An excerpt from Why I Believe in God:
We were flying over the ocean, approaching the Guanabara Bay, when we got into the storm. Extremely strong turbulence. Deafening noise. The two pilots had to yell at each other so they could communicate. The cadet and I, even though we were very close to them, could hardly hear their voices.
The wind, blowing in violent gusts, hit the airplane on all sides. Flashes of lightning struck one after the other. We were all terrified. The plane plunged, then the Lieutenant threw himself back pulling the command lever violently. The plane went upwards, and he thrust at the lever, and the aircraft plunged again.
The cadet panicked. Poor young man! He was little more than a child. His big black eyes, wide open, bulged in their sockets. He was no longer holding my five-year-old daughter as firmly, and she was trying to grab his jacket with her fragile little hands so as not to fall down.
I put my three-year-old son on my right leg and, stretching my left arm, reached the girl, pulled her to me, and made her sit on the other leg. Crossing my hands and holding the opposite wrists, I held both kids as firmly as I could.
Minutes felt like hours. The storm was getting worse and worse.
After struggling under those extremely dangerous conditions for some time, the major screamed, “Let’s go back to Sao Paulo!”
“We don’t have enough fuel to go back,” screamed back the lieutenant.
Sometime later on, when we could spot in the distance the lights of Rio de Janeiro city below and ahead of us, the worst happened: the city lights went off.
“There’s a black-out in Rio de Janeiro!” exclaimed the major.
“Yeah! Even the Galeão beacon radio has silenced,” added the lieutenant.
One may assess the violence of that storm by this outcome – a black-out in a city of millions of people.
“Go up,” ordered the chief pilot. “Go up as much as possible. We may crash into the mountains.”
We went up a little.
“Up, up,” insisted the Major. “The turbulence may be weaker up there.”
“The plane won’t go, it won’t go up more than this,” replied the tense lieutenant.