Delays, they aren’t fun, you’ve been apart of them and hated them. I was once delayed overnight in Perth due to storms on the other side of the country while flying Qantas but if I had been born a half-century earlier, flying the same airline and been in the right place at the right time I could have been delayed for another reason and one that was truly magical but since when were delays good?
Let’s head back to 1969, Boeing’s brand new “jumbo jet” was in testing, Concorde’s first flight took place but most importantly for this story, the Americans landed the first man on the moon. Now I’m not defending the U.S by any stretch, they accept Texans as normal people which is a true crime against humanity, this occasion, however, is different, they were about to commence their descent back to Earth after the first moon mission or “Apollo 11”. While the astronauts were preparing to come back to Earth, the pilots of QF596 were preparing to fly above it, their flight from San Fransisco to Brisbane was captioned by Frank Brown. Captain Brown had been studying the QF596 flight path for weeks in an attempt to do something never been done by a commercial flight before, see a spacecraft re-enter earth’s atmosphere, so what was the flight like?
Qantas’s somewhat new 10 years old Boeing 707 flew about 450km’s parallel to the spacecraft’s re-entry path after taking off two hours late. For three magical minutes, everyone on board that flight saw a series of lights including the separate lights of the service module which broke off before the command module impacted the Pacific. After the three minutes, the spacecraft disappeared over the horizon, never to be seen by the 707 again. Onboard the cabin crew served such meals as “Roast Loin of Lamb Aldrin”, “Moon Mints” and “Chilled Lunar Lobster with Collins Sauce”. Passengers were also given a certificate to commemorate their right place right time achievement.
It’s unknown if the aircraft landed on time or it’s rego but what is know is that a simple delay can turn in to a memorable experience or a horrible experience if you choose to fly American. It’s fair to say that flight is a truly incredible thing and even more incredible if your entertainment is watching some astronauts splashdown.
Qantas “V-Jet” 707 image credit