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I was having a pretty good day, just having finished a successful auction, found my missing coat that I left at a restaurant, narrowly avoided a parking ticket, and was passed by a highway patrolman who was after someone else. I got the last seat on an early flight home to Austin on American from Bradley Airport through Dallas.

About 45 minutes out from DFW, the captain explained that the luggage door in the back of the plane was unlatched. The captain said, in effect, "While this isn't a problem now due to the pressurization holding the door in place, it will be once the plane is about to land." So we were told to expect some emergency vehicles on the tarmac to spot any luggage so it wouldn't get in the way of other planes.

I never trust pilots to tell the truth to passengers in an emergency-landing situation so I called my wife to tell her I loved her just in case (I did this before it was fashionable on one other emergency landing due to a tail screw problem about 10 years ago). No one else seemed nervous. The flight attendants seemed pretty upbeat. I pondered the seat back that was not upright in front of me, but I would rather die than commit a faux pas, so I waited for the flight attendant to attend to it.

When we landed, I counted 9 emergency vehicles on the right side of the plane. We stopped on the tarmac for about 5 minutes and they circled us. Then we headed for the gate. When we made a turn, I could see about six of them following behind the plane. We arrived at the terminal safely. We had probably delayed all of DFW traffic for a time.

On my flight to Austin, the next pilot missed our gate and had to do a 360 turn to get back to it. That was a pretty weird trip.


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Gordon Hanson wrote:

Re: "Unlatched"

I'm curious about this term "the tarmac" that I see and hear used in connection with airports.

I know it's a Brit term for asphalt, which is why it's puzzling that people will refer to acres upon acres of white concrete ramp space as "the tarmac". Tarmac's the black stuff.

There's no such term in the aviation. No airplane is ever parked on "the tarmac", at least at any of the airports I've ever flown to, domestic or international, in my aviation career.

So what's up with "the tarmac"?

Mike Borgelt wrote:

"tarmac" Very common term in Brit and Australian aviation. No matter what the surface is really made of.
"ramp" in the USA.

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This page contains a single entry by Sam published on February 8, 2008 7:45 AM.

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