The Ruminator

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Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Icarus Nightmare

I haven’t had a wacky New Zealand story for a little while, so my news for the day is that a group of passengers in New Plymouth had to get out of their seats and push a 33-seater plane on Saturday so it could get a jump-start.

Six of the sixteen passengers, the pilot and co-pilot pushed it 5m to a power lead to jump-start the engine. Passengers were apparently amused. Not to mention efficient - the plane actually reached Auckland ten minutes early.

Now, I am not at all afraid of flying. Depending on the circumstances, my feelings about flying range from excitement, to boredom, to mild nausea. And once, memorably, extreme nausea. My point is that even though I am not a nervous flyer, I really think there are some things that passengers should not be exposed to. And push-starting your plane is a lot of them.

I have had several experiences on planes that I could have done without. Once I was on a little 8-seater to Newcastle. On these planes the passengers can see into the cockpit and out the front window. This makes it very easy to judge how much a little plane like that sways when coming in to land. It also allowed me to see a flashing red alarm light and hear the accompanying warning beep as we got closer to the ground. I realise that this is probably normal, but I really didn’t need to see it.

Another time I was in a little plane sitting on the tarmac with the engine off. Given that it was a really hot day, the pilots had taken off a little sunroof thing while waiting. I didn’t actually realise that planes came with sunroofs, and it struck me as somewhat problematic. Especially as it turns out that they can be real bastards to get back on again.

I tend to think of flying as something of an act of faith. Most people are not intimately acquainted with the exact mechanics of how tonnes of metal can fly through the air. You just take your seat and trust to the fact that someone else has it all figured out. Just in case the reason all this technology works is because we believe it does.

By the way, is it just me or is something strange going on? I opened a news website today and two headlines caught my eye - Govt to fight mutant seaweed and Mutant common cold virus blamed. Maybe the upcoming X-Men sequel (imaginatively titled X-2) will have all the answers.


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