Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

02 January 2007

Airplane Trouble (not ours, thankfully)

An exciting day in Guanaja! We got word that an Atlantic Airlines plane "had trouble" at the airport, so we rushed over. Sure enough, a plane was stuck. Luckily, nobody was hurt. Disappointed passengers were deplaned and told to stand-by in the open-air pavillions they loosely call "terminals" here.

Our runway is narrow, with no turn-around areas at the ends. The airplanes that are normally used here necessarily have narrow landing gear and a tight turning radius. Why Atlantic decided to send the lumbering, old Hawker-Siddley HS-748 into Guanaja is anybody's guess.



The captain of this plane was pulling way over to the left to swing a tight right-hand 180 degree turn when one of his main landing gear legs ran off into the mud.

And sank.

When it did, it pulled the nosewheel sideways a bit, causing the nose tires to pull off their rims and go flat. Isn't it comforting to know that airliners are so fragile?

Atlantic Airlines sent another plane up from La Ceiba with mechanics, tools and parts. Instead of landing over the disabled plane, the arriving captain decided to land with the wind on his tail. The landing had to be perfect, and it was. These guys are good.
The mechanics got to work immediately. They jacked up the nose, then re-inflated the tires (which thankfully were not punctured). While this was going on, workers dug out the main gear and put boards of lumber under it to form a ramp. I stood around, looking authoritative and supervisory. In reality I was neither.

The captain got in, started the engines, then gunned the left-hand one. Sure enough, the plane lurched out of the mud. Funny thing was, he almost ran the gear off the other side of the runway getting it turned all the way around!
Worried workers watch as the landing gear nearly goes off into the mud on the other side.

Soon, the passengers were re-boarded and the plane left, only four hours behind schedule.

Adios!

Notice the security (or lack of it). Notice how close people stand to the runway. It's a very strange world here.

Because the airport was closed for so long today, flights were backed up. Once the runway was back in service, planes came in a stream to move the hoard of very disgruntled passengers. In the background below, a Shorts 360 and a LET-410 (one of the ugliest planes ever designed) load up prior to departure with a certain helicopter in the foreground. It's so egotistical - it just *has* to get its face into every story I write.

2 comments:

Bound for Ceiba said...

Hahahaha!

How "Honduras" is that... :-)

BTW I think the SHORTS plane is ugly myself! It's so, er, square. (That cannot be aerodynamic, can it??)

Anonymous said...

I like them planes! I want to ride on them.