View Full Version : Management jumping to conclusions...

Dan Dare
10th Sep 2001, 02:27
The following letter is from the Qantas Flight Operations Newsletter dated
June 96.


In your icy, indeed hostile, telephone call of yesterday, you requested a
report about the alleged proceedings involving my crew at the Qantas 75th
Birthday celebration at the slip port. As the reports from the local
authorities and the head of the Australian legation were undoubtedly a
complete fabrication, I take the opportunity to put the truth of the matter
on file.

Qantas management's kind offer to "buy a round of drinks" was taken on board
by the crew who decided to upgrade the event to its correct status, so
appropriate quantities of libation and food were purchased, with festivities
being held in my hotel suite.

An enjoyable evening ensued but insufficient supplies had been obtained, so
several members of the crew left for further purchases at a local bar. In a
truly magnanimous gesture, ten bar girls from that establishment helped
carry the beer back to the hotel. To demonstrate our appreciation of their
assistance, we served them some cool drink. They then offered to show us
some local culture, and, in order not to offend, we allowed them to dance
some exotic dances.

The banging on the walls of my room had, by now, quite honestly, become
invasive, and it was disturbing the dancers, so we arranged an amusing
little deterrent. S/0 Brown's impersonation of the Police Officer was
excellent! In full Qantas uniform, with an aluminium rubbish bin upside down
on his head, he goose-stepped to each room and harangued the occupants with
a very witty diatribe about disturbing hotel guests. I personally heard
nothing of his alleged threats of life in Alcatraz or the Gulags, claimed by
the sister of the Minister of Police whose room was, unluckily, next door.

I have no doubt that this woman was the sneak who called security and hotel
management and I absolutely refute that the shout "Look out, here come the
Indians! Circle the wagons!" was made. The simple coincidence of security
arriving just as we stood the double bed on its side across the door to make
the dance floor bigger is obvious.

The major damage to the room occurred when a group of gate crashers, whom we
could not know were hotel security, forced their way in just as most of us
happened to be leaning against the bed watching the dancing.

The subsequent events in the foyer of the hotel are an equally vicious
distortion of the facts. I was explaining the importance of the 75th
Birthday to the General Manager of the hotel and noting that other guests
were fabricating stories of noise, drinking and singing at the celebration,
when F/O Smith (ex-SAS) and several other keep-fit enthusiasts, in keeping
with their almost monastic pursuit of health, organised the race up the
drapes which hang along the foyer wall. It says nothing for the workmanship
of some of these nations that the fittings were torn from the wall before
most of the crew were even halfway up.

At this stage, in an amazing display of international posturing, the
Governor of the city, who was attending the National Day cocktail party in
the foyer, cast some denigrating remarks about Australian culture. Although
he misunderstood our gestures of greeting, female flight attendant Williams
rescued the situation with her depth of knowledge of local culture.

Her rendition of the Fertility Dancing Maiden in the foyer's 'Pool of
Remembrance' was nothing short of breathtaking. Normally this dance is
performed wearing just a sarong skirt so FFA Williams' extra step to nature
was a bold step forward.

Unfortunately, during one intricate step, FFA Williams slipped and fell
beneath the fountain, so we were lucky that S/0 Brown, who had the great
presence of mind to strip to avoid getting his uniform wet, leapt in to
help. That the tiles of the pool were slippery is beyond dispute, as it took
nearly ten minutes of threshing about before S/O Brown could actually
complete his rescue. Such concern was there for these two exemplary crew
member's safety, that the rest of the crew were forced to assist, and I deny
that this massed altruistic rescue attempt could be construed as a 'Water
Polo' game!

This slanderous accusation was first put to me by the Chief of the Riot
Squad, whose storm troopers had apparently been called by some over zealous
Fascists at the cocktail party.

Order had nearly been restored when the fire started.

I prefer F/O Smith's version of events that the drapes had caught fire from
being against a light fitting, and that he dropped his cigarette lighter
whilst trying to escape the flames. Had host management fulfilled their
responsibilities and used fire retardant material instead of velvet, the
fire would not have spread to the rest of the hotel.

The responsible attitude shown by my crew in assisting the bar staff to
carry out drinks from the cocktail party is to be commended, not condemned,
and the attempt by male members of the crew to extinguish pockets of fire
using natural means has been totally misrepresented in some quarters. I
cannot overstate how strongly I resent the assertions made in the Chief Fire
Officer's Report.

I made an official protest about these matters when the head of the
Australian Legation visited us at the Police Station the next morning.
However, not only did Ambassador Jones not attempt to refute the
preposterous allegations made against me and my crew, but also by failing to
secure our release immediately, caused the subsequent aircraft delay.

