Monday, 23 February 2009

Flying the Beast


After taxing around to the main runway, there is momentary pause before you feel the immense power of the C130 engines surge through your body as they rev up for takeoff. Seated with your back to the side of the plane you can’t see out, and surrounded by cargo, you feel the sensation of blindly speeding along the runway, eventually getting higher and higher.

You sense a very different type of awareness to that of a commercial airline where you are facing the front of the plane and you can see out, with a pilot that keeps you informed as to what’s going on. Taking off in the back of a tremendously powerful cargo plane not seeing out feels somewhat abnormal to say the very least.

The landing on the other side was a lot worse and to this day, many air miles later, remains my most daunting aviation experience. Once again from your strapped in position not seeing out, after hours of flight, without warning, you sense the change of altitude. You guess that you are about land, except you have no idea how high or low to the ground you are.

Suddenly the plane smashes onto the runway with impact that shudders up your spine, it then takes a couple of minutes to realise that you have in fact landed, as opposed to your first impression of having crashed. Admittedly, the thought did cross my mind that perhaps the hard landing was more of a reflection of the ability of pilot at the controls, rather than the of the plane itself.

Photo: Hercules landing by davetheplum, courtesy of www.flickr.com

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