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17 April 2015

My top five animals that shouldn’t be allowed near aircraft

Maybe not everyone should reach for the skies. The following animals may bring flightcrew to despair…

Disqualified: Crocodiles

The crocodile who caused a plane crash made headlines all over the world but there’s no real evidence that the croc was ever on the plane, let alone caused the passengers to stampede in fear.

The idea of the in-flight stampede to run from an unexpectedly toothy aircraft occupant was related by the one surviving passenger. But she initially told investigators that that the passengers panicked because the aircraft was landing at a reserve strip instead of runway 11/29. Two months later, she changed the story and told a Congolese tabloid that the panic was caused by a crocodile on board. She had no explanation as to why they would all run to the cockpit for safety.

A British air accident investigator at the pilot’s inquest dismissed the stampede theory and stated that the most likely cause of the crash was that the aircraft stalled on final approach.

Read the whole story: Fear of Landing – Congo Crocodile Plane Crash

Runner Up: Pigs

OK, this isn’t actually an encounter with an aircraft but the camera was flying, so I think that it just about counts.

Farmer Mia Munsell discovered a mud-spattered GoPro camera in her pig pen and of course immediately went to see if there was anything recorded on it. To her surprise, she discovered that the camera had fallen from a skydiving aircraft and filmed everything all the way down, including one of her pigs trying to discover if it was edible.

The camera had been in the pig pen for eight months and in what’s been called “the best advertisement for GoPro ever” survived with the footage intact. She uploaded it to YouTube where it swiftly went viral.

Number Five: Dead Foxes

This British Airways Boeing 747-400 was coming into land at Heathrow when a dead fox was discovered on runway 27L. This is apparently not a rare situation in the southeast of England.

Eight or nine aircraft had to go around while catering airport staff cleared the runway of the carcass.

Number Four: Fish

Words fail me.

Spokane Chronicle – Google News Archive Search

A midair collision between a jetliner and a fish — that’s right, a fish — delayed an Alaska Airlines flight for about an hour while the plane was inspected for damage.

“They found a greasy spot with some scales, but no damage,” said Paul Bowers, Juneau airport manager.

And how can a jet hit a fish? It’s easy, if the fish is dropped by a bald eagle.

The incident occurred as the Boeing 737 took off Monday morning from the Juneau airport, the plane’s pilot told Bowers. About 400 feet past the runway’s end, the jet crossed the flight path of a bald eagle, fish in talons.

“The law of the jungle prevailed,” Bowers said. “As the larger bird approached, the smaller bird dropped its prey.” The fish hit a small “eyebrow window” at the top of the cockpit, Bowers said.

A mechanic was dispatched to the plane’s next stop in Yakutat, 200 miles to the northwest, said Jerry Kvasnikoff, Alaska Airlines customer services manager in Juneau.

The eagle apparently escaped injury. The fish, species unknown, is presumed dead.

“This time of year, if I had to guess, it might have been a cod,” Kvasnikoff said. “You never know what an eagle will get into.

Kvasnikoff and Bowers said this was the first airplane-fish collision they had heard of, but they said jets occasionally collide with other forms of Alaska wildlife.

“Over the years, we’ve had planes hit various critters — moose, deer, every kind of bird. But that’s a first for fish,” Kvasnikoff said.

The moose collision, by the way, occurred on the ground. It happened more than 10 years ago on the runway of the Cordova airport, and the moose inflicted considerably more damage than the fish.

“It cleaned the nose wheel of the plane — collapsed the front gear,” Kvasnikoff said.

Number Three: Cows

This Tiger Moth flight came to an abrupt end when the engine failed. They took off from a small airfield and brought it down in a field. Forty seconds in on the right-hand side of the footage, an unsuspecting cow goes under the wing

The pilot and his passengers never even saw the cow, they said, and were surprised to see it on the footage when they reviewed the landing.

