By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
By Richard De Crespigny (Macmillan, $34.99, softcover, 358 pages)
On November 4, 2010, a near-catastrophic air disaster involving Qantas flight QF32 was averted by the quick-thinking, composed captain Richard de Crespigny and his experienced crew.
Four minutes after taking off for Sydney from Singapore’s Changi Airport, an explosion shattered engine 2 of Airbus A380, but de Crespigny landed the plane safely on the tarmac with all its 469 passengers and crew.
“…everyone on board was lucky that they had a crew full of knowledgeable, case-hardened, experienced pilots who worked effectively as a team as we wrestled to keep Nancy-Bird Walton in the sky then bring her back to earth”.
Two lessons have held the 55-year-old in good stead: to “fly the plane to aviate because no standard operating procedure will replace the key responsibility of keeping the aircraft flying in one piece in the air and never, ever become complacent about aviation”.
The QF32 “warts and all” story gives the well-rounded picture from what was going on in the flight deck and concern for the welfare of passengers to the activity undertaken by the ground staff in traffic control, crisis centre and emergency response units.
Decisions he made on that fateful day were, in part, influenced by his earliest flying lessons at the RAAF Academy in1976 when instructor Bill Evans directed him “into a spin at the controls of the Winjeel … he shook me out of a contented world of stable flight and the romance of air travel, and brought me face-to-face with gravity, velocity, weight and catastrophic forces that, if not handled correctly, result in death”.
In what was one of the toughest challenges of his professional life, de Crespigny—with 35 years of aviation training—overcame what seemed like insurmountable odds to give a gripping account of an extraordinary journey of direction and compelling spirit.
Edition 406, 22 April 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.