I did not know Her Majesty was to be aboard our aircraft, but I am sure that
her 12- hour visit to that country was appreciated by local dignitaries and
probably HRH herself. (I must mention that the local manager is far too
obsequious - Smarmy! Smarmy! You should have seen him bowing and scraping.
Never make a Prime Minister, that chap!)

Finally, I note that not since 'Rainman' has Qantas been mentioned in so
many newspapers. (Some people in Qantas would die for coverage like that.)
The main newspaper at the slip port coincidentally mentioned Qantas 75 times
on its front page alone, although some of the coupled epithets can only be
described as the worst journalistic excesses of the gutter press.

I trust that now I have outlined the correct version of events, we may allow
ourselves a discreet smile as to the lack of social sophistication of some
of these developing nations and put all this behind us. As far as I am
concerned, the crew carried on the finest Qantas traditions.



P.S. I checked amongst the language qualified members of the crew, but no
one was up to speed on Latin. Can you recommend anyone in the International
Department who could translate 'Persona Non Grata'?

10th Sep 2001, 03:01
Already available on PPRuNe Home Page by clicking "Humour"

10th Sep 2001, 17:00
And from our colleagues in the Merchant Marine comes this:-

Honourable Sirs,

It is with regret and haste that I write to you. Regret that such a small misunderstanding should lead to the following circumstances and haste in order to avoid you forming your own preconceived opinions before accounts appear in the world's press, for they will certainly tend to over-dramatise the affair.

We had just picked up the pilot and the apprentice had returned from changing the 'G' flag to the 'H' and, it being his first experience, he had difficulty in rolling the 'G' flag up. I therefore proceeded to show him how. Coming to this part, I told him to let go. The lad, though willing, is not too bright and this necessitated my having to repeat the order in a sharper tone.

At this moment the First Officer, who had been plotting our progress in the chartroom, appeared on the bridge and, thinking that it was the anchors that were being referred to, repeated my 'let go' to the Third Officer on the fo'csle. The port anchor, having been cleared aweigh, was promptly let go. The effect of letting the anchor drop from the pipe whilst the vessel was travelling at full harbour speed proved too much for the windlass brake and the entire length of the port cable was pulled out by its roots. I fear the damage to the chain locker may be extensive.

The drag of the port anchor caused the vessel to sheer in that direction, right up to a swing bridge which spans the tributary to the river up which we were proceeding. The swing bridge operator showed great presence of mind by opening up the bridge in our favour. Unfortunately, he did not think to stop the vehicular traffic, the result being that as the bridge opened, a saloon car, two cyclists and a truck were deposited on the foredeck (my crew are presently trying to round up the contents of the truck which, judging by the noise, I would say were cows.) In his efforts to stop the vessel's progress, the Third Officer dropped the starboard anchor - too late to be of any practical use, for it fell onto the swing bridge operator's control cabin.

After the port anchor was let go and the vessel started to sheer, I gave a double ring full astern on the engine room telegraph and personally rang down to order maximum astern revolutions. With the strains of 'Annie Laurie' I was asked if there was a film showing tonight and was informed that the sea temperature was 53. My reply would not add constructively to this report.

Up to now I have confined my report to the events at the forward end of the vessel; down aft there were other problems. At the moment the port anchor was let go, the Second Officer was supervising the making fast of the after tug and was lowering our towing spring down on to the tug. Our sudden deceleration caused the tug to run in under our stern just as the propellers were responding to my double ring to go full astern. The prompt action of the Second Officer in securing the inboard end of the towing spring delayed the sinking of the tug by some minutes and thereby the safe abandonment of that vessel was achieved.

It is strange, but at the very moment the port anchor was let go, there was a power cut ashore. The fact that we were passing over a cable area at that time might suggest that we may have touched something on the riverbed. It is perhaps fortunate that the high-tension cables brought down by the foremast were not live, possibly because they had been replaced by the underwater cable. Owing to the shore blackout it is impossible to say where the pylon fell.

The actions and behaviour of foreigners during moments of a mild crisis never fail to amaze me. The pilot, for instance, is at this moment huddled in a corner of my day cabin alternately crooning to himself and weeping, after consuming a bottle of gin in a time that is worthy of inclusion in a book of records. The tug captain, on the other hand, reacted violently to being hauled out of the water and had to be forcibly restrained; he is now handcuffed in the ship's hospital and telling me to do impossible things with my ship and my crew.

I enclose the insurance details of the vehicles on my foredeck and the names and addresses of their drivers. These particulars were thoughtfully collected by the Third Officer after his somewhat hurried evacuation from the fo'csle, and will be required to expedite our claim for the damage that the falling vehicles did to the railing of the No. 1 hold.

I must now close this preliminary report as concentration is difficult with all the shouting, mooing, sound of police whistles and bells. It is sad to reflect that had the apprentice known there was no need to fly pilot flags after dark, none of this would have happened.

Yours truly,

Master, MV Golden Fortune