James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States, and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne.

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Features by James Fallows

"Any landing you walk away from is a good landing."

In our American Futures series of reports from around the country, The Atlantic's James Fallows is flying from small town airport to small town airport, with Kai Ryssdal occasionally along for the ride. All that flying, obviously, involves a lot of taking off and landing. And those moments can be a bit tense, shall we say. Here's how Fallows describes what happened as they approached Eastport, Maine:

"Well, I suppose it's inevitable that when I was going to Portland, there was one of those steady, smooth approach paths where you can't be sure exactly when you've touched down because it's all so glassy. And then, when the camera is running and the radio talent is on board, we have this jolting-all-over-the-place gusty-wind approach into the little Eastport strip. When we were 3,000 feet up, Kai and I were both noting with amazement that the crosswind at that altitude was 50 knots -- a lot! It dropped off as we went lower, but in the opposite of a smooth and stabilized way -- including that sudden blow from the side when we were nearly down.

But, as I was signaling to Kai once we got down, the old aviation joke is: 'Any landing you walk away from is a good landing. And a great landing is one where you can use the plane again!'

By those standards it was an acceptable landing, and by any standards a great time in Eastport with the team. Also very glad that bird veered away just in time. Would have been worse for the bird, but a big mess for the rest of us too."

For more of James Fallows thoughts about Eastport, check out his blog at The Atlantic.

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