Global Voices writer Takashi Ota has pieced together an account of a Delta Jumbo Jet trying to land in Japan on March 11, 2011. Clearly this was a difficult call. Around 3PM, just after the large earthquake, there was massive turbulence and problems at a number of airports at Narita, Ibaragi, Fukushima, Sendai, which would affect air traffic everywhere else in the Japanese airspace.
On March 11, 2011, a Delta airplane pilot approaching Narita airport described his experience of an emergency landing. It was a vivid description that his record rapidly spread across the blogosphere. This particular jet was able to land at Chitose in Hokkaido:
Suddenly ATC comes up and gives us a vector to a fix well short of Chitose and tells us to standby for holding instructions. Nightmare realized. Situation rapidly deteriorating. After initially holding near Tokyo, starting a divert to Nagoya, reversing course back to Tokyo then to re-diverting north toward Misawa, all that happy fuel reserve that I had was vaporizing fast. My subsequent conversation, paraphrased of course…., went something like this:Glad I was not on that jet, everyone who was has my full sympathies.
“Sapporo Control - Delta XX requesting immediate clearance direct to Chitose, minimum fuel, unable hold.”
“Negative Ghost-Rider, the Pattern is full” < << top gun quote <<<
“Sapporo Control - make that - Delta XX declaring emergency, low fuel, proceeding direct Chitose”
“Roger Delta XX, understood, you are cleared direct to Chitose, contact Chitose approach….etc….”
Glad the pilot and the tower could bring everyone back home, safely.