Play / pause Icing


  • Alice McDermott
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon


Probably the most afraid I've been

is the middle of the Atlantic at night

coming back from Canada to the UK

in a Hercules

and we encountered mid-Atlantic some icing

that started to build up on the aircraft.

Now, normally what you do is you climb

out of the icing layer

'cause you climb above it

but what was happening was we kept climbing

and we seemed to still be in this icing layer.

I think the engines were starting,

the intakes were starting to ice

because we had a couple of dips in the engines.

Now, if that happened and you're over the UK,

you just wouldn't worry, you'd descend out of it,

you'd go down, you'd find somewhere to land

but when you're mid-Atlantic,

you're faced with if I descend,

I'm too low and I'm burning too much fuel

to get to Cork to the nearest diversion in Ireland

but I can't climb out of it

because the weight of the ice on the aircraft

is building you up and making you too heavy to climb.

We had to make that critical decision

where we actually turned off

the anti-icing system

so we diverted all our power possible to the engines

to try and climb above it.

And we did.

And we started to lose all the ice

but there was just that moment

and I think it was heightened

by the location in the middle of the Atlantic

and it was night and it was dark

and I don't why it just seemed a bit more scary at night

because you thought well,

if we go down, we can't make land.

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