Was 9-9-09 a day for weirdos or what? Think religious Mexican hijacker and numerology

Yesterday I wrote a post about travel weirdos who inspire us to think and travel outside the box. After I wrote that post, I heard on the radio about a hijacker in Mexico who threatened an Aeromexico plane with what turned out to be a fake bomb as the plane was traveling between Cancun and Mexico City. As Katie posted, all’s well that end’s well. Passengers weren’t hurt and the hijacker was apprehended after the plane landed.

The news version of the hijacking that I heard is a nod towards the travel weirdness of yesterday. Here’s the scoop about the hijacker, a man named Jose Flores, that might have you glancing suspiciously at passengers boarding your plane …

According to the NPR story I heard, the reason Flores, a “Bible-carrying religious fanatic,” hijacked the plane was to get the attention of Felipe Calderon, Mexico’s President, to tell him about an impending earthquake. The hijacker knows about this earthquake because he saw it in a vision — a “divine revelation,” if you will. The reason he hijacked the plane yesterday was because of yesterday’s date. See? The date was weird. A vision told him so. Plus, it’s upside down 6s, so what do you expect? (Personally, I think the date looks like people dancing, but that’s just me.)

What adds to the weirdness of this story is that most passengers didn’t even know there was a hijacker in their midst until after the plane landed and they saw all the security vehicles and armed people surrounding the plane. The hijacked plane, from what I gather, took off from Cancun and landed in Mexico City as intended.

For an interesting analysis of yesterday’s date, check out this article in the Times of India. Yesterday’s date isn’t the only one that has attracted attention.

**correction. The hijacker was Bolivian, not Mexican.

I Survived a Japanese Game Show: Cross-cultural fun perfect for summer

I admit it. I can’t help it. I love “I Survived a Japanese Game Show.” Some may say the show is an insult to intelligence. So be it. Insult away. Last year, I was drawn in by the frivolity, creativity and how wonderful people are when they are out of their element. [Here’s last year’s first episode review.]

It’s popular culture look at Japan as well. Sure, Meaghan drove me a bit nuts with her confusion about what show she was on. I think she wished she was on “Survivor” with any excuse to prance around wearing next to nothing, but in general, I was drawn in and hoped the show would return this summer.

Happily, it has. Unfortunately I missed the kick-off last week since I was in NYC eating pizza at John’s Pizzeria on Bleecker Street, but I did catch up by watching the beginning of the episode on the show’s Web site. I was curious how the show would handle the element of surprise when contestants had no idea that they were being set up to be on a Japanese game show. It was priceless and fresh reality show entertainment. This year’s opening was just as funny.

Rome Kanda, the exuberant host who reminds me so much of my experiences with aspects of popular culture in Asia, surprised each contestant at various places including work, at their homes or out and about–like in a hair salon, to let them know they had made it onto the show. The reactions were wonderful and it gave a glimpse into life in everyday United States.

This year the contestants are people who are excited about playing Majide which requires doing things like dressing up like pink rabbits and partaking in ridiculous antics.

Mama-San is also back, as is Judge Bob and the men in black suits.

Like last year, the show gives highlights about Japanese culture in an unusual way. This is not highbrow entertainment, but it is a way to feel as if you’re a traveler in a country you’re not familiar with. There’s that sense of being off balance but kind of liking it. The show is also a reminder to not take oneself all that seriously when one travels and that there’s fun involved when it comes to doing the unfamiliar. There’s nothing wrong with being the butt of a joke. Ask any Peace Corps volunteer who lived in a remote village somewhere.

Tonight, I’ll have to peel myself away from America’s Got Talent to tune in on ABC at 9 EST. Next week, I’m heading off to New Mexico, Colorado and Montana for a three-week road trip. It’s good to get out of the house as well.

Gadlinks for Wednesday 6.17.09

Happy Hump Day, everyone! Here are the latest Gadlinks from the travel blogosphere.

