Saturday, November 29, 2008
Off to England
Next, as an investigative reporter, I was sent to England. In order to disguise my mission and to save money I was sent on a goodwill junket. What had happened was that a large passenger plane operated by British Airways had crashed over Rome and nearly 300 passengers had died in the crash. The concept of the fuselage was new but the plane was powered by Rolls Royce. I found it hard to believe that the engines had failed. After we got to Manchester I played sick and hired a guide and a vehicle so I could visit the factory where the body of the plane was built and assembled. There was a lot of gloom at the plant. Finally I talked to a major source who told me in understandable language what had happened. The plane was not sufficiently designed for high altitude. About the third time it was flown to 20,000 feet it just simply flew apart. I had my story and returned to the tour. The other visitors made fun of me but who cares. I apologized. Meanwhile the United States contractor had cancelled with the British company and was buying a plane made in California. It was the most significant aviation story of the decade. I returned home and wrote the story. But management was afraid of it because I could not name a source. I did not want to double cross my informant. Finally my story was pigeonholed. About nine months later the story broke in England. It was too late for the British company and the California company profited by the turn of circumstances. Aviation has changed a lot since then. This blog will resume Tuesday.