On the site today; dramatic video footage taken on a mobile phone from inside the Qantas jet that, at 30,000 feet, popped a hole. It’s occasions like this which, for me, really ram home why video on the site tells a completely different story to text.
The text story tells the story of a lucky escape, yes, but essentially it can only be a variation on: “Plane damaged. Everyone’s OK, lukily.” And you could say there’s nothing dramatic about the footage at all. Yes, the oxygen masks are all down. But the engines sound normal, there’s a little more chatter than normal but no screaming, and some people even still have their lunch in front of them. A stewardess, showing how really well trained and professional she is, appears to be smiling to a passenger.
But then you remember they’ve had the explosive decompression already, and the controlled plunge of 20,000 feet (this is a standard thing, as those earnest guys in the forums at the Professional Pilot’s Rumour Network will tell you). They’re not really sure what’s wrong with their plane, and most must have strong suspicions these are their last moments in this world. Maybe real, true horror isn’t like the movies at all – it can be quiet and orderly and just as horrific.
You only really see the tension as they come in to land – ground hurtling past through the window, some passengers have heads bowed and arms out-stretched to the seats in front, waiting for an impact that never comes. The plane just lands as normal, and after a while the cheery Aussie voice of the captain comes on to tell everyone all’s well, but they might have to wait a while while the fire crews take a look at the plane and decide if it’s fit to taxi to the terminal.
All so normal, and yet such a complete and utter nightmare. Little wonder some of them threw up after they got off the plane, while the captain who did such a good job was pictured looking quizzically at a four meter by two hole in the side of his aircraft.
It’s an amazing piece of footage, and it’s a marvel – ironically, as much of flying and engineering as anything – that the thing landed safely. I only hope they find out what went wrong, and quickly.