If you saw the recent Channel 4 documentary “The Plane Crash,” The Independent has a lengthy article about the four year quest to crash a Boeing 727 in order to make the documentary. That’s because US aviation officials would not allow a crash on its soil for fear that control over the aircraft would be loss and National Geographic, the programme’s co-producer, pulled out. Moreover, the jet that was intended to be used contained depleted uranium in its wings – something that would not fly with authorities nor with environmentalists.
Mexico’s civil aviation authority eventually granted permission for the British production and the Discovery Channel to stage the crash in a remote and uninhabited corner of the Sonoran Desert with the aircraft being piloted by James “Jim Bob” Slocum, a captain with FedEx who has survived three plane crashes. He and the crew parachuted a few minutes before impact with the aircraft being flown remotely from an aircraft behind it before it was sent plunging into the ground (You can view the crash sequence on The Independent’s website)
After the crash, scientists descended on the crash site and made the following, perhaps not so shocking conclusions that: 1) The pilots and front-row passengers would almost certainly have been killed, 2) Passengers in the centre would have survived with minor injuries and 3) Passengers in the rear would have been mostly unharmed.
I am not so sure if those are ground breaking conclusions given that the plane was intentionally sent nose first into the ground but it does suggest that cockpits and the front section of commercial airliners could use some strengthening.
Of course and as usually, there were some interesting and rather amusing comments posted with the article, including:
They need to make a film about our current government, which is a real “plane-crash in slow motion”
Could have saved all that bother by wiring up a regular Aeroflot flight using a Russian rustbucket.
Plane nose dives into ground. Scientists surprised that front is destroyed, rear less damaged.
But one of the best comments was:
Idea for new BBC show, ‘Celebrity Plane Crash’. Graham Norton and Jessie J try to land a passenger jet after a mid-air engine failure over the Andes. Viewers can adjust the plane’s flaps using the red button.
As for the documentary’s producer Geoff Deehan, he is looking for other “big bang” projects so long as it has “a scientific purpose” and no doubt, can generate some ratings! So perhaps we can look forward to watching a staged train crash or nuclear meltdown…