Flights of Fancy
There's something about gossip that reminds me of durians
. One mouthful and throughout the day belches are an unappetising aftertaste. We westerners don't particularly like them; as Antony Burgess
observed, and I paraphrase as I can't be bothered to reread his Malayan Trilogy
, eating durians is akin to eating strawberries in the toilet.
So, what are we to make of the rumour
that the Mandala plane that crashed in Medan
was overloaded with durians, 2, or maybe 3, tonnes of them?At the last moment, a person of influence decided to bring along many durians. Apparently the crew didn't have the chance to count the last-minute cargo. The pilot realized this too late. He should have aborted the flight before taking off.
I first heard this story through The Swanker
who heard it through Global Voices Online
who heard it from the Indonesian blog Jalan Sutera
who picked it up from a tabloid which ......
'Er Indoors doesn't believe a word of it; this titbit, or tittle-tattle is a better word, hasn't emanated from Medan, her hometown, but the story has rapidly spread through the circle of the (many) Indonesians I encounter in Jakarta on a daily basis.
The problem is that the story is believable. Take the recent experience
of Erik Mejaard who recently flew with Lion Air, one of the major local airlines, from Surabaya to Balikpapan.The hydraulics of the rear door of the plane did not function well enough to automatically close the door, and it took two cabin crew and some outside crew to push and shove the door into place. I presume that one of the cabin crew tried to report this to the pilot, but as the intercom did not work, and the plane had started to move anyway, she shrugged her shoulders and left it there.
For the rest it was a pretty standard flight, i.e. reading lights didn't work, air conditioning vents were broken, and, after landing, the back door could only be opened after the joint and considerable efforts of two cabin crew. I was just glad to get out in one piece. I would have had no confidence whatsoever in either the plane or the cabin crew in case something had gone wrong.
Clearly one could question the need for luxury issues like automatically closing doors, reading lights, intercom, and air conditioning; as long as the engines work and the wings hang on, what's there to worry about?
He's right. What is there to worry about? After all, given the number of flights per day and over the years, there haven't been that many crashes, have there
Madame Chiang's mother survived Garuda
20 or so years ago.At the time we were living just outside Tanjungkarang - Telekbetung (now known as Lampung). Our local airport, Branti, had one major physical limitation .... the runway was too short - even for the little Fokker F-28s that Garuda was flying ... and at one end of the little runway was a cliff which dropped into a valley ... and yes, planes did drop off the end at a rate of about 1 a year whilst we were living there.
Anyway, her flight was called and in true Garuda style there was no seating allocation so the general idea was to just leg it out onto the tarmac and push and shove your way up the stairs into the aircraft ... my mother can push and shove with the best of them so she was soon seated.
The plane takes off ... reaches Branti and flies down the length of the runway (without touching down) ... all perfectly clear, no visual restrictions ... climbs again, banks and repeats the procedure ... after this the pilot announces that "they are unable to land at Branti so will be returning to Jakarta".
The plane returns to Jakarta and after touch down the cabin crew makes the following announcement, "Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to Jakarta International airport, if you have any onward connections please proceed to the Garuda transfer desk ... and thank you for flying Garuda. We look forward to seeing you in the near future."
In Jakarta, it's the mango season. Losing 3 tonnes of this glorious fruit would have been a real tragedy.