The Articles I Didn’t Write

2 Nov 18 8 Comments

This week I took the time to go through all the cases that I have listed as interesting and appropriate as Fear of Landing article. There’s rather a lot of them! So I decided to have a clear out and get rid of some of the pieces that I’m clearly never going to get around to writing. In the process of this, I found a number of accidents and incidents which were covered in other publications which made me feel better about not having found the time to do them. I’ve chosen the best of these articles to share with you.

Pilots reveal death-defying ordeal as engines failed on approach to Chek Lap Kok

In 2010, Cathay Pacific flight 780 was coming into land at Hong Kong International Airport, a nerve-wracking airport at the best of times, when both engines, damaged by fuel contamination, refused to respond to the thrust controls. The aircraft landed at almost twice the speed of a normal landing but came to a halt safely. 57 passengers were injured, every single one during the evacuation by slide. This article dates from 2014, which shows you just how unmanageable my ‘to-do’ pile has become. It’s a very good in-depth account of the pilots’ responses as they brought it in to land.

Swedish Stick Shake: Dormant Sensor Defect not Detected on Installation

In 2016, a flight was departing from Malmö (Sweden) when the stick shaker and stick pusher activated. I became interested in this one when I was looking into how reliable stick shakers are in the case of an impending stall. The Aerossurance article on the incident is good and covers all the main points.

Incident: France A388 over Greenland on Sep 30th 2017, uncontained engine failure, fan and engine inlet separated

This one is from 2017 so slightly less embarrassing but it caught my eye exactly one year ago when the debris from the engine was found in Greenland. The AVHerald piece about this is technical but interesting and the photography (released by the BFU) is fantastic. The aircraft is back in service since January of this year.

Why This Daredevil Won’t Quit One of the World’s Deadliest Sports

I’ve been vaguely collecting videos on wingsuits as I see them but I’ve never quite managed to put anything together for a sensible collection. This article in the Australian National Geographic is a good piece about base jumping and the dangers and the thrill.

Longest Runways In The World

I have no idea how this ended up on my list, probably a late-night discussion fueled by red wine. But I see that World Atlas has already covered the subject in depth with a handy-dandy list, so that’s another one I can check off. We’re making real headway here!

Balloonist’s fatal Christchurch flight to Lyttelton Harbour Heads where he fell and drowned

I first heard of this accident, New Zealand’s first aviation fatality, when I was researching the disappearance of Aeronaut Walter Powell for Without a Trace. This article in the NZ Herald is pretty short but gives all the details and is full of fantastic photography from 1899.

Unstable approach was key factor in plane crash that killed Jean Lapierre and family, TSB report finds

This 2016 crash took place in a Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 aircraft but the final report has been out for months and I’ve never even gotten around to reading it. The pilot seems to have lost control of the aircraft when he added full power at low airspeed at a low altitude. The aircraft rolled hard and went into a steep dive, with no chance of recovery. The CBC news article does a good job of summarising the Canada TSB report with all of the different aspects of this crash.

NTSB report reveals what shattered window of deadly Southwest flight

This is probably the most recent incident on my list but the truth is, the mainstream news sites were so full of details on this crash that I could never find the energy to try to write about it. This Associated Press article in the New York Post does a pretty good job of explaining the fault, a broken engine fan blade, with a labelled image of the engine on the ground. 

So that’s cleared out my working area a bit. Now I just have 53 cases on my short list, 67 tagged as ‘look at me’, and another 11 waiting on the final report to come out.

This might take some time…


  • Keep them coming Sylvia.
    I was one of the exceptions: ‘an old AND bold pilot’ but those mad people in their wingsuits beat us all, and by a very large margin.
    Another titbit:
    When I did my training on the Aerospatiale SN601 Corvette we actually were trained to do a “deadstick” approach and landing. There was a cockpit mock-up in St. Nazaire, a procedures trainer, but no simulator so all had to be done in the aircraft, including emergencies. Smoke in the cockpit involved switching it all off with two safety-wired main switches on the left side of the cockpit, and donning the oxygen masks and smoke goggles. The next step was pulling all circuit breakers, then breaking the safety wire to separate the two main switches. After that, we would have to push the cb’s back in, one at a time and wait to see if the fault (smoke) would return. Once the faulty circuit was identified the cb concerned would remain pulled, and we could restore the rest of the electrical supply, one by one and eventually we could bring both main switches back to their normal position. All that with basic instruments only, all that wearing goggles limiting our vision, on oxygen in the real aircraft, in the air! Emergency descent was equally dramatic, again done in the air. The instructors were test pilots and would go very far, even like demonstrating mach buffet.
    One night we were flying into Heathrow. It was late, there was no other traffic, CAVOK and no wind. We were cleared to land at any runway, so at 10.000 feet we closed the power and did not touch them again until after landing.

  • The guys in the Wing suits are definitely falling with style.
    I would like to see opinions on this type of Wing Suit flying.

  • Wing suit flying? Maybe if you are diagnosed with an incurable illness. But yes, I can see that for some people this is the ultimate buzz, but with a 35% death rate I think that they are stark raving mad.
    And if they survive, guess who picks up the bills for hospitalization, the endless sessions of therapy, the constant 24.7 care?
    Is it really worth it?
    I don’t think so.
    Anyway, I would not come near the cliff’s edge, not even if you pay me a lot of £££$$$ or €€€.
    I am afraid of heights anyway (and yes, I was a commercial pilot with 22.000 hours in my logbooks)

  • Note that the list of long runways is not exhaustive and appears to be focused on paved runways, particularly those in commercial operation.
    The longest runways I know of are at White Sands Space Harbor, 35,000 feet long. It was an alternate landing site for the space shuttle, used only once for it’s intended purpose in 1982.

    The world of aviation has gotten really big – I’m not surprised you haven’t gotten to everything you wanted to!

  • Jonathan,
    You are quite right.
    Don’t you agree that this makes Sylvia’s accomplishment finding something new and interesting every week even more impressive?

  • I’m not really an adrenaline junkie, so maybe I can’t properly relate, but the wingsuit guy sounds like he hopes to die because he’s afraid to be bored one day.

  • Ben, you may have a point, a point missed by “wingsuit man”.

    See, it is not necessary to get bored. I was finally, at age 65, forced to stop flying commercially. My ATPL reverted to the status of a PPL with some ratings you do not normally find in the licence of a private pilot. Which activity was getting a bit too costly.

    I re-invented myself. Became a qualified tourist guide in Ireland and (at age 72) still managed to pass a driving test on a 53 seat coach.
    Then, during the quiet winter, I went back to school and signed up for a bachelor’s degree at a local university.

    And now I am having a “stab” at a master’s degree.

    So, at age 75, I have absolutely no time to get bored. I drive buses with tourists around, bore them to tears with information about Ireland, it’s culture and history, and barely have time to get through all the material that I have to study.

    So, Ben, my message to “wingsuit man” is: grow up !

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