Saturday, July 26, 2008

[the unexpected] never at a convenient time

Qatar interior from Wiki

I'm sorry to go on about yesterday's issue of the Qantas flight, when it has been blanket covered by the media but it still really chills me:

"Seeing the hole caused a lot of emotion. People were physically shaking. Many realised how close they were to their own mortality."

It's not just that I've done that run many times and with various incidents - it's something more.

I was once onboard when the flight took off on the second leg to Australia and they told us that a red light was flashing and they were returning to the airport. That delayed us and it turned out to be nothing.

Another was when we were about to take off [from Bangkok this time] and they then decanted us from the plane, all baggage was removed and placed in a large circle and passengers were asked to identify their baggage, open it and await inspection.

Yet another time, we were in the air and I was nervous for some reason. I told the stewardess [sounds really weak, this] about the feeling and she took me up to the cockpit where the flight engineer told me this was the flight which had indeed fallen 15 000 feet on it's last run to Australia from this airport. He explained that the autopilot worked on wave patterns in the air but sometimes these acted irregularly and the plane took some time to pick up on it. No one had been hurt.

More broadly, I was on a BA flight to Heathrow in 2000 and all was normal until we approached Heathrow. Suddenly we dropped 10 000 feet in a few seconds, the airbrakes outside the window shuddering but all the way down it had seemed a controlled drop and hardly anyone was badly affected.

The pilot had been told by aircraft control to immediately be at a different level and now he was told to loop round until a gate was found. What exacerbated it was when he came onto the intercom and said that if we cared to look out of the starboard window, we'd see another plane but not to worry. He'd also been asked to circle round London until a gate became available.

In April-May, getting away from aircraft for awhile, I was doing the usual routine, snug and secure in Russia, then found myself in Sicily in a whirlwind conjunction of events. I have to tell you that that was interesting but a bit jangly on the nerves. It's now possibly arising again in August, possibly not. It's up in the air [sorry for the excruciating pun].

Mortality - how things suddenly drop out.

How to prepare? You can't, simply can't. You just have to meet it as it comes. Promise not to get religious here but it definitely helps a hell of a lot to have some sort of faith as a way through. Also, I suspect all your pigeons come home to roost now too - as you've acted yourself, so it comes back on you now.

It might have just been an incident on a Qantas flight to Australia but it had me thinking very deeply about everything. Don't laugh but yesterday I was in the caffe sipping a coffee and watched them opening the bar in the roundabout between the caffe and the church. I saw the church door open and though I'm not Catholic, I went in there for a while.

Perhaps time to end this before it turns maudlin.


Bag said...

Too late.

Colin Campbell said...

Ha Ha Bag.

I think that it is the horse and cart to London James. All you need is your computer and a wireless connection and you can do a Michael Palin type blog journey.

The Low Carbon Holiday of the future. Do many Italians go to the UK for holidays? If so, why? Perhaps it is only soccer managers?

Anonymous said...

My first thought was 'what an exciting life you lead'... but I think one can do without the excitement. I preferred mine at sea.I least I didn't feel helpless as I would on an aircraft. I don't like being driven, either.

jmb said...

Yes well life happens while you are making plans. Maybe you can take the train.

CherryPie said...

Those stories have put me off going abroad this year!!!

Things always have a way of working out in the end you know xx

Anonymous said...

I don't like flying. Knowing this my Granddad once said 'Don't worry, if you see your name on the seat-get off!'
'Would you fly , Granddad?' Asked I
'Sure!' said he, who had never flown'if I could keep one foot on the ground.'

So, advice from my granddad to you, 'when you're number's up, you're number's up'.

No point worrying about it.

Dragonstar said...

Hang in there. Most things sort themselves out given enough time and friendly support.

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

Food for thought here. Things sometimes work out but I've seen the opposite too this year and that's a little chilling. Biggest thing is to stay focussed.

CherryPie said...

Things always work out in the end James!