Today, the 4th November 2019 is the 9th Anniversary of Flight QF32, an event that changed my, Coral’s, our passengers’, crews’ and many others’ (Second Victims) lives.
Nine years after QF32 event, I continue to fly the A380 to many destinations around the world. During each long-haul flight, it’s still my pleasure to walk the aisles and meet passengers who share my passion for aviation. Meeting these people and forging long lasting relationships continues to be a highlight of my life.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since that fateful day. We’ve certainly learned that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and there can definitely be growth from trauma. We’ve had the the opportunity to present to and meet amazing individuals and leaders all over the world.
Completing my two books: QF23 and FLY! were milestones of which I am very proud. I am pleased to report both books continue to be stocked by good bookstores! Being the Patron of Disabled Winter Sport Australia, The Quality and Safety Ambassador for St Vincent’s Hospital. Co-Patron of the Uiver DC2 Memorial Community Trust, and Visiting Lecturer at the Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security has enriched our lives beyond belief..
The only downside with the passing of the years has been that my hair has gone white, I have had to give up running to protect my knees and I have only two years of international flying left as I must retire from being an international pilot when I turn 65.
Many challenges lie ahead and I will disrupt myself and move into robotics. I want to build sentient robots that will be companions for the elderly and prevent them getting lonely. Mechatronics and robots offer me today the same challenges, thrills, opportunities and rewards that aviation did when I joined the Air Force at seventeen years of age.
I will finish the “Big Jets” book in 2020 (interrupted by QF32) and then will start on the “Physics for the Coffee Table” book the next year.
To all the people who have been involved in the QF32 event, Coral and I often think about you, and we wish you the best health and happiness life can deliver.
Just finished reading qf32. My 22 year old son has completed his CPL and ATPL, and is looking for his 1st job. If he is half the pilot and man you are, I will be so proud. Sorry your mum couldn’t have lived to see you now
Thanks Tanya, you are very kind.
Please pass my best wishes to your son. He is entering aviation at its greatest period of growth and opportunities.
I am inspired almost every day by the amazing ways Richard has led us to face all life’s challenges
with a unique understanding of the way we are “wired”. I love sharing the anecdotes from the books Richard has written and hearing the responses and appreciation of what Pilots are trained to be able to do. Thank you for the regular content to refer to for life and business.
Thank you David. Your comments are most appreciated and give me the motivation to continue with this site.
Congratulations. Still interesting reading your articles after these many years. Enjoy the last 2 years of your flying the big birds. The time will go bye rapidly. Glad to see you already have other interests lined up, because it really isn’t a nice feeling having to step away from such a career one love’s. Fortunately for myself I could still fly the North American T6 for 8 years after my retirement, but accepted it to hang up the ” flying boots ” for good. The body at 75 doesn’t react so quickly anymore and reactions do slow down. Safety is what was important for me and hence rather stay alive with many good memories instead of ending up in a pile, called ” history ” and people wondering how could an accident have happened.
Keep well and enjoy your lovely family.
It appears you had a wonderful and successful career and you proved yourself resilient – Well Done!
In this disruptive world With lots of Big Data available, it’s now time for the industries to switch from focussing on Safety 1 (analysing the limited cases where something went wrong) and instead focussing on Safety 2 (identifying the things that make things go well). Your career fits the Safety 2 case and we need to bottle your skills and distribute them.
A great mantra for flying you obviously put into practice was, “when the day starts with things looking like the introduction to an accident investigation report, then that’s the day to not go flying!”.
The reason you escaped major calamities was most likely due to your wisdom in deciding (like a Storm Petrel in bad weather) to stay on the ground when other more bold pilots assumed greater risks and launched into perils.
Thanks for your contributions – enjoy your time on Earth.
Great man, Richard. Your epic battle against all odds on that day, and landing safely your plane, has won you a glorious place in the History of Aviation, and the admiration of fellow pilots and aviation enthusiasts like myself the world over.
Thank you Francisco. It was a great multi-team effort.
Hi Richard – dare I say happy anniversary? I suppose the outcome was happy in that everyone survived. Thanks to the skills, