Two 747’s Almost Crash Over Scotland — And That’s Not The Scariest Part

On a course headed for what might have been the worst disaster in aviation history, two Boeing 747 aircraft came within 100 feet of each other in a near-miss event over Scotland.

It happened in June of this year but the report is just now being released by by the UK Airprox Board, which examines near misses in UK airspace. The planes were 30 miles north of Glasgow when an air traffic controller noticed they were moving closer together. Ordered to fly in different directions, cockpit crews apparently got the instructions reversed and wound up flying towards each other.

“It was apparent that both crews had taken each others’ instructions, and the board found it hard to determine why this had occurred,” noted the Airprox report, a reported in a SkyNews article.Odds are all four pilots in the two aircraft probably were not paying a lot of attention to ground control, already having received clearance to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Compounding the problem: both planes had been ordered by air traffic control to fly at 34,000 feet.

The really scary part: A crash was only prevented because two pilots on each aircraft saw each other. Taking evasive action avoided collision with one plane climbing and the other diving.

UK Passenger Jet Barely Misses UFO

They were on their final approach to Scotland’s Glasgow airport when an unidentified object passed within 300 feet of the Airbus A320 passenger jet. “Er yeah we just had something pass underneath us quite close [1255:30] and nothing on TCAS have you got anything on in our area” said the pilot to Glasgow tower, reports the BBC.

The TCAS’ of which the pilot mentions is the A320’s Traffic Collision Avoidance System, which communicates with other aircraft, several times per second, alerting two aircraft that are dangerously close to each other. The system was silent as the A320 was preparing to land, in clear conditions, at an altitude of about 4,000 feet. It was then that the pilot and non-flying pilot saw an object about 300 feet (100 meters) ahead.

Described as “blue and yellow or silver in color with a small frontal area, but ‘bigger than a balloon,’ the object moved quickly and came so close to the A320 that the pilot filed a near-miss report with authorities.Glasgow air traffic control said that while there were no other objects in the area of the A320 at the time, they did have an “unidentified track history” 1.3 nautical miles east of the A320’s position 28 seconds earlier.

Not likely another aircraft, glider, hang-glider, para-motor, para-glider, hot-air balloon or helicopter – all of which would have shown up on radar. The object is still unidentified.

Here is animation of the event, as it unfolded:

[Photo credit – Flickr user by sebsphotos]

Book British Airways, Get Two Free Nights In The UK

If you’ve been thinking about crossing the Atlantic and heading to the United Kingdom, now is a great time to snag a deal. British Airways and VisitBritain have teamed up to offer “The Big British Invite,” a promotion gifting free two-night stays when travelers book round-trip airfare out of the United States.

The offer – which is valid through midnight on March 31, 2013, so long as flights and rooms are available and a few other terms and conditions are met – includes two free nights at double occupancy in a hotel through May 31, 2013.

Most of the hotels offered are in the 3-4 star range, such as the Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum (the same hotel that previously offered human bed warmers), and other hotels throughout London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle.

But the free stay isn’t all the sale gifts to travelers. Customers will also receive a “Better Island Band,” a bracelet that allows travelers to snag discounts and deals on attractions throughout the United Kingdom. This includes two for one scotch tastings at Glengoyne Distillery in Glasgow, two for one admission at Tower of London, an upgraded tour package at Cardiff Castle, and more.

For more information or to start booking, here’s more on the Big British Invite promotion.

[Photo credit: Blogger Libby Zay]

Remodeled Hunterian Art Gallery In Glasgow Reopens With Rembrandt Exhibition

The Hunterian Art Gallery, part of the Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, has just reopened after a nine-month remodel that expanded its exhibition space.

Its opening show is “Rembrandt and the Passion,” which showcases one of the Hunterian’s most famous works of art, Rembrandt’s “Entombment Sketch,” alongside the final painting of the “Entombment” (shown here courtesy the University of Leipzig) and about 40 other masterpieces.

Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) was one of Europe’s greatest painters and printmakers. This exhibition explains how the “Entombment Sketch” served as the model for the later painting. Rembrandt had been commissioned to create a series of paintings on the Passion of Christ for the Prince of Orange. It was one of the most important commissions of his career and helped give him a permanent standing among Europe’s major artists.

Since the sketch is in Glasgow and the final painting is usually in the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, this is a rare opportunity to see them side by side. The exhibition also examines Rembrandt’s studio, his painting process, inspiration and the techniques he used.

Besides its art gallery, the Hunterian Museum has a large collection of art and artifacts from all periods – everything from dinosaur bones to 19th century medical equipment – and a new permanent exhibition on the Antonine Wall, which was briefly the northernmost border of the Roman Empire in Scotland.

“Rembrandt and the Passion” runs from September 15 to December 2.

British Airports Authority Sells Duchess’ ‘Missing’ Jewels

Want to know what happens to your lost airport items? If you’re the Duchess of Argyll, you find them in an auction catalog six years after they went missing.

The duchess lost four pieces of jewelry valued at more than £100,000 in 2006 when traveling from London to her family’s home, Inveraray Castle, via Glasgow Airport.

Following proper procedure, the duchess reported the pieces missing to the police as well as the Art Loss Register.

We can only imagine her surprise when she found one of the items, a Cartier brooch, in a Scottish auction catalogue.

What happened?

A lawyer for the Art Loss Register, Christopher Marinello, told The Independent that the jewels had resurfaced several months after they were reported missing, but the British Airports Authority had simply sold the pieces and donated the profits to charity, as is their policy with any items returned to the lost and found after three months.

Of note, the pieces were sold for less than £5,000, but it has been confirmed that whomever purchased the pieces and then re-listed them with the auction house came across them fairly.Mr Marinello said: “Apparently, the airport found the jewels or they were turned in to ‘lost and found’ by someone… They didn’t call the police even though the airport police had a record of the theft. They didn’t call ALR. The only thing they did was sell them.”

The Duchess has expressed “disbelief” at the handling of the case, although the BAA has offered to pay the diamond merchant who currently holds the goods – a Victorian-era tiara and brooch – so that they can be returned to her. An emerald ring and pearl earrings are currently still missing.

“I’m absolutely amazed. I thought that after six years I’d lost them forever,” said the Duchess.

The Airport Authority says they no longer have records plan to re-think their policies in light of this case. “We have since assisted the police with their recent enquiries and paid a sum equivalent to the money raised from the sale to enable the items to be returned to their rightful owner,” the BAA told the paper.

We’re glad to hear that the Duchess got her jewels back, and we hope she locates the rest soon.

But really, we have two questions. Who was the idiot who just thought, oh, I’ll just sell this massive diamond tiara instead of trying to find the owner, and who travels with a $100,000 tiara in their checked baggage?

[Image via The Telegraph]