Landing a 747

I have likely seen every episode of Myth-busters. I have learned likely a few dozen useless things in the show. On the other hand, there are a few of the shows I disagree with, the air-conditioned car vs four windows down for instance. In the show, they ran the car with the air-conditioning full on. I do not run my car with the air on full for more than a few minutes. Once the car is cool, I run it about 1/4, even in the the south’s 100 degree summer.

For those unaware of the show (What planet do you live on?) they try to prove/disprove myths. Well, actually, they are not all myths. Sometimes they are just sayings, like “Blow his socks off.” That one failed miserably. It is literally impossible to blow a person’s socks off.

That is all neither here nor there. I would like to zero in on one that I found particularly interesting, the landing of a 747. The reason I had such an interest is that I have tried it… on my Micro Soft Flight Simulator. Even after several attempts, my 747 ended up in a heap near the end of the runway.

At any rate, in the myth, they tried to prove/disprove the myth about a plane being landed by a person who is not a pilot, as in many movies where the crew is disabled. (Doris Day was in one of them… a 4 engine prop plane.)

For the episode, they decided on a 747. Well not a real one, but a simulator far better than mine. They used one that they use for training real pilots. At first, they did not do much better than me.

At this point, let me remind one and all just what all is involved in landing a modern jet liner. Most land at speeds of 150 mph, twice the legal speed of an interstate. It is critical that it remain lined up on a runway, while making the proper decent. Descend too steep and you will end up short of the runway. At some airports, that means — in the drink. Descend too slow and you’ll run off the end of the runway. There are real instances of both by real pilots. And by the way, it is also imperative that you maintain the right speed, lower the flaps and landing gear at the right time, and a few other trivial details like apply the reverse thrusters properly at the right time.

At first, the Myth Buster crew did not do much better than me. Then after some training, they did a decent job of it. Mind you this was on a simulator under ideal conditions.

Then, the fella what ran the simulator explained two things that about knocked my socks off. First, it never happened. On commercial airliners, the pilot or copilot has always been available to land the plane. Second, the 747 can land itself. Someone from the ground can tell someone in the air how to set it all up and the plane can come in on autopilot.

Now, I got to thinking about it the other day. I think there is an exception to that, in a way. President Trump had the whole country so that it could fly on autopilot for the next 4 years. When he turned the controls over to Biden, all he had to do was keep his hands off the controls. Maybe before he left The White House, President Trump should have instructed that Biden not be permitted to have any pens. It would appear that Biden has proved, over and over, that the pen is mightier than common sense instructions.

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