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My dear daughter, Miss G, arrived for dinner at 7:30 and said, "Can we watch CNN?"

Miss G doesn't watch CNN as a matter of course, but she's understandably agitated about Hurricane Rita, which is going to make a landfall, so the experts say, somewhere between Corpus Christi and Galveston, and there's no way that the storm isn't going to wreak a lot of horrendous havoc. Ms G's mother lives in Galveston, and was to have evacuated herself during the evening. Problem was, she left no messages for Miss G during the evening. Nor could Ms G reach her uncle in Houston, who might have had some good information. It's terrible to be without information about the near and dear. Since I go bananas when I can't get through to Kathleen on the simplest of business trips, I never, ever tut tut somebody else's concern, no matter how likely it is that the worried-about person is safe and sound and busy doing other things.

So we watched CNN. And what we watched was the Jet Blue emergency landing. I hope that you missed this remarkable nonevent. Nobody was killed, and in fact nothing but a landing gear was damaged. Even the plane will be fine. But for two hours, instead of eating dinner, Miss G and I watched the plane land. That's a long time, no? Listen, I'm not complaining. Clearly, everybody waited until everything was just right for a plane to land without its forward landing gear. You'll probably have seen a tape of that by now. The plane coming down, nose up, slowing down, gradually putting its weight on the defective gear, and then the flames that turned out to be inconsequential. (Best line ever: Larry King asking, "Is that fire?") Finally, the plane came to rest, somewhere in the desert of LAX's airstrips. God knows what the passengers who had boarded a JFK-bound flight at Burbank made of it. Well, they were lucky of course. They will have a good story for life. Except that every expert who spoke about the situation insisted that it was not a story.

All right, the landing gear failed to retract after takeoff. A serious problem, if only from the standpoint of fuel consumption. Instead of heading to New York, the plane circled over Los Angeles - and the ocean into which it dumped a lot of its fuel - for almost three hours. Toward the end, the continued looping was attributed to the need to "burn off fuel" - what little remained. Fine and dandy. But about an hour before the story came to an end, it was clear that the only way that this Jet Blue Airbus was going to blow up was in a Jerry Brookheimer movie. So why the story?

I've never said that, if I did watch television, I couldn't be hooked. On the contrary!


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Crikey. I'm glad I followed that story on the Web and not on TV (oops, well, we unplugged our TV pipe, so I couldn't have anyway). Blowhards!

That said, the crew of that plane deserves a medal for keeping their cool and bringing the plane in safely.

JetBlue is simply the best. I take nothing but JetBlue these days.

Sorry, no, the best CNN comment came during the first days of the Katrina, when a CNN moron asked animal rescuers how the animals felt when they were rescued. It resulted in my swearing at the tv set for 5 minutes before switching it off.....CNN and Fox NEWS are just wet in excitement over these disasters. I will cheer when one of the morons is swept out to sea while ignoring the very orders that 'civilians' are compelled to obey.




Anonymous: That's moi. Somehow, I didn't notice that my signature fell off, and I didn't check my postings (I review the preview and thought the name simply didn't appear there -- DOISH!) so I never noticed. Having my recent postings about the DB community signed "Anonymous" must have appeared like a thumbed nose. So, I'm Susan, a long-term friend and fervid correspondent of RJ's and a former college mate of Kathleen's as well as a fellow "Smithereen".

Carol, I'm glad you're safe!

Nonevent! Really, RJ, you amaze me sometimes. Take it from a person who has been an airplane driver, albeit smaller than that behemoth, what that pilot did was the finest example of airmanship I have seen in a long time. The nose wheel was turned across the the line of travel of the aircraft and the real and terrifying question was would it stay that way when it contacted the ground or would it unlock from its very unnatural and damaged position and send the aircraft skewing off to the side at 120kts where very likely the aircraft would have ground looped dug a wing tip into the turf on the side of runway and fliped over on its back. I believe they even shifted passengers to rear of the aircraft to change the weight balance so as to keep the nose wheel off the runway for as long as possilbe until they had bled off as much speed as possible. What the pilot did was the equivalent of bringing your car to a stop in a straight line from highway speeds after a major steering gear or front suspension failure, say losing a lower "A" arm pinion or ball joint or losing the tie rod end from one wheel. The pilots's, both of them the captain and the copilot, should go down and will go down in aviation history and justifably so. For a well read and sensitive individual who has far more mechanical knowledge than your comment indicates I'm simply amazed. Perhaps you were as I was just put off by the constant replay of the event much as I have been put off by the hype on Rita. As a friend once said of another Hurricane warning for Houston in the late 70's which had all the same attendant hype, 'I've seen more wind out of a cheap plate of tamales.' And, in Rita's case the gale force winds were mainly from the mouths of the zillions of talking heads in rain slickers trying to keep their hats on while telling their viewers absolutely nothing of substance, eh? What did Hoffer say, 'The society that denigrates good honest work like plumbing and tolerates shoddiness in intellectual work like philosophy will have neither pipes nor ideas that hold water.' Maybe neither observations either, eh?

I don't fully understand why I'm so hot about this, but the ho-hum tone of your observations really got to me. I pulled something out of the air recently that may be totally my fantasy but I seem to recall an Englishman who when asked why there was so much bad news in the papers said, "The only news is bad news, all else is advertising." True or not it captures the flavor of my thinking here. Everyday truck drivers, ordinary drivers, airline pilots, boat captains, and God knows who else, perform feats of skill which save untold lives but we never hear about them unless they fail in the attempt to correct something gone awry. As for the nose wheel I refer you to the caption on a photo

In this image from television, the front nose gear of a JetBlue airliner is turned at a 90-degree angle from its normal position.
found in "JetBlue plane attempts landing in L.A. area after wheel problem" from the San Deigo Union Tribune dated 5:23 p.m. September 21, 2005, By Gillian Flaccus, ASSOCIATED PRESS. This was not your ordinary landing gear retraction malfunction, this could have gone very wrong very quickly in the hands of less skilled pilots. Of course there is the issue of whether or not the flight computer with which this model aircraft is equipped assisted the pilots in their maneuvers but I doubt the software is robust enough to handle the problem and I doubt even more that the pilots would turn landing over to the computer even if it were supposedly able to handle the issue. This was a truly magnificent piece of airmanship. It was much more than a stunt. Alright enough, I'm done here.

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