Moved Mountains

Banner - Mt Trio, Stirling Range National Park, Western Australia - (c) 2007

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Back from Africa

We arrived back home early Friday morning after a 7 hour flight from Thailand.

Things got off to a bit of a scary start on take off from Bangkok - the plane began climbing at full thrust as usual, until, about a minute into the climb, the pilot leveled out and throttled down. There followed a deafening noise and the plane began shuddering violently.

Alyssa and I were sitting in an exit row with the two flight attendants in their jumpseats directly in front of us. When the noise and shuddering started they stopped chatting and gave each other worried looks and exchanged glances with two other attendants on the opposite side of the plane.

When the emergency exit lights came people around us started making noise. My reflex action was to grab Lyss' hand and begin praying in here ear!

The noise and shudders lasted about 30 seconds and then the pilot increased thrust and began to climb again. After about an hour of climbing the pilot came on the intercom for the first time, without mentioning anything about what had happened. To say the rest of the flight was a little nerve-wracked is probably an understandment.

While not completely sure what happened, my own flight training and flying experience tells me the most likely source of the problem was the undercarriage which possibly did not properly lock in place after take-off. This would explain the throttling back, leveling off and the horrendous noise (resulting from the drag caused when the undercarriage was put down and back up again). It also explains the emergency exit lights as these come on automatically when the landing gear is extended.

While it wasn't a serious issue, it would have been nice if the Thai Airways flight crew had explained over the intercom what was going on. The whole incident left quite a few passengers obviously rattled - Lyss and I included.

It's good to be back and to see the kids. And also to reflect on the last 2 weeks and things we have seen, heard and participated in.

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