Don’t joke

Don’t joke about crazy journeys.

I once did that once (it was yesterday) and it almost backfired.

But I don’t have editing time right now: I’ll get to that should I survive my flight back into severely stormy Cape Town this evening.
It could be a crazy journey.
But it would take a bit to beat this one…

Now I don’t believe in tempting fate and all that nonsense, but if I were to believe in it, I’d consider that those lines above would be a really good way of doing it.

The descent into Cape Town last night was distinctly unpretty. In fact, it was a horror show. Bumpy, shaky, loud: wholly unpleasant. There were regular gasps and screams from the length of the cabin as we were chucked around over the Winelands. A member of the cabin crew was knocked clean off her feet. Another was throwing up near the back of the plane. The elderly Muslim gentleman sitting next to me grabbed my arm out of sheer terror. Twice.

Now, I have complete faith in the tolerances and the engineering that go into building passenger aircraft, and also in the tensile strength of the materials involved, but even I had to continually remind myself of these things as we bounced our way down into the Mother City.

When we did make it down onto the runway, it was with a big bang. And when we finally made it to a full stop, my neighbour gently whispered “Thank Allah” under his breath, which I thought was a little unkind given the best efforts of the well-trained pilots. But then I vaguely recalled that the First Officer had introduced himself as Allah van Zyl prior to departure, so I guess that’s maybe what he was thinking.

Even when we were sitting safely on the tarmac awaiting the stairs to take us out into the cold evening, the plane was still bumping around, being buffeted by the wind which was gusting to 100kph.

The dash to the terminal was fun, with horizontal rain, lost hats, mild swearing and relieved laughter filling the air.

Nastiest 15 minutes of my flying life? Probably. I really didn’t enjoy it.

Props (no pun intended) then to Captain Jesus Schoeman* and Big A the First Officer for getting us down safely.

I have no air travel planned for the foreseeable future.

 

* possibly a made-up name.

Traveling

It’s July 14th – Bastille Day in France (and, I suppose, everywhere else as well), but we’re nowhere near France right now.

We’re traveling home today:

IOM – DUB – DXB – CPT

I have had a word with the 6000 miles… crossword expert, and he’s come up with an appropriately travel-themed crossword for July.

I will present this to you now:

There’s it.

Something to occupy the next 26 hours then. (I hope it doesn’t take me that long.)

Heathrow alternatives – the Runwet

On a day when the big news in the UK was the Government’s long overdue approval for a third runway at Heathrow airport, a pilot in New York went out of his way (literally) to show how Gordon Brown et al could have saved £9 billion by simply utilising the River Thames as an alternative landing area.


Greenpeace: Nearly right. But… not. Now, go and have a wash.

I guess a few of the bridges may get in the way, but one must consider the advantages of a centrally-located landing area, ease of access to public transport (especially water taxis) and the picturesque views of London landmarks for passengers as they come in to land.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, on the starboard side of the aircraft, the Houses of Parliament and on the port side, County Hall and the London Eye.
Thank you for flying British Airways.
Lifejackets are located under your seats. Brace for impact.

This water-based option also provides the opportunity to open aquatic runways – or “runwets” as I like to call them – in smaller cities and towns*. Beautiful Cambridge might have to shift some of the punts off the tourist-laden Cam, but it would save that horrible cross country road trip to Luton and provide direct access to college for overseas students.

Further north, the planes could land on the crunchy crust of pollution that sits proudly atop the waters of the Mersey in Liverpool. It could be called the Paul McCartney Mersey Runwet, to go with the John Lennon Airport, situated so inconveniently out of town.

    
Cambridge and Liverpool – diverse runwets in the UK

If you think about it, runwets would be self-perpetuating. As more planes are able to take off and land from runwets worldwide, CO2 emissions will increase, global warming will accelerate, ocean levels will rise and there will be more space for more runwets. Pretty soon, the whole planet will be one big runwet and Kevin Costner will make a hugely expensive flop of a film about it.

Just remember – you read it here first. As usual.

* There will be no option to land at a runwet in Bloemfontein, as there is no water anywhere in the Free State. Fact.