Testing times Budgie News: "So what certification tests did you pass to clear the Megajet Turbofab?" Megajet: "Oh you know, all the usual: blade off, icing, 150h endurance, crosswind, ice, graduate trainee ingestion..." Budgie: "And I hear one of the big ones was the flocking bird test." Megajet: "Yes, but it is pronounced slightly differently if you fail the test."

More wild tales Nephew David Cox tells me of an incident on a Swiss Avro RJ a couple of years ago when, during an A check of the interior and overhaul of the life vests, a tarantula leapt from the overhead rack and disappeared under the seats - after first biting an unfortunate woman on the hand. And the spider? No trace of it was ever found again, apparently. Meanwhile, Nephew Geoffrey Newman tells me about the time when, as a raw young controller at a Far East ATCC, he received a message scribbled on a message pad: "C20 Pan Pan Pan Snake in the cockpit." Alarums and excursions at aircraft base, summoning of doctors and the gulli-gulli man, and then the query: "What sort of snake?" C20, by this time back in VHF contact, replied: "What snake? I can't see anything for the smoke in the cockpit." A subsequent order required messages to be printed, not written in longhand.

Putting the 'man' in Manpads At a ceremony to recognise their accomplishments, our man in Belgium spoke to the crew of the DHL Airbus A300 that survived a missile attack in Iraq in November 2003. Belgian Budgie: "What was the first thing you realised when you were hit? Steve Michielsen: "I thought: S**t. I'll lose my licence if I screw this up." Mario Rofail: "There was no time to think. We were working hard. But I can tell you that when I got home I discovered I had no need for Viagra!"

Steady as she goes No, not a fake, nor an emergency landing or even a mistaken landing on a taxiway. This is the actual landing of an early South African Airways Boeing 747 at Rand airport, to where it was being retired after years as a workhorse of the fleet. The small airfield, elevation 5,568ft (1,700m), has a runway just 1,493m long and 15m wide, which, if you refer to your "Big Book Of Amazing Aeroplane Facts" is slightly over 0.9m wider than the main gear of the 747!

Source: Flight International