That was the comment from Barry Townley, flight engineer on board a British Airways 747-200 (G-BDXH), when the aircraft unknowingly flew into a volcanic cloud on June 24, 1982, shutting down all four of the Rolls-Royce RB211 engines. What follows below is the account of the pilot in command, Captain Eric Moody, who landed crippled Speedbird 9 in Jakarta. David Learmount interviewed Moody following the incident for the 10 July 1982 issue of Flight International. Air travel in Europe ground to a halt today after the eruption of a volcano in Iceland on the Eyjafjallajokull glacier that sent a cloud of ash east across the Atlantic toward northern Europe. Read the full PDF article.
Also check out the British Airways documentary on the operations of its 747-200 fleet in A Tale of Two Jumbos, which cronicles the global travels of XH's sister ships, XG and XE.