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Scary Aviation Stories  
User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8657 posts, RR: 53
Posted (16 years 10 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 2789 times:

I did an extraordinarily long post about having only one eye, and the flying jobs available, which was in response to a topic about eyesight and medicals. I rambled on about the kinds of airlines that would employ you on jets with a PPL (oh yes, it happens), and gave some annecdotes to show the kind of airline you'd be flying for. These are all absolutely true, first-hand accounts by people I know well. There are loads of others I might post later. (can you say 'Carpal Tunnel Syndrome'?) Forgive my ramblings, I have tonsilitis and can't be arsed to do any work.

Just cos the FAA and JAA have very high standards, it doesn't mean you can't work in other parts of the world. Standards vary enormously. Let me tell you a few quick stories then you decide if you think you could get a job flying somewhere - the answer is yes, but would you want to? As you can see, most of my aviation friends are not employed by majors.

1. English guy I know was a Flt L/M on Nigeria's biggest cargo and charter airline. OK OK, it was Okada (I just remembered I took my contact details out of the User Info box). The pilots would smoke weed in flight, and tune the VORs to music stations, and listen to reggae, stoned out of their tree, at 35,000 feet. When you think about it, as long as noting goes wrong, it'd be easy enough to land a 707 stoned, at an airport like N'djamena which has one movement an hour, in bright sunshine, just keep pumping out the flaps, slow down, drop it on (no passengers to worry about). I mean, you've probably done it on FS98 after a few beers right? I'd add that if anything went wrong you'd be as dead as anything, and sometimes that happens, too.

2. Surinam Airways had a DC8 accident, turned out the copilot (flying the plane) only had a PPL, and not from a first world country. The guy was in his late 60s as well, I believe.

3. 707 bought from Dan Air in the UK by an Arabb, he took off from Lasham as PIC but with only a CPL and no type rating, hit a few approach lights at the departure end of the runway, ignored the tower's suggestion of unsafe undercarriage, flew to Sharjah then Bombay, various other mishaps, flew from Bombay back to Sharjah with the left main gear still extended (!), had an accident at Istanbul.

4. Friend of a friend owns his own 707, flies it with whatever crew he needs, based in Africa, can't fly it over European airspace due to legalities but basically works like a nomad truck driver, the 707 is his rig and I'm sure he'd employ any of the contributors to airliners.net as first officer (albeit you'd only be keeping the seat warm and enjoying the view). That's not an offer by the way, but as a barometer, if he'd employ me with one eye and not a single flying qualification and not a single legally-logged minute as PIC, I'm sure he and many other operators like him would employ any of you lot.

5. My best aviation friend was a Flt. L/M on a DAS Air (Uganda) 707, left Gatwick, huge cargo door wouldn't lock (vent doors cocked open), captain said they'd "blow it out on pressurisation" (but the only visual check is on the outside of the aircraft!). Weighed themselves on taxi, 3t overweight (scribble new loadsheet on the runup pad). On take-off they were so overweight and engines so anaemic that the captain was pushing and pulling on the control column to try and bounce the nosewheel to get the thing to rotate. They lifted off on the numbers (or rather, the ground dropped away) and they flew straight and level over the treetops and chimney pots of Sussex. Took and hour to reach 27,000 feet. Could only make Athens before stopping for fuel, the bouncing of the nose gear to rotate became a feature of the whole trip. On the way home, the plumbing was overpressuried by an overzealous ground person at Cairo and a pipe burst, flooding the Lower 41 electronics bay. Gyros, computers, avionics, radios. All under 18" of blue water. They departed anyway. There was more, but I can't remember it. My friend left the aircraft at Gatwick (the full route was LGW - ATH - Nairobi - Cairo - Amsterdam - LGW), slept for two days, became a Christian because of his deliverance, slept again, quit DAS, and now works on Atlas 747s at Stansted (very respectable).

