Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Gimli Glider retired

The aircraft involved in one of the most remarkable feats of flying by a commercial airline pilot - ever - was retired and flown to desert storage this week. In 1983, when the Boeing 767 was first in service, Air Canada 767, #604, registry C-GAUN, was a on a routine flight from Ottawa to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. It ran out of fuel due to confusion over metric conversion by, not one, but two ground crews. It was dropping fast, of course, so the pilots took it to one of the the airport in Gimli, Manitoba, and did a "dead-stick" landing. The pilots would not have any control at all, but Boeing provided a RAT - ram air turbine - which deploys when both engines are out. It is a propeller that, driven by the wind, provides minimal power to the hydraulic system for the flight control surfaces - rudder, elevators and ailerons, I think. It was a remarkable feat. Accomplished by skill and the lucky combination that one pilot had been stationed at a no-longer-open military base at the Gimli airport and the other was a glider pilot. Glider! On the ground -- The nose landing gear didn't lock in place. Without full flaps, air brakes and thrust reversers, the tire braking was overstressed, which caused a fire. There were no injuries at the time the aircraft stopped, but some during evacuation. The full story from Soaring Magazine in 1997 Associated Press
The two pilots and several crew members who safely landed the legendary "Gimli Glider" are boarding the plane again Thursday as it makes what could be its final flight. Pilot Robert Pearson and his first officer Maurice Quintal will board the Air Canada Boeing 767 in Montreal to oversee Thursday's flight, which will carry it to its new home at California's Mojave Airport. "Four groups ... have shown some interest in acquiring the airplane, either for flying test beds for engines or for museum purposes, so it may not stay there too long," Pearson said. "Hopefully somebody will find a use for it." Three of the six flight attendants who were on Flight 143 will also be on board Thursday.

No comments: