One definition of an incursion is an act of entering, or running into. I once saw an incursion by an aircraft that had my eyes popping, my mouth hanging open, and my head spinning like a carnival ride.
I was nineteen at the time, and going to a tech-school for aeronautics across the highway from La Guardia Airport in Queens, N.Y. The day it happened, I was in my drafting class, which had a row of windows facing the airport. This allowed us students to watch passenger jets take off and land all we wanted.
Usually, what would happen with the jets waiting to take off were two or more would line up single file on the taxiway. Then the first one in line would make a 180 degree turn onto the runway, rev up its engines, and move forward at a full clip until it was able to lift into the air. Two or three minutes later, another jet would come in for a landing on the same runway. This process would repeat itself with every jet in line.
But on this day, someone must have really screwed up, because, while I was sitting at my drafting table staring out the window at the jets getting ready to take off, I see the first one in line start to make its 180 degree turn. But instead of stopping, it continues back onto the taxiway. Then, just as its tail clears the runway, a jet comes in for a landing.
Like I said, I sat there in total shock, my eyes bulging, my mouth hanging open, and my head spinning. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. If those two jets had hit, the subsequent damage would have probably taken out at least one of the other jets still in line. And God forbid if there had been an explosion! Then I’m sure all the jets in line would have been taken out, along with all the windows and part of our building on that side, not to mention all the poor souls on those planes. As for vehicles on the highway? They were situated at least a couple hundred feet below the runway.
Once I recovered from my shock, I asked several of my fellow students if any of them had seen what I had. They all shook their heads, no. I was positive, though, that the tower people and the pilots on those jets waiting in line had seen it, as well as a few of the airport workers. And yet, there was no mention of the incident either in the newspapers, or on TV. As far as I knew, I was the only one in our building who was aware of what had almost happened.
To this day, I thank the stars that those two jets had missed each other. Obviously, it wasn’t mine, or anyone else’s time to go, but it sure came damn close!