As a frequent flyer…

art_plane_gi.jpg…I take a certain amount of comfort from the fact that a jet can drop short of the runway, lose its wheels and end up looking like this, and not only can everyone walk away virtually unharmed, but (as the Economist reports) have one passenger say that they thought the landing was “a little heavy” and another say that the “first sign of problems was when the wing began to detach shortly before the aircraft came to a standstill…”

Mind you, after half a day flying from Beijing, they might’ve been drunk.

Less comforting are the reports that the plane might have run out of fuel on its approach, something that, if confirmed, will add fuel (sorry) to the debate about overcrowded skies and congestion in the air.  No doubt there’ll be details of how long the jet had been circling above London and, had it been asked to do another circuit, where it might have come down.  Gulp.

4 thoughts on “As a frequent flyer…”

  1. Flying seems to be one of those things that there is a very fine balance between knowledge and ignorance and how it affects your experience of the flight. If you know a little bit, then it helps you stop worrying that the plane will fall out of the sky any moment (although QI claims that no-one actually knows what keeps them up – just some competing theories). But if you know a bit more then suddenly you’re worried about the altitude, why that flap hasn’t come down yet, will we have enough fuel, etc.

    I’ve never flown a real plane, but having worked on Microsoft Flight Sim, I got quite a few opportunities to play with some big realistic simulators that you can sit in. And you quickly learn just how bloody difficult it is to fly a big jet.

    I remember being on an SAS flight (Scandinavian… not Special Air Service) and they had a nose camera so you could see the ground underneath you. They had obviously thought about the drawback and it was turned off on take-off and landing. I’m guessing no-one wants to see the ground that close.

  2. Simon, I was recently on an Egypt Air flight that still had such a nose camera. They however decided to keep the thing on during take-off and, perhaps more interestingly post Heathrow incident, during landing. Wow – completely different perspecitve, added to the sense of relief (i heard claps from the back) when the nose was lined up perfectly with the guiding lights on the rainway and we felt the reassuring bump of wheels on tarmac.

    I mention this because as I was sat fixed on the screen I thought that it looked just like MS Flight Sim.

  3. I do know one businessman who actually flies the route he’s going on the night before on MS Flight Sim so he immediately knows if something is going quite to plan

  4. As someone who is petrified of flying – thanks to a lightning strike on take off from Boston some 10 years back – I am both cheered and filled with dread at the BA scare.

    Although hats off to Ryanair for making one Dublin flight a little less of an ordeal. Coming in to land in Ireland, the crew stuck on the pleasant background music about 1 min from touchdown. The violins sparked up, you could hear Bing clear his throat. It was “White Christmas”, it was also mid-April.

    Still, thanks to Phillips “In The Ear Active Headphones” on take off and landing I just go into prayer mode and stick some loud Big Country song on the iPod.

    I try to avoid anything by Lynard Skynard, Jim Reeves and Buddy Holly.

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