Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Share Your Story: Owen Zupp, Boeing 737 Pilot, Author

Welcome to the 12th "Share Your Story" post. Pilots from around the world write in featuring their flight experiences, promoting their blogs, websites, social media, novels, etc. These posts show future aviators the diverse range of careers available to them. More details + how to participate can be found in the following: Click Here and Get Involved


Owen Zupp is a published author with nearly 17,000 hours of varied flight experience. His background ranges from charter work and flight instruction and to ferry flights, flight testing and the airlines. He has also served as both a Chief Pilot and Chief Flying Instructor. With 20 years in airline operations, Owen has flown both domestically and across the globe from his Australian base. He holds a Masters Degree in Aviation Management and writings on aviation have been published around the world and received various accolades and awards. In 2007 his first book, Down to Earth, was published and traces the combat experiences of a WWII RAF fighter pilot. Today, he is remains a current airline pilot and passionate aviation writer with a best-selling eBook, “50 Tales of Flight” and an upcoming title, “Solo Flight. Australia”.

 Owen flying the Citation Sovereign for a magazine flight review


Golden Days

An Excerpt from the Amazon Best-Seller, ’50 Tales of Flight’

By Owen Zupp

Thumbing through a folder some years back in another futile attempt to organise my filing cabinet, I came across a carefully stored certificate. It had not seen the light of day for some time, but it was instantly recognisable by the wings that adorned its upper edge as my ‘First Solo Certificate’. With a rope-like border and an instructor’s signature penned across its face, one particular feature leapt out at me; the date. Whilst the day and month were just around the corner, the year was another matter. After some quick arithmetic, the significance of the date became more substantial, it was nearly twenty five years since I had gone ‘solo’. 

Could that be right? A quarter of a century? I pondered the concept for a moment. Twenty five years can mean many things to many people. It can be a landmark of marriage for a happy couple or an inconceivable eon to a school student in their final year. As a parent, it’s a blink. To a pilot it can be just another coincidence of numbers, volumes of which have already been carefully inked into a series of treasured log books.

Video made by Owen Zupp

For some reason this alignment of the calendar had struck a sentimental chord in me. Certificate in hand, I sat at my desk and reflected on where the time might have gone. It wasn’t long before the blanks were filled in with a sea of memories and the trace of a grin gathered at the corner of my mouth.

In my mind’s eye I can still see the ground at Camden Airport falling away as the Cessna 152 leapt into the air, unburdened by my absent mentor in the right hand seat. Climbing away from runway 06, I was squinting into the morning sun as 17 year-olds didn’t generally wear sunglasses back then. Wheeling ‘Mike Alpha Whisky’ onto the downwind leg and having time to realise that I was all alone. And loving it. With the checks complete, the base turn came too soon and it was time to ready the aeroplane for the approach. Managing the intricacies of speed, flap, power and trim, I rolled onto final to be greeted by the welcoming runway. The clearance to land crackled through the overhead speaker and I reached down to quickly acknowledge with the hand microphone. (Headsets were for airline pilots!) Down to earth again, but my life was changed forever. As a schoolboy, excitement overwhelmed any sense of significance.

The Boeing 737 Owen Now Flies

Owen's "Office"

Since that clear and calm summer morning, I have been very fortunate to fly a variety of machines and meet an even wider array of interesting people, some of whom have unfortunately not survived the aviator’s journey. Flight offers so much to we mere mortals, from simple pleasures to immense exhilaration and the darkest nights to the most remarkable dawns. Sometimes we take it for granted as complacency walks hand in hand with the human condition.

