From Paul Best,

This event didn’t happen to me but to my brother Ned.  He was flying from NRT to Beijing (PEK) and as they passed through Korean airspace they were directed to contact Beijing Control.  Ned checked in on the frequency and was told “Beijing closed, state your intentions”.  He asked why was Beijing closed and the controller just repeated “Beijing closed, state your intentions”.  With no navigation aids he went into a holding pattern using the INS leg.  He contacted the company and told them that Beijing was closed and asked what did they want them to do with the flight.  After several minutes of trying to find out why Beijing was closed, they advised them to go to Seoul and land there.  Ned asked the Chinese controller for clearance back to Seoul.  As they re-entered Korean airspace they were told that they would not be able to land there because they were coming from a Communist country.  They contacted the company again and told them the situation.  The NWA dispatchers had never heard of this and were dumbfounded.  Finally, after realizing there was no other option they told him to bring the flight back to Narita.  Since they were running into a curfew situation, they asked for and received a clearance “Direct to the outer marker” at Narita.  They landed at Narita, went back to the hotel and never were able to find out why Beijing was closed. 


A funny story of my own.  I had flown from NRT to PEK and as usual it was pitch black and semi fog/smog on the approach.  After landing, I turned off of the runway and as I made the turn onto the parallel taxiway, I realized there was a man on a bicycle with no lights pedaling down the taxiway.  He was no more than 25 to 30 feet from me.  And he definitely wasn’t the “Follow Me” guy.  We advised the ground controller and he said “Roger” and that was that.  We just followed the bicyclist until he finally turned off at an intersection.  Do you remember on the approaches into PEK colliding with the fruit bats on final approach?  They are large bats and have soft bodies.  You couldn’t even hear them as they hit the aircraft.  I would have liked to look and see what the mess looked like on the nose and the wings but, of course, they wouldn’t allow us to go down on the ramp. 


“I learned about flying from that.


Friends and Colleagues

In the era of my Air Force service I was assigned to a MATS Troop Carrier Sqd. in the South Caroline and Georgia. MATS (Military Air Transport Service) or (Midnight Air Trucking Service) ( + other unprintable definitions) published an excellent publication called the MATS FLYER. I have to hand it MATS for having the wisdom to distribute an ‘in house’ publication that was both humorous and self-effacing. Included in the MATS FLYER was a section termed, “I learned about flying from that.” These ‘Oh *hit’ experiences were indeed worthy reads. In a similar context I am forwarding unique aviator stories to you that have been submitted by your colleagues. There are all intended for your amusement and not intended to deride anyone.