Phew - life has been rather 'interesting' - read 'ever so slightly challenging but it's all right really' - recently.
Fog has provided those flying locally with the usual provocations: delayed landings, delayed take-offs, late arrivals, or no flying at all. Pilots and planes stuck in various parts of the Bailiwick, not necessarily together, as long waits eventually mean that a pilot cannot stay on duty any longer.
But fog is usual at this time of year - local residents understand it and are, for the most part, incredibly patient and tolerant of extended stays at the airport.
On Sunday, Richard had a 'foggy' day but managed to avoid getting stuck in Jersey. Monday dawned bright and clear. Tuesday was beautiful. Then this happened as Richard was flying from Alderney to Southampton. Engine failure.
The Trislander has three engines: the problem one was the rear engine, mounted high up on the tail. After a loud bang, Richard looked in the rearview mirror (mounted on the Trislander for this purpose, NOT so that he can see if another plane is coming up behind him in the fast lane) and saw the cowling had come loose and was wide open, like a giant clam shell. (This had the effect of acting like a giant brake!) Richard immediately turned the plane round and returned to Alderney, where an emergency had been declared: the fire brigade had initiated their full emergency procedure, the ambulance was waiting on the tarmac and the Alderney lifeboat was put on alert in case the plane had to ditch in the open sea. In the end, there was nothing at all for them to do: Richard greeted the crews with "Good practice for you guys," after he had landed the plane safely. No panic and no injuries, apart from a Trislander which now looks rather sorry for itself.
I'm intensely proud of my highly competent, capable husband who, to quote Aurigny's managing director, dealt with the situation in an 'exemplary fashion', so I shall quote from the Alderney Press: 'The pilot was wonderful - extremely calm and he just told us that there was a technical problem and we would be returning to Alderney. All passengers were very calm, there was no panic at all....The pilot was fantastic - the fact that he was so calm and in control made me feel that everything would be all right."
And I liked the comments from readers on the Guernsey Press website:
"Probably a piece of coal flew out of the furnace and hit the cowling...He had two other engines, what was the problem?" Indeed!
I was just glad that he came to school and hauled me out of a meeting to tell me about it. Seeing him there in front of me was extremely reassuring...
After that, the other minor vexations aren't worth mentioning, apart from one. Pickle the Dog's predilection for removing the Christmas cards on display (yes, I know, but that's another story) and then eating the blu-tac which held them up is just a tad annoying...