For my part, I was always going to fly. My Dad had flown all manner of aircraft from Mustangs and Meteors to Cessnas and Super Connies. He’d flown in combat over 200 times and later in life spent numerous midnight hours relaying the sick and injured in the NSW Air Ambulance ‘Queen Airs’. The warbling of ‘out of synch’ propellers overhead was our signal that Dad would be home soon. As a kid, I would loiter around airports at every opportunity, scrounging rides where possible. There was no barbed wire or security fence to stop curious kids like me clambering up onto wing roots and gawking at cockpits through cupped hands. We were hangar rats and the hangars were full of cheese. Back at home, I would perch on our garage roof with binoculars and scan above for all and sundry as they criss-crossed the sky.

When it came my turn to learn to fly, I found a job as a paramedic that paid relatively well and afforded me enough time off to fly and study. At the time it felt like the Department of Health should simply directly credit my pay to the flying school accounts. Believe it or not, $47/hour private hire for a Tomahawk was quite an amount. With Dad as my instructor, my first school was the now-defunct Sydney Airways before moving to the now-defunct Royal Aero Club of NSW. Early starts and frost-covered windscreens were preceded by briefings in our garage at home. My working week revolved around my flying and when navigation exercises came into play, the anticipation was almost unbearable. Mum would pack us up with sandwiches and a Thermos of tea and we would venture to exotic locations like Coolah, Taree or Tamworth, navigating by charts that back then didn’t cost a cent and landing without incurring an invoice. As I shared my sandwich and Dad his wisdom, I didn’t realise how golden these days were. He would die of cancer within five years.

Owen with a friend and a Mustang

To be paid to fly was unfathomable, yet that’s just what the Royal Aero Club did for me as a lowly Grade 3 Instructor. Pulling out six Piper Tomahawks in early morning darkness and fuelling them one by one was a small price to pay to be allowed to fly for a living. Paid a salary and flying around ninety hours a month of single-hour lessons, my fellow instructor, Roland Parker, and I thought we’d died and gone to heaven. To simply get a slot in the training circuit, you’d await the control tower’s call to the office to tell you when to start up and taxi, before shutting down in the run-up bay and waiting again, this time for a ‘green light’ from the tower. Finally, you’d get in the air. To see the veritable ghost town that Bankstown has now become borders on heart-breaking. Today we drive around a cyclone-fenced perimeter and where a sea of aeroplanes once sat, now only grass grows. The social hub of the old Aero Club where engineers and pilots would gather has been demolished. These are indeed very different times.

From instructing at Bankstown I went wandering to the north-west, to the Kimberleys and the beautiful land that is the Australian outback. There were scenic flight swarms over the Bungle Bungles and lone charters to all corners of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Pre-dawn pre-flights were performed to the amazing backdrop of vast electrical storms over the Timor Sea and torrential downpours that changed the face of the scenery from wasteland to waterfalls in minutes. Along with the other young pilots, we made mistakes and learnt valuable lessons each day before retiring to the Argyle Tavern; it was paradise.

Owen with a Cessna 337 as a young charter pilot in outback Australia

The beautiful Australian outback is only one of nature’s canvases that I’ve been privileged to experience. New Guinea’s lush highlands and interesting airstrips, some still covered in World War II Pierced-Steel-Planking made up only part of the challenge; the rapidly changing weather being the other. Drinking from coconuts and boiling rice and fresh eel on the water’s edge near Balimo. Ferrying an Islander aircraft to the tiny island of Yap in Micronesia and passing the numerous shallow atolls, complete with wrecked and rusting vessels caught on their barbs. Clambering over bullet-riddled Japanese Zeros and ferreting out an inverted Grumman Hellcat, now overgrown by vines.

Yap, Micronesia

From the flight levels there has been the rugged, war-torn landscape of Afghanistan and the frozen earth around Stalingrad where farmers somehow eke out a harvest each year. At 60 degrees south, icebergs float by day and the Southern Lights dance by night like an electric green curtain. Descending over Europe at dawn to break clear over the Thames and the city of London cannot help but remind one of those brave crews who limped home along the same route over sixty years ago with no Flight Management System to guide them. The lava flows of the Hawaiian Islands glowing by night and the US west coast illuminated by the spectacular efflux of a rocket launched out of Vandenberg.

