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Your Scariest Flight ?

Old 26th Dec 2020, 01:31
  #41 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Originally Posted by Teddy Robinson View Post
Nothing to tell, or nothing to learn ?
Plenty of things to learn, actually, that's why I'm on PPRuNe. I've just been lucky... there but for the grace of God do I go, as the saying goes.

​​​​​Edit: The sky has been quite kind to me, so far. On the other hand the ground has been terrible to me!
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Old 26th Dec 2020, 10:26
  #42 (permalink)  
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I’ll share one of someone else’s stories - Bee Beamont no less, may he Rest In Peace.

In his later years Bee was employed by BAC as a flight ops director when they received a complaint from a customer regarding faulty “fire control systems” on some new Strikemasters (edit - can anyone enlighten me as to what exactly a Strikemaster FCS consists of apart from an optical gunsight ?). Bee flew out in person and went on a training mission with the foreign customer’s chief instructor who he said was a rather abrasive character. The flight out to the range was carried out at ultra low level across open desert, and the altitude could have been measured with a yardstick, the Strikemaster was also running at full chat. Bee stated that the pilot had to lift alternate wings to avoid hitting the sand dunes which they were clearing by 2 or 3 feet at most, he went on to say that in spite of having been shot at in combat this single flight was the only time in his entire flying career that he was ever genuinely terrified.
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Old 26th Dec 2020, 10:40
  #43 (permalink)  
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I think the only time I've been particularly worried in an aircraft was on a short flight between Waukegan and Palwaukee in Illinois - lightning strikes to the side of us, lightning strikes to the front of us, think I would have preferred a) not to have launched or b) returned to Waukegan, just behind us, and made inroads into their coffee pot. My aerial chauffeur was keen to press on however and we made it safely - of course - and tied the C172 down with the help of the line boy just before the storm front hit. Palwaukee's coffee was just as good as Waukegan's and we watched the rain lashing down, wind tormenting the trees and numerous lightning strikes for an hour or so before it all cleared for a beautifully sunny smooth flight down the Chicago lake shore - we should have landed at Meigs while it was still there!
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Old 26th Dec 2020, 11:01
  #44 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2003
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PA, … nothing to tell … - the last flight, because if the next one gets you, you cannot retell.

TR, … nothing to learn … - again the last flight, because without learning the next one is more likely to get you.

Lots of war stories above, but few lessons learnt.
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Old 26th Dec 2020, 11:30
  #45 (permalink)  
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Scariest ever ? Mine was my first. saved up for ages, off to Shoreham , told them I wanted to be a pilot, age -17. . Wonderful chap called Toon Ghose strapped me in to a Bolkow Junior and off we went on what he called an "aptitude and experience flight". Watched him pump the rudder pedal from full left to full right and yet we remained straight. Off the grass field & headed off to Brighton Pier (just like the snowman cartoon) but on the way back, he asked "howz your tummy-?". I managed a big smile, loving all of it & he said"Ok, i'll show you a loop"........ ......Aaaaaaaagh !......... Awful. He adopted a wierd sort of grin and said.."Good, I'll show you a spin"...........Aaaaaaaaaagh.......Awful. Staggered off home on the South coast bus and resolved to ammend my application to the RAF for Navigator preference. Failed the Nav aptitude battery but was offered entry for pilot. Aaaaaaagh, probably have to do aeros ! Settled for Hamble instead.
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Old 26th Dec 2020, 11:41
  #46 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2016
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I was off loading pax bags from the belly pod of Cessna Caravan in Medan, Indonesia after bringing the members of NGO and Red Cross/ Red Crescent from Banda Ache. Bell 412 chartered by Singapore Red Cross was taxiing right behind of us over the grass field for departure, not over the taxiway. Maybe it was not unusual procedure in Medan shortly after the Boxing Day Tsunami. Anyhow, as I continued to help to get their bags, I saw the twin turbine engine helicopter slowing nearing to the ground in my peripheral vision and the clouds of dust quickly started thickening and covering the area, the shape of B412 was almost blurred. It came to me so suddenly that I didn't even have time to get scared but the image of sharp edged pieces of the broken chopper blades shooting toward us in next second became so clear in my mind and at the same time, I remember thinking to myself it would be so sad to see those young people, who came from many countries all the way to Indonesia to help the tsunami stricken villages and its people, dying for no particular reason. It is true an event like this looks like slow motion scene from a movie. I watched the 4 blades still rotating after the chopper rested in the ditch in crooked way, leaving its tip only few inches above the ground. The crew of downed helicopter staggered out of the cockpit while the air was still filled with grass and dust. Some of my passengers shifted their interest from their bags and started taking photos. Didn't seem to realize their lives were spared...

