Sunday December 21, 2014
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I almost hate reporting something like this because I am getting very gun-shy about the short, detail-free stories I so often see that start with "Associated Press." I almost never can get the follow-up information needed to have the story make some sense.
This one, though, ought to be different because of where it happened.
Here's what happened yesterday — Christmas Day — at Sky Harbor Airport.
Someone in the spotted a man climbing the perimeter fence and issued an intruder alert. As they watched the man running they could see that he was headed for a Southwest Airlines jet sitting on a taxiway, so they alerted the pilot who shut down his engines to avoid ingesting the man onto one of them, something that will ruin your day if it happens to you.
The man began pounding on one of the engines. Why he did it was not reported. He was, of course, arrested, and it is loosely reported that he was impaired, either by drugs or alcohol, or both.
That, at the moment, is all we know, but it's fascinating to speculate why some nut would climb a fence and run out on active taxiway where a jet sat with its engines turning over.
Anyone care to a shot at what he was up to? On Christmas Day?
• Waiting for Santa to land?
• Trolling for reindeer?
Maybe he was trying to get someone off the plane.
The following is a true story.
My youngest son and I flew to Lake Havasu City in 1969. It was a 20 passenger plane.
We were the only ones on it. The seat belt light never did go off so my son and I were sitting there waiting and the plane started to take off again for Las Vegas. My husband was standing there with a man that worked for the airport, he told him, my wife is on that plane. That is her suitcase they unloaded.
The man ran out and beat on the side of the plane, the pilot cut the engine and ask him what was wrong. He told him the passengers wanted off. Good thing that damn light went off and we got off the plane or I would have killed the pilot when we got to Las Vegas if not before.
I hate airplanes and only fly when absolutely necessary.
Some people thought it was funny later, but I never have.
I could write a book about my life but no one would believe it.
Tom, it is called "suicide by engine". Has happened in Asia more than once. Very ugly and exceedingly messy.
Pat, I sincerely doubt that this impaired man was trying to get the attention of the Pilot to get a passenger off. He climbed the perimeter fence. He is a whacko. As for your flight to Lake Havasu City...even on a 20 passenger plane there are flight attendants, even in 1969. Where were they while you and your son sat passively in your seats waiting for a little light to go off? What about the other passengers?
"Very ugly and exceedingly messy."
I suspect you're right, Kim. That's the first thing that occurred to me. What other reason is there to climb a fence and go running out to an aircraft with turning engines? Looking for a space-a seat?
Having seen the results of a jet engine ingestion, I know what you mean. A whirling jet engine, like justice, grinds exceeding fine.
I've have watched a lot of things happen in the skies or on the ground at airfields. A lot of things! In the very first one it rained people parts and aircraft parts all over the base. That was a lesson. I was strolling from the barracks to the mess hall, which was just across the road, when everyone in sight starting yelling, "Look out, Garrett! Look out!" That was when I learned something about humans and animals; we do not look up. I wondered what the hey all those nuts were yelling about — until someone finally pointed up! Right over me was the tail section of a C-47, spiraling right at me! Fortunately, it took a last minute dip, and instead of landing on me, our barracks, or the mess hall, it came down with a terrific WHO-O-OMP two hundred feet away in a field. What had happened? A fighter jet had come out of cloud and done a nose-to-nose with a passenger aircraft carrying the entire headquarters inspection staff of the Air Defense Command, including both the ADC Commander and his lieutenant commander — something under 35 people including the aircrew and the jet pilot, who oddly enough came down still strapped into his seat in the jet which did a not-too-bad crash and burn out in the boondocks of the base.
Pat, you're not the only one. I took a civilian non-stop flight from Oklahoma City to Salt Lake City one fine day. Up we went. Flew we did. Down we came — at night. I had nothing but my hand baggage because I had come home on emergency leave from Okinawa for Pop's funeral in CT. Off I went into the terminal to wait for daylight so I could call a friend a Hill AFB to come pick me up and drive me from Salt Lake to the base, where I was going to get Lolly and the kids packed up and on their way to Oki with me.
I was casually sitting in the lounge waiting for morning when I looked up saw that we were in — for crying out loud! — Colorado Springs, Colorado! I was 600 miles short of my destination!! The idiots had changed the flight plan, had not announced it, and had not said a word where the hey we had landed!
ZIP! Back on aircraft! Well, at least it was daylight when we got where we were headed.
Pat, I also once made the mistake of riding on one of those aluminum flying sheds you flew in. The danged piece of junk had two turbojet engines and almost shook itself to pieces between Beaumont, Texas and Tampa, Florida. Never made that mistake again! I was watching rivets shaking and cheap aluminum panels warping, and getting ready to ask for a parachute. Always fly from LARGE airfields or fly in a light plane! No cheapie commercial flying sheds!
Don't want to argue, but there was no flight attendant on that airplane then or the next flight I took coming back home to Mesa. Nor any of the times I picked my husband up in Phoenix when he flew home.
I don't remember whether or not there was a flight attendant on that rattletrap I flew in that day. They didn't really need one, I guess. They could have used a heart specialist, though. I have flown in many different types of aircraft, large and small, everything from a Piper Cub to a huge C-5, but that's the only time I thought they were going to ask us to get up and try to hold the %$#@! thing together.
I honest to God expected to hear a message over the PA system, one we used to kid about in the Air Force. Goes like this:
"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, this is your aircraft captain speaking. You may have noticed some changes in the sound of the aircraft over the past fifteen minutes. I won't go into any technical details, but I regret to have to tell you that those changes, along with a widening crack at the base of the starboard wing, indicate that the aircraft will soon be falling apart. Regretfully, I am afraid that there is nothing that I can do to stop it, nor is it possible to do a successful crash landing in this piece of junk in the twelve foot high swells below us. If you will look out the starboard windows you will see four parachutes slowly descending to the sea. Suspended from them are your captain, the copilot, the engineer, and a four man life raft. We wish you good luck, but frankly we advise you to take the sole step that you can take in a situation like this. Just before the aircraft strikes the water, in the unlikely event it should still be in one piece, you might try jumping up as hard as you can. Please fly Rattleshake Air again."
As usual, no followup. Will just let it go.
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