Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Q: What is a word that starts with "F" and ends with "UCK" that you might hear someone say during an emergency?
A: Firetruck.

Michael Oxner's relayed story about a forced landing reminds me of my favourite F-word. ATC always calls the firetrucks out at the first hint of an emergency because everyone agrees that the fewer seconds anyone spends in a burning aircraft, the better. The only drawback is that it tends to make the passengers think the situation is worse than it is. The firetrucks enter the runway just as you pass over the threshhold and race down the runway with you so they are right there when you stop.

The first time I had firetrucks called for me, I knew it was completely unnecessary, but we'd said the word "smoke" on the radio, giving ATC no choice but to press the firehall button. I chatted with the firemen (hey, what girl wouldn't?) and learned that they appreciate the drill, and would rather it be nothing, just as we pilots would. So I showed them the relevant features of the aircraft, like where the fuel was kept, where to cut through the fuselage without cutting fuel lines, and how to switch the fuel off, and got on with my paperwork.

Reading Dave Anderson's reaction to being told the firetrucks are being called makes me realize there are three benefits to ATC having itchy 9-1-1 trigger-fingers.

  • Rapid response to real emergency need.
  • Currency and practice for the firehall
  • Acclimatisation of pilots to the presence of firetrucks

  • Firetrucks become part of the routine, like the paperwork. (Don't think I work for a company where emergencies are routine. It only takes a couple. Pilots learn fast.)


    Anonymous said...

    Good joke.
    What is it with women and firemen?
    You'd think they would park the firetrucks at the other end so they wouldn't have to race the plane!

    Anonymous said...

    Oh, and calling them out can only be good for practice and lets them know someone loves them

    Norwegian said...

    After reading some of your blog I am quite sure you are an excellent holding pattern pilot and Excel user.
    Just don’t forget to fly the aircraft while you crush those wind component figures. ;-)

    Happy landings!


    Aviatrix said...

    What about my pretty-coloured HTML tables?

    Anonymous said...

    Aviatrix, recounting as a former crash rescueman and USAF fire protection specialist at the "headquarters-of-the-world's-mightiest-military-machine" etc etc, we used to respond to "inflights" once in a while, but most were pilots wanting to get a free overnighter at Offutt to sample the "O CLUB" (Officers' Club) grill, hobnob with NATO and other folks, maybe squeeze in a round of golf, before finishing their trip across country.

    Of the three flying accidents that damaged aircraft, one happened so fast they didn't have time to call it in (and resulted in a crash), one killed a duck (and DID occasion an inflight being called so fast we couldn't get out there soon enough), and the last was a flat spin on landing rollout caused by a collapsing main gear on a T-39 (aka a Rockwell
    I liked to talk to the aircrews before am incident, and most were more than happy to take ten or fifteen minutes to show us how to get in, shut it down, and get them OUT.