In this AA speaker tape, Charlie relays a powerful story of a life-changing event that shaped his perspective on his life and what is really important. Not only is Charlie a fantastic story teller, he is a wonderful, down-to-earth, kind-hearted person who is genuine and warm. In an instant, things can change, and Charlie was abstaining from alcohol for a long period of time before he started to engage in the recovery process. When reflecting on what brought him to recovery, Charlie is certain that almost losing his life in a plane crash, enabled him to find one better than he ever imagined.
A close call causes a change in perception
One night we chartered a plane and we’re going to fly from East Hampton out to Long Island. We were going to take a look at a beach house out there. Then we were going to fly from the Hamptons back into Manhattan. I’ll never forget it, in the New York Post they said, “Mr. P. and his wife had chartered a plane to fly from their Hamptons home to go in and have dinner at a nice restaurant.” At the time we were used to flying, we had been going to the Hamptons on an airplane every weekend for 20 years. However, due to circumstances, it was first time I ever chartered a plane in my life. Everything was going along fine on the flight. I was in the co-pilot chair. I was not a copilot but I’m sitting in the copilot seat enjoying the flight and then I hear the thing you don’t want to hear your charter pilot say when you put on the headphones. He said “Come on, come on, come on!”. Then I hear the air traffic controller say we are cleared for landing in the airport. I look up and there’s a runway right up there at ten o’clock. Suddenly, I realize we’re not going to make it. We’re not going to make it.
The pilot says to the air traffic controller, “You don’t understand, we lost engine power I can’t land. I’m going to have to ditch.” We are out over the bay and I’m looking at him like. “What? Why?” He then says, “Brace for impact!” We hit the water and it’s like splash down at an amusement park water ride, times a thousand. I mean there are sprays of water and glass, then absolute silence. Then I thought, “Holy mackerel! I think we’re okay!” Right about that time, I felt something on my knee. This wasn’t much of an airplane, it was a really crappy boat. This was about the time I realized water was rushing in. I think about how I am going to get out of the plane and there’s nothing but water all the way up to the roof of the plane and I’m thinking, “So that’s it. This is it. Today it is over.”
I went back under water and the door comes open and I swam out. The five people on the plane survived, but we didn’t survive by much. We came much closer to drowning, than from the plane crash. I just did a workshop in Hampton Bay the other day and during a break on Saturday afternoon a guy who lived right there approached me and invited me over. I went to his house and on his patio I could see where we had crashed. It was kind of eerie looking out from that patio when I almost died six hundred feet out there in that water. Anyways, the reason I tell that story, is because it changed things. After that plane crash, I started looking at things differently. I realized I had to make some changes.