Excitedly watching the world rocket by on my first flight in a 737, or the world spin around through the bubble canopy of a Mustang. Thoughtfully waltzing my Tiger Moth around the Glasshouse Mountains on the way to Toowoomba, my Dad’s hometown and final resting place. Flight can be as diverse as the scenery we gaze down upon and the people we meet.

There have been less than picturesque moments too; a magneto blowing off my Cessna 310 before diverting into Meekatharra, a cylinder-head separating on a Cessna 210 and limping home to Kununurra, a forced landing near Kanangra Walls in the Blue Mountains and a free ride home in the Careflight helicopter. Watching the demise of institutions like the Royal Aero Club of NSW and Ansett Airlines, whose pilot’s wings and memories I still treasure. These hurdles along the way were the pot-holes on what has predominantly been a great road and has added character to the journey. They are also reminders that the road should be driven with due respect. That degree of respect should always be the same, be it a Beechcraft or a Boeing. It’s a small price to pay for such a great privilege.

Cylinder-head separating on a Cessna 210 and limping home to Kununurra

Twenty five years may sound like an eon; but it’s a snapshot. There is still so much to see and do and there is no vantage point superior to that of the cockpit. It is a viewpoint for all of us to cherish. In the years to come, it is a world I will share with my children, as my father did with me.

So how did I celebrate the anniversary? I went flying. Away from home, I dawdled into a flying school in Queensland and became the student once more. My competency on the Piper Tomahawk was checked out over the scenic Sunshine Coast and in the rather gusty circuit. The instructor beside me wasn’t born when my aviation trek began at Camden, but his youth offered a sense of continuity to the whole process. It was all ahead of him still and I envied that a little. As he climbed out, locked the door and gave me the ‘thumbs up’, it was reminiscent of a scene I had been lucky enough to offer my students many times before.

Solo once again, I lapped the circuit and looked at the world with eyes of that eager 17 year-old, briefly pondering the 25 years still to come. The crackle of the headset, the straining windsock and the welcoming strip of asphalt blend into the challenge of landing that has not faded with time. A challenge that is always relished by those who fly.

Owen and the plane which he flew solo around Australia 

The route of Owen's solo flight around Australia 

The joy of flying has lost none of its charm for me. The sights, sounds and sense of freedom; it is hard imagining life without it. We who aviate are very fortunate and flight is something we should always share and treasure. It doesn’t matter which aircraft, weather or setting, when the earth falls away from the wheels, life is good.

In “50 Tales of Flight”, the reader is not simply taken aloft in everything from biplanes to Boeings as the title may suggest. True, the flight deck door has been cracked ajar and the canvas cover pulled back from the open cockpit, but this book is built from the ground up. From the alarm clock buzzing to begin the airline pilot’s day to the sound of silence when a light aircraft engine fails and all that lies beneath are trees and cliffs.

There are moments of tension and others of humorous relief to be found amongst this collection of stories from the author’s thirty years aloft. Interspersed are tales of other aviators too. Veterans of wars now passed and some who lost their lives pursuing their passion.

There are images of the sights and people contained within the words. In some ways this book tracks an aviation life, but in others it offers insights and inspiration; just as the sky itself does. For anyone interested in aviation, or just intrigued by this seemingly removed field of endeavour, there is much to be seen through these “50 Tales of Flight”.

New Qantas TV commercial - "You're the Reason We Fly"


What a great story Owen! I always love hearing about professional pilots; how they transitioned from flying their exciting, new, single engine planes... to flying multi-million dollar machines! I can't wait to read your novel. I plan on writing a review of the book once I get the chance to read it! You've had some pretty unique experiences throughout your life, I can't wait to read about some of them! You certainly know you've had an interesting life if you can write a book about it.

I want to recommend readers to check out more about Owen and his novels on his website: I have my copy of "50 Tales of Flight" and will be publishing a review sometime soon, once I have some more free time! 

