Aviation History and Nostalgia Whether working in aviation, retired, wannabee or just plain fascinated this forum welcomes all with a love of flight.

Your Scariest Flight ?

Old 31st Dec 2020, 23:51
  #81 (permalink)  
BFM
 
Join Date: Dec 2014
Location: I'm still standing
Posts: 17
Paxing in an 8 seater twin turboprop would be not quite true, but I certainly couldn't fly it. I sat with my back to the cockpit, all the better to be snarled at by the Aussie pilot who didn't care for me much, or at all. We were sort of on business, going round South America. We were flying from Londrina (pretty much at sea level) to Potosi airfield (very much not at sea level - the town is at about 13,000 feet and the richer you are the lower you live as oxygen is precious there) which was a dirt strip at about 13,500 feet. This is Potosi, Bolivia, SLPO, by the way, not the Mexican airport. Flying in the Andes is an astonishing privileged experience, with these beautiful snow-capped mountains in a cruel razor sharp double ridge down the spine of South America. As we came towards the strip, the pilot shoved the thick manual in my hands over his shoulder and asked me to see how much power we would have for take off. I looked for the graph, and, having inspected it, truthfully told him I didn't know. He swore and grabbed the book off me. He lowered the undercarriage. He went back to the book and swore again, louder and worse. He saw why I couldn't work out the power - the graph ended at 7,000 feet altitude. We bumped down, and he parked up. As the engines died, there was a hiss of air round the doors. It was cabin air ESCAPING. As you stepped out of the plane, there was no sensation of wind as there was hardly any air. I trotted down the steps to the front of the plane and found myself gasping for breath. I felt very odd and slept little that night with a pounding heart (another altitude effect) and the next day we returned to the plane. From memory, the strip was about 6,000 feet. It's listed as 9,000 now. The pilot made us push the plane to the very end of the runway. By which I mean the tail was hanging over a cliff over a dizzying drop with the main landing gear about a foot from the edge. Unusually, as we were reasonably well acquainted with the aircraft he insisted on doing a preflight safety briefing. I can honestly say that I have never had a briefing before or since that started with the words, "Now listen you sh1ts, if I get killed... " He went on to identify the throttles, fire extinguishers, radios, beacons and emergency rations to an increasingly silent cabin. We still had no idea how much power the engines would make but it seemed obvious that if we didn't get airborne off the end it would be a quick death several thousand feet below. Ahead of us was a beautiful snow covered 21,000 foot mountain. We all strapped in as tightly as admittedly sweaty palms allowed. As I was facing backwards over the wing all I could see was fresh air. He started the props, and put on power with the plane held on the brakes before releasing them. We moved forward at the speed of a moped. We didn't seem to be accelerating at all. We trundled down the runway and suddenly he pulled back on the column with another oath. "Jesus Christ, there's a man on the runway!" We flashed over and presumably mightily startled a man with his donkey who had been quietly filling a hole in the strip, but it meant we had too little power to climb properly. We lumbered soggily ahead, the beautiful mountain came ever closer, and the pine trees on the lower slopes started to become visible as individual trees rather than a green mass. Nobody said a word. The mountain gradually enlarged over what felt like about an hour but was probably less than a minute until it threatened to fill the windscreen, when suddenly, the port wing dropped, and we seemed to slide down the side of the mountain into a slightly lower valley and as we fell we gained speed. After another very long pause the pilot straightened the wings and we slowly climbed to FL240. I understood that day what proper pilots did.
BFM is offline  
Old 1st Jan 2021, 08:21
  #82 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Aust
Posts: 176
Originally Posted by BFM View Post
