When not to take a photo

I’ll tell you a little story. A while back we went to Barbados. It was some years ago now and we had a really good time. We flew with a company called “My Travel” who were OK, but flew DC-10 planes, which I don’t like because most of these have been decommissioned due to their age and reliability. On the way out to Barbados we stopped in the Azores to refuel. I wouldn’t mind going there one day but we only stopped for fuel because the DC-10 couldn’t make it all the way across in one go. Anyways, we had a lovely holiday and got a nice tan.

However, on the way back the pilot said, “We’ll be landing in Tenerife due to weather conditions in the Azores to make our fuel stop”.

This was a tad weird. We knew there weren’t any major storms in that area as a family member had checked the European weather and told us. However, we landed in Tenerife and did the re-fuel. As we went toward the runway after refuelling one the engines seemed to be making a funny noise. We got to the runway and the engines were instantly stepped up to full pelt – no stopping, it just went around the last corner and the engines went flat out. Again, the right engine (don’t ask me about starboard and all that rubbish) was at a distinctly higher pitch, but we carried on powering down the runway. The engine noise got higher and higher – it was getting to a crazy whistling noise. Then BLAM. The brakes came on. We were skidding for quite a while, and the plane ended up facing the airport. I asked my missus whether this was bad (she works in the industry), at which point she said, “Just get your shoes on”.. Which was a bad sign, for me. Fire engines started pegging their way towards us and a stewardess ran towards the flight deck. People started crying, then after a few minutes the pilot came on the loudspeaker with one of the best one-liners I’ve ever heard…

“Errmm…. Sorry about that ladies and gentlemen. It appears that we have a problem …. With… Err….. One of our.. Ermmm … Engines”

More crying from various distraught people. After another few minutes they announced that the plane could not be moved. Yes, not even tugged. We stepped out, down some steps, onto the runway. I remember looking up and seeing the plane (pictured top right the next day when we went back to the airport) sitting a few hundred metres form the end of the runway, facing the airport. Not facing down the runway, but facing the airport. After getting into busses and then spending a few hours in the airport, followed by a hastily-arranged hotel and meal, we got home on a replacement aircraft the next day. The airline wrote to us and said that the delay was caused by “Object entering engine”. I still don’t believe this explanation to this day, but that’s what they reckoned. We got no money back as it was 11 hours and 55 minutes delayed. Apparently 12 hours or more is classed as a “significant” delay.

So what’s my point here ? Well, through our drama – which was nothing compared to yesterdays accident in Toronto – we did NOT at any point think, “Hey, why not take a photo of the plane ?”

Strangely, as passengers ran out of the Air France Airbus flight yesterday, some bright spark thought….

“I know, I’ll take a photo on my camera! What the hell? The plane is only on FIRE after all. I’m sure that people are only running away from it through panic. I’m sure stopping, taking a photo and sending it into the press won’t hurt”.

Hmm… Well, someone did. Here’s the resulting photo. Luckily everyone on the plane was fine and all was well. They’re investigating if it was correct to land in the storm and whether there was a problem with the plane.

Crazy.. :)