It could have been a horrific disaster… just pure torture, sitting on a plane with about 79 hot, sweaty, hungry, uncomfortable people and a bunch of crying kids…
However, a miracle happened… One no one expected but was keenly observed and predicted over 180 years ago.
It all started when American Airlines flight 5085 was scheduled to depart Little Rock, Arkansas, at 4:30 p.m. on a 90-minute flight to Dallas.
But when passengers realized it was 6:30 p.m. and they were still in the air— they knew something was wrong.
Due to a severe impending storm, the plane was diverted to a small airport in Wichita Falls and was not allowed to take off.
A 90-minute flight became 9 hours of waiting on a cramped plane with several kids and a baby.
But instead of a lot of angry people, the flight from hell proved to be “a beautiful human experience,” according to the passengers.
Everyone on the plane was talking, singing, and playing with the kids.
After 5 hours on the plane, the passengers were allowed to go to the terminal, where one of the first passengers that got off bought out one of the vending machines and gave out chips and food for everyone.
Another passenger paid for everyone’s drinks.
Another passenger ordered 20 Papa John’s pizzas for all of the passengers, crew, and airport staff.
Finally, by midnight, the passengers were asked to board the plane, which took off and landed in Dallas at 1:30 a.m. What should have been a nightmare traveling experience became a time to help one another voluntarily.
This type of event, Americans stepping up to a challenge,” was observed over 180 years ago by Alexis de Tocqueville in his book Democracy in America, written in 1835.
He wrote that Americans, above all others, were unique in that they “constantly unite by their own desires.”
He noted that Americans volunteered to “step up” without coercion and get together for common (non-political) goals.
He marveled at how Americans “spontaneously” gathered to address issues, go to events, create clubs or groups, go to church, or just gather to celebrate.
Tocqueville described this as the “Civil Society,” which can’t be mandated by the government. “It’s part of our social lives,” he wrote, and “not dictated or part of the government.”
He knew that was not happening in Europe or anywhere else on Earth.
It was a unique American experience made possible by freedom from government interference in the lives of the individual.
It was freedom… it was individualism.
I was a rejection of collectivism… of statism.
What happened on that flight was a perfect example of people coming together and “stepping up.”
They didn’t need the government to tell them to be nice to each other or to help one another…
They did it on their own.