So there you go. If you want to fly for a living (and it's actually a very good living, it's called Danger Money), you can. Without qualifications or prior experience. Better have nerves like steel, that's all - you're going to see a lot of red centreline lights (whites = no problem; pinks, that is, alternating red and white = heavy 747; reds = you're in a Flag-Of-Convenience freighter, and you're praying, and the P1 is bouncing the nosewheel).

+ + +

(I have recently been accepted into a job (if I want it, not sure yet) as a Flight Loadmaster on a 707 freigher based at Sharjah UAE, flying to Africa, Ostend, India and the Far East. It's two weeks of classroom, followed by two weeks line training on the aircraft. This is not eye-sight related, I'm part of the flightcrew in the cockpit (uniform is three stripes - but thin ones) and despite the title don't actually load the cargo, just supervise...except when there's no-one to do it, or it's been done wrong, or whatever. Obviously physical exertion is occasionally involved but it's not like being a cargo loader, a Flt L/M is responsible for planning the load, fuel, weight-and-balance, stab trim etc., so it's a highly responsible job. Plus most Flt L/M jobs are on 707s (aaah) or 747s (aaah).

Flight deck crew on 707s is the one job I never thought I'd do in my lifetime, and there are many other similar positions that anyone with poor eyesight should consider if a ground-based position is too awful to contemplate. With my love of the 707, fluency in Arabic French and English, flightdeck crew on a 707 flying between Sharjah and Ostend is pretty much the perfect job. Groundschool starts in November, I'll keep you informed.)

fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
2 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineFlexeBex From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (16 years 10 months 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 2778 times:

Never mind about flying for a living, I don't think I'll be flying ever AGAIN!! Is all that really true? I mean 'bout the pilots being high and stuff? God! I'm already taking tranqs when I'll fly! So that is kinda....erm...I dunno! Are all you pilot friends flying for major airlines? Mind you, it doesn't matter if they are really, does it? I mean I was watching a programme called "Black Box" ages ago and there was this guy who had just lost his job with FedEx. Anyways, he thought that they had sacked him because he was black, but they hadn't. Well he was planning to hitch a lift on one of these FedEx planes (employees can do this) get the pilots unconcious and then fly the plane into the HQ at Miami (I think. Can't remember, it was on TV ages ago). Well, things didn't go to plan and one of the pilots was paralysed down one side, still managed to land the plane. But this guy whacked him over the head with a hammer, or an axe... I can't remember that well.
There was another case like that in England a while ago. A pilot in this commercial jet wanted to commit suicide, so he crashed his plane with a load of people on board. In a residential area too! Crazy person!
It's kinda unnerving when something like that happens, isn't it?

User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8657 posts, RR: 53
Reply 2, posted (16 years 10 months 1 week 17 hours ago) and read 2777 times:

I must stress that this kind of thing would NEVER happen on a passenger flight by any of the airlines we discuss here on the forum, or would ever ride on as passengers. The Surinam DC8 (story #2) was a passenger flight from Amsterdam, but the rest of them are cargo operators in Africa with Ugandan, Liberian or Rwandan registrations flying cargo, arms etc between cities you can't even spell, let alone point to on a map. But it's amazing to think that these airlines aren't flying C47s, they're 707s, even 747-100s (Okada have a couple) and DC10s (DS, who have apparently improved and moved some of their ops up to the UK). I was loathe to include the story of the Okada 707 crews getting high cos it sounds like a made-up racial slur, you know, listening to reggae and getting blasted on weed. But it's true, the guy said it happened all the time and I've heard about it on other lines, and he only left after having a near-death experience in a BAC111 (Okada have 15+ of that venerable little twin jet).

But I repeat, this is not what goes on behind the cockpit doors on any scheduled passenger airline. In the CIS all crews are breathalysed in the ops room, even down the line, and alcohol is only a minor problem elsewhere. Drugs, never (well almost - apparently a freighter crashed on the runway at Newark many years ago and autopsies revealed that the crew had been smoking in flight).

This is what you may have to endure if you want to fly for a living but for health or other reasons can't be certified in the first world.

fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
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