May 13, 2010

Sandstorm My Arse

It took me a couple of attempts to reach Tripoli.

We set off from T5 (which is always a joy) yesterday at 17:30. After flying for around 3 hours El Pilot tannoys thusly: "We have been told to go back to London. A severe sandstorm has reduced visibility at Tripoli International airport to zero. We cannot land anywhere else and fly you to Tripoli tomorrow because all their hotels are full and stuff. We will get you all a room in London and you can fly again tomorrow". I got under four hours kip at the Renaissance Hotel in Bath Road, and headed out to T5 again after a stunningly good brekkie.

This is a sandstorm:

This is what Tripoli airport looked like yesterday (and today, when I arrived):

The real reason the airport was closed is pictured below. It was an horrific crash that claimed 103 lives.

I had a gut feeling that we would not be landing at Tripoli airport yesterday and told people so. I told my boss. I told Mrs Ranty. I told my travel arranger. I told my host in Libya. I told several BA staff members. No-one listens to old Ranty.

Why do airlines have a problem with telling the truth? Did they imagine that all 20 of us onboard would lose it? Start screaming? Fainting? Maybe we have become terrified of knowing the truth (of anything) now, and prefer a good old fiction instead?

I'd also dearly love to know what the hell they served up and called food. This....experiment arrived and I tried like buggery to eat it. First, it was served at thermonuclear temperature. The yellow liquid looked like eggs, but because of the heat I couldn't swear to it. The black things vaguely resembled mushrooms but all taste had been tortured out of them so I am not certain. (No bacon, no sausages. Arabs on board, see?). The red things may have been tomatoes but they exploded on contact with my teeth, scorched my lips and were spat back out. There was also a hash-browny effort, which I think was lobbed in just to take your eye off the ball. It did not taste hash-browny to me so I shoved it to one side. Sadly, the plastic fork melted on contact so I had to finish the rest of the 1,000 degree slop with a spoon. That was over eight hours ago now, and I still have no sense of feeling in my tongue or lips.

That'll match the left side of my noggin then.

I suspect that there is a conspiracy afoot to make yer old Capt Ranty completely numb. Utterly feelingless.

Just like a Labour MP.

Still, a safe landing in the end, and they are the sort I like best.

What is happening in your world?



Henry North London 2.0 said...

I have thrown off my shackles and my old internet presence.

There was a disturbance in the force yesterday

Captain Ranty said...

Shackle-free is best, FoE.

Best of luck with your new found freedom!

Tastes good, does it not?


Henry North London 2.0 said...


It is really good

James Higham said...

Phew - so it wasn't you came down in that plane.

Captain Ranty said...

Fortunately not, James.

It was coming from the wrong direction, heading north from Joburg. I fly south, almost exclusively, when I set off.

A tragedy nevertheless. The wee Dutch lad grows stronger by the day. He is a lucky, lucky boy. My bet is that he will (wrongly) feel guilty about his survival when he grows up. I hope they (the shrinks) head that one off at the pass long before it hoves into view. (Apologies for the mixed metaphors. I am full of tiredness).


Unknown said...

God your being put through the mill at the moment CR. Glad to see you've not lost your sense of humour. Keep smilin'.

banned said...

Lots of stories of flyers returning unholidayed as the Ash Attack centres on the Med for a while.

Splendid description of your "experimental" meal, you should send it to the airline CEO as that chap did to Richard Branson a while back.

LazyCookPete said...

Any landing you can walk away from is a good 'un.

It doesn't help when the pilot leaps out after landing and kisses the tarmac!

LazyCookPete said...


I agree with you mate; some meals are criminal, and like bent coppers, judges and MPs, need exposing.

Ranty does have a style though... Maybe there is a future as an international food writer for him; he's better and funnier than most of the pompous idiots who currently write about food.

Captain Ranty said...


Lots of people have it worse than me. Inconvenience I can live with.

And when the choice is to laugh or cry, I always go the same way. Often there is bugger all you can do about it, so why get upset?


Captain Ranty said...


I have flown thousands of times and as much as I would like to say that all landings were as gentle as a kiss on a newborns forehead, they weren't.

Some have been downright scary. So much so that on leaving the aircraft I have been known to ask the smiling pilot "Did we land, or were we shot down?".

I made over 400 helicopter flights out to the North Sea during my decade working on the rigs, and I have heard grown men scream. On at least one occasion, I was one of them.

When people talk about their terror of second hand smoke, I laugh like a man demented. These people have no idea what real danger/risk is. They should walk a mile in my shoes. I promise you they will never complain about SHS ever again.

They need some perspective.


LazyCookPete said...


I know that feeling well; one landing at Wellington, NZ in a cross wind was very scary.

I also served with an EOD team, so that cotton-mouth feeling is no stranger to me.

I'm now too old for such heroics, and glad to be out of it.

Captain Ranty said...


I did one of those sideways landings deep in the Sahara desert in a single-engine plane. The pilot, a South African, laughed during this very frightening landing. I asked him afterwards why he was laughing and he said "Man, if I am going to check out, I'm going to do it with a smile. I have had a good life".

With just the two of us in the aircraft there was no doubt as to the source of the pungent odour. He said "Christ, can you smell that?" I said, "Smell it? I'm fucking sat in it!".

I'm too old for these adventures as well. I'm just too stupid to realise it....


LazyCookPete said...


Yeah mate; age comes to all of us - if we're lucky.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

I recognise all too well that BA breakfast. I too have spat the scalding tom, pondered the black things, thought about WW2 powdered egg and fretted for a day afterwards with scalded lips and tongue.

The bread rolls would be confiscated at security if you tried to get through with them.

BA need to overhaul their catering - that's a certainty. Trouble is, like so many organisations these days - rather than fix what's wrong - they'll throw a pile of money at PR creeps.

The T5 lounge food is fine - why, oh why, can't they keep an eye on on board food?

Lost said...

Every landing is a controlled crash, you should see some of mine :)

Your south African pilot and I could be separated at birth, I like his outlook.

I've found humming 'Ride of the Valkyries' through the headsets on short steep finals allways gets a good response.

Well makes me chuckle anyways.

Nice to know you made it Cap, stay safe.


Chuckles said...


Yes the 'Khe Sanh approach' can focus the mind wonderfully at times, can't it?

Unknown said...

Maybe you should have waited for it to cool down?> A feat my 2 and a 1/2 year old son might be smart enough to do, where i to chance it. Hmm.

Sarky first comment i know, but i do like the blog. Bit silly of you though wasnt it - would you prefer the stewardesses to cool it for you by blowing on it? Do you then agree that mcdonalds should have been successfully sued for not having "caution: hot" printed on their coffe cups to ward away passing buffoons?

Well, do you?

Captain Ranty said...


Of course I could I have written the piece differently. I could have reduced the whole paragraph to one line:

"The meal was tasteless. And hot. I blew on it to cool it down".

The story would then have been as bland as the meal. I was hoping for humour. It obviously by-passed you. I will try harder next time.

And I am not a fan of frivolous litigation. For evidence of that all you had to do was read my earlier post about my severed nerve.


Unknown said...

It was funny, i just couldnt sympathise with your plight. I realise i was being a bit twatish though.

Captain Ranty said...

I didn't want sympathy. I just wanted to make you smile.

Mind you, a clever bloke would have just sent it back uneaten.

Who knows? Perhaps it might have cooled down enough by now for forensic experts to try and establish just what it was....