Thanks again for writing in and participating in the Share Your Story section of the blog, 

Swayne Martin 
Martins Aviation / From Private to Professional Pilot
Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1 

Monday, May 27, 2013

First Flight into Class D Airspace (KCHO) with a Control Tower

For the past few months, all of the flying I've done has been out of non-towered airports. That changed today with my first flight into a towered field/into Class D Airspace. Arriving at the airport, I was surprised to find out that I was going to be flying in the Tecnam P92 Eaglet (N16HV) vs. the normal Tecnam P2002 Sierra (N14HV). 

Upon receiving the standard weather briefing, I found out that it was perfect weather for flying. Clear skies with scattered clouds at or above 12,000ft, calm winds, and little to no turbulence. We focused more today on learning how to deal with a control tower vs. making a flight plan... so all of the navigation was done using the GPS. 

We flew directly from Hanover (OFP) directly to Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (CHO). It was a nice, smooth flight at 4,500 feet. We didn't go over too much during the actual flight. It took about 30 minutes to get near Charlottesville. 

10 nautical miles out from Charlottesville, I made a courtesy call into the tower saying "Charlottesville Tower, 1 6 Hotel Victor." Upon hearing confirmation from the tower I made our request; "1 6 Hotel Victor 10 miles to the Southeast, with information Quebec, requesting landings and takeoffs on runway 3." Strangely enough, the tower cleared us to land on runway 3 right away. Being 10 miles out, we were a little confused, so we called in for confirmation. Upon hearing that there was no other traffic inbound, things made more sense. 

Not me, but here is a landing on runway 21 CHO

We flew straight into a right base for runway 3 at CHO. Waiting by the threshold was a Cessna Citation V (560). Charlottesville has the widest runway I've ever flown into (150ft), in addition, it's 6,800 feet in length. I was definitely happy with my first landing in the Tecnam P92. The pilot of the Cessna Citation even came on the radio and said "1 6 Hotel Victor, great landing!" That was awesome to hear from a pilot of a larger jet! 

At the gates stood a US Airways CRJ-200 and a Bombardier Dash-8. I was completely excited to be flying into airports with commercial planes finally! 

One really cool thing about flying into a towered field is that all of the instructions are given to you. Once you hear instructions, you just follow them until the next set... so that reduces workload by a fair amount. We flew a total of 3 landings and 3 takeoffs at CHO before our return home. On our last takeoff, we skipped ahead of the CRJ-200, who was still waiting for takeoff clearance. So cool to be taxiing right up next to a larger jet! 

Overall, everything went well today. The landings varied from ok to great. It'll take some getting used to control towers, that will come with practice. Can't wait for my next lesson, maybe we will fly into an even larger airport, like Richmond KRIC.

Thanks for reading!
Swayne Martin

Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Flying Solo Before Driving Solo

It's been a busy few months! I've done things I could only dream of as a kid. I can say I've flown a plane solo, something which only a tiny percentage of the world has done. Final exams are a week from today, and summer is just around the corner. Plus, yesterday, I finally got my driver's license! 

Since February 18th, I've been able to fly solo, yet not drive solo... seems backwards somehow! I've been flying above the roads I wasn't allowed on, until now. Granted, I think the roads are a whole lot more intimidating than the skies. It's so much less restricted and crowded up there, which makes for a much more enjoyable time. 

While driving might not be as "exciting" as flying, I'm definitely excited to finally have my license. I look forward to being able to drive myself where I need to be, without the need to get rides from family or friends. 

It's been 3 weeks since I last flew; hopefully, weather permitting, I'll be able to go for a flight this weekend. The plan is to fly West towards the mountains, to Charlottesville Albemarle Airport (CHO) to expose me to ATC for the first time, in a Class-D environment. It'll be my first flight into a commercial airport! If I get to fly, a post will be up Saturday or Sunday. 