Paxing in an 8 seater twin turboprop would be not quite true, but I certainly couldn't fly it. I sat with my back to the cockpit, all the better to be snarled at by the Aussie pilot who didn't care for me much, or at all. We were sort of on business, going round South America. We were flying from Londrina (pretty much at sea level) to Potosi airfield (very much not at sea level - the town is at about 13,000 feet and the richer you are the lower you live as oxygen is precious there) which was a dirt strip at about 13,500 feet. This is Potosi, Bolivia, SLPO, by the way, not the Mexican airport. Flying in the Andes is an astonishing privileged experience, with these beautiful snow-capped mountains in a cruel razor sharp double ridge down the spine of South America. As we came towards the strip, the pilot shoved the thick manual in my hands over his shoulder and asked me to see how much power we would have for take off. I looked for the graph, and, having inspected it, truthfully told him I didn't know. He swore and grabbed the book off me. He lowered the undercarriage. He went back to the book and swore again, louder and worse. He saw why I couldn't work out the power - the graph ended at 7,000 feet altitude. We bumped down, and he parked up. As the engines died, there was a hiss of air round the doors. It was cabin air ESCAPING. As you stepped out of the plane, there was no sensation of wind as there was hardly any air. I trotted down the steps to the front of the plane and found myself gasping for breath. I felt very odd and slept little that night with a pounding heart (another altitude effect) and the next day we returned to the plane. From memory, the strip was about 6,000 feet. It's listed as 9,000 now. The pilot made us push the plane to the very end of the runway. By which I mean the tail was hanging over a cliff over a dizzying drop with the main landing gear about a foot from the edge. Unusually, as we were reasonably well acquainted with the aircraft he insisted on doing a preflight safety briefing. I can honestly say that I have never had a briefing before or since that started with the words, "Now listen you sh1ts, if I get killed... " He went on to identify the throttles, fire extinguishers, radios, beacons and emergency rations to an increasingly silent cabin. We still had no idea how much power the engines would make but it seemed obvious that if we didn't get airborne off the end it would be a quick death several thousand feet below. Ahead of us was a beautiful snow covered 21,000 foot mountain. We all strapped in as tightly as admittedly sweaty palms allowed. As I was facing backwards over the wing all I could see was fresh air. He started the props, and put on power with the plane held on the brakes before releasing them. We moved forward at the speed of a moped. We didn't seem to be accelerating at all. We trundled down the runway and suddenly he pulled back on the column with another oath. "Jesus Christ, there's a man on the runway!" We flashed over and presumably mightily startled a man with his donkey who had been quietly filling a hole in the strip, but it meant we had too little power to climb properly. We lumbered soggily ahead, the beautiful mountain came ever closer, and the pine trees on the lower slopes started to become visible as individual trees rather than a green mass. Nobody said a word. The mountain gradually enlarged over what felt like about an hour but was probably less than a minute until it threatened to fill the windscreen, when suddenly, the port wing dropped, and we seemed to slide down the side of the mountain into a slightly lower valley and as we fell we gained speed. After another very long pause the pilot straightened the wings and we slowly climbed to FL240. I understood that day what proper pilots did.
Now that is a scary story.
deja vu is offline  
Old 1st Jan 2021, 17:02
  #83 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Depends
Posts: 23
Evening flight Brisbane to Townsville. Sometimes in the 1980's. Airline was TAA. Flight is very full, screaming babies and bogan school holiday travellers returning home with thongs and smelly feet. Sitting near the rear and the fluorescent light above the passageway begins to blink, intermittently at first but getting annoying. Hostess going back to galley notices, brings out a small trolley and gracefully climbs on it and undoes the cover. Removes the tube.

