Early this morning, the Air Sahara Boeing 737 that has disrupted flights in and out of Bombay for three days (!) was finally extricated. When it landed on Sunday, this plane could not stop before the end of the runway and rolled 500 feet further, into the grassy area beyond. There it stayed for over 72 hours.
Passengers on the flight were naturally upset. After it stopped in the grass, some of them had to jump off, all were asked to run from the plane for it might explode. One family is planning to sue the airline. "I asked an airhostess to hold my daughter," the Hindustan Times quotes the young mother saying, "but she didn't respond. She was trying to save herself."
Passengers on other flights were naturally upset too. They circled the airport for hours, and often didn't land anyway. "We were No. 13 on the landing list," writes one such passenger in the Hindustan Times, and eventually "the flight lived up to its unlucky number" -- running out of fuel, it landed at Ahmedabad. Therefore, "no wonder India is the way it is."
Be all that as it may. What intrigues me most about this episode are the several photographs the papers have carried of the stranded aircraft. You see dozens of men and lots of equipment surrounding it. Clearly they are hard at work trying to figure out how to save the plane.
But you also see at least three men sitting on chairs in the shade afforded by the left wing. In the shot I'm looking at (HT October 11 front page), one man has his legs up, his head lolling back. Clearly he's asleep.
Who are these guys, what are they doing, and how did they get this particular job?