How to land a plane; emergency fuel style

Since it was the 10 year anniversary of IF, I decided I would book an overnight flight to KSFO from Heathrow. I was looking forward to a holiday, as being stuck in London all lockdown it was starting to drive me nuts! I thought it would be nice to go to America and enjoy a well-earned break. I scoured the web, looking for cheap flights, it was astounded at how expensive flights were. I scoured some more, hoping to find the best possible deal there was. And I found it. British Airways, Heathrow to San Fransisco, departing that evening. Perfect.

I immediately booked an Uber, telling the driver to drive as fast as he could, we only had an hour before departure! He sped across London and I arrived at the terminal just in the nick of time. How strange a terminal it was; flat, empty. Quite frankly I was disappointed that there wasn’t even a Tesco there. I’m told that Heathrow will be built soon, so although I was disappointed that I was unable to get any pre-flight refreshments, I am hopeful for the future.

My gate was called. It was time. I hopped up the steps and found my seat aboard the 747, queen of the skies. And prepared myself for my journey across continents.

We slowly taxied out to the runway, and lined up on 09R. The pilot opened the throttle and I was thrown back into my seat, the world rushing past my window, and then, we were airborne. The world just slips away, the wheels embed themselves in the creature and we climb, upwards and upwards, passing from controller to controller, higher and higher, before the engines return to the low hum, the aircraft levels off and I can sit back and enjoy the flight.

I immediately set about doing some work, I knew I had my GCSE’s upcoming, so I knew that I had things to be getting on with. I pulled out my tray table and sat down, flicking through my revision guide, cramming in some extra information before my exams.

As the evening approached, the cabin crew came round the cabin, offering some tasty food before the cabin lights were dimmed. With some scrumptious Chicken Katsu Curry, and a tasty hot apple crumble for pudding. I sat back in my seat, feeling very full, wondering if having thirds of the curry was a good idea. The cabin crew handed me some more snacks for the flight, complete with a fizzy bottle of water that looked like it was about to explode!

As sunset approached, the cabin lights dimmed. People nestled down in their seats, plugging in headphones, smiles poking round the sides of their faces. The low hum of a reclining seat, and the soft glow of a mobile phone; a stark contrast to the enveloping darkness of the cabin. The world darkened, but still we flew on. Crossing contents, seas and skies. The bright stars on the horizon guiding us across the globe. We travelled on, passing the cold, icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean; past the scorching heat of the Nevada desert; over the proud mountains of Utah, just slipping away into the horizon behind us.

Every once in a while, I would wake, rearing to catch a glimpse of the world below, hoping to see a fleeing sight of the wild creatures that roam the desert or of a big blue whale in the treacherous Atlantic, or the bright neon lights of the apple of the world. Unfortunately, all I saw was the lesser-spotted Boeing 777, which are apparently not that rare now in the skies of the world.

It was strange, I thought to myself, looking out, how clear the skies were of clouds, not a cloud in sight. It was astounding, how clear it was, how fantastic it was to be able to see the whole globe from 36000ft. To be able to see every tree, blade of grass, right from my tiny window so high up. It was all so tiny, so tiny that I could reach out, and cover whole mountains with my thumb. I nestled back down into my seat, itching to get some rest; I knew tomorrow would be a long day.

I was awoken by the familiar soft ding. My eyes slowly opened, my senses coming back to me, the realisation and excitement setting into my body once more. Over the dull hum of the engines came the soft rustle of a bag and a sigh - someone forgot their phone charger. A few yawns and bleary eyes emerged from the enveloping blankets scattered across the cabin, and a few muffled soft sounds of a baby crying in the background travelled back to my ears. I sat up in my seat and clambered at the window blind, threw it open and poured my eyes across the landscape. I forgot it was 1am LA time - it was still dark, but this didn’t disappoint. The world looks so different in the dark; the cool, cool night. The scattered lights below us, the big, wide open crop circles in the desert. The silent, dark mountains, the peaks standing tall in the black. I pulled the blanket back over myself and pressed my nose against the window, watching the silent world go by.

And then, the nose pitched forward and we had begun our descent into San Fransisco. The cabin crew did one final check of the cabin, and I sat eagerly in my seat preparing myself for landing. Watching the world come racing back to us. The buildings getting bigger, the trees growing 7 years in 3 minutes, and the moon slipping behind the monumental mountains behind us. The dull hum from the engines had been replaced by a higher, more variable whine. The cabin atmosphere was tense; it was time.

The world came closer and closer, and I tried to cover a building with my finger, but it was now too big for my finger to cover. The world was speeding past the window at a terrific rate; buildings, cars, traffic, we were so close to the runway. I could feel it. A bang, a jolt, and swerve, a roar, a cry. The aircraft swerved. Spun round on the runway. The engines screamed. It felt like we were going to crash. I gripped my seat. Squeezed my eyes shut, praying. The speed slowed and the aircraft came to a slow and gentle roll. We were down.

I opened my eyes. I couldn’t contain my excitement, we were finally here! We taxied up to the stand and the aircraft engines familiar rumble came to a silence. I thew off my seatbelt and jumped up out of my seat. Pushing past passengers, racing down the isle to the exit. The Cabin crew smiled at me, and pointed to where the airbridge had connected to the aircraft door. I smiled back, and took my first steps into America. Walking down through the airbridge to the terminal. A few more steps and I was inside. I took one last look through the gigantic windows at the terminal gate at the queen who had safely traversed across contents to take me across the world. The light cirrus clouds forming patters above her in the sky; superhighways in the sky. I rummaged around to find my passport in my rucksack and smiled to myself as a walked through the terminal. 2021 had arrived.


Hope you all enjoyed that! After flying that flight it inspired me to do a bit of writing that has been really good practice for my GCSE English which is next week eeek !!

I’ve put in a few photos of my flight below, just to bring the story to life. And wherever you are, I hope your staying safe and looking foreword to travelling in real life sometime!!

(If anyone was also at KSFO around 09:30Z on 25/04/21, and saw a BA 747 with the callsign ‘Speedbird 2775’, you may have noticed that the landing was a bit more of a disaster than this story made out, and in fact I had a pretty spectacular crash on the runway. My only excuse was that I had about 1min and 20 secs of fuel remaining and it was stressing me out slightly ;)

2) British Airways 747-400 2200-09:30Z, Spedbird 2775///egll - ksfo (Heathrow - San Fransisco International

3) Photos:

  1. Takeoff from EGLL
  2. Cruising over Nevada
  3. Looking onwards at my landing from @cptmann 's plane
  4. An overhead shot of my awful landing
  5. A close up of the 747 during touchdown
  6. Caption this

*Air Crash Investigation intro plays *


My public exam HKDSE (A-Level) starts tomorrow, good luck in your exams :)

Very good writing, bringing your story to life, well done. :)