Not all drama happens at 30,000 feet. Ben's most frightening moment occurred during takeoff. He was in the jump seat (which has no windows), and the plane's wheels had just left the ground. He heard a loud thump at the front of the plane, then two more crashes on the wings. The wheels slammed back on the ground, and they were skidding to a stop. "I'm a pilot myself, and I know you should never land a plane right after taking off, so I knew we were in serious trouble."
Reasons you shouldn't land a plane right after takeoff: A) You're near the end of the runway, and B) commercial planes take off with 80,000 pounds of fuel, which is too heavy to land. If they do try to land with all that fuel, their brakes might burst into flames.
Luckily, they managed to stop before the trees at the end of the runway, and the brakes didn't catch fire. When Ben got outside, he saw the problem: The plane had hit 30 or so geese. "Blood was everywhere. The engines were ruined, their fan blades all bent up." Planes should be able to handle hitting a couple birds, but an entire flock proved too much for this one. Both engines were destroyed. "The plane was dead in the water. ... I hold that captain in high regard. ... He saved our lives."
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He is, however, universally despised by goose-kind.