13 Bizarre aviation incidents

2014-05-16 09:03
Cape Town - It has been more than two months since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 and still nothing has been found. In the latest incident to dent the airline's image, Malaysia Airlines has had to ground a plane after a service vehicle struck the aircraft's belly on Thursday.

We take a look at 13 strange or rather shocking incidents that have taken place in the fascinating world of global aviation, with quite a few that have happened right here in South Africa.

1. Passenger captures burning engine on camera

Last year we asked readers to share their favourite view from a plane's window seat with us. We got a whole lot of amazing contributions, however nothing quite like this video we recently came across. 

A Cobham Aviation aircraft had to make an emergency landing at Perth airport on Tuesday morning after an engine caught fire shortly after takeoff and Brad McCoy, one of the passengers aboard, managed to capture a terrifying video of the incident. 

Check out the video here

2. But what about a plane's wing coming loose midair?

This video is equally chilling. Taken by a passenger on board a City Jet flight from London to Florence it shows part of the aircraft's wing falling mid-flight. The plane had to turn back, but fortunately no one was injured.

3. Volcanic ash grounds thousands of flights

When the Icelandic volcano, with a name many of us can barely pronounce properly, erupted nobody quite expected it to cause the delayed flight mayhem that it did. The ash cloud from Eyjafjallajökull halted air traffic across a wide swath of Europe in 2010, causing global travel chaos as thousands of flights were cancelled, stranding tens of thousands of passengers from Asia, Africa and the Middle East to Heathrow and other top European hubs.

Aviation experts confirmed the volcano’s smoke and ash posed a threat to aircraft because it affected visibility and microscopic debris could get sucked into airplane engines, causing them to shut down. The plume, which rose between 6 000 metres and 11 000 metres above the Atlantic Ocean, affected flight paths for most routes from the US east coast to Europe.

4. Giant Dreamlifter stranded after landing at wrong airport

In November last year the Boeing 747 jumbo jet known as the Giant Dreamlifter mistakenly landed at a small Kansas airport not far from the Air Force base where it was supposed to land to deliver parts for the company's new 787 Dreamliner. It was not clear how the mix up had happened but there were concerns about the plane being too big to lift off from the small airport’s runway.

But it eventually did take off – watch the Giant Dreamlifter take off here.

5. BA plane clips building at OR Tambo

Also towards the end of last year a British Airways flight bound for London veered off the runway, crashing into a building at OR Tambo International. The plane was preparing for departure from RWY03L with 185 passengers on board when the incident occurred. While none of the passengers on board were hurt, three employees inside the building had to be treated for minor injuries.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) confirmed the incident, with a preliminary report indicating the aircraft used the wrong taxiway.

6. SAA plane flips truck as it taxis in to landing

While the BA plane hitting a building in the middle of the night was something totally unexpected, it certainly is topped by this SAA plane incident which took place in broad daylight.

Watch the video to see how the aircraft (at 1min.20sec), after safely landing, continues to taxi to the parking bay and without warning hits a vehicle with its left wing. We couldn’t help but laugh at the passengers reactions.

SAA false alarm hijacking

Pilots have to contend with pretty high-tech equipment in the cockpit these days, but what happens when you accidentally activate a hijack notification. A whole lot of panic, that’s what. The passengers on board this particular plane en route to Port Elizabeth, unaware of the pilots mistake, were met by emergency services and extra security upon landing - much to their surprise.

 8. Kulula hoax bomb threat

Parents have been known to do some pretty strange things to punish their kids but calling in a bomb threat has to be one of the worse. One Johannesburg mother did exactly that with a 1time flight back in May 2012.  The reason why she did it remains unknown to this day.

9. Pilots forget to lower the wheels of the plane

We kid you not. Two Qantas pilots were suspended after this incident when they forgot to lower landing gear as they came in to land at a busy Sydney airport. The Boeing 767 was less than 300m off the ground when alarms went off alerting the pilots to their error. The pilots immediately boosted power to the engines to regain altitude and flew around the busy airport before coming in to land safely. Phew!

10. Mystery death of 700 parrots on a plane

Just before Christmas in 2010 the staff of the now defunct 1time Airlines and BidAir Cargo discovered almost 700 dead African grey parrots crammed into 15 crates in the cargo hold of the MD-80 they were offloading at King Shake Airport in Durban. But the tragic incident didn’t come to light until three weeks  later in January 2011. Reports indicate that the parrots died due to heat exposure and chemical toxicity.

 11. Cheetah grounds plane

Yet another Qantas debacle. Can you imagine hearing your pilot make this announcement?  "We're sorry for the delay, we're having some problems loading the cheetah"? The pilot was quoted by media as telling passengers as the plane was delayed for a few hours because of issues with the pallet on which the animal was being carried, in a transfer between zoos.

12. Man mistakes emergency door for toilet

A passenger on a flight from Taiwan to Ho Chi Minh City faced a large fine after attempting to open the emergency door thinking it was the toilet. The 81-year-old Taiwanese man tried to open the door an hour into the Vietnam Airlines flight but was thankfully intercepted by another passenger.

13. Tiny snake grounds plane with 370 passengers on board

A 20-centimeter snake was found by staff in the passenger cabin near the door before passengers were due to board at Sydney International Airport for a flight to Tokyo. The flight was delayed in order to get the snake removed. And it seems Qantas reigns when it comes to the bizarre as a passenger caught a snake on video hanging on to the engine of a plane in mid-flight. Take a look.

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Read more on:    flights  |  air travel  |  travel  |  aviation

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