Sunday, April 18, 2010

Day 24

Those that know me will know that The Husband got offered a fabulous new job opportunity which when he accepted meant we forfeited a trip with his former employer.  It was a tough loss, we did a similar trip to South Africa two years ago and had the most amazing time, we were wined, dined and entertained and had a level of pamering and indulgence that I could have previously ever imagined.  I cherished every moment of that trip.  And this trip was going to be the same -Madrid, Barcelona and Dublin.  The day of departure came and went, we even still had the grandparents over from NZ who were going to babysit the boyos for the two weeks.  It was a hard pill to swallow.
Today we would have been flying home from Ireland.  Or at least attempting to.  We would have been watching all the ash cloud and flight disruptions with a heavy heart, and a sense of panic, knowing that our trip would be getting messy and getting back to our boys severely impacted.
So even though I absolutely feel for all those people who have been mucked around, who have missed trips of a life time, weddings, jobs or had holiday memories ruined by the long wait to get home, I am silently thankful that I am not one of them.

So why can't planes fly during a volcanic eruption.

If volcanic ash particles are ingested into a jet engine, they accumulate and clog the engines with molten glass.
This dust is extremely fine and if it gets into a jet engine, it blocks up all of the ventilation holes that bleed in cooling air. Because jet engines operate at about 2,000C, the metals can't take this degree of heat and just shut down.
In 1982, British Airways and Singapore Airways jumbo jets lost all their engines when they flew into an ash cloud over Indonesia. Reports said that the ash sandblasted the windscreen and clogged the engines, which only restarted when enough of the molten ash solidified and broke off. When the plane emerged from the cloud, the pilot repeatedly tried and failed to restart the engines. They were going down and down, and had just about accepted that they would have to ditch. But, at the last minute, one engine started. By repeatedly turning the engine over and having a clean airflow going through, the pilot managed to blow the ash out.  Scary stuff and not something you want to take risks with.  I heard on the news this morning that one of the airlines did a practice run last night, I'm guessing with a skeleton (and very brave) crew, but also with the company CEO on board as a sign of belief in the safety of their planes and reassurance to the public.  Guess they don't get paid the big bucks for nothing!
Hoping for clear and safe skies again soon.  Happy travels.

1 comment:

  1. Ah - sometimes it is hard to see it, but it seems there is often a reason why things work out the way they do.
    Crazy stuff with the volcano but a part of me thinks it's quite cool that despite the fact we can make those giant metal things fly... we are all still grounded by a little mother nature!