'Plane' silliness: a double-bill
From The Times 25.02.08:
A British pilot has been dismissed for "buzzing" a control tower in a Top Gun-style stunt during the maiden flight of a Boeing jumbo jet.
Captain Ian Wilkinson astonished passengers by taking the 230-tonne Cathay Pacific jet to within 28ft (8.5m) of the ground shortly after take-off from Boeing's US manufacturing plant.
The 322mph fly-by was cheered by onlookers, and the pilot, who is said to be one of the most senior aviators with the airline, later toasted the flight with champagne.
Despite Captain Wilkinson being described as 'chummy' with the airline's top execs, he was foiled by captured video footage of his antics which was then posted on the internet. It's suggested that in the circumstances, the airline would have turned a blind eye and attributed his showboating to being caught up in the excitement of the event. Once the Hong Kong authorities got hold of that footage, of course, his career was as good as over. Up until that point he was enjoying a £250,000 per year salary. Shame.
From The Times 25.02.08:
Heathrow Airport was today investigating what appeared to be a serious security breach after four Greenpeace scaled an aircraft which had just landed after a domestic flight.
Greenpeace say that the protesters, two male and two female, climbed on top of the fuselage at 9.45am and mounted the roof of a British Airways Boeing 777 flight in Europe's busiest airport.
Police were this morning surrounding the aircraft. Greenpeace claimed that their demonstration, which the group described as an "incredible security breach", was ongoing.
What is it with Boeing 777s at Heathrow recently? You’ve got to hand it to Greenpeace for perseverance at least, though. After all, it’s not as though there are many options left open to them for new and outrageously thrilling ways in which to conduct their protests nowadays. The days of shocking us into sudden enlightenment as to the errors of our planet-destroying ways by leaping aboard foreign whaling vessels and the like are long gone, I fear. We've seen it all before, Greenpeace, we really have. Worthy, though their cause is, most people seem to have little time for them or their tactics. A bit tragic, really: despite frequently trying to justify their extreme and cavalier approach to protesting as being the only way to successfully make their point, it does them few favours in winning the public’s support.
It’s been said that the protest caused virtually zero disruption to travellers at Heathrow today, and the protesters did, bless ‘em, have the decency to wait until the passengers had disembarked before leaping aboard and raising their trusty banners. I’m just relieved they didn’t try and attempt a flyby to, you know, drive their message home.