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Old 26th Dec 2020, 11:59
  #47 (permalink)  
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Turbulence is always disconcerting if fortunately rare. It was particularly bad coming into Heathrow one day as the Skip was rapidly on the p.a. "As you will see we've been through some turbulence, nothing too serious". Reassured this SLF.

Not really scary but I remember missing an approach at Kai Tak. The crew were too far busy for a p.a. announcement (believe me it makes a difference) & we landed successfully in the opposite direction a few minutes layer but I had visions of ending up in Kaohsiung.

Also its off putting seeing a plane pass nearby at the same level. Actually we wern't, Both were in the stack at different levels and banking, almost you could say an optical illusion, but I wasn't thinking that at the time.
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Old 26th Dec 2020, 14:08
  #48 (permalink)  
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My scariest was on a BA 747 from Hong Kong to London. We were warned in the preflight announcement that we might experience some turbulence after take-off. About 45 minutes into the flight, during drinks service, the aircraft started to shake a little. A couple of minutes later I was confronted with the contents of my gin and tonic glass floating in front of my face, before it rapidly descended into my lap. The turbulence became quite violent and the drinks service suspended with the crew taking their seats. At this point, looking at the moving map, we were taking a northerly heading, almost following the eastern coast of China. As an experienced passenger I wasn't alarmed, just uncomfortable. The captain announced that we were climbing as high as we could and reported that a Virgin Atlantic 747 was a couple of thousand feet below and getting the worst of it. The shaking was incredible, accompanied by severe drops and rises. The thing I was most scared about was the constant screaming from fellow passengers. Every movement induced a cacophony of shrieking from everyone around me. It lasted for about six hours. On arrival at Heathrow, exhausted and without having been served dinner, I overheard a cabin crew member telling a passenger it had been routine and he had had many flights like that. On arrival at the gate the captain apologised for the turbulence and said that in his 31 years as a pilot, he had never experienced anything so violent.

Last edited by wub; 26th Dec 2020 at 16:31.
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Old 26th Dec 2020, 17:56
  #49 (permalink)  
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Out over the Atlantic paralleling the Eastern Seaboard of the US at night in clear conditions with only a light wind from the West we were surprised to hear the aircraft a few minutes in front of us declare that they were experiencing "extreme turbulence". 2000ft below we were in smooth air. I have to confess that I looked across at the new FO and muttered the ICAO terms "light, moderate and severe" under my breath whilst gently "tutting".

Seconds later we hit the worst turbulence that I have experienced in 41 years of flying. The aircraft was shaking so violently that it was almost impossible to read the instruments. The airspeed fluctuated wildly and the overspeed clackers were immediately followed by the stall warning stick shaker. The autopilot's altitude hold mode failed to maintain height and we got altitude warnings of plus or minus 300 feet. The EICAS (warning) screen filled with red and amber warnings which appeared and disappeared rapidly. I began to wonder about the structure of the aircraft. Just how much punishment could the tail empennage take?
I called New York and confirmed the other aircraft's "extreme" report. This was worse than severe. I recommended they reroute any aircraft planning on passing through the area. At the same time I sent an ACARS message to operations suggesting a later flight took another route. I also requested that the engineers carry out a turbulence check on the aircraft on arrival. Ops came back a few minutes later and said New York had closed the airspace.

