Monday, April 09, 2007

The Brakes Were Glowing Red

I had just endured one of the least pleasant aspects of travelling from Australia to Europe with QANTAS - the stopover in Bangkok. It is a tired airport that offers poor respite. But we were back in the plane and thundering down the runway heading for Frankfurt when suddenly we were thrown forward in our seats as the reverse thrust came on and the brakes were applied. The complete inability to do anything except hang in the seatbelt was remarkable. The g-forces were probably not that great but were sufficiently strong to overcome any ability to sit upright or move your arms. Turns out the fuel pump on one of the engines had failed so the crew elected to stop and replace it.

We stopped at the end of the main runway and blocked it for an hour as the brakes cooled down.The Thai fire crews rushed out, seen here approaching the plane (the humidity had fogged up the windows), all jumping out of the vehicles and excitedly pointing in the area of the nose wheel and the main undercarriage. The Captain came through a few minutes later and explained the brakes were "glowing cherry red" and we would stay where we were until they had cooled down.

Five hours later we took off again. After enduring another painful four hours at Don Muang airport, Bangkok.

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