Heroic Stuff Indeed

In May of 1988 an Aero TACA Boing 737  full of passengers was on approach to New Orleans in an area of rain showers and thunderstorms.  The Honduran Captain was at the controls when descending through about two thousand feet both engines failed. The pilots attempted to restart the engines but this often takes a while, and it didn’t work. They were going down about a thousand feet per minute and were less than two thousand feet high.

Just as they broke through the clouds the co-pilot pointed out what looked like a road they might be able to crash land on.  The airport was much too far away to consider making it to a runway. A crash was certain.

With no engines running the Captain maneuvered for a safe and uneventful landing on the levee road. The road was barely as wide as the landing gear of the 737 and only a few thousand feet long.

The airplane was not damaged and there were no injuries. These were mostly little brown people from Honduras and the airplane wasn’t destroyed so media coverage was limited.

Boing put some new engines on the lucky jet and flew it out.

 

Another time on departure from Austin Texas I was making the takeoff, the First Officer said BIRDS and pointed straight ahead just after we left the runway. 

I selected the FLT / BOTH position for the engine ignition and increased the rate of climb a little by raising the pitch of the airplane above the standard pitch profile.

Several Geese flashed by and we heard one good thump. Within a minute or so the ignition was  put back to Left / Continuous and a normal climb resumed. No real damage was done and the rest of the day was uneventful.

Stuff  like this happens more than we usually remember. Frankly, I think airline pilots are all heros and should , by Presidential Executive Order, be compensated at an inflation adjusted rate for the job  as it paid in 1960. The difference could easily be made up by the Federal Government and would help the economy.  

Pilots are expert at two things. Managing resources in difficult dynamic situations to ensure the optimal desired outcome to avoid disaster and spending money.

So let’s hear it for a HERO stipend for Airline Pilots. Set our pay back to 1960 inflation adjusted rates and make some pilot friends.

Happy Landings (on and off airport), Ditchings, Whatever

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