On arrival back at base we were met by an engineer. He sat on the jumpseat and went through the reports in the CMC (central maintenance computer). Shortly after that he picked up his handset and called his supervisor saying "nothing generated in the CMC, I am coming back to the crewroom". On his way out he stopped in the galley and chatting to the galley girl asked if there were any left over bacon butties . "Fill your boots" was her response "take whatever you want. That was my last flight!" She then told him that the turbulence had terrified her and that she was never going to fly again. "Err boss, I think we are going to need a turbulence check on this aircraft...".
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Old 26th Dec 2020, 21:24
  #50 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2013
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January 2020 I’m in the back of an unarmed Chinook flying from Hamid Kharzi Military Airport (just at the back of the civilian one) In Kabul, Afghanistan to somewhere I won’t name. I was wearing body armour, Kevlar hat and was strapped in next to a window. The flight was crewed by grizzled, battle hardened, ex US Air Force guys who knew what they were doing, the Chinook didn’t have a tail gate, just a load net, the wheels were kept down in flight and the change overs were done with the rotors running. I was in with a bunch of ‘interesting’ people, many toting some serious firepower. The flight wasn’t that long but going over Kabul at 250ft really focusses the mind. The trip back involved a stop at another base to drop off a dozen or so SF guys en route to Hamid Kharzi. I have some great photo’s of me in the back of the Chinook. Won’t forget that ride in a hurry!
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Old 26th Dec 2020, 21:55
  #51 (permalink)  
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Slower than the speed of sound....

It's all true. (written some time ago)I want to tell you now about a time I did have a bad experience. Potentially a very bad experience. But the truth is that without the use of alcohol or strong drugs, it was so well handled that I did not really care. Here’s how it happened.

It was a beautiful sunny day and I was lucky enough to be heading on a business trip to New York on Concorde, that most amazing of all flying machines. It was not my first trip on the bird but I was still excited. It was a beautiful sunny day as we took off towards the west. The only way I can describe take-off is that it was a bit like hurtling up stairs in a rocket. Concorde was not quiet, it was not particularly luxurious, but boy was it fast. I had already done an hour in our Heathrow office that morning, we took off at 10:30 and by 10:00 I was expecting to be in the New York office. Bizarre!

We were only a few minutes into the flight when our captain’s voice came over the intercom. After the usual pleasantries he told us in that way that only the British can that there was a spot of bother. I forget the exact technical details but I think it was something to do with the rudder. Most of the passengers, myself included, probably did not even realise that Concorde had such a thing. Anyway, nothing to worry about we were reassured, and here was what was going to happen. “I am sorry for the inconvenience but I am afraid we will have to return to Heathrow.” came the soothing tones. “That won’t take long, and I have already radioed ahead so a replacement Concorde will be waiting for you as soon as we land.”

A different planet from ‘rail replacement buses!’ British Airways had seven Concordes, so luckily they always had a spare one hanging around somewhere, as you do.

“So the only tiny problem,” continued the voice of God (or so it seemed), “is that as we have only just taken off we have too much fuel onboard and the plane is too heavy to land.” Too heavy to land? Oh no, I thought, is this going to be the old joke about the Englishman the Irishman and the Scotsman arguing about who is going to be thrown off first? Luckily not. “What I am going to do is go out of the Bristol channel, dump most of the fuel, turn around and then fly back to Heathrow.”

Dump most of the fuel? Oh no! How much was ‘most’? I hoped he had a little gauge like I did on my car with a read out of ‘miles remaining’. What if he threw away too much? Would we have to crash land in Swindon? How many miles was it anyway from Bristol to London? A hundred? I seemed to remember reading somewhere that Concorde averaged 5 gpm. Yes, 5 gallons per mile…so that was an awful of petrol he had better not dump on the poor fish in the Channel.

The flight back to Heathrow was magical, among the most memorable I have ever taken. The previous day we had actually been visiting friends in Bath so as we returned to London following the line of the M4 motorway flying at about only 10,000 feet I could re-trace the journey I had taken only yesterday. But this time it was like what I imagine it would be like to travel in a rocket-propelled hot air balloon. Oh look down there, that’s the service station we didn’t stop at! Is that a cow? Are we nearly there yet? Yes, as soon as we turned around we were nearly there, you stupid boy! You are never not ‘nearly there’ on Concorde.

