After a gig in Egypt recently I was talking one of the crew who had booked me and it turned out he wasn’t just “crew”… he was a pilot. A proper day-in-day-out pilot for a good airline. Not just some weekend warrior out for a laugh. Obviously I was buzzing about this and settled in with my list of questions for someone in the business.
Before I go through these, I’ve got to say that I love clapping when a plane lands. I fly all the time; in fact I am writing this on a plane but I still love clapping a great landing. It’s appreciative. It’s embracing some childlike wonder into an experience that has otherwise been sapped of its magic.
People who hate clapping when you land are the worst.
“No one claps me when I do my job”, they say.
Well, you working in marketing whereas someone upfront just brought 180 souls safely back down to tarmac from 35000ft and the person next to me didn’t even wake up.
So what did I ask? Basically, the stuff that they nay-sayers have told me when I clap landings.
- You’re only clapping a computer. It’s all done automatically nowadays.
I’m delighted to report that my pilot friend said this is not true. When the plan heads down from cruising altitude and then touches down. That’s all by hand. The exception which is when pilots land using instruments due to poor visibility but this is the exception not the rule.
- The cockpit in insulated and they can’t even hear it.
Again, happy to say this is false. Pilots can often hear a nice little ripple coming through the cockpit and the cabin crew always come through to report it after landing. You can imagine the smile breaking open beneath the nose and sunglasses.
Finally, the most interesting thing I learned is that a gentle landing isn’t necessarily a good landing. Sometimes, in difficult conditions – the kinds of winds that gets Big Jet TV viewership into the thousands – you just gotta “stick it”. Get that bird out of the sky. It’s going to wake up every last person on board but at least they’ll be safely on the ground.
Honestly, I’d like to clap this type of landing but I think it’s going to be hard to turn this into applause. In the game of clapping landings, you have to pick your battles.
Anyway, I hope that if you’ve read this then you might consider joining the applause from drunk tourists in Row 27. They’re not just drunk. They’re bang on.