Some of Anwar’s Flight Control Stories 3 April 2007

Last year, some race car drivers visiting Hamilton Island decided to use the runway for some fun late one night. They didn’t see the end of the runway, and slammed on their brakes as the end came up fast, and ended up down on the rocks, leaving some big skidmarks on the very end of the runway. The next day, a well known Australian airline’s jet was taking off, and as they approached the end of the runway, saw the marks and commented to the tower ‘Wow – looks like some poor fellow ended up in the water!’. Anwar laughed, and explained what had happened. Moments later, the pilot took off, without requesting permission as is required! A few moments later, knowing he would have to report the mishap, Anwar pointed out to them that they had not requested permission to take off, and they replied, somewhat sheepishly, ‘Oh, sorry, there was a lot going on in the cockpit’; Anwar thought to himself, ‘Yeah, right – you were thinking and talking about the skidmarks!’

Not long ago a small plane pilot was rather distracted while flying Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson around the Great Barrier Reef for their new movie (Fools Gold) and was coming in to land at Hamilton Island while Anwar was on duty. As the plane approached, the pilot reported a few things wrong, but the worst one was that he was coming in on heading of 410 (of course you know there are only 360 degrees on the compass)! Anwar said ‘Uh, what was your heading?’ Again he says 410. So Anwar says to himself OK, he’s had two chances to get it right, and says to him, ‘Uh, I’m sorry to be the one to have to break it to you, but it only goes to 360.’ and the pilot says ‘Oh yeah! Right! 310! Heading is 310!’

A friend of Anwar’s is also a pilot, graduated in the same flight class that he did, and recently told Anwar that she would be doing some work flying a small private plane used in Australia, the Chieftain. Anwar told her to be very careful, because he had heard of problems with them. Only a few days later, another friend of Anwar’s was flying two people into the Outback in a Chieftain, and one of the two engines started missing. The Chieftain doesn’t have the greatest single engine performance; in fact it can’t hold its altitude on only one engine. Still far from the destination hundreds of miles of nowhere, with no place to land, he put out a mayday call. The call was acknowledged, but they were far from help, and not much could be done, so he continued descending quickly and anxiously to a close airstrip he knew of to land. Minutes later, the engine failed, and miraculously, the pilot managed to get the plane down safely and no one was hurt. He was SO relieved that he turned to the passengers with his hand in the air and said ‘High Five!!!’