Aviation’s ‘Open Door’ Policy In The Last Century – By Cliff Rockefellow
Editor’s note: This story doesn’t involve sex, drugs or rock and roll, but after hearing it, you may think someone was on drugs to pull a stunt like this! I just had to pass it on. I asked my buddy Cliff to write it down so I could post it, and he did. This true story is about an airplane flight that you definitely would not want to be on. This was a simpler, more care-free time. A time before 911 and strict aviation standards. A time when someone apparently wasn’t thinking clearly…
My parents used to love Spain and Portugal and vacationed there in the 1960′s and ’70s. After that they chose mundane places – Hawaii and the yearly month or so in Florida during the winter. But their FAVORITE place to go was Playa Mallorca (that’s what they called it – the real name is longer). They bought Mateus there, before it was available in the U.S.A. and kept it buried in the sand there to keep it cool. Later on,(as the years passed), billions of cases of the stuff were sold in America.
So, anyway (my dad and mom) were in Lisbon one day and flew back to Mallorca on a Russian airliner (Aeroflot-flop) and the damn thing throttled up and got up to speed on the runway when the front entry door ripped open – like all the way back to the fuselage. The door was designed ingeniously to open towards the aft, with the airflow, instead of allowing the speed of the wind passing by to keep it shut.
The pilot (this was a GOOD idea) reversed the engines and the plane came to stop about 100 feet short of the end of the runway. The pilot got on the intercom and said, simply and calmly, that there would be a few minute delay before take off.
Half an hour later an old Ladder Truck pulled up and a really scrawny unshaven filthy and hung-over looking guy got out wearing overalls and boots that were falling apart from the soles up – carrying 2 tools in his hand. They were a PIPE WRENCH and a HAMMER – and that was it!
So he pulled his ladder out of the truck, put it up to the open door and barely made it crawling through into the plane with his tools – at which point he pulled the door closed as far as he could and began hitting the latch and hinges with the pipe wrench. Then for good measure he used the hammer not to hit anything but to use the claw to pry the gaps in the door back to where they should have been and supposedly where they were before the “incident”. This was all to no avail – he’d latch the door and kick it and it would spring back open.
After 10 tries or so he went back to the truck, got some ROPE, got back into the plane, pulled the door shut and proceeded to tie the door latch handle to a seat on the other side of the cabin. He then said something in Russian to the pilot who replied “OK”? (a universal phrase) and the mechanic said “DA!!! DA!!!” and then went to the back of the plane and jumped out a rear door. After the pilot checked the front ‘door realignment’ job and latched the rear door, (that) the mechanic had escaped from he taxied around AND TOOK OFF!
The flight was 45 minutes late – 2 hours ahead of schedule by Aeroflot standards…
TRUE TRUE and TRUE!