And so, only 10 minutes later, to the skies above Windsor. “Now,” said our captain, “you may not know it, but these poor chaps at Heathrow don’t get much chance to practice the old emergency drill stuff. So what I have agreed with them is that they can use our landing this morning for a jolly good practice. So when we land, don’t be alarmed, but what you are going to see is these boys and girls racing alongside us in their fire engines and ambulances to see if they still remember the training. OK, now down we go.” He didn’t quite let out a ‘wheeeeeee!’ but he might have done.

Relaxed? You bet we were. 99 people all smiling, even although they had just given back their empty champagne glasses. And sure enough as we hit the tarmac with a bit of a bump mind you, it was like the Fisher Price airport out there with all the yellow and red vehicles trundling in parallel trying to keep up with us.

We came to a stop, not at the terminal, but somewhere in the outer reaches of the airfield. Why? Did they really think the plane might explode? (Actually, yes, but the trick is no one bothered to tell us that bit.) So we promptly deplaned and were escorted onto a bus. That was the funniest part. 99 people, 98 of whom had paid thousands of pound to rocket off to New York – I was on an airline ‘duty travel’ fare - and here they were boarding a bus! Not something to shout about back on the cocktail circuit in St George’s Hill.

And so that, dear reader, was my most frightening emergency landing. Thanks to the way it was handled I have not been so scared since the time I dropped a pillow on my foot.

The next day when I was already back in London I saw the newspaper front page headline shrieking “M25 closed as Concorde makes emergency landing!”. Too late to be frightened now.
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Old 26th Dec 2020, 23:52
  #52 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Toronto
Posts: 160
My most scary flight

I had made a habit of frequently driving out to the airfield with pax in the car, and putting them in the back of a 172 for an air tour of downtown Toronto, usually with a couple of orbits of the CN Tower to watch the people eating in the revolving restaurant. This time was supposed to be the same. The flight was usually less than an hour, so no problem was expected getting back before my lack of the five take-offs and landings at night would have made carrying pax illegal. That is, until I looked at the TAF, which said told OCNL SCTD TRS for my time aloft. which was to be just before civil twilight.

My reaction was a proper one, just as I had been taught. Never fly beyond your capabilities and experience. So from the home where my pax were staying, I told the man waiting for me that we were not going due WX. However, as a meteorologist from Copenhagen Airport, he wanted to speak to the local met man, so we called them. After exchanging pleasantries and comments in the lingua franca of those who observe the clouds, we hung up and I spoke directly to my friend.

Surprisingly, he gave me his professional opinion that it would be safe to fly!

Who was I to argue? So I took him and a couple of lasses out to the airport.

The out-bound trip was a complete success. We circled the CN Tower twice and headed back towards Toronto International's airspace. I called their terminal controller from South of Humber Bay, only to be told that my destination was just now under TRS.

"What are your intentions?" he asked.

Obviously the best choice was to turn back to Toronto Island, which I had just passed.
"Toronto Island is now reporting TRS coming in off the lake!"
I looked at the alternatives. While I was considering Burlington Air park, the controller came back to me.

"It looks like there are two cells, ten miles apart, one each side of the route to Brampton. I can get you between them if you like."
I had originally requested to fly up runway 33 at 2k, since they were landing East-west, but they had denied me that route, and vectored me way out way West of Pearson, beneath the departure profile. That was when I started to follow vectors to go between the two T cells.

Just as I was thinking of being home in a few minutes, I experienced what i now understand what people mean by 'all hell breaking loose'. The plane started to climb, and I had to push the nose down to keep at altitude. Then the plane started shaking so badly that I felt it would break apart. I knew I had to do a 180, but in a control zone? I rolled the plane left to a rate 1 turn and tried to tell ATC what I was doing. But the plane was shaking so badly that I could not get the air into my lungs to speak, and my words seemed to sound like a bunch of incoherent broken syllables.

The controller acknowledged my turn, and gave me vectors BACK OUT OVER THE LAKE! Great! I thought, they know I am going to break up and don't want me falling on the expensive houses below!

