Select Page

And out through the daemons arse.

I have now diligently head scratched, cussed and finger counted my way through many of the ‘analysis’ made of AA QZ 8501; and, apart from a headache, an urge to scream and a dire need for large quantities of amber nectar, I find there is little ‘conclusive’ being published; persuasive, – for sure; but non without horse and cart sized holes.  For my sins, many, many years ago I had quite a lot to do with thunderstorms and the penetrating thereof (young, dumb and of course, immortal).  Ernest Gann (Fate is the Hunter) presents a wonderful story relating to one afternoon and an encounter with the beast.  It’s almost accurate except it fails, utterly to describe the insane, terrifying power of the Beast and it’s weapons.

Most spend a career carefully plotting and scheming to minimise track miles and conserve fuel while carefully and respectfully avoiding any close contact with a thunderstorm.  Those who have had the pleasure will remember the experience for a life time and only reluctantly speak of it.   When I was younger, after I’d carefully tended the bruises and abrasions left by the blessed five point harness, I would attend the post flight wrap up and attempt to understand what the ‘wizards’ had gleaned from the days take, the ‘facts’ were inpressive; (the fridge was in their room).

One day sticks in memory above the others; the day the radome went solo, the FO’s window broke, there were holes punched in the tail planes and leading edges, all a great inconvenience.  The worst thing was that we were some 15 nms North of the ‘next cell’ and about 12 nms South of the previous encounter, relaxing in clear air above a deck of Stratus.  The hailstones which hit us sideways, like a train landed some seven nms to the East and were reported as ‘golf ball’ sized.  I have sat and watched as an inch of clear ice formed within less than a minute only to watch it disappear when washed off by a ‘waterfall’ of warm (relative) water in the same amount of time – water travelling upwards – at the devils own speed.  But, I digress:

QZ 8501 was, in one way or another, involved with the Beast.  Very few pilots have been tasked with actively penetrating and transiting storms, those that have pass their experience on to the saner members of the tribe, who, as conservative, sensible aircrew wisely avoid needing to use the benefit of that experience.  Those who encounter a storm use that experience and advice to survive first and to talk it out later, over multiple cold beers.  Which bring me to my ‘agricultural’ grade point.   Pilots in the region where QZ 8501 was lost are no doubt very experienced at avoiding ‘trouble’, but I wonder how many have actually entered the belly of the beast; the real deal, arse biting, spitting, snarling beast which will use it’s mighty toys to mindlessly (without malice) destroy a frail, puny aircraft and spit out the bones.

There are some pretty fancy theories out there, but for my 20c bet, without ‘hard’ data, I would round up the usual suspects, water in torrents (as in under water); ice by the truck load; a barrage of hail stones through the fan; severe sheer line turbulence, engines flame out, relight, recovery only to be beaten by the laws of physics and the whims of fate.   No doubt, all will be revealed in due course.  Here endeth the Sunday ramble.