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Frights of fancy

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. Manas Chakravarty writes.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2012 00:43 IST

Plane bound for Kozhikode lands in Kochi
Zee News, January 16

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We have landed at Ko…Kochikode…Kozhikode airport. We hope you had an enjoyable flight and wish you a pleasant stay here. Eh?.....Air Traffic Control speaking?....Really?….Oh. Er……ladies and gentlemen, surprise, surprise! It’s not Kozhikode at all, we’ve landed at Kochi. Heh, heh. A small navigational error, folks.

Oh come along, it’s no big deal. How was I to know the difference, I thought Kochi was short for Kozhikode. You should thank your lucky stars you’re in Kochi, Kerala and not Kochi, Japan. I initially thought we were headed for Kochi, a city on the southern coast of Shikoku island. Thankfully, my co-pilot said our destination was in Kerala. And believe me, I spoke to Air Traffic Control just a few minutes before landing and they didn’t say a thing. They asked me my co-ordinates and I told them I was sitting in the cockpit, on the right.

I think you guys got off pretty lightly. Just the other day a friend of mine landed in Kol, Papua New Guinea instead of in Kolkata, under the impression Kol was short for Kolkata. You can’t even imagine some of the mix-ups that happen. For instance, there are plenty of cities in the world called San Jose. One of them is in the US, another is in the Philippines and two others are in Costa Rica and Bolivia. Last year my older brother ferried a group of passengers all around the world trying to find out the right San Jose. He finally got them where they wanted to go, but it took him a week. And he’s a very experienced pilot, he downed five planes in the 1971 war, one of them an enemy aircraft.

Have you folks heard of Douglas ‘Wrong Way’ Corrigan, a legendary American aviator? In the 1930s he flew all the way from New York to Ireland when he was supposed to go to California, because he had been following the wrong end of the magnetic needle. People loved him for it, they didn’t have long faces like you lot. And Columbus thought he had discovered India, when actually he was in America. Sure, navigation has got better since then, but you still have to point the pointy end of the plane in the right direction before the auto pilot takes over. I’ve often wondered, if we lose luggage so easily, why can’t we do that with passengers?

You should be thankful your pilot isn’t one of those with a fake licence, or someone who passed out from a bogus flying school. You must also have heard of the fuss being made about airlines not following safety norms. If you were on one of those dodgy planes, we could be in Hell instead of Kochi by now. And Kochi is probably better than Hell. Just last week, I had to announce before landing, “We are now circling above the airport and will be landing as soon as they’ve cleared away the bits and pieces of the plane that landed before us.” Ha, ha, just kidding. But you get the picture.

So relax and enjoy our stopover in Kochi. In life, it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination. I hope you’ll overlook this little incident and continue to fly with Kingfisher Airlines. Eh? What? This is Alliance Air, not Kingfisher? Oh, sorry folks, my mistake, I must be on the wrong airline, bye.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint

The views expressed by the author are personal

First Published: Jan 22, 2012 00:33 IST