Check back soon for more posts!
Thanks for reading!,

Swayne Martin
Twitter: @MartinsAviation

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Share Your Story: Earl Moorhouse, Lufthansa Flight 540 Survivor

Welcome to the eleventh "Share Your Story" post. Pilots from around the world write in featuring their flight experiences, promoting their blogs, websites, social media, etc. These posts show future aviators the diverse range of careers available to them. More details + how to participate are here: Click Here and Get Involved


We have a special story today. Earl Moorhouse was onboard the first fatal 747 crash in history. As we all know, air travel has become amazingly safe. Sadly, the few crashes that have occurred were quite tragic. In his novel, Wake Up, It's a Crash, survivors of the crash recall what happened before, during, and after the plane went down. The novel is on amazon and available through the following link: On Amazon

Lufthansa Flight 540 was a scheduled commercial flight for Lufthansa operated with a Boeing 747-130, carrying 157 people (140 passengers and 17 crew members). The flight was operating the final segment of its Frankfurt – Nairobi – Johannesburg route. On 20 November 1974 it crashed and caught fire shortly past the runway on takeoff. The plane struck an elevated access road and broke up. The left wing exploded and fire spread to the fuselage. Of the 157 people aboard, 59 perished (55 passengers and 4 crew members). This was the first fatal accident and third hull loss of a Boeing 747.


Survivors Earl and Lynn Moorhouse recover at the Nairobi Hilton with their sons Brendon and Garett after escaping from the crashed 747. The boys were the youngest survivors. ©Earl Moorhouse No re-use or copying is permitted without permission. Contact the author by email or publisher Squire’s Yard mail@

The day the first 747 went down
By Earl Moorhouse

I am not a pilot, but I have flown many thousands of miles across the world in my career as an international journalist. Nothing I experienced in all those hours of flying prepared me for what happened on the morning of November 20, 1974.

On that day I and my family found ourselves fighting for our lives in the the world’s first Boeing 747 jumbo jet disaster.

The night before, I and my wife Lynn, and our two sons, Garett, aged seven, and Brendon, aged six, boarded Lufthansa’s 747 jumbo jet Hessen at Frankfurt in Germany for a flight scheduled to take us to Johannesburg, South Africa. En route, in the morning, there would be a one-hour refuelling stop at Nairobi, in East Africa.

Lufthansa 747-130 D-ABYB (plane involved in the crash)

It was dark as we lifted off from Frankfurt. We were seated between the wings, about halfway down the passenger cabin. I was sitting on the left side of the aircraft in a group of three seats, with the aisle on my right. My sons were seated on my left: Brendon, the youngest, next to the window, and Garett in between us. My wife was seated in the same row, immediately across the aisle.

While we slept, the 747 crossed the Mediterranean and the African deserts, and in the early morning we touched down in Nairobi. After refuelling and a change of crew, the big jet taxied away from the terminal with 157 on board, turned at the head of the runway and began its take-off run.

Another photo of the Lufthansa 747-130

The engines were thrusting us along, the runway and grass beginning to blur. But I felt uneasy. Too slow, I thought. We’ll never make it. I looked past Lynn, sitting across the aisle, and saw the airport buildings going madly by and thought, see, we are going fast enough. We will make it.

The nose wheel lifted. A few tense seconds and the jumbo rose into the air. But there was no thrust in the climb, no feeling of being pressed back against the seat. A violent shuddering began, and I sensed we were flying in a doomed aircraft. The engines were shaking in their mountings and there was a loud metallic coughing. I looked across the aisle at Lynn and thought, this is it.

We were up about a hundred feet and, looking down, I saw the ground staying the same distance away.

We passed the end of the runway. Below us was only rough bush. The 747 began to lose height. We were going in . . . but my mind refused to accept it. I stared out, unable to react, sensing death ahead, feeling an icy cold shiver ran up my back. The ground came closer.

