EKURHULENI – Residents of Kempton Park, east of Johannesburg, collected several litres of jet fuel after a Boeing passenger plane was forced to dump its reserves to avoid a disaster. The Cathay Pacific aeroplane – carrying about 200 passengers – lost one of its engines after colliding with a flock of birds, soon after departing for Hong Kong.
People on the East Rand could see the smoke coming from the Boeing 747-467 and realised that something was wrong. Gerrit Blaauw and Willie Swart witnessed the drama unfold.
“We were out in the backyard tuning my Corolla when I heard a stuttering engine above me,” explained Gerrit enthusiastically. “It sounded like a moerse cam belt was about to pop. I looked up and just checked all this smoke puffing out from the left wing. Looked like my Corolla when I blew a gasket chasing down Atlas Road last month.”
“Or like Vuil Piet’s house on a Friday,” Willie chipped in. “Sounded like his house too.”
“My wife’s instinct kicked in and she ran into the house,” Gerrit continued. “I immediately knew what she skeemed, so my instinct kicked in as well and I told her to leave the damn camera and bring buckets.”
Since an aircraft can suffer severe damage if it tries to land with a heavy fuel load, it has to dump its fuel for safety reasons whenever it needs to make an emergency landing soon after takeoff.
Gerrit has seen this kind of thing before, and knew what had to be done. “We quickly lined up rows of buckets in the veld between our house and Nick’s 24 Hour Scrapyard and waited for the manna to flow from heaven.”
The pair seemed rather chuffed with the way the day’s events unfolded. “I don’t know much about renewable energy, but all those containers out in the sun felt like we built our own little sonar plant,” laughed Gerrit.
“Well, all that energy splashing down certainly renewed my car’s drivability,” Willie chipped in again. “And we stopped the jet fuel from contaminating the ground, so we are saving the planet by using it.”
Metro Police in the area has been put on high alert following the emergency landing. “Whenever these people get their hands on jet fuel we see a sharp rise in speeding violations,” said police spokesmen Patrick Mpofu. “Even though nobody died in a plane crash, we expect a few deaths from car crashes over the next few weeks.”
Gerrit wasted no time in affirming all suspicions. “As soon as I’ve cleaned the spark plugs I’m taking my baby out for a jet-powered test run,” he insisted. “I’ll be screeching a few tyres tonight.”
After dumping its fuel, the aeroplane landed safely at the O.R. Thambo International Airport. The passengers who could not immediately be placed on new flights were taken to a hotel.
“The captain was very professional and did a fantastic job,” said Hans Stenger, a businessman who was travelling to Seoul, South Korea. “However, I’m very unhappy with the airport. I had to wait 35 minutes on the plane for a bus to pick me up. What kind of airport doesn’t have buses waiting in case one of their aeroplanes hit a flock of birds immediately after takeoff?”
Aviation experts are still uncertain if the aeroplane hit the birds, or if the birds, in fact, hit the aeroplane. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, famous for landing an aeroplane in the Hudson river off Manhattan, New York after bumping into a flock of Canada geese, pondered the situation. “Well, uhm… Birds happen,” he said.
Preliminary investigations found no evidence that the flock of birds were coaxed into the sky by drag racers in an elaborate plot to score free jet fuel. BN
Despite being previously disadvantaged, Dumisani managed to achieve the 30% mark required to pass matric. It was enough to enable him to secure his dream job: Being a journalist. Dumisani lives on his couch with his two plants.