Zak Spade's

The Art of Survival

Published under my View from the Stairs column in a magazine covering north Buckinghamshire, December/January 2011/2012, as:
The Art of Survival
by Phil J O'Hara

o - O - o

Ever thought about how to survive an aeroplane crash?

Imagine you are on board an airliner heading to your chosen holiday destination and the captain suddenly barks out the command, ‘Brace!’ Will you have taken notice of the pre-flight safety demonstration performed by the cabin staff?

I have read about what happens when a plane goes down: what to do; how to sit; why not to interlink fingers when your hands are behind your head (you really don’t want to know - trust me). However, I have never seen anything about those affected on the ground.

I don’t mean relatives and friends affected by being left behind by those travelling in an aeroplane that has succumbed to disaster. Yes, it is a tragedy, but not what presently concerns me. Probably, not many people really find themselves drawn to the subject strongly enough to place the topic at the head of their reading lists.

The affected persons I am concerned about are those on the ground who are potential targets for up to 150 tons of imminent scrap formally in existence as an aeroplane.

This time imagine you are in your garden minding your own business. You see that the vegetable patch is a little shaded from the sun at this time of day. You peer at it and realise that your whole garden is becoming darker. You look up to see if the previously blue sky has a cloud blocking the sun when you notice the airliner heading towards you and your lawn.

Not nice, and the begonias will need a great deal of follow up attention.

Living in the area of Milton Keynes means not having to worry about such things as you never hear these massive aeroplanes flying above.

However, not hearing them doesn’t mean they are not there. Great advances have been made regarding the reduction of noise from the engines of these great beasts of the sky over the last 25 years. However the impression it gives is one of thinking that there are not many of them up there.

Try this on a nice day, or a clear night.

Watch the sky. Count the vapour trails during the day, or look for the flashing lights at night. Count them. Surprised? Now you can see there’s an awful lot of them up there, isn’t there?

So, are you now keener to learn about the effect on those on the ground rather than those strapped into a comfy chair should anything go wrong?

Wearing a hat is recommended for protection from the sun. No one has yet been able to tell me what would be a suitable protection against over 60 tonnes of falling 737.

Oh dear, the charge of ‘scaremongering’ has already been levelled at me - and I’ve not yet stopped writing.

In my defence I must say, I was merely curious, that’s all, nothing more. After all, doesn’t every gardener want the best for their plants?

© 2011

31 August 2021