Captain Mike Rendell started out his workday like all the workdays before – just another normal day of flying. After spending a raucous night partying with his crew, he and his first officer were looking forward to a nice relaxing flight to the West Coast.
“Flaps 1, climb power”, Mike repeated as he responded to the command of Gary Ellis, his new-hire First Officer. Mike positioned the flap lever from the “5" spot to the “1" spot and retarded the thrust levers to approximately eighty-eight percent of full power. This was the standard “after take-off” configuration and gave the aircraft its’ best rate of climb in relation to burning the least amount of fuel. Pacifica Airlines Flight 762 had just departed from Chicago’s Midway Airport. On board the Boeing 737 were 137 passengers, three flight attendants, and two pilots.
However, it didn’t take long for events to unfold that would thrust Captain Rendell and his crew into one of the most terror-filled days of their commercial airline careers. The lives of his flight attendants and his passengers hung in the balance as Mike battled the elements, a deranged passenger, and aircraft malfunctions as he attempted to bring his fully loaded jumbo jet in for a safe landing….