Straight & level

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Manston memories The recent story (S&L, 14-20 December) about the captain who nearly fell out of the wrong jetway prompts Nephew Mike Strong to recount an event from the late 1960s when he was in air traffic control at what was then RAF Manston in the UK. One day the captain of a budget charter airline-operated Douglas DC-6 queried his airways joining clearance for Dover as he taxied out. ATC repeated the clearance, at which point the unfortunate captain announced he was on the wrong aircraft! "It turns out that he had been late reporting for duty and had simply rushed up the steps of the first aircraft he saw with its propellers turning. No jetways in those days," says Strong.

Quelle surprise

(Overheard in Budgie newsroom)

Rex Stocks: "According to this news service headline the French have launched a new spy satellite."

Monty Orangeball: "Ah yes, but how do they know?"

Space blues You may recall a recent picture on this august page of a happy pair of smiling cosmonauts with the caption explaining this was probably a Soviet-Chinese space mission. Wrong! According to Nephew Paolo Ulivi there never was a joint Soviet-Chinese space mission - so there. He thinks the picture is actually the crew of the joint Soviet-Mongolian Soyuz 39 flight: Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Jugderdemidiyn Gurragcha and adds (quite correctly) that the first Chinese citizen to fly in space was Captain Scarlet lookalike Yang Liwei. And to think that fact was one of the better questions in the 2003-4 Festive Quiz...apologies all round.

Sailing Dutchman Fed up with seeing some of its Boeing 747s lying around between flights not doing too much, KLM has hit upon a "classic" use for the Queen of the Skies. The 747QC4 (Quick Change Combi Canal Cruiser) has been developed and is undergoing initial sea trials. Restricted to the Amsterdam area until full certification, the airline eventually hopes to offer long-haul cruises to exciting destinations in the Caribbean. "It's proving very popular, particularly to our first-class passengers, who get spectacular views of the red light district from the upper deck," says marketing manager Ruud van Loada Guilder. Actually Brian, this is KLM's last "Classic", a rare 747-200SUD (stretched upper deck to those of you who thought this was a -300). Here the beautifully repainted aircraft is shown being barged to its final resting place at the National Aviation Aerodrome Theme Park at Lelystad, to which KLM donated it for the princely sum of g1!