You know that you are in trouble when an older, more experienced voice comes over the R/T from ATC!

He asked me my situation, and how much fuel I had, and I explained about the turbulence. He gave me more vectors to circle South of land while they figured out a solution.

Eventually he told me the TRS over Brampton had dissipated, and vectored me to the button of 33 at Pearson, with instructions to fly up it. After that, it was vectors to Brampton and the smoothest straight-in airline landing I have ever done, since the airport was closed, the runway wet and beautifully highlighted by the reflection of (thankfully distant) clouds.

My passenger said I was a damn good pilot, and that I should be flying the big jets. That was when it dawned on me, his judgement to fly was based on transport aircraft criteria - way too much for a little 172! I never listened to anybody else's judgement whether it was safe to fly after that!

Last edited by ve3id; 27th Dec 2020 at 00:58.
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Old 27th Dec 2020, 03:36
  #53 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Whanganui, NZ
Posts: 190
Flying from Wellington (NZ) to Nelson in a Bandit, I have seat 1B. The curtain between me and the cockpit is open.
There is a brisk - by Wellington standards, most others would call it a gale - south-easterly blowing.
After a routine but short take off roll, we go along nicely until we come out of the lee of Moa Point. The aircraft does roller-coaster imitations, to the extent that there are some small screams from the back rows. I guess the motion may have been more vigorous there. I thought it was a bit sporty, but it's 'Windy Wellington' after all.

A minute or two later, P1 says to P2 "Shit, I thought we were a goner there", presumably not realising I could hear him quite clearly.
I had a death grip on the armrest all the way to Nelson
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Old 27th Dec 2020, 08:30
  #54 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2006
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DC-10 from Malaga to UK. The cabin crew at the rear of the plane announce that they are having trouble closing the door.
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Old 27th Dec 2020, 09:48
  #55 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Dorset UK
Age: 67
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Business class LHR to CPH on SAS MD-80.
Very camp steward serving lunch. After food I ordered a brandy which was served just as we hit some turbulence and it ended up in my lap. Camp steward wanted to mop my nether regions.
Now that's scary!
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Old 27th Dec 2020, 10:34
  #56 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2007
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Originally Posted by A340Yumyum View Post
Gosh, that was a scary one.
Well, I could tell you sbout the time I took a 737 to about 80 degrees of bank making an emergency break at FL 330 to avoid a RAM B 727 which had been cleared through my level on another frequency on the French/Spanish border.

Just passing the VOR. I looked up from moving the heading cursor to change course, to see this 727 coming straight at me. Scary, you bet, and that was before TCAS ! Too. B.........close., the few seconds waiting for the bang were interminable !

Last edited by RetiredBA/BY; 27th Dec 2020 at 11:33.
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Old 27th Dec 2020, 11:54
  #57 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Beyond the Blue Horizon
Age: 60
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As a long term passenger, I can re call two, though on the first I was very young, and only remember bits, but my parents filled in the other bits I had forgotten. The second I was older, and travelling with my Dad returning to Europe from Chile via Disney Land as a treat, rather than my normal route with BCAL via BA, Rio, etc to school in the UK.

The first incident was in the early 60,s flying from Rome back to UK and involved an evening take off in a prop which I think would have been a Vanguard, the airline was BEA, and I think Flight BE193 from Malta to London via Rome on a Sat. I can not remember and both my parents are dead, but did some checking on old time tables today (in Tier 3 and its pouring down !) and I think this would be it, as we arrived back at LHR in the early hours. There was a large Thunderstorm to the West of Rome moving East and my father thought the flight maybe delayed as a result. However we were boarded, and engines started and we taxied out, but noted that a Swiss and Air France flights had returned to the gate, however we continued, and lined up for take off. We waited for some time, and then set off. I had a window seat, and commented to my father about the "pretty sparks" coming off the wing (St Elmo's fire) which gradually covered the whole wing as we climbed, as the plane bucketed and reared through the sky, with a number of screams, and the smell of vomit coming around the cabin, and visibly onto peoples clothes. It appeared to last for at least an hour, before some sort of smoothness returned, and engine had been feathered. On the flight my mother helped some of the passengers and crew with some injuries sustained, as she was a nurse, and even helped subsequently hand out medicinal Brandy, and light food for those who felt like it. During all this there was no word from the flight deck, until about 2hrs into the flight when the captain came on, who my father thought was called Biggleswade . He apologized for the "lively departure" but then went to say it "was not as bad as flying over Berlin in the winter 43/44 " and that was it ! That was the last we heard from him until we landed. My mother subsequently received a Postal Order and letter for £5 from the airline for her help, and service post looking after people.