Shortly after takeoff, when at approximately 200 ft above ground level, the engine speed dropped to idle. The pilot lowered the nose of the aircraft to maintain flying speed and turned right to land in a suitable field. The aircraft cleared a sturdy barbed wire fence but, as the aircraft touched down, a cow ran under and struck the left wing. The cow was apparently uninjured. Investigation of the aircraft by a local engineer found corrosion debris in the carburettor.

However, I have to admit that cows got their revenge when I tried to to sneak up to the Brookman’s Park VOR on private land:
Fear of Landing – Narrowly Avoiding Mad Cows

Then there’s the jet that managed to hit two cows coming in to land at Djalaluddin Airport, Gorontalo.

The Lion Air jet carrying 110 passengers and seven crew crashed into the cows who were wandering on the runway and became dazzled by the landing lights.

The only injuries were two passengers who ignored the cabin crew request to remain seated but instead evacuated through the right over-wing emergency window on their own.

Original news reports said that the condition of the cow was unknown, however AV-Herald describes the cow as embedded under the main gear, so I don’t think there’s a happy ending there.

You can read the full report in English at http://www.dephub.go.id/knkt/ntsc_aviation/baru/Final%20Report%20PK-LKH.pdf

At 1313 UTC, the aircraft touched down at runway 27 and during landing roll the flight crew saw some animals ahead were crossing the runway. Then when approximate 550 meters from the beginning of runway 27 and at aircraft speed approximate at 120 knots, the aircraft hit such animals.

Afterward, the pilots felt ineffective of brake respond and then the aircraft veered off to the left and trapped on the left side of the runway shoulder at about 2,100 meters from the beginning of runway 27.

The smell of burning meat entered the cabin during the landing roll and went out after the engines shut-down.

Number Two: Emus

Emu by "The b@t"

Wouldn’t it have been awkward to have a bird strike with a flightless bird?

Warning: Entirely Justified Coarse Language is Used in this Video

The video went viral and I managed to contact the pilot, who was happy to tell me all about it.

I touched down 80 metres from the threshold and was just letting it roll out (save the brakes and undercarriage on the rough strip) and the speed had just dipped below about 90kts. Approach on the PA-601 is about 100. As you can hear, we were discussing the state of strip, which used to be very wide, but the grass is narrowing it further each year. An emu was sitting on the side unseen in the bushes and we obviously startled it, and it bolted from cover in front. One of my passengers yelled out, and I jumped on the brakes, hard, and washed off about 40 knots in about 3 seconds! The emu went in front of us and lost his footing on the loose dust, just as the wing passed harmlessly over him!

You can read the full story here:Fear of Landing – A Close Encounter with an Emu

The Emu probably has his own opinion on top five aircraft he never again wants to see in his territory.

Number One: Bears

In 2009, I published a series of photographs of an aircraft mauled by a bear. That blog post is still my most popular of all time. The photographs showed a Alaskan Piper Supercub which had been mauled by a bear and the amazing aircraft repairs done by the pilot.

bear_attack_01

FAA Approved?

You can see all the photographs on my original post: Fear of Landing – FAA Approved?

Alaska Dispatch got the full story from the pilot’s father a few months later. The bear, it seems, had been locked out of a meatshed where it had previously found succulent moose steaks free for the taking. When it found it couldn’t get in, hunter LaRose thinks that it turned its fury onto the aircraft.

An appetite for revenge | Alaska Dispatch

After a few days of meticulous fix-it work, the plane was airworthy enough to fly back to Anchorage. Miller fitted the windows with plywood and Plexiglas, replaced the tires and the horizontal stabilizer (the bear either leaned on it or sat on it), and, according to Miller’s dad, fashioned a makeshift fabric skin out of 25 rolls of duct tape and some industrial-strength plastic wrap.

As for the bear, it hasn’t been seen since. It may have been “whacked” during bear hunting season in October, or it may be playing it smart. After all, bears know when it’s time “to get the hell out of Dodge,” according to LaRose.


13 February 2015

Homemade Gyro-Rocket-Copter Thing

When I first saw the reference to “Insane Homebrew Rocket” I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

I’m still not sure what to think. I have to concede that it flies but I’m really not sure what to class the contraption as. A rocket-copter? One YouTube commenter calls it an orbital launch vehicle with an in-built centrifugation system which sounds a bit more serious than it looks. Or could this be the future of manned space flight?

