Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My Dad sent me a recent story of a new definition of aviation emergency - the door is open!

A policeman near Merimbula looked up at an overflying Cessna and noticed that OMGZ0RZ!!!!111one The door is open!!! He immediately notified CASA, who seemed somewhat unconcerned, as was the pilot, no doubt.

I should point out that a door being open on an unpressurised aircraft is no particular big deal. Even a door falling off would not be classified as an emergency. It probably would be quite scary, especially in a high wing aircraft like a Cessna 172, with nothing between you and the ground but a 1975 vintage lapsash seatbelt, a six-inch tyre and two thousand feet of empty space. A missing door I would classify as an 'urgency' situation - something that is not going to cause my imminent demise, but something I really would like fixed up ASAP, preferably on the ground.

But good on plod for looking up and being concerned for a fellow humans well-being. Most people would look up and then call CASA to complain about the noise, while a herd of Trucks, Hummers, V8s and Harley-Davidsons rumble past the front door.

I do remember another case of an inflight emergency involving a general aviation aircraft and an open door. It was Helen Clark, New Zealand Prime Minister, whose chartered Piper Chieftain had a door that sprung partially open and refused to lock shut once more. A burly policeman held the door closed until all were safely on the ground, he was congratulated for his courage and dedication, the pilot clearly not having the heart to tell him that air pressure alone holds the door closed quite well, thanks all the same. Many people were asking questions after this incident, mostly along the lines of, "does the New Zealand Prime Minister really fly around in a Piper Chieftain?"


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