Oh Shit23rd October 2009
The morning British Airways flight from London Gatwick to Thessaloniki was completely uneventful up until a few moments before our scheduled landing, when the pilot applied full engine power and we made our way back up into the sky. As someone who has taken flying lessons I thought nothing of this; a go-around is a perfectly normal manouvre that can be caused by many things, most often an obstruction on the runway. However, when the undercarriage was raised and lowered twice in succession I began to wonder. My suspicions were confirmed when the pilot announced over the PA system that there was a minor technical problem that they hoped to resolve momentarily.
A few minutes later after more cycling of the undercarriage the pilot called for a senior member of cabin crew to the cockpit please. The only sound from the passengers was a screaming baby, though the wave of tension moving through the cabin was palpable. We didn't have to wait long to learn the problem; an announcement was made advising that there was a warning light in the cockpit indicating that the undercarriage was not locked in position, and though the problem might be a faulty sensor the crew felt it best to err on the side of caution, meaning that we would be making an emergency landing.
As a frequent air traveller and a private pilot I'm very well versed in the procedures for such situations, but regardless it was definitely not a time for complacency. After watching the crew demonstrate the the brace position I reread the safety card quickly, reviewing the procedures for operating the emergency exit beside me. By the time I'd done so the pilot called "Brace! Brace!" in a ludicrously calm tone that he could not possibly have felt. As I curled up into the required ball I figured I might as well relax; there wasn't anything I could do about the situation other than wait a few moments; it was about to end after all!
A few feet above the ground I heard the distinctive sound of both engines spinning down. This is critically important in any situation where an evacuation might be necessary, as escape slides are not useful if their occupants might be sucked into a jet engine. However, other than the eerie silence and the braced passengers the landing was entirely normal, other than the round of enthusiastic applause that broke out as the aircraft came to a dead stop two thirds of the way down the runway. The pilot advised us at this point that fire engines would be coming to inspect the aircraft before it was moved, though observing rather dryly that things were probably okay at this point as we're still on three sets of wheels. The relief etched on the faces of the cabin crew belied their calming words; it was quite clear that they'd been as worried as their passengers.
Magic Park23rd October 2009
Magic Park is located less than five kilometers from the local airport, and less than five hundred metres from a branch of TGI Fridays. The latter was exactly what the doctor ordered, as its supply of cocktails proved particularly beneficial for our collective nerves after the morning excitement. After a lengthy meal and unwind we made our way towards the park, which slowly began to spring to life fifteen minutes after the advertised time. We were accompanied into the park by a particularly impressive collection of feral cats, which for the early stage of the evening at least seemed to outnumber the human guests.
A quick wander around the place indicated a good selection of flat rides, a substantial log flume, and of course two roller coasters. The larger of these is Montagna (#1468), one of just three remaining Galaxi coasters in Europe. Though its visual appearance doesn't inspire confidence it actually rides very well, even down to the smooth stop at the end of the course. The same can be said of the obligatory Bruco Mela (#1469), one of three such rides that we expect to experience this weekend. We also tried the ferris wheel and the dark ride, the latter being a rather unique specimen that might almost have resembled a powered coaster.