“Put your head down!” my wife Lynn shouted, and I pulled Garett down so his head was on his knees. Brendon was still sleeping, sprawled back in his seat. I couldn’t reach him.

It was unearthly inside the jet. No one screamed. No one shouted to us to do anything. There was only that mechanical coughing, the sound of things crashing about, objects falling. Some passengers were still sitting erect in their seats.

Out of nowhere, an embanked earth road loomed up. Garett shifted his head to look.

“Stay down!” I shouted, pushing at him.

I saw the nun in the row ahead bow her head. I ducked. There was a sickening crash as we struck. The lights went out and my head smashed against the seat in front. Rows of seats tore loose from the floor and folded forward. We were trapped in between, my feet pressing against the heaving floor to keep us upright. I saw Brendon being hurled like a rag doll.

I shouted, “Are you all right? Are you all right?”

He did not answer and I thought, has he broken his neck?

The jumbo reared up, the rear section shattering, the forward section bouncing over the embankment.

Then the jet struck again. It felt as if we were on the ground, sliding along. The aircraft slewed to the left. There were ripping sounds, and sections of the ceiling, lockers and luggage began falling. Dust filled the cabin. And we were still sliding.

I saw flames and black smoke where the port wing had been. There was only a small sheet of glass between us and the fire. Then all movement stopped. I sat stunned in my seat.

The Lufthansa Boeing 747 burns fiercely in the African bush behind two Nairobi Airport firemen. The seats and some of the larger pieces of wreckage are from the rear section of the fuselage, which shattered on impact with an embanked road. ©Earl Moorhouse No re-use or copying is permitted without permission. Contact the author by email or publisher Squire’s Yard mail@

“Get out!” Lynn yelled at me. “Get out!” She was struggling with her seat belt.

I unbuckled my belt and Garett’s and dragged him into the aisle. He moved without speaking, eyes wide. I leaned over to pull up the armrests. We had to get Brendon out. I thought, we’ll never make it. We’re going to be burned.

Lynn leaped across the aisle, came up from behind and unbuckled Brendon’s belt, shouting, “Wake up, it’s a crash! It’s a crash!” and dragged him, mumbling and half-asleep, into the aisle.

“Is he all right?”

“Yes,” Lynn cried, “yes!”

In the seat behind us I saw an elderly man with blood on his forehead. He was making no effort to get up.

“Get out!” Lynn shouted to me. “Quickly!”

But there was debris all around. Large sections of the ceiling blocked our path, and the overhead lockers had broken off. All sorts of wreckage was falling: white powdery material, chips of plastic, pieces of luggage. The whole aircraft seemed to be closing in on us, and all the time there were flames at the windows and a smell that tore at the throat and nostrils.

Rescuers support Flight Engineer Rudi Hahn as he is taken for medical treatment after injuring his shoulder during evacuation from the burning aircraft. ©Earl Moorhouse No re-use or copying is permitted without permission. Contact the author by email or publisher Squire’s Yard mail@

Behind us, the rear section of the 747 was missing. A diffused light filtered through and Lynn moved instinctively towards it.

“No!” I shouted. “Go forward!” I had Garett’s hand in mine and pushed ahead. I managed, one-handed, to hurl aside some of the fallen ceiling, and smashed a path through the wreckage in the aisle. As we headed towards the front I felt someone close behind. I looked over my shoulder and saw it was the nun.

There was no escape to the left, only flames. I saw the safety diagram in my mind: we had to go towards the front, and then to the right. Dragging Garett along, I reached the kitchen and pulled him into it. From the starboard side of the aircraft a man’s voice was shouting, “Raus! Out! Raus!”

The kitchen was in ruins. Equipment had fallen over, blocking our path. A man came up beside me and together we kicked once, twice, and we were through. The nun ran past.