‘Til tomorrow, have a great evening.

For past Gadlinks, click HERE.

Six weird plane emergency landing stories

One couldn’t argue that the US Airways emergency crash landing on the Hudson River due to birds flying into the engines is probably one of the most spectacular emergency landing stories.

There are, however, other stories that give one pause. They are not as splashy, but they sure are interesting, odd, and even downright weird. I went on an emergency landing hunt and this is what I found so far.

1. Back in December 2006, one American Airlines pilot had to divert a plane because of flatulence. One passenger who was passing gas, not the crop dusting, odorless kind that flight attendants sometimes do (ask Heather), but that foul kind you can’t quite get away from. The passenger who was passing gas lit matches to cover up the smell. When other passengers complained of a burnt sulfur smell, the pilot diverted the plane to Nashville where all passengers and all luggage was searched until the unnamed woman fessed-up. [Dallas/Ft. Worth Local News]

What about the plane VS the cow?

2. In August 2008, a Ryanair plane going from Budapest to Dublin had to land in Frankfurt after a man’s neck started to swell from an allergic reaction. Nope, it wasn’t peanuts. Turns out that a passenger had put a jar of mushrooms in the over head bin. The mushrooms leaked and got into the plane’s air conditioner system, thus out into the cabin which caused the medical woe. [UPI.com]

3. In December 2008, a Cirrus plane landed on the northbound lane of Highway 61 after there was engine trouble. The pilot and his passenger were able to push the plane to the side of the road out of the way until it was loaded onto a flatbed truck and removed. Can you imagine what it would have been like driving down the highway minding your own business when that baby came closer and closer to where you were driving? [10/13 ABC]

4. This odd story didn’t cause the emergency landing, but it is something that happened as a result. In December 2008, a World War II-era Tiger Moth in Britain hit a cow when it was making an emergency landing because of engine trouble. The cow had wandered out onto the runway. The cow was knocked down, but OK. My uncle hit a cow with his car. It wasn’t pleasant. Last summer while driving through North Dakota, we hit a few pheasants with our car. That wasn’t pleasant either. [UPI.com]

5. Here’s what one hopes would never, ever, ever, happen when flying. The plane door flies off. That’s what happened in March of 2008 when the door fell off a Bombardier Challenger CL-60 in Grand Junction, Colorado. No one was hurt, and the pilot was able to land the plane safely. A bit windy and startling, I would guess. I was riding in the passenger seat of a car once when the hood flew up and cracked the windshield. That was startling. [KOAA.com]

6. Here is a joke about an incident that almost ended up in an emergency landing. The story is thought to be true and was posted in The Australian. One plane almost made an emergency landing due to extreme vibrations. When the pilot put on the fasten the seat belt sign, the vibrations stopped. A person came out of the bathroom and said that he had been jogging in place. The story sounds a bit bogus to me, but I’ll believe about anything. [ahajokes.com]

Man gets off plane via exit door: Did he wait for the ding?

Don’t try this at home.

When a Delta plane arriving from Salt Lake City landed in Phoenix yesterday, one man opened the emergency exit door at the back and got off by hopping off the wing. Or perhaps he climbed down? Regardless of how he got off, he was apprehended, naturally, and could be in bigger trouble than he anticipated.

To his credit, the plane was at the terminal already, and other passengers were beginning to exit the front like normal people do. It wasn’t like he got off in the middle of the runway before the plane taxied to safety. People who apprehended him were runway personnel. One has to wonder what this guy was thinking and where he was going.

The man is old enough to know better–he is 37, but perhaps he was aiming to relive a school days experience when kids sometimes bolt off a school bus out the exit door. I remember that scenario happening on at least one occasion. It wasn’t me.

Maybe all those people struggling to remove the carry-ons they brought on the plane with them to avoid checked baggage fees made him snap. [via FoxNews.com]

Other tales from the skies
Amazing and insane stories from a real-life flight attendant and co-pilot