder the second flight to Las Vegas because the first was full and we flew again with Delta. We have traveled for 32 hours from our destination from Zurich - said Vrsalovc.
When he was returning he had a significantly more pleasant flight.
- When the congress was over, we went to LA and with a plane of Swiss airline we returned to Zurich. To make it up to us, they gave us the business class. We were offered champagne, wine card, we were treated with beef steak and all other treats they have on the plane.
- There, after all the troubles, we went back home in one piece. Or plane remained in the north and it was fixed few days later. They sent the spare engine from the company, and it was flew in to Canada by Antonov 124, the largest plane in the world. In order to fix and for the workers to operate on the engine, they first had to lift a tent around the plane because the temperatures were under 35 degrees - Stipe Vrsalovic completes his story.