River Wissey Lovell Fuller


September 2006

Peter brings us some more strange but true aviation stories.

Peter Boyd's aviation humour sparked a few memories.

I think the joke about the blind pilots came from a real live incident (so aviation legend has it) that occurred quite some years ago on one of the highland and island routes in the north of Scotland.

One of the pilots who regularly flew the short island hops in one of the small prop planes, was a bit of a wag, to say the least. His ultimate practical joke was to walk out to the aircraft trailing the rest of the passengers, dressed in hat, mackintosh, dark glasses and carrying a white cane. He grumbled and moaned his way on to the aircraft and sat down. He grumbled and complained his way through the last five minutes before take off and when it appeared that the pilot was not yet aboard announced that if the pilot couldn't be bothered to get to fly them on time, he'd do it himself. He then got up walked with the aid of his white stick up to the front of the aircraft, sat down and proceeded to start up the engines and taxi out for take off.

The remainder of aviation legend suggests that he was sent on sick leave for a few weeks prior to taking early retirement.

The next couple of incidents I know to be true as they were told to me by the pilot in question.

Whilst working for one of Luton Airport's best known charter operators he was converted from the Boeing 737 to the Boeing 757 using the simulator only, thus the first time he got his hands on a real live 757 was when it had 178 real live holidaymakers in the back. The flight went according to plan right down to the destination airport... almost. The procedure was for the co-pilot to call out the heights as they descended onto the runway; as they got to seventy feet, the pilot (my friend) was to pull back the throttle levers and at the same time pull back the control-column, (joy-stick if you watch a lot of Discovery Wings), raise the nose of the aircraft and let it sink gently on to the runway.

Well that was the theory. In practice, as they completed the final part of their descent into Alacante, Faro or wherever.,, the co-pilot, (who happened to be the senior training captain for the airline), called out 200 if, 100ft, 90, 80, 70. As he called 70, my friend shut the throttles and pulled back on the column.., as per the training manual. At the same instant the 757 arrived at the runway travelling at something like 140 MPH and still descending at several hundred feet a minute.

There was a series of almighty crashes from the back as many of the overhead lockers sprung open and all manner of stuff fell out over the already startled passengers, who then collectively let out a series of screams and yelps. The chief steward rushed up the cabin and started hammering at the cockpit door with his handbag; while inside the cockpit, the CAA training supervisor was scrabbling about on the floor looking for his false teeth. As the speed of the plane diminished, the handbag thuds on the door relented and the yelps and screams faded away, the man from the CAA found his teeth, wiped them on his trousers and replaced them in his mouth in time to utter ..." A trifle firm captain.. .A trifle firm!"

They re-wrote the height schedule section of the simulator training manual

These Boeing 757s were some of the first to have the little moving map shown on the TV screens in the cabin, so that the passengers could see where they were and the route they were flying.

Some time after the landing incident, while on a longer trip, my friend rushed out of the cabin with a pencil and paper in his hand, while the map was being shown. He stopped under one of the screens and scribbled frantically on the paper then rushed back into the cockpit.

He reckoned as he shut the cockpit door, the proverbial pin dropping would have been deafening, even on carpeted cabin floor.

Superb pilot.., wicked sense of humour.

All this happened 10 or 15 years ago. He is now a senior captain with a major U.K. airline.

Peter Bodle.

Copyright remains with independent content providers where specified, including but not limited to Village Pump contributors. All rights reserved.