The first thought that ran through most people’s minds after hearing about the plane crash in Queens, New York, early Monday morning on Nov. 12 was: “Not again,” and the first question: “Was it another terrorist attack?”
But for senior Nicole Mingo, the fear was immediate and the question was much more personal.
Nicole heard the news about an hour after the crash, driving to school with her boyfriend.
There was a major possibility that her mom was on that flight.
“I kept calling and calling her, but apparently so was everyone else because it was busy,” said Nicole.
Eventually, to Nicole’s relief she got through.
Nicole’s mother, Emily, has been a flight attendant for American Airlines for the past 30 years, and Nicole’s fears were understandable because her mother flies constantly from New York to Santo Domingo, the same route the flight was taking before it crashed.
“She’s always flying, and she could have been on that flight – she was supposed to be,” said Nicole. “I had no idea until I spoke to her where she was.”
Fortunately for both Emily and Nicole, a senior fight attendant had outbid her for that flight, and Emily Mingo did not fly that day.
“Everyone wanted to fly on Veteran’s Day because if you fly on one holiday in November, you don’t have to fly on Thanksgiving,” explained Nicole.
While Nicole has always been afraid of flying, her mother, naturally, had become used to it.
“She’s scared now and she’s distraught,” said Nicole. “It hasn’t hit her yet, but she knew the whole crew on that flight.”
Nicole’s dad, Roy, a general manager for Special Services at American Airlines, agreed that his wife is distraught, but said she is not scared to fly.
“She’s upset because the crew was made up of friends of ours, but there is more sadness than fear,” said Roy. “Flying is safer than driving a car and security has been extremely tight since Sept. 11.”
Juniors Paloma Helm and Chris Fererras were also flying out of JFK airport in New York last Monday.
“There was no way I wanted to fly but I had to get back to school,” Helm said.
JFK Airport was closed until 6:30 p.m. on Monday so Helm and Fererras had to reschedule their flight in order to make their connection in Georgia. They eventually got a flight heading to Fort Lauderdale.
“Our flight was supposed to be sold out but there was no one on it,” Helm said. “there was some turbulence towards the end and I got so freaked out.”
Roy Mingo explained that he doesn’t fear for his wife, himself or his daughter, all of whom will be flying again by next week.
He said that both the planes his wife flies in-the airbus and the Boeing 757-are safe.
“My dad’s been in love with planes since he was a child, and he’s not scared at all,” said Nicole. “But I’ve always been scared.”
Despite her reservations, Nicole will be going home for the Thanksgiving break.
Many students share Nicole’s worries about flying home this Thanksgiving, and have had to decide whether to stay in Miami or go home.
Junior Diana Silverio, who has always been cautious about planes, is now more frightened than ever and has chosen to stay rather than go to her home in Cancun, Mexico, for Thanksgiving.
“I don’t like flying, and I wasn’t sure about whether to go home or not,” said Silverio. “The flight to Cancun is not long at all, but I’m just too scared to go on a plane so soon.”
Other students are going home regardless. Junior Eric Figueroa has no fears about flying home to Dallas, Texas, next week.
“Honestly, I’m not scared,” said Eric. “Security’s tighter than ever. I’m more skeptical about flying, but it’s not going to keep me from doing it.”
Helm lives in Tortola, one of the British Virgin Islands. Although she is not flying home for Thanksgiving, she is definitely making the trip for Winter break.
“I have to fly home for Christmas. Everything will be ok by then, plus I think this crash was an accident,” Helm said.
Figueroa, whose mother is also a flight attendant for American Airlines, admitted that he does fear for her.
“I’m terribly scared for my mom,” he said. “She’s up there much more often than I am.”
His mom, however, is confident about flying.
“My mom loves it, she’s not scared,” said Eric. “If she’s not scared, and she does it all the time, then why should I be.”