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Your Scariest Flight ?

Old 23rd Dec 2020, 15:13
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Your Scariest Flight ?

Either as PIC or PAX.

Mine ?

BA transatlantic in economy back in the day on a 747 classic at 2am with pretty much everyone else asleep. The flight engineer appears from the cockpit armed with a toolbox and proceeds to lift floor panels and gets to work with an adjustable spanner. Half an hour later he grunts and mutters “Christ, I hope that holds” and walks back to the cockpit. To this day I have no idea what he was up to, but I spent the next 4 hours writing farewell notes on napkins.

Anyone ?

Last edited by Fonsini; 24th Dec 2020 at 11:06.
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 15:50
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Scariest flights?
There are a few offshore helicopter flights which come to mind:

On the warmest day in June
Waiting already dressed in the 3 layer survival suit for a one and an half hour flight (the farthest you can go from Den Helder)
“Flight delayed 1 hour”
No reason given. We are sweating already in the suits with the sun full on the glass wall of the departure lounge.
After 3 quarters we see the Tiger being pulled out of the hangar.
Pilot tries to start the engines.
Pilot climbs out and up to the engine, slides cowling back and fiddles something.
We are thinking, “since when do pilots know something about engines?”
Pilot slides back the cowling and manages to start the engine.

“Ok, everybody ready?;
Hand over your check-in card to the flight attendant!”
”Have a nice flight”

yeah, thank you!
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 16:49
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Originally Posted by Fonsini View Post
Either as PIC or PAX.

Mine ?

BA transatlantic in economy back in the day on a 747 classic at 2am with pretty much everyone else asleep. The flight engineer appears from the cockpit armed with a toolbox and proceeds to lift floor panels and gets to work with an adjustable scanner. Half an hour later he grunts and mutters “Christ, I hope that holds” and walks back to the cockpit. To this day I have no idea what he was up to, but I spent the next 4 hours writing farewell notes on napkins.

Anyone ?
Guess he was having a joke with the cabin crew. Even flight engineers sometimes have a sense of humour!
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 16:54
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As a young lad in the late 70's I would hang around my local airfield, EGNU Usworth now Nissan UK, and do any old job in return for a flight! One warm Sunday afternoon me and a friend washed and polished a fairly new PA-28 Turbo Arrow 3 with the promise of a flight when the owner returned later in the afternoon. We waited and waited but he turned up early evening with a business contact who he wanted to drop at the old Doncaster airfield, a grass field near the race track.
My friend and I jumped in the back and off we went! On the flight south the sun started to go down and the pilot turned and advised 'us' in the back that the airfield had no lights but he had arranged with the CFI to line cars up each side of the runway! This happened and we safely landed and dropped the businessman, I jumped out of the back and sat in the RH front seat and we taxied out. As we lined up we noticed two of the cars had gone so just one either side! But the pilot was happy and full power set and we rolled, we soon passed the cars and all looked well with only the landing lights to show us the runway. Just before rotation the grass in front went long and we went off the side of the runway! The pilot elected to continue even though the speed had dropped! We eventually got airborne stall warning screaming as the edge of the airfield approached!! We cleared some houses by 'not a lot' and eventually picked up speed to stop the noise!
The things you do as a young flying mad lad!!
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 17:11
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1977, sitting next to pilot in Piper Aztec.
Rather sharp descent and later ascent into / out of Victoria Falls Airport from/to Bulawayo.
Rapid attitude to strip owing to the Terrs a few miles to the North had ground to air missiles.
Day after I left the Falls one landed on the Elephant Hills Hotel and destroyed it.
Minibus to/from Hotel escorted by a pair of Landies with half-inch Brownings mounted; they may have been .303s but seemed larger to me having used .303s
Small bar not really for visitors at the back of the hotel, had a few beers and games of darts with the off-duty chaps on the line.

Last edited by Mad Monk; 26th Dec 2020 at 14:22.
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 17:13
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One very dark and wet Sunday night, Far East, sitting 80 miles offshore in the left seat of a search and rescue equipped S-76 helicopter, in a roaring gale. Over a ship with the RHS pilot and the winch op trying desperately to get the winch man on board to recover a casualty. The ship was pitching and rolling hard. The winch was on the right and all I could see was an occasional glimpse of the top of the ship’s main mast, through the lower transparency.

The voice “patter” from the winch op suddenly went up in pitch. I sensed that the handling pilot had become tense and was beginning to over control. Suddenly, I saw the top of the ship’s mast pass laterally and very close underneath the aircraft. I felt we were very likely to get swiped by it so I had no option but to interrupt the winch op’s patter by declaring “UP FIVE!”. Something I really didn’t want to do because I couldn’t see the full picture.

