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Pilot recalls emergency during 1982 ash cloud

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Pilot recalls ash cloud horror
  • Eric Moody: "The engines just ran down"
  • Passengers told to prep for emergency crash landing
  • At 13,000 feet, three of the engines start working again
  • Plane lands in Jakarta
  • Air Travel
  • Iceland
  • United Kingdom

Eric Moody was the pilot aboard a British Airways flight that managed, barely, to fly through volcanic ash thrown up by Mount Galunggung in Indonesia in 1982. All four of the engines stopped because of the ash, and the plane glided through the air for about 15 minutes, he said.

"The engines just ran down," Moody said. "We couldn't see out the windscreen and half the electronic aids to landing weren't working, either."

Passengers were told to prepare for an emergency crash landing, with Moody making this now-famous announcement to passengers: "Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, it's Captain Eric Moody here. We've got a small problem in that all four engines have failed. We're doing our utmost to get them going, and I trust you're not in too much distress."

Eventually at 13,000 feet, three of the engines started working again and the plane was able to land in Jakarta.

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"I don't know how thick this ash is, but I wouldn't go anywhere near it," Moody said of the ash from a volcano in Iceland causing flight cancellations across Europe.