On August 2, 1985 Delta Air Lines Flight 191 was heading from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Los Angeles, CA with a stopover at Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport. Though in the middle of a thunderstorm, the plane was prepared for the landing by extending its flaps and lowering the landing gear. Then it encountered a microburst from the thunderstorm. The pilots lost control of the plane and it impacted a mile short of the runway. Having come in at a 30 degree angle, it was surprising that the plane was still structurally intact. The landing gear struck a nearby farm and leaving deep depressions in the field and continued on to run over a stop light on Highway 114 where the nose touched down. It hit two more street lights before it began fragmenting.
On August 2, 1985 William Mayberry was rushing to a relative’s house in Grapevine, TX as he was expecting a call from his wife Terri and two children, Barbara and William Jr., who were in Vicksburg, MS. Bill had moved to Texas to work as an electrician at DFW airport but had taken a job at a local Toyota dealership in Dallas when the electrician job didn’t pan out. His wife and 2 children were planning to move & join him in 2 weeks.
He was driving on Highway 114 when a plane engine suddenly crushed his black 1971 Toyota Celica. It was completely flattened and the only discernible item was his license plate. The image of his flattened car ran in newspapers and on television across the country. Those images are how the kids found out about Bill’s death. The kids saw the image of Bill’s crushed car in the newspaper and asked their mom if daddy had gotten squashed.
On August 2, 1985 Bill Mayberry was tragically killed by a plane engine as he drove down the highway to get to a phone call with his family so they could wish him a happy birthday. Oh, didn’t I mention it was his birthday? Yes. He turned 28 that day.
The crash killed 136 people on board, including 128 of the 152 passengers and 8 of the 11 crew, and Bill Mayberry.
I first saw this story on a television show and it hit me in a most profound way.
People often speak of their “Bucket List.” Most often such a list is created and its execution is started towards the later years of the person’s life. The term Bucket List is essentially from: things I want to do before I kick the bucket but it seems to be more synonymous with: things I want to do when I retire (or when I have time, or when I have the money, or when the kids are grown, etc.).
But here’s the deal – we are not guaranteed retirement. We’re not guaranteed the later part of life. We aren’t guaranteed any of it. Hell, Bill Mayberry wasn’t guaranteed 29.
That realization led to the creation of my Plane Wheel List* – the list of things you wish to experience before you die, which could be at any moment, like if you’re driving down the highway and a plane crashes on your car. Don’t wait until the “right time” or your golden years. Do that shit now.
I was reminded of the Plane Wheel List earlier this week when my co-worker lost his husband unexpectedly. He wasn’t old and gray. He should have had a lot of time left. Time to spend hiking with my co-worker. I’m hoping that he had a chance to experience much of what was on his list, even if he didn’t know he had one.
Also, this week I found out that my Barkley has a tumor in his spleen. So I’ve started making a bucket list for him. And I’ve run in to the main problem with bucket lists; he’s old and not feeling well enough to enjoy the things he may have once enjoyed. Who knows – maybe he would never have enjoyed doing them. He is very neurotic, like me. But that’s not the point.
Do that shit now. And the shit that you want to do with someone else, the things you want someone you love to be able to experience? Do that shit too.
Bill Mayberry had no idea that he would be crushed by a plane engine on his 28th birthday. You don’t know how or when you’ll be taken from this existence. So do the shit that matters to you now.
And hug your dog. Every. Single. Day.
*Note: when I first heard of Bill Mayberry, I was under the impression that he was crushed by the wheel of the plane rather than the engine. Thus – plane wheel list.