I felt the aircraft rise, but the over controlling continued and my backside was telling me things were getting really dangerous. The only thing I could think if doing was to place my hand lightly on the cyclic and say “Steady, ******!”, addressing the pilot by his first name.

Thankfully, he did steady. We completed the job and returned with the casualty. The other pilot told me later that my input was very welcome, things were beginning to get beyond him.

Still have bad dreams about that one. Had we been hit by the mast, I’m sure I wouldn’t be here writing about it.
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 18:05
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March 1980 I had been working in Karachi when we at BMA British Midland were wet leasing our 707's to PIA.
After my posting in KHI, I had over a month's leave due, and PIA were kind enough to give me a pair FC FOC SBY tickets, so rather than a rainy cold month off back in London I flew an old PIA 720B down to Ceylon Colombo - 10 days on this lovely island then I flew over on then brand new new Air Lanka's 737-200 once a week flight (50% firm ticket) to Male on the undiscovered Maldives for 3 weeks on a tiny little island, ' Robinson Crusoe ' bliss...(USD $15 a day Full Board)

On the long journey home it began with flying MLE-CMB to connect with the middle of the night PIA flight to KHI, to then pick up the morning PIA 747 service to LHR with stops at DXB FCO FRA AMS and ORY phew! (all those meals)
At CMB we were coached out to the aircraft in Tropical heat at about 01.00 in the morning, expecting another PIA 720B but pulled up by an old ex Swissair DC-8 52 HB-IDB with a little sticker by the front door 'on lease to PIA'
Hmmm I thought will this might be fun...

Plane was half empty so had the front FC cabin to myself - old fashioned interior but comfy and nostalgic. CC were a mix of local girls and I think some French Girls.
This old DC-8 was now owned by Cargolux.

Uneventful flight then a long dark approach to KHI - no lights on the ground - no horizon - It was just desert around the airfield -
Touched down very fast - I felt little, or no braking, Thrust Reverse came on, then maximum full power reverse and we still did not slow down -
I thought well OK, it is flat and sandy beyond the end of the runway...Head down methinks...
We did slow but then lurched violently off to the left and did come to a stop with all 4 still screaming in reverse. Not sure if we were in the dirt or not as it was so dark
Eventually I saw a follow-me van come up and we started off again using a huge amount of power to get going -
CC said nothing and upon disembarking the FD crew chaps looked a very sickly green.
I just said Bye, thanks! - they said nothing LOL.

