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May 26 , 2010

With My Head In The Clouds: Part 2


“It was in the March that I nearly met my maker. I was in the descent and as we passed 10,000ft I brought the speed down to the required two hundred and fifty knots. We had just cleared the cloud cover and into clear skies and I was just changing a radio frequency when I suddenly looked up and saw a light aircraft about half a mile ahead coming straight at me descending at the same rate as I was. At our closing speeds we would have collided within a few seconds so there was no time for the standard recommended avoidance procedure of each aircraft turning to the right. I remember grabbing the control column and shoving it fully forward to go underneath the guy but at that instant he did the same. The force that I used disconnected the autopilot accompanied by the loud wailing sound. So there I was heading steeply down with the opposition doing the same. I instinctively pulled the controls fully backwards to try to go over the top of him. He did the same. So I just kept pulling back harder and harder until the control column was fully wedged in my stomach. This all happened over a timespan of about three seconds and he was looming larger and larger in my windscreen and there was nothing I could do about it.”

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The author, Captain Gwyn Mullett, was born in Montreal, Canada in 1946 and moved to England at an early age. He went to the College of Air Training near Southampton in 1964 direct from school. Graduating in 1966 he joined BOAC in the same year and commenced his airline flying world as a Co-Pilot on the magnificent VC-10. He flew a wide range of airliners until his retirement in 2001 after 34 years of continuous service. He finally retired to Berlin, Germany with Jo his wife and has two children Paul and Jenny.

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