Fair enough - very considerate of passengers not getting epileptic fits from the strobing.

She goes back to the rear of the plane and emerges a few minutes later with a replacement tube, and proceeds to fit it to the clapping of the passengers. It didn't blink and worked as soon as she twisted it into place, live electricity and all. Taps the cover back into place and continues with food service.

Last time I flew TAA. I figured if the cabin staff were performing maintenance in an aircraft during flight using parts pre-stocked in the rear of the aircraft, fitted by short skirted air hostesses, maybe it wasn't the type of airline that needed me as a passenger.

Joined Ansett Golden Wings. By the time the welcome pack arrived in the mail, the airline was in deep trouble. Lucky I didn't get the lifetime membership package! Still have the welcome pack, gold printing and all, and the tiny lapel badge.

Last edited by Thirsty; 1st Jan 2021 at 17:41.
Thirsty is offline  
Old 1st Jan 2021, 17:28
  #84 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Depends
Posts: 23
Spent many years as a regular SLF. With Ansett Golden Wings you got preferential regular seating choice. Got used to sitting in the RHS just fore of the wing as they told me this was the where there was least amount of movement in turbulence - they'd pass you a large glass of cold orange juice just as you got seated - always appreciated.

First flight on an Airbus, and flying Sydney Canberra one weekday afternoon. Looked out the window at about 200' AGL and yes we were between the hills with a bit of a buffeting side wind, coming in a bit fast. Went back to glance at the sports page of the afternoon paper, and happened to glance out at about 5 feet, and notice a pale green webbing showing where the engine previously was, with the top part missing! Careful tightening of the seat belt and quietly assumed the brace position discreetly. Several Hail Mary's and we touched down, rather hard as the flight was rather full.

The way it was later explained to me, the reverse thrust cover recedes back from the engine under the wing where I couldn't see it, and the pale green webbing was actually part of the bracing, but nobody had told me that and I certainly convinced myself that the engine was falling apart in this new aircraft as we touched down, only to see the cover slowly slide back into place as we taxied to the terminal.

Change of underpants when I got to the motel!


Last flight Sydney to Canberra on a Sunday evening was the best. Sometimes you were the only passenger so you got the red carpet treatment. One hostess was an accountant in a previous life, and we finished my tax return before landing, bank statements, receipts and papers spread across rows of seats and others helping sort them. Best tax refund ever!

Last edited by Thirsty; 3rd Jan 2021 at 13:34.
Thirsty is offline  
Old 1st Jan 2021, 18:57
  #85 (permalink)  
Paxing All Over The World
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Hertfordshire, UK.
Age: 64
Posts: 9,300
Thirsty's story of thinking the engine was diassembling itself, reminded me:

I recall my nephew, when a 'boy pilot' with SAA in their 747 fleet (about 15 or so years ago). On the European runs, the supernumerary would sometimes be sent to have a rest period in a spare First Class seat. On one trip into LHR, after he'd done his shift he was told to stay there for the landing and enjoyed breakfast sitting in 1D.

During the approach, he was horrified to hear loud banging and crashing sounds under his feet and thought the aircraft was disintegrating. Until he realised it was the nose gear going down ... He'd never been sat there before!!
PAXboy is offline  
Old 2nd Jan 2021, 00:46
  #86 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Auckland, NZ
Age: 76
Posts: 613
Originally Posted by Thirsty View Post
Evening flight Brisbane to Townsville. Sometimes in the 1980's. Airline was TAA. Flight is very full, screaming babies and bogan school holiday travellers returning home with thongs and smelly feet.
For the benefit of non-Australian readers, "thong" used to be the regular Australian term for what are elsewhere known as flip-flops, or Jandals in NZ. It still causes me problems.
FlightlessParrot is offline  
Old 3rd Jan 2021, 13:38
  #87 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Depends
Posts: 23
Originally Posted by FlightlessParrot View Post
For the benefit of non-Australian readers, "thong" used to be the regular Australian term for what are elsewhere known as flip-flops, or Jandals in NZ. It still causes me problems.
Nope, some of the young ladies were coming home from the beach and hadn't changed - just put on a flimsy shawl over their shoulders to 'dress up' an bit for the flight. 'Thongs' in all meanings of the word. Like a baby in a topless bar, you didn't know where to look!
Thirsty is offline  
Old 3rd Jan 2021, 19:44
  #88 (permalink)  
See and avoid
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: USA
Posts: 516
Maybe not the scariest, but it had me worried.