Last edited by rog747; 23rd Dec 2020 at 18:16.
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 19:27
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Most Chinese domestic flights early 90'ies, but the memorable one was an SAS B767 flight Beijing to Copenhagen about the same time.
While climbing out of PEK something went bang, and the whole aircraft started to shake like crazy. I actually thought some large panel had come off and was flapping around. Some were visibly upset, had a couple across the aisle saying their last goodbyes and some muted screaming was heard from Economy.
I did my best stiff upper lip and managed to get another whisky before the captain apparently issued some orders to cabin crew and they started a walkabout checking on belts and people.
After what seem like an eternity the vibrations subsided, the Swedish Captain came on the PA and we returned, and landed back at PEK. Luckily Swiss, Lufthansa and Air France all held their flights and those who didn't want to spend more time in Beijing was divided between them. I was only delayed about 3 hours, not bad.
Per
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 21:40
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Originally Posted by 10 DME ARC View Post
As a young lad in the late 70's I would hang around my local airfield, EGNU Usworth !
Ahhhhh Usworth!
Once anRAF airfield opposite my school where I fell in love with flying as a kid, watching the Ansons and Chipmunks. Used to fly control line models in the hangar there after it closed.
A few years later I overflew it in my Jet Provost from Acklington. Happy days !
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 22:09
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Northern UK, winter. Leed-Bradford. Shorts 3-60. after take-off, levelled soon at what was a low altitude. Cabin windows iced up, but the noise made by the ice thrown off the props told of bad icing conditions. With a little knowledge of aerodynamics I'm thinking "aircraft will be slowing down due degraded flying capability, and stall speed will be going up, for the same reason. At some point the flying speed and the stall speed will meet. The engines were on full power, and the aircraft landed at Manchester some 20-25 minutes after departing Leeds-Bradford. While taxying in, big chunks of ice fell off the struts. Terrifying. Perhaps more so because, for my sins, I was the captain!! Alopecia Nervosa isn't funny. It makes your hair fall out.
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 22:21
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One of only two passengers on a Beech 99, early morning flight. The crew left the curtain unzipped, so I could see we were closing on a crescent-shaped echo on the weather radar. Throttles well forward. When we hit the leading edge of the echo, things got interesting for a bit. Felt like a giant had struck the aircraft from below. I had placed my briefcase on an empty seat across the aisle and secured it by fastening the seatbelt through the handle. At one point the case was straight up in the air, restrained by the belt. We landed (obviously) and I asked the F/O when he went back to open the door "what is the maneuvering speed on this airplane?" Answer "we thought that was ground return". OK. Let me off this airplane, please.
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 22:27
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Originally Posted by Herod View Post
Northern UK, winter. Leed-Bradford. Shorts 3-60. after take-off, levelled soon at what was a low altitude. Cabin windows iced up, but the noise made by the ice thrown off the props told of bad icing conditions. With a little knowledge of aerodynamics I'm thinking "aircraft will be slowing down due degraded flying capability, and stall speed will be going up, for the same reason. At some point the flying speed and the stall speed will meet. The engines were on full power, and the aircraft landed at Manchester some 20-25 minutes after departing Leeds-Bradford. While taxying in, big chunks of ice fell off the struts. Terrifying. Perhaps more so because, for my sins, I was the captain!! Alopecia Nervosa isn't funny. It makes your hair fall out.
Almost identical to my experience as a new copilot on an ATR42 - LCY- LBA. Entered rain ice at circa FL120, saw blue sky as passing FL150 and thought we’d get out on top....except we were hoodwinked, Max torque, icing speeds etc yet we were decelerating in level flight - remember looking across at my tough Yorkshire Captain and thinking he was quiet and looked a lot paler than normal - that’s when I started getting a tad nervous given the ATR’s rep in icing. We promptly descended (I think under a pan call) and found air clear of icing at FL80, outside controlled airspace.
On landing at Leeds where the temp was about 8c, big lumps of ice were dropping off the tail plane onto the ramp, that really bought it home to me how quickly icing can catch you out in a turboprop.
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 22:46
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About my scariest was one of my first, as an 11 year-old in 1975.

It happened at Dubrovnik while arriving from Gatwick in a British Airtours 707. It was raining heavily and the approach was bumpy. On "touchdown" some rubber jungle deployed and my mother (who wasn't the happiest flyer at the best of times) pointed frantically out of the window on her side of the aircraft. A nosewheel had detached and was bouncing off into the grass next to the runway. I think at least one main gear tyre was burst also.

I remember reflecting years later that I didn't see the danger in this like I would if it happened today. It says a lot about the safety of aviation that in the following 40 odd years, I've flown hundreds of times (and flown myself for a few hundred hours) and that was the most serious incident I've had.
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 23:07
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In 1959 I had been on 152 Sqn for only a few months and was flying a Twin Pioneer from Bait al Falaj, Muscat to RAF Sharjah. We were given clearance to descend from around 6000 feet at about 20 miles from the airfield. At around 3000 feet we entered what I thought was a layer of thin cloud. Immediately the windscreen became covered with a greenish slime and visibilty ahead was zero. The windscreen wipers only made things worse and the oil temperatures began to rise. I tried spraying deicing fluid on the windscreen, but this seemed to make the mess worse, so I opened my side window, kept minimal power as the temperature of the engines kept rising. Eventually we circled then landed at Sharjah using my open side window to land.
After getting out of the Twin Pin we discovered we had flown through a locust swarm which had filled the oil coolers with a congealed mass of dead locusts and covered the windscreen and leading edges of the wings with green slime. The groundcrew reckoned five or ten minutes more flying would have seen both engines fail.
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Old 23rd Dec 2020, 23:47
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Originally Posted by ShyTorque View Post
One very dark and wet Sunday night, Far East, sitting 80 miles offshore in the left seat of a search and rescue equipped S-76 helicopter, in a roaring gale. Over a ship with the RHS pilot and the winch op trying desperately to get the winch man on board to recover a casualty. The ship was pitching and rolling hard. The winch was on the right and all I could see was an occasional glimpse of the top of the ship’s main mast, through the lower transparency.

The voice “patter” from the winch op suddenly went up in pitch. I sensed that the handling pilot had become tense and was beginning to over control. Suddenly, I saw the top of the ship’s mast pass laterally and very close underneath the aircraft. I felt we were very likely to get swiped by it so I had no option but to interrupt the winch op’s patter by declaring “UP FIVE!”. Something I really didn’t want to do because I couldn’t see the full picture.

