Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Flame Out!

My Vacation ended with a phone call on Saturday. I called to make arrangements to pick up my gear for Monday and lo and behold, the voice on the other end of the phone said " You know, you're on the sched for today."

Shit, what time was I supposed to start?"

Well the long and short of it was I began my first day back, a couple of hours late.

Monday brought a return to flight operations for me. Lately the breaking news factor has been a little lean as far as flight ops has been concerned. Surely it would have to change, and soon. With Kink away on holidays, I would be teamed with Kate for the week.

Sitting waiting , scanning, can ware you down. Monday was no different. It was hot and humid. The scanners were quiet and Kate was working the phones to dig something up to sell for the shows. It was looking like the TV News Gods would not smile on us that day.

On days like that, there can be little to pass the time except watch the activity on Runway 26 left as aircraft rolled for takeoff. And this is what I was doing as I listened to scanner chatter wishing for something that would involve flight and a slot in the 5 and the 6.

As I watched a Korean Airlines Boeing 777 position itself at the threshold of 26 left, the sound of Kate's fingers clicking on the laptop computer filled the room. Our office overlooks the runway and I was standing looking our the large picture window at the aircraft. The 777 is considered a "heavy" aircraft and the heavy's aways are fun to watch on takeoff. I know hard to believe after four years out here and I still get a kick out of watching a routine take off.
But this would not be a routine takeoff.

As the massive plane began to thunder down the runway. It was picking up speed to become airborne. Suddenly out of the left engine shoots a flame partway down towards it's tail. My first thought was "wow that's some afterburner".

Then a loud bang, which shook the windows of our hangar office. It got Kate's attention. Flames still shooting out of the engine, I thought"this is not right"

The plane began to break and slow. The entire event maybe lasted 5 seconds. I had seen it all. I grabbed my DSLR and banged off a few frames as the aircraft came to a stop on a taxi way just off of the runway.

This shot taken just seconds after I saw the flame shoot out the rear of the engine in the picture. The plane is at this moment trying to break and slow to get itself off the runway.

Wow. I told Kate I was going to the truck to grab my tripod. As I sprinted to the parking lot I called our desk.
This shot as the pilots steer the massive plane off the runway to an adjacent taxiway.

"Gregg, Murman" I said huffing and puffing.

"The scanners are about to light up, this is what's happening,,,," I told him what I saw and that I was going to roll from the ground. We had decided that if the passengers were to be evacuated where the plane now was stopped on the taxiway, then we would launch the chopper and do a fly over as we exited the airport.

When I returned to the office I set up and rolled on the stricken plane. There was no fire and emergency teams had not yet arrived.

When they did, they assessed the situation and since the fire was out, they inspected the engine on the taxiway. After several minutes the aircraft moved on it's own power to a gate for passenger egress.

Needless to say, I am sure there were some very grateful people glad to be off that particular plane.The jet as it comes to a full stop on the taxiway fortunately there were no injuries or further fire to the the aircraft.

It certainly gave us something to sell for the 5 and 6.

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