I and another pilot in Northern California went up with the instructor of our flying club to get checked out for landing at high altitude airports in the Sierra mountains.

[i.e., anything above ~5,000 feet, ~ 1,500 meters.]

We were both told which airports we were supposed to land at. We both had the Truckee Airport (elevation 5,900 feet) on the north side of Lake Tahoe, and each had a smaller strip.

It was winter. [Which is good for density altitude.] The other pilot clearly had not checked the weather conditions at his designated small airport, as when we arrived, half the runway was covered in snow, so no chance that we could land or even do touch and goes. Like the classic small strip in the mountains, it was on top of a ridge, with a steep uphill slope, and an even steeper drop off on three sides.

I had read about mountain flying, and so knew you are supposed to be aware of the airport’s altitude and hence what altitude you should be at when flying the pattern.

This pilot fell into the trap of judging his pattern altitude by looking at the ground in the surrounding valley, so each time he made of his “final” approach, in three circuits, we were below the runway threshold on final and had to climb for the go-around, rather than being above and descending for a “landing.”

I suppose if he could have done an actual landing, the runway was steep enough that his full speed approach would have worked, but I was not thrilled to be in the back seat thinking, “We’re too low! We’re too low!”

Last edited by visibility3miles; 3rd Jan 2021 at 20:57.
visibility3miles is offline  
Old 4th Jan 2021, 22:00
  #89 (permalink)  
I don't own this space under my name. I should have leased it while I still could
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Lincolnshire
Age: 77
Posts: 16,734
Quite mundane really, straight and level, 300 kts 500 feet, as we overhauled an Il38 he rolled right into us. He pushed, we pulled, drama over.
Pontius Navigator is offline  
Old 4th Jan 2021, 22:56
  #90 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Under the clouds now
Age: 83
Posts: 2,228
it happened at the of end 1976 when i was flying a Britannia 312F from Gatwick to Baghdad. We had been cleared from FL 210 to FL 250 about 30 minutes before reaching Zagreb. It was dark, but the radar was painting a very large CB above and just to the right of our track. There was no turbulence when it started to rain and the temperature was indicating way below zero. Over the next five or ten minutes we suffered a continuous string of engine failures, normally only two at any one time, but we were not able to maintain FL 250, so we were forced to descend! Zagreb would not clear us lower, but we could not comply! By this time we had lost all our airspeed indications, only one altimeter was working, but as it was dark and I had no airspeed readouts I decided to continue towards Baghdad using power settings to maintain a near average airspeed as possible.
The sun came up shortly before TOD. Baghdad cleared us direct to the airport and FL 50. We started a very careful descent, planning a landing without any airspeed readout, but around 10000 feet both airspeed indicators came alive and we made a normal landing. It was the longest most worrying night in my flying career!
brakedwell is offline  
Old 5th Jan 2021, 10:29
  #91 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Cyprus
Posts: 2
Brakedwell : "Longest most worrying" ? After you gave me the leg, TFS-LGW and said " let's do a typical Command Assessment trip " you came up with the same phrase in the de-brief ! Happy New Year.
Gordomac is offline  
Old 5th Jan 2021, 20:28
  #92 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Under the clouds now
Age: 83
Posts: 2,228
And a happy new year to you Gordon!
brakedwell is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2021, 17:31
  #93 (permalink)  

Avoid imitations
 
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Wandering the FIR and cyberspace often at highly unsociable times
Posts: 12,990
Belize, 1980. I was back then a “first tourist” Puma helicopter pilot. Having done a full day’s single crew tasking in the usual very hot and humid jungle conditions, in the late afternoon we set off back up north to Airport Camp with a full load of assorted military passengers; the senior passenger being the Colonel of the Cheshire Regiment.

