Sunday, 20 January 2008

True Grit

Well, let's hear it for Captain Peter Burkill and his Co-Pilot John Coward who expertly and successfully brought stricken flight BA038 to a hairy but happy conclusion a couple of days ago. Or rather, if we are to respect their wishes, let's not. In true British iconic style, both Captain Burkill and First Officer Coward would just prefer to put their achievement down to good training and the reliability of their team rather than make a big deal of it or portray themselves as high-flying heroes. It is said that they find the story's front page status "embarrassing." How incredibly refreshing.

At a time when UK news is full of the fanciful sycophantic babblings of ex-Royal butler Paul (I've got a secret) Burrell, who obviously can't tell the difference between a patronising pat on the head and proper Royal Patronage, and who has remained in and out of the spot-light for the last ten years by spreading a little information incredibly thinly in order to appear more important than he actually is, it's comforting to learn that we still have heroes in this country who prefer to remain unsung.

It's hard to imagine the incredible pressure put on airline pilots and crews at the best of times. It can't be a stress-free job even in the general run of things. But can you imagine how it must feel to be in charge of the huge Boeing 777, 10 tonnes of fuel and the lives of 152 passengers and crew at the moment you realise the rubber band's bust? It's bad enough driving a car when you stick your foot on the gas and nothing happens, but at 600ft in the air? And still they had the presence of mind not to swap controls to let Captain Peter bring the plane in, thus saving valuable seconds, but held their nerve and did everything BA's extensive training had prepared them for. Fantastic.

And afterwards? Declaring that they were only doing their jobs, that they didn't want a fuss and after paying due tribute to their colleagues, what did they do then?

They went out for a quiet curry.

Bloody good show, chaps.

38 comments:

Maggie May said...

Coward? How wrong can a name be!

Swearing Mother said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swearing Mother said...

Hi Maggie May,

that's just what I thought. Apparently his proud Mum told reporters "I would put my life in his hands."

Me too, Mrs. C. Me too.

Lola said...

I couldn't agree more, it was the most amazing achievement, and the press conference was a self-effacing delight.

Such a contrast with, say, those poor young people serving in the navy who were allowed to sell their stories of Iranian capture, and ended up looking like complete idiots.

Swearing Mother said...

Lola, I agree with you. With hindsight I bet they wouldn't have done it had they been given better advice and been a bit more experienced.

Ah well, what we need is more hindsight sooner!

She's like the wind said...

I agree, Bloody good show. xx

Expatmum said...

I am a terrible, terrified flyer, but usually okay on the way down. This event has just strengthened my belief that "at least we're going in the right direction" when trying to land. Irrational I know but these two gents have somehow made me feel a lot more comfortable - and of course, proud of the old British reserve!.

Manic Mother Of Five said...

And following one English tradition with another that's not quite so laudable, there are pictures of the captain in today's papers taken many, many years ago showing him in, shall we say, a less flattering light. Don't you love the British press and the relish they take in building someone up only to totally assassinate their character in the next day's headlines.... By the way, I don't buy the paper in question - husband does as apparently it has excellent sports coverage..... but that's another story!

DogLover said...

I once spoke to a BOAC captain (that's a while ago, before it became BA) and he said that it was in emergencies that the pilots earned their huge pay! How right! What a responsibility.

And let's not forget the cabin crew who got everyone out in double time, without any panic.

All just doing their jobs!

doglover

grit said...

Hear! hear! If only the lurking blog Grit could live up to such stiff-lipping British stuff!

Swearing Mother said...

SLTW, hello. Spiffing stuff, don't you think.

Expatmum: Don't want to worry you, but while you're up in the air it's generally OK, it's hitting the ground that tends to mess things right up. Sorry :o)

MMOF: We can't just bask in glory, even for a second before someone will dig something less glorious up. It's a shame, I agree.

Doglover, hi. Yes indeed, the whole team did good.

Hello Grit, nice to read you. Will be over asap.

Norman said...

Absolutely "Hear bloody hear!". Its what being British is all about, just keeping your head down and getting on with the job in hand. They did it very well indeed.
THAT's what makes them heroes,the team got on with the job and saved a lot of people from an untimely end.
I could rabbit on....
The whole thing is a real breath of fresh air. etc., etc.

travelling, but not in love said...

If the old adage is true that the bigger the car, the smaller the penis (sorry) what does that say about someone who drives a 777 to work?

That said, despite their questionable penis (sorry) size, these guys obviously have balls of steel....

Swearing Mother said...

Norman, it sure is a change, and a welcome one!

Travelling: No problem, you can say "penis" if you want to, and even "balls of steel", but just remember - even though a 777 is huge, the cock-pit is very, very small. Sort of evens things up doesn't it??

travelling, but not in love said...

