Iceland has exploded into the headlines twice now
Published at 09:47, Friday, 23 April 2010
ISN’T it wonderful that one of the smallest and least prominent countries in the world can have had such a devastating effect on the world!
Iceland has emerged from international obscurity to seize the world in a Vulcan death grip not once, but twice, in recent months.
For centuries, little Iceland has sat virtually noticed on the top of the world, a curious little backwater of lava and bubbling hot springs, awash with unpronounceable names.
It is possibly the only country in the world less well known than its namesake high street store, selling monster gateaux, turkeys and top notch growlers.
It was only a year or so ago that it burst on to the international scene by losing billions of pounds of other folks’ money with the collapse of its banking system.
Even Northumberland County Council, which has got nowt, contrived to lose £27 million, which is still missing.
The dust from that ill-fated exercise had barely settled when a lot more dust literally came exploding on the scene, courtesy of a volcano with a name like a Star Wars villain.
For the first time since Manfred von Richtoffen was swooping round in his scarlet Fokker tri-plane, the skies of Europe are eerily free of vapour trails as Europe became a plane free zone.
Now as regular readers of this column may be aware, I have no great trust in scientists, and therefore, have some sympathy with the notion that actually, there may be no problem in flying aeroplanes through the giant Brillo pad in the sky.
However, would you have volunteered to have gone up in that first plane without really knowing? I certainly wouldn’t, but then again, I have something of a record of being a Jonah of the skies.
I recall some years ago, taking off from Newcastle Airport to go to Greece, when the pilot laconically announced in that suave drawl that goes with the gold braid, that according to the control tower, one of the engines appeared to be on fire.
We therefore had to fly out over the North Sea, and jettison all the fuel before making an emergency landing.
I had an absurd notion of a deep sea fishermen lighting his pipe as a fine mist of kerosene descended all about him.
As we came in to land, I remember all the traffic on the A696 being at a standstill outside the airport, and as soon as the wheels hit the runway, fire engines and ambulances raced alongside the aircraft.
We had hardly stopped when the cabin door burst open, and there was a fireman, hose in hand, ready to douse the conflagration.
Happily, there wasn’t one; it was a minor oil leak, which gave out a lot of smoke, but wasn’t actually dangerous.
One near miss is enough for most folk, but a couple of years later, we had a similar aeronautical episode.
This time, we had actually managed to get to the Canary Island, and had enjoyed a jolly holiday.
The problems began when we were leaving in a gale, and having taken to the air, the plane suddenly gave a dramatic lurch to the left.
Moments later, there was another violent lurch, and the stewardesses, still strapped in their seats, exchanged uneasy glances.
As soon as the seat belt signs went off, all the trolley dollies started peering anxiously out of the windows at the port wing. They were joined at the port hole by the grey-faced pilot and co pilot, who then disappeared back into the cockpit.
Soon afterwards, the plane went into a series of lurches so violent that a stewardess was flung off her feet, and slammed into the cabin wall where she remained slumped, weeping.
Then came the announcement: “This is the captain; I regret to say we have lost control of one side of the aircraft, and will have to make an emergency landing.
“However, the only place that will take us is Manchester, which is four hours away.”
The next four hours were spent in total silence as everyone contemplated what it would be like to meet their Maker.
At Manchester, there was the same fire engine/ambulance scenario, as the pilot made a perfect touchdown and everyone was able to continue on their way.
Only six months later, did we learn that the problem had been caused by a mechanic’s torch being lodged inside the wing, jamming the ailerons. The pilot, convinced he was going to crash, never flew again.
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk