I'm flying from Seattle down to Port-au-Prince on a red-eye via Chicago and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
About an hour from O'Hare over the prairie, the sky is clear. The gibbous moon is lighting up a bend of a river below and the small towns are crosshatches of amber lights.
Suddenly the Airbus starts to shake as if it were being dragged along a celestial washboard. It goes on for about a minute, stops and then starts up again. It's just noisy turbulence with a fast drumbeat frequency ‒ the airframe is designed to stand much worse. Nobody seems too disturbed. But it's a shaking that comes out of nowhere. It could get worse: there could be lightning, there could be a wind shear. It's a mystery force toying with our lives.
Then it's gone. The moon goes on shining placidly on the towns and the river. Maybe some quiet expelling of breath and unclenching of teeth, but nothing collapsed, nothing smashed. No legs sticking out of the wreckage or dazed survivors covered in blood. No desperate parents searching for their children.
Soon the captain says to prepare for the descent into Chicago.