I could see the open doorway ahead, daylight streaming in, and people leaping out. At that moment I lost sight of Lynn. I looked back desperately, but could not see her. Oh no, no, no, I thought, hesitating near the doorway, flanked by two yelling crew members, what’s happened to them?

Volunteers assess the condition of a victim as they search through the wreckage for survivors. ©Earl Moorhouse No re-use or copying is permitted without permission. Contact the author by email or publisher Squire’s Yard mail@

“Lynn,” I shouted. “Where are you?”

There was no response. The two crew members were grabbing me.

What I did not know was that Brendon had broken free from Lynn’s grip. He ran towards the first-class section, where the impact had opened up cracks in the floor so large that passengers had fallen through, still strapped to their seats. Lynn chased after Brendon, reached out and grabbed him before he disappeared.

I yelled again, and suddenly she was coming through the wreckage. She had Brendon by the hand.

“Get out,” she shouted as she came. “We’re all right. Get out!”

A steward had me by the arm, shouting, “Raus! Raus!” He hurled me through the door. I landed on the chute and scrambled down. Alongside me was Garett. And behind came Lynn with Brendon, both in their socks.

There was an explosion as we reached the ground. A man shouted, “Run, it’s going to explode! Run!”

A remarkable picture, taken moments after the 747 crashed, by Nairobi Daily Nation photographer Samuel Ouma, using a telephoto lens. He was at Nairobi Airport when the aircraft went down. Alerted by onlookers’ screams and shouts, he dashed onto the runway and ran towards the crash site, taking photographs as he went ©Earl Moorhouse No re-use or copying is permitted without permission. Contact the author by email or publisher Squire’s Yard mail@

We got up and ran. Ahead, a man with a limp was running wildly across the bush, looking back, stumbling, regaining his balance, and carrying on. Brendon had no shoes. I picked him up and ran with him over the rough ground. He seemed dazed, half-asleep. When we had gone about fifty yards Garett tripped and fell face down. He scrambled to his feet, his face covered in mud. My wife was crying, “My babies, oh, my babies! Thank God, you’re safe. Thank God.”

We reached the top of a slope and looked back. I saw flames erupting high over the 747 cabin. The tail section was missing and the nose had been damaged, and people were running away. I noticed with some surprise that the shattered jet had swivelled right round. It was now facing back the way we had come.

We ran on, and four Kenyans, a woman and three men, came up and embraced us. “You are safe,” the woman said, wide-eyed, and stroked the children. “God is with you today!” 

A man offered us his broken shoes, pointing at the mud-covered socks on Lynn’s and Brendon’s feet. I looked at the man and felt close to tears. 

--Copyright Earl Moorhouse 2013.

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Copyright information:

This article is protected by copyright. No re-use or copying is permitted without permission. Contact the author by email or publisher Squire’s Yard mail@

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Author’s note:

You can read a full account of the world’s first Boeing 747 disaster in my book Wake Up, It’s A Crash! now available in e-book on and
The book follows the experiences of several survivors, including crew members, and onlookers. The stories are linked in a dramatic fashion, showing how ordinary people responded in extraordinary ways to this nightmarish event.
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Thank you so much Earl for sharing your amazing experience with us. What you went through is something which only a handful of people around the world can say they've been through. When air travel goes wrong, it can go wrong in a very big way. 

I want to recommend Earl's book to anyone who might be interested in reading the accounts of the crash from it's survivors. There are some truly incredible stories. 

Thanks again for writing in and participating in the Share Your Story section of the blog, 

Swayne Martin 
Martins Aviation / From Private to Professional Pilot
Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1 

For me, this story reminded me of the recent 747 crash in Afghanistan. In that case, it sounds as if the 747 stalled due to a drastic weight shift from it's military cargo. Sadly, no survivors were recovered from the crash. My thoughts go out to the families which have been affected by the loss of their loved ones. Here is the video which recently went viral. Watch with care, it can be difficult to watch considering there were no survivors: 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Flight Report: Air France A380-800 Washington IAD to Paris CDG

As a part of my summer last year, I exchanged with a good friend from Versailles, France. He came for two weeks to visit my family in June. After California, in August, I was to fly over to France to visit with his family during their vacation on Noirmoutier-en-l'Île. The plan was for me to fly from IAD to CDG to NTE (Nantes). This trip was to be the first time I'd flown by myself.

