The internet hosts bizarre speculations about Flight 447. Alleged killer design defects in the six hundred A330s that fly worldwide. Conspiratorial cover ups by Airbus, Air France, the Elysee Palace and the Brazilian navy. Geez, why not indict the Vatican too?
Macabre debates — did they crash nose first or belly first? Did things slam into the floor or the nose… well, you get the picture. These forums are populated by otherwise normal people.
Yet nobody asks: Why did an airline crew fly into a 300-mile wide area of super cell thunderstorms in the inter-tropical convergence zone??
Aviation’s most prolific serial killer is “continued visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions” — flying into bad weather. Remember the thunderstorm lurking treacherously behind haze on that flight to La Union?
There was no widespread weather system that day. Just the usual “Scattered rain showers and thunderstorms.”
Afterwards, I winced at the thought of blundering into the only thunderstorm in Central Luzon.
Penitent at having betrayed an earlier vow, I again promised myself that I would stop making like Mr. Magoo around bad weather. Yet in just 24 hours I would betray myself again.
At 9am the next day I departed La Union for Vigan. There was a bit of haze when I watched from the control tower as a helicopter landed near my Cessna, which was being refueled.
Less than an hour later I was approaching Vigan. The colors of the Abra river were vivid.
I arrived before the Flight Service Station opened. Normally the FSS — call sign “Vigan Radio” — clears the runway with a siren when an airplane reports on final. When I arrived, there was no one to clear the runway.
The runway was clear when I was on high final, and still clear on short final.
But just before touchdown, a demon jeep popped out of the side road, streaking across the runway like the devil’s hearse itself !
Next time I land on runway 20 at Vigan, I’ll make a high approach and plan to touch down after the damn road!
Later, walking on the airport road to catch a tricycle into town, I took this picture of the ramp.
Remember the sky here. The story centers around it.
This was my third and last trip to Vigan during the Easter break. Final photo opportunities at Crisologo street.
Then a strange change came over the light. The sky began to glow funny, the sun warping through gazibillions of tiny prisms in the air.
Rain began to sprinkle the street.
You know that persistent, undulating, bathing rain that comes from a cold front? Lasts for days.
I had to get back to Manila to catch a flight to Bangkok!
It was pouring now. I took a kalesa to a cafe, where I had pipian and sapsapuriket. Spicy, hot, soupy.
It rained and rained. I was stuck in Vigan, 340 kilometers from Manila.
Posted from Bangkok, July 20, 2009.
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