It seems to have made it 1,500 feet off the ground, which is an amazing height for what looks like a wagon wheel attached to pyrotechnics. It’s one of the most amazing flying objects I think I’ve ever seen launched from a dirt track.

It is apparently based upon a traditional Thai firework launcher and was almost certainly part of the Yasothon Bun Bang Fai Rocket festival where teams create home-made rockets which are launched on the third (and last) day of the festival.

Rocket Festival – Wikipedia

Sunday competition moves on to the launching of Bangfai, judged, in various categories, for apparent height and distance travelled, with extra points for exceptionally beautiful vapour trails Those whose rockets misfire are either covered with mud, or thrown into a mud puddle (that also serves a safety function, as immediate application of cooling mud can reduce severity of burns).

Well, no mud for this team, their rocket is clearly an unqualified success!

You can see read more and see photographs of the festival here: Gallery: Thailand’s wildest event, the Bun Bangfai rocket festival | CNN Travel

23 January 2015

Actual Search Terms for Fear of Landing

One of the odd and amusing things about running Fear of Landing is discovering how visitors found the website. My favourite report is the search engine terms. If someone searches on key words or a phrase and then my website comes up in the list of relevant sites, they can click straight through to Fear of Landing and I get a record of what they were searching for when they found me.

A lot of these are exactly what you’d expect for a website like mine: searches on specific crashes or questions to do with aviation. Sometimes, though, it gets a little bit odd. Here’s the highlights of search terms that lead to Fear of Landing in 2014.

Most common searches

  • Boston John
  • Red Arrows
  • Vesna Vulovic
  • George Aird

Someone who couldn’t quite remember the name of my blog

  • scared of landing visit to blackpool airport atc

Multiple searches which led searchers to the wrong site (is this a thing?)

  • sexy nude skydiving stewardess

Search that I should know the answer to but don’t

  • what is the largest plane that can land at swansea airport

A searching question

  • flying into an area unknown to you, the approach procedure goes below the required visual and weather minimums – the captain elects to continue saying he has flown the procedure ‘numerous times’ – what would you do

Searches that will probably never be answered on Fear of Landing

  • what are best ever sex stories with air hostess in hindi
  • shark tail how it prevents dipping of its snout (mechanics)

Least useful keywords for a perfectly valid search

  • at what time (local) did the ups flight depart dubai international airport on its fateful last flight on

Search most likely to end up as an exam question

  • an airplane is flying at 450km/hr at a constant altitude of 5km. It is approaching a camera mounted on the ground

Search from pilot who is seriously planning ahead

  • which aircraft have more ability to land on a flooded runway between boeing 737-800 and airbus 319 320

Search most in need of more details

  • why didn’t pilot try to make it to ho chi ming for emergency landing

Quiz night search

  • do planes land with or against traffic on emergency landings in the street

Most unexpected search

  • women wearing masks breathing hard flickr

Search pilot should have made BEFORE the flight

  • what will happen if I infringed controlled airspace

Bragging search (My boyfriend has done this too)

  • i slept with a pilot

Important search that I just can’t help with

  • con man? a man with a british accent from california claims he is a ww2 pilot

And finally…

Search most likely to inspire me to write a new article

  • are the birds of prey at prestwick airport trained not to fly away

To be fair, the report results actually show that most of you are sane and interested aviation enthusiasts. But now and then, I have to admit, I have to wonder…

09 January 2015

A Drone and the Man who Loves It

I have posted a few times about the dangers of drones but this video shows what can be done with a remote controlled model aircraft. It has everything: suspense, intrigue and action. It’s the touching story between a drone at the edge of its life and the Dutchman who loves it.

Zwier Spanjer got a DJI Phantom 2 for Christmas and spent the day flying it around the local park in the Netherlands. He was having so much fun, he forgot to watch the power.

Just watch:

When the DJI gets low on power, it goes into auto-land mode which is why it is slowly descending. You can see the owner and his friends watching from the street.