Air France Flight 0039 Information
  • Flight: Washington Dulles (IAD) to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
  • Flight Time: 7 Hours 30 Minutes
  • Aircraft: Air France A380-800 F-HPJG
  • Seat: 92L (window seat--Upper Deck)

Driving to Washington Dulles, I was really excited to take my first flight on an Airbus A380. As we were pulling into IAD, I decided to check my flightradar24 app on a whim to see where the plane was. Shockingly, it was about to fly right overhead as we were still on the highway. Here are images from my app and camera of the plane passing over our car:

It was nice to be back in IAD again. I rarely fly out of IAD, so it was nice to see some of the unusual airlines and larger aircraft. Here are a few images of our Air France A380 at the gate:

It was nice to board via the separate line for the A380's Upper Deck. The line for the main deck was much longer, with many more people. After a quick boarding, it was finally time to step onto the A380 for the first time. Everything felt clean and new onboard the Air France A380, a really nice aircraft. I was a but jealous of the people seated in business class, which looked quite nice. Below are images of business class, my seat (92L), and the rear-economy section: 

Air France A380 Business Class

The last few rows of the Air France A380's Business Class Cabin 

Upper Deck Premium Economy (Premium Voyageur) on the Air France A380

The Air France A380 rear-economy section

Never having been on a two-deck aircraft before, I made sure to book my seats on the Upper Deck of the A380. Seat 92L was very nice, don't worry about it being close to the galley and lavatory, you could barely notice any people moving back and forth. The farther back you go from this row, the worse off you might be. 

 My seat on the Air France A380: 92L (Upper Deck)

The PTV and remote for my seat, 92L

Window view from 92L

Here is the video from our takeoff at IAD (from my youtube MartinsAviation1). As you can see... a bug managed to hold onto the tail camera for quite awhile: 

I got really lucky on the flight over, the flight was lightly filled which meant there was no one sitting in my row, in addition to many rows of 4 in the middle completely open. I chose to stay in my row and let others who had a seatmates take the open rows. It was nice being able to make a small bed for the overnight flight over.

Overnight, first deck on the A380

One really cool feature of the A380 is the rear, spiral staircase. I saw people walking up and down for exercise and stretching, taking their kids over to play, etc. I liked that they left the stairs open for the majority of the flight. 

The meal service was good on the way over. I was really impressed by the quality of each meal and the service going along with it. Dinner was great and so was breakfast. Here is a photo of our dinner and breakfast from the next morning: 

Our route of flight took us just south of Greenland, over the Southern portion of Ireland and England, and finally over Normandy, into Paris:

The route of our flight, as seen on my PTV

We arrived after a nice flight a little after 6am into Paris CDG and taxiied to gate M5. I guess you could say once again we got a bit lucky. The Upper Deck jetway was either not in operation or non-existent, which mean that we got to de-plane by walking down the forward stairwell. This allowed me to get a view of the inflight art gallery for Business and First Class passengers, as well as a view of the First Class cabin. 

Here is a video from our rather hard landing into CDG. It was cool to see the runway lights in the early morning: 

Here is a photo of the lounge/art gallery: 

Overall, I had a great first experience flying on the Airbus A380. It was a cool thing to say that I've flown on the Upper Deck. I would recommend trying to book a seat in the rear economy section of the plane vs. downstairs... there are a lot of benefits for no extra charge. 

Thanks for reading and watching!

Swayne Martin 
Martins Aviation / From Private to Professional Pilot
Twitter: @MartinsAviation
Youtube: MartinsAviation1