Aviation near misses in China - just one of many

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
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Trip End Dec 31, 2011


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Flag of China  , Yunnan,
Sunday, September 21, 2008

It is not every day that you have a near miss in an airplane. The other day, we almost collided with an airplane. That plane was going quite fast. It was a close call.

Fortunately for us, we were able to take remedial action to avoid a crash. What's more, we were on the ground. And in an airport bus.

If you've ever been to Kunming airport you realise one thing: their ain't many places for airplanes to dock once they've landed. There's such a shortage of airbridges that most planes land and then are taken to a place off the runway where they discharge their passengers and reload.

When you land at Kunming airport, more often than not, an airport car somehow meets your plane as it comes off the runway and speeds in front of you. On its back window is a sign: Follow Me. I am not making this up (and it is a step up from the guy cycling in front of the plane to show it where to park).

So the other day, we were in an airport bus taking us to our parked car. There are lines showing where the bus should go, and normally the bus drivers follow this (though sometimes they cut corners). Our driver was going along following the line at a reasonable speed.

Up ahead, a car cut in front of us, but we carried on going, as it would be well clear of us by the time we got to the intersection. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw it: an Airbus 330 bearing down on us. The driver saw it a split-second later and slammed on the brakes, bringing our long bus with over 100 standing passengers to a skidding halt.

As people recovered from the sudden stop, we watched as the huge plane went in front of us. Quickly the driver changed gears into reverse and jolted back to avoid being struck by the long reach of the wings.

The plane was still travelling at some speed, and if our driver hadn't stopped or reversed, we would have either been run over by the plane, or at least clipped by the wings.

That was our excitement for the day.

We arrive at our parked plane. There is a casual atmosphere. The pilot has the window open and chats to the staff serving the plane below. In the late afternoon sun, it seems light and carefree, yet in minutes, we will be defying gravity, happy to be airborne.
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