We got as far as Stann Creek, about 40% of the total distance, when it became obvious that a line of big thunderstorms was in our way, coming off the inland hills to the west. The very angry CB clouds and torrential rain stretched well out over the sea to the east of track. I decided not to attempt to fly over the sea; it wasn’t possible to know how far the storms extended and in any case we didn’t carry any sea safety or survival equipment. Climbing above was out of the question, some of those sub-tropical storms were known to extend to 50,000 feet.

I decided the only way to complete the flight was to maintain our present altitude (about 2,000 feet) and head for the brightest patch of sky (describing it as “bright” was a bit optimistic). We didn’t have a weather radar. As soon as we hit the rain, it was torrential, well beyond my previous experience and I lost all external visual cues. We were reasonably well practiced in instrument flying, but it took a few seconds to get established.

I was wary, not least because there was a concern about how much heavy rain it would take to put out the flame in the Turmo IIIC4 engines back then. The engines had relatively vulnerable, forward facing, open intakes (later retro-fitted with intake protection modules) and due to a serious potential fault with a pair of diodes in the start panel we were at that time not allowed to attempt in flight engine re-lights. If both diodes had failed (and we had no way of knowing), closing one engine control switch would switch off both engines!

I quickly realised that we were descending. I applied full power but it made little difference, the rate of descent increased until the VSI needle hit the bottom stop. I briefly looked at the engine gauges, thinking that I might have a flame out. They were both working as advertised and in any case, the rotor rpm was normal. I used my only remaining option - I flared the aircraft, in an attempt to trade speed for height from cruise speed to minimum power speed. We were still descending! I knew we were getting very low and was about to call “Brace, Brace!” because I no more options and really thought we were going to hit the trees!

However, a second later, we popped out into relatively clear sky, not far above the jungle tree tops. The torrential rain stopped as rapidly as it had started. Instantly, the aircraft climbed as it should have done in that configuration, like a cork out of a bottle. I checked the instruments and realised we had been below 400 feet. My mouth was as dry as a bone! We’d had a very close shave.

Ahead, the weather looked just as bad as before and I’d had enough for one day. We found a better gap in the clouds, away from rain did a 180 degree turn and went back to the Punta Gorda army camp. I had to explain why to the Colonel. He was really quite good about it, bearing in mind that he was travelling north for an important briefing. We stayed overnight and returned north to base the following morning.

I later realised that we’d probably hit what was then a relatively unpublicised phenomenon now known as a “microburst”. This is caused when updrafting air over a very wide area returns to earth in a much more violent form, in a very narrow piece of sky.

Once seen, never forgotten.

Last edited by ShyTorque; 6th Jan 2021 at 17:49.
ShyTorque is online now  
Old 7th Jan 2021, 11:17
  #94 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: southern spain
Posts: 1,815
Went on a jolly to Shannon from Gatwick on an AB Airlines BAC1-11 in the mid-1990s with a plane load of other hacks (journalists) celebrating the airlines Shannon service. Took off ok but then got into the jet wash of a preceding aircraft, we suddenly dropped like a stone. I have never known an aircraft go so quiet especially as everyone was nattering as the press do. Quite scary to say the least, but we survived and continued to Shannon and an Elizabethan banquet at Bunratty Castle. The return flight was as smooth as silk. It was a bit of a 'could you please layout my brown corduroy trousers please' event.
compton3bravo is offline  
Old 7th Jan 2021, 14:01
  #95 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 5,045
If it had been possible to record the 'most screams per landing' then the crown would have gone to the landing on the southeast runway of the old Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong. A long final to Stonecutters and then the sharp right descending turn to the runway. As they crossed the threshold most times there would be a bootful of rudder applied to line the aircraft up with the runway for touchdown. In the back of a 747 the seats move sideways between six to ten feet in an instant accompanied by howls of anguish from their occupants.

Years and years ago when pilots were converting to big aeroplanes the trainer would put the students in the back and wriggle the rudder to show them what it was like.

You can't do that with simulators.
Fareastdriver is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.