I came across this article while enjoying the morning and it reminded me of an incident in my travels way back when. It was 1973 and I was scouting out a new cannabis source for a new smuggling venture in the far east. We were headed to Nepal but took in a little sightseeing side-trip in India. The air pollution in northern India at the time was some of the worst I'd ever experienced and this article brought me right back to the following scene as I described in 90° to Zamboanga (on page 178):
Traveling back down the mountains to Patna, we caught an Indian Airline flight to New Delhi where we intended to visit Agra and the Taj Mahal.
When the plane reached its cruising altitude, I went forward to the Boeing 727’s cockpit to visit with the pilots. They welcomed me and when I told them I was a fellow pilot, albeit of a small Cessna, they laughed and let me sit in the co-pilot’s seat. We chatted amiably for twenty minutes talking about flying and air navigation. The landscape below was burnt brown but we could see little of it, as it was mostly obscured by blowing dust.
“Excuse me just a second, sir,” the pilot said in a clipped English accent, typical of the sing-song Indian lilt. His attention was drawn to his gauges. He put on his headset and radioed New Delhi tower. He frowned when he realized he had flown past the New Delhi airport and he wasn’t exactly sure where we were.
“Please strap yourself in, nice and tight my friend,” the pilot said to me. After he flipped on the ‘Fasten Seatbelt’ switch, he executed a radical ‘bat turn’ and the plane plunged into a steep dive to get low enough for the pilot to visually inspect the terrain, to determine our position. We went from 37,000 feet to 12,000 feet within one minute. My stomach felt like it was at the back of my throat.
“Ah, got it now. Not to worry,” the pilot said when he recognized some familiar landmarks, hauling back on the control yoke and leveling the aircraft out. I thanked him and nervously returned to my seat, where Pat, along with most of the other passengers, had gone ghostly white, feeling we were about to crash.