I guess it does even things up a little.

And for the record I drive a very small car. Tiny. Minute.

Suzy said...

I think airline pilots have an incredibly stressful job.

I still don't really understand how planes fly, I know it's physics and all, but still....it's like a trailer truck flying.

Congrats to the pilots and the crew. That kind of humility is always refreshing.

Love,
Suzy

debio said...

These guys - and some gals - just don't earn enough. Pay them what they ask, I say, they are worth every penny.

I'm always very comforted to hear the laid back tones of 'this is your captain speaking' spoken quietly and confidently in English...

The disappointment exhibited by Sky News that a catastrophe was averted was palpable - just what do they bring to the party?

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

I'm interested in why the engines lost power, if they were Rolls Royce. It's not usual. Could it have been in the maintenance, which would open up a new line of enquiry?

Swearing Mother said...

Travelling, you are one naughty boy :o)

Suzy, I agree, it's a miracle. But I still try not to stand up when on a plane just in case I mess up the balance or whatever.

Debio, hello. Sky News ambulance chasing? Typical.

James, I do so hope it wasn't anything to do with shoddy maintenance, or a design fault. My gut feeling is that it's probably a computer system failure, but what do I know? Just one of my hunches, I guess.

Mopsa said...

I loved this story. True Brit Grit as you say.

aminah said...

Isn't it nice when once in a while there is happy news as opposed to deadly depressingly is-there any hope left kinda news!! Here here to more happy news!

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I agree. This is the spirit that built the British Empire, as my husband would say. And this might sound strange, but I enjoy seeing so many Brits take pride in their countrymen. It doesn't seem to happen very often.

The only bad thing about this story is apparently Gordon Brown was on his way to the airport when this happened and was actually in the flight pattern. If only....

Valleys Mam said...

typical brits eh
Like the scots guy who foiled the terrorists.
Thats one of the things I like about this country
Travelling lol penis envy there :>)

Tina said...

Really & truly, I have no idea in the first place how planes actually stay up in the sky. A little bit of magic as far as I'm concerned.

And this one had a bit more magic than most I think, courtesy of its staff.

Swearing Mother said...

Hiya Mopsa, great isn't it? Took the edge off the story about Jeremy Paxman's pants, no problem.

I'm with you Aminah, we need more good stuff!

Wakeup, hi. So glad GB wasn't actually on that flight, or his spin doctors would have figured out a way for him to take the credit.

Hello Valleys Mam: I too loved the story about the Scottish guy who had a go when the airport was under attack - it would only happen in Glasgow!!

Hi Tina, yep you're right. The only way I think planes stay up in the air is if everyone concentrates really, really hard.....

Winchester whisperer said...

Hi SM - I've sent you a meme about household management

Mid-lifer said...

Quite right swearing mum.

Talking of stress and flights - think of the poor air traffic controllers. I knew one once and he told me that mosy of the burn out by the time they are 30 odd because of the high levels of stress involved.

Swearing Mother said...

Hi WW, thanks for that, will be over to find out what it's all about.


Hello Mid-Lifer, I can't think of a much more difficult job than that, whatever they're paid they must be worth treble.

The Rotten Correspondent said...

It was not only impressive, but almost noble in the way they dealt with it.

Grace being pressure under fire...pure grace. And class, too.

Swearing Mother said...

Too right RC, though I guess in your job things get a bit scarey too, and on a very regular basis!

Miriam said...

Where are you, SM? 9 days and no post! Have you joined those Captains on a glory flight round the world? mimi

advocate said...

As a pathetically frightened flyer I commented at the time, that if I had been on that plane, wild horses wouldn't have got me on another one. Now, I know I was wrong. Those chaps deserve all the accolades coming to them and next time, I won't be such a blubbing wreck when I get on my holiday flight to Espana.

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Mimi! Had a real busy week or so, all over the place, but will be back ASAP.

x

Swearing Mother said...

Advocate, I am the same as you, will try hard not to be a quivering jelly next time I'm on a plane.

elizabethm said...

Couldn't agree more SM! It's quite a rare thing to feel a rush of national pride, not quite sure how to handle it really, not generally being a great patriot.

Swearing Mother said...

Hi Elizabethm, I know just what you mean, somehow we always feel that pride comes before a fall in this country....

Iota said...

Yes, jolly good chaps, and the best bit is that I was at primary school with Peter Burkill. True fact.

Swearing Mother said...

Iota! You mean to say that I've got someone on my blog that knew the chap who sat by the bloke who landed that plane?

That's brilliant. I bet he made great paper planes at school.