Of course, someone has already done a Whitney Houston homage:

I know I complain about reckless usage of these now that they’ve become affordable and popular but I do love the camera footage that comes from them!

26 December 2014

Most Popular Aviation Pieces in 2014

Long dark nights are slowly receding as we pass the winter solstice and head back towards Spring. I can tell you, I’m seriously looking forward to 2015: I have great expectation of fun projects and lots of writing and hopefully even a bit of flying.

This year’s most popular posts are an interesting mix as quite a few of them were not posted this year. They gained belated attention through posts on aviation message boards, Reddit and searches for information, which means some unexpected posts like those in the history category did especially well.

I made one change: I didn’t count posts to do with MH370 and MH17. I feel these were high at the time as we all tried to make sense of the mystery of the disappearing aircraft but they have not been updated since the initial posts and may now hold information that has since been corrected. None of them appears in the top posts of the last few months, that is, there was a spike of interest which has now receded.

(Obligatory pitch: if you are interested in reading more about MH370, then take a look at my book, The Mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. It does not cover the last few months of search news but the details of the flight and the list of theories regarding the aircraft’s disappearance are completely up-to-date.)

So, here are the posts which were the most popular in 2014!

Number One: The Story Behind an Unbelievable Photograph

I wrote this November 2013 because I loved the photograph and wanted to know how it happened. Clearly, a lot of people have the same question: it has turned out to be my most popular post ever.


Number Two: Boston John

Air Traffic Controller John Melecio, also known as “Boston John,” is one of the most famous ATC controllers today. When he was controlling from Boston Tower, he was always lively and humorous, gathering a following all over the world. Listeners on LiveATC.net posted to the forums whenever he was on air so fans could tune in and hear him live.

When I wrote about John Melecio, I didn’t realise he was quite that famous but two years later, this post is one of the most often linked to from avation groups talking about ATC.


Number Three: FAA Approved?

I found this on an aviation forum and I just can’t stop staring at the photographs.

This is the sixth year in a row that this series of photographs is in my top five posts. I have to admit, I never get tired of looking at his repairs.


Number Four: Overloaded, Overspeed and Out of Fuel

The situation started quietly: a Boeing 757 inbound to Newcastle International Airport (NCL) was asked to do a go around: break off the approach and try again.

The Thomas Cook aircraft was a Boeing 757-237 registration G-TCBC. There were seven crew on board and 235 passengers. The crew was scheduled for an early morning flight from Newcastle to the Canary Islands, landing at Fuerteventura and returning to Newcastle that afternoon. They could expect to be home for suppertime.

At less than a month old, I’m surprised to see this accident report in the top ten, but it is a hard-to-believe incident in which a relatively standard sequence of events almost turned into disaster.


Number Five: Six Exclamations You Never Want to Hear in the Cockpit

“Have You Ever Done a Barrel Roll in the Dark?”

This was a selection of six accidents with wince-worthy cockpit conversations shortly before things went pear-shaped. Most of these are accidents I covered on the site and I thought I’d try a different way of doing a round-up of interesting accidents. It seems to have worked.


Number Six: B-1B with its Nose to the Ground

On the 5th of October in 1989, a B-1B Lancer departed Dyess Air Force Base with four crew on a routine training flight. Three hours later, the flight crew discovered that the aircraft had a hydraulics fault. As they came in to land at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, the front landing gear failed to lower. They circled the airfield for four hours, twice being refuelled by an airborne tanker, as they struggled to lower the nose wheel. Supporting the crew on the ground were military personal and mechanics for the aircraft manufacturer; however they were unable to resolve the issue.

The video of this landing was released last year and clearly you all found it as fascinating as I did.


Number Seven: A Fun Set of Videos for the Weekend

These are all good-hearted aviation videos which are being passed around that I thought you might enjoy. Surely you can’t have already seen them all!

All I can say is you all must have been seriously bored that weekend…


Number Eight: Pilot Suicides: Fact vs Fiction

One of the claims by Ewan Wilson which is making headlines is that he “found” five flights which he believes were also caused by suicidal pilots.

