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Friday, April 16, 2010

grounded by dust

Here's a picture of the volcanic ash cloud, as seen from space. Although it can be seen from space, the BBC have said that you can't see it when you look up in the sky. It seems a bit far north to have affected the whole of the UK, but many people are enjoying the peace that comes from not having an airplane flying overheard every few minutes.
I live in Northamptonshire and we're on the flightpath for every transatlantic flight that uses the polar route, along with all the domestic flights and the military traffic from the US into Mildenhall.
I've lived here for twenty years and when we first moved in we were regularly buzzed by US A-10 tankbusters flying overhead at zero feet. Apparently they weren't fitted with radar and the pilots had to navigate with an A-Z atlas on their knees. A friend saw two A-10s take evasive action when a Tornado almost hit them head on, just to the west of Daventry. No they didn't see him coming. We used to see all manner of aircraft flying overhead, from modern military jets to vintage warbirds. We don't see so many nowadays.
The most unusual aircraft that I saw flying overhead was a Tupolev TU95 Bear, on its way back to Russia after appearing at an airshow at Fairford. The noise was deafening.
I've seen the Battle of Britain flight overhead countless times, plus the odd Spitfire and Hurricane. When my friends Nicki Gillis and Tracy Dann came to tea last year, I was able to treat them to the sight of a lone Spitfire doing an aerobatic display over a village a mile or two away. There's nothing quite like the sound of a Merlin engine, except two or four of them.
Then there's the B-17 Sally B, once a regular sight overhead, along with Mitchell B-25s, Mustangs, C-47 Dakotas and many more.
The most recent and most stirring sight was the spectacle of the Vulcan bomber accompanied by six stunt planes as they repeatedly overflew the town.
We don't see them anymore.
And the reason why is the same reason why there are no planes flying today.
No Insurance company will insure a passenger plane taking off into a sky that might be full of volcanic ash, a powder that is so fine that you can hardly see it, yet it will scour aircraft windscreens and remove paint from wing edges. It will heat up and turn to glass if it's sucked into jet engines. Only one aircraft has survived flying into a cloud of volcanic ash. That was almost thirty years ago and insurers won't take the risk.
And sad to say but it's becoming harder and harder to buy insurance for classic planes. And that's a pity because there's nothing like the sound of a Dakota from Coventry Bagington flying overhead, except a Merlin powered Spitfire, Lancaster or Mustang of course.

PS- The global warming alarmists must be going spare. All that CO2 being discharged into the atmosphere and nobody to blame. All that dust will affect the weather for some time as well. You can't blame that on us.
Some wag on another site wondered if the cloud was Iceland's response to the UK government's demand to repay their bank debts.

1 comment:

~~Just Me in T~~ said...

Is it any wonder then that because of the billowing plumes of ash coming from the Eyjafjallajokull glacier near Reykjav√≠k, Iceland, hundreds of thousands of passengers now find themselves ‘fortunately’ grounded?