Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Coming Down to Earth

This report, about a wheels-up landing that caused chaos at Brisbane airport last night reminded me of an incident I observed when we lived in Townsville during the late eighties.

I had taken my sons (then aged 8 and 10) to an air show at Clare, near Ayr.

We arrived early and had plenty of time to watch aircraft arriving to participate. There was a great PA announcer who described - in amazing detail - the type and origin of every aircraft as it arrived. He announced the names of all the pilots and their point of departure as they were on short finals.

For one unfortunate participant who had flown in from PNG in a Piper lance, this level of detail later became unwelcome.

We watched him come in making a perfect approach after what had been a long flight. The aircraft had  retractable undercarriage. It was retracted, and remained so until the point at which it touched down on the grass strip, whereupon the whole aircraft disappeared in a cloud of dust and small stones.

The motor stopped quickly, as did the forward motion of the aircraft, and everything went very quiet for a second or two. Some wags in the audience applauded. The three people aboard were then seen to evacuate the ship very quickly indeed.

This incident stuffed up the organisation no end, as it took a couple of hours to make the situation safe and remove the by now second hand looking Piper from the strip.

I don't know if the pilot ever lived it down.

My sons were sure the whole thing had been laid on for their amusement.

The video has nothing to do with this incident, but the cloud of dust at the end is not dissimilar.

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