The second incident involved CAT over the US in an Air France 707 which left numerous people injured, and a trashed interior, with flying CC and food carts and passengers, which lasted for about 5 min, but was a bit like flying in the NASA Vomit Comet at the time. The pilot declined to divert, and continued to Paris, where we were met by numerous ambulances, as there had been considerable broken bones. I always keep my seat belt on ever since, (though the 380 Bar on EK does negate that ) and have stayed away from Air France ever since as a result.

The interesting point, is that I have flown many thousands probably millions of miles since, in many 3rd world countries, with less well known carriers, as well as lots of LH flying, and yet these are the two incidents which caused me most concern, though my father said that in the first I was quite excited with the lightening and sudden drops, but probably too young to appreciate the danger. The second I could appreciate the danger, and see what was happening (as I was about 9 years old) but had a faith in the A/C (707) as that had become my chariot on the BCAL route from Santiago back and forth to school in UK, and I just could not believe it could crash. This flew in the face of the statistics of the time, as numerous ones were doing exactly that, including a large number of Air France ones !. But the real point is how safe flying actually is now by comparison with those times, when relatively few people flew, but the accident rate was quite high. I know my Mum was always concerned (she told me later) when packing me back off to school, as I was an only child, (my older brother had died just after being born), but she never showed it at the airport.

Happy landings to all in the coming year
Mr Mac

Last edited by Mr Mac; 27th Dec 2020 at 18:11. Reason: Tier 3 and nothing better to do when its raining checked old time tables for that period
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Old 27th Dec 2020, 15:11
  #58 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: cowtown
Posts: 174
The first rule of Fright club ?

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Old 27th Dec 2020, 15:56
  #59 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2018
Location: Laredo, TX
Posts: 129
This wasn't scary for the crew in a 727 departing STX at night with rainshowers in the area. I was the FE. Climbing thru 2 or 3 thousand with nothing on the analogue radar showing a need to deviate we get a ding from the FAs and Captain tells me to check with them. FA tells me "what was that?" I ask what she means as we have no indications or sounds up front. She says that a bolt of lightning hit one wingtip, came in through a window and flashed up and down the aisle, went out the other side window and hit the other wingtip. I open the cockpit door to a dark cabin with only white eyeballs visible like you might see in a cartoon. They check and nobody injured, no damage in cabin and we have no indications up front and press on. Post flight we find both wingtip tail lights melted.
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Old 27th Dec 2020, 18:17
  #60 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2020
Location: Sussex
Posts: 2
Some 20 years ago, as SLF, I landed in Copenhagen with a colleague , to transfer by road for a single engine light plane flight to an airfield in West Denmark. Car journey was in torrential rain, and at the domestic airport were greet by the light aircraft pilot to say that we would be delayed for several hours.

We retired to the bar, but some 30 mins later he re-appeared to say that he thought that the front would soon pass over, and we could get going. Being trusting types, we walked out to the aircraft leaning against the wind and rain, then took off with hail hitting the windscreen, straight into cloud.

It was very bumpy indeed at 3000 feet, going up and down as if in an elevator, but the pilot seemed calm and confident, He then began a conversation with ATC, and requesting permission to descend.. At that moment a tree top passed the left wingtip. It seems that he may have had to ask for retrospective permission, and we were lucky that Denmark is not a very hilly country. The pilot then dodged trees at the base of the cloud for some time, until, as forecast, we passed through the front into crystal clear still air. We were VERY glad to land.
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