I felt the aircraft rise, but the over controlling continued and my backside was telling me things were getting really dangerous. The only thing I could think if doing was to place my hand lightly on the cyclic and say “Steady, ******!”, addressing the pilot by his first name.

Thankfully, he did steady. We completed the job and returned with the casualty. The other pilot told me later that my input was very welcome, things were beginning to get beyond him.

Still have bad dreams about that one. Had we been hit by the mast, I’m sure I wouldn’t be here writing about it.

The few minutes, or even just a few seconds, in each of our careers where we actually earn our money.

Nice job Shy
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Old 24th Dec 2020, 00:04
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I have had a few bad weather flights, but only 2 where I felt particularly scared that something may actually be going wrong.

The first was a few years ago flying HKG-ICN on a JejuAir 737 (which was still decorated in its former owner's branding in the toilets, that being Ryanair). It was not very rough but at night time and even at cruising altitude we seemed to be in the very dense cloud for most of the flight. The wing landing lights kept coming on sporadically, which seemed very odd when in the cruise and I couldn't work out why they would be doing so (does anyone know why?). It may not have been anything out of the ordinary, but I have been on hundreds of flights, most of them at night and I had never experienced that before or since. There didn't seem to be any kind of pattern with the light flashing, which made me think it was something going wrong with the electrics rather than a pilot controlling it.

The second time I felt uneasy was on an Air Asia flight from PEN-KUL last year. We seemed to climb at an incredibly steep angle on takeoff from PEN. It was much more noticeable than any other flights I had been on. The cabin did shudder a bit too and some people around me looked a bit concerned before we eventually leveled out. I really did feel like the captain was trying to get us vertical.
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Old 24th Dec 2020, 00:08
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Probably 30 years ago I was on a small turboprop out of basle/mulhouse to zurich which had an engine failure and rejected takeoff, lots of bad noises and fire bells, this was in the days when open cockpits were the norm and I had a great view of the action . . . I had just hassled my way onto an overbooked flight as I wanted to get home for my 2 days off for the month comissioning the new (at the time) eurostar trains out of a train yard in a red light district in strasbourg (they complained about the noise to the mayor, we hadn't got the software written to make the fans go quiet when under no load) . . . anyway I ended up on the next flight, somewhat surreal checking in again with the smell of broken engine in your clothes . . . I think I learned a lot of trust in flight crews during those years of flying in small aircraft in the winter in the mountains where you could see the flight crew at work . . . a swissair with no chocolate and no champagne was a measure to judge how rough a flight was going to be ;-) . . . kinda fun . . .

I've not had another moment or justifiable concern in well over a million miles of travel . . .
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Old 24th Dec 2020, 06:03
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Damm close call

Well there was the time I was on a late banner tow and arrived back at base in the 'gloom' to find it even 'gloomier', and then realised our local café would be shutting any minute.
Quick call to the banner ground man to leave the banner and get down to the café to order food before it closed. He only just made it and we very nearly missed our double egg bacon and chips. Wow that was a close call.
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Old 24th Dec 2020, 07:44
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I thought I had nothing to write here until I read Wycombe's contribution. In the mid-70's I flew two or three times a year to CFU on a Boeing 727-284. As I was barely more than a toddler I was given a window seat. However for a number of flights I was sure the wing would break (as it moved up and down rather intensively in my mind) and we would die. Fortunately after a couple of years I realized this wasn't going to happen and I felt much better and a great love between me and aviation started.

A few minutes of concern appeared on a ATR flight out of SMI in November 2007 when the leading edge of the wing become white due to frost accumulation and I wasn't sure the boots would be able to handle it.

Another block of scary flights were in autumn 2009 and it is a bit weird I take only Slasher would understand me. In September 2009 I was turned down by a lady Slasher and myself would appreciate very much. Right after that, any time we encountered any turbulence in flight would remind me the initial events (as we knew back then) of AF447 and I was expecting a crash. After a fabulous flight to CFU on a gin clear day - that I am sorry I didn't have a camera on my hands the problem went away and I am still looking for a scary flight during a business trip.
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Old 24th Dec 2020, 09:25
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Retired BA/BY,
lived about 200 yds from RAF Usworth (Hylton Castle Council Estate) and had my first flight there as an Air Cadet (2214 Sqn). It was in on 25 July 1956 in Anson VV 994. I used to go there whenever possible to help out clean/refuel the Chipmunks and the Ansons and Oxfords. Very happy days.
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