To clarify, to “find” these cases, you just need to go to the Aviation Safety Network, where there is a list of aircraft accidents caused by pilot suicide. ASN lists nine cases there but Wilson is clearly talking about commercial pilots carrying passengers. That leaves us with five cases, all totally documented.

Each of these five commercial pilots flying a scheduled passenger service is believed (by some investigating bodies, although not all) to have committed suicide, taking their aircraft and their passengers with them: an especially horrifying type of mass murder.

A straight-forward look at five possible pilot suicides in commercial aircraft, in the context of what might have happened to Malaysia Airlines flight 370. The hardest part of writing this piece was keeping it short; I could have written so much more detail on any one of the five flights.


Number Nine: Captain Fired After Nose-Wheel Landing

Another relevant point is that the Captain had been watching the approach on the Heads Up Display. The Jeppesen approach plate (11-1) for ILS Runway 4, states that the VGSI [PAPI] and ILS glidepath are not coincident. This means that even coming down perfectly on the PAPI, the aircraft could show as high on the ILS glideslope. The NTSB have so far makes no comment as to whether this may have led the Captain to overreact as the approach appeared higher than it was.

This is an unusual case where the Captain took control of the aircraft at the very last moment and caused the aircraft to land hard on the nose wheel. I wrote this up based on the preliminary reports and am interested to see if the final report offers any further information.


Number Ten: Near Miss at Barcelona

Last week, a plane spotter named Miguel Angel was filming flights coming into Barcelona airport when he captured this video. Five days later, that video has had over 20 million views.

The final report on this incident is still not out, which is a shame. I’d love to know how it happened.


And that’s the top ten posts that you all enjoyed en masse in 2014. If you have a personal favourite post, please tell me in the comments!

Meanwhile, Anna’s busy putting together a set of her favourite aviation pieces from 2014 on Facebook. Keep an eye out for that here: Fear of Landing on Facebook

I hope we have a lot more interesting aviation news and analysis for you in 2015!

24 October 2014

Dwarves, Orcs and Elves Take Flight with Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand, the official airline of Middle-Earth, have once again taken the world by storm with their safety video. They’ve called it The Most Epic Airline Safety Video Ever and it’s guaranteed to keep passengers’ attention during pre-flight announcements.

Keep your eyes peeled for Frodo, Fili, and Radagast and even director Peter Jackson! Ian McKellen was not available to play Gandalf so instead, film-maker and safety video director Taika Waititi filled in. Apparently his passenger is a well-known baseball player, Naoyuki Shimizu.

As the official airline of Middle-earth, Air New Zealand has gone all out to celebrate the third and final film in The Hobbit Trilogy – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Starring Elijah Wood and Sir Peter Jackson; we’re thrilled to unveil The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made.

The video was filmed in the Middle-Earth locations of New Zealand over the course of a week. Their first Hobbit safety video had more than twelve million views and the current video The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made #airnzhobbit has already had over three million views as I write this.

I usually recommend against reading comments on You Tube but this piss-take of searching for symbolism really did make me laugh:

The safety position in case of emergency is designed to break your neck so flight companies wont have to pay you for cure of possible injury for long time, they only will have to pay few bucks to your relatives if you die.

I have proof: the video length was 4:38 which gets rounded to 5, this video was about Lord of the Rings and Lord of the Rings has the Sauron eye, humans have 2 eyes.
5 -2=3 : Triangle has 3 corners
Triangle looks like nose. Humans have one nose which looks like triangle and 2 eyes,
2-1 makes 1 eye
The Illuminati’s symbol is triangle with eye in middle of it! They spoke about illuminated signs, I found them.
AIR NEW ZEALAND ILLUMINATI CONFIRMED?

Maybe not.

Sadly, they’ve said that this is the last of their Hobbit-themed works. The YouTube video will at least help to tide me over until the final Hobbit film comes out in December… although if anyone wants to fund a flight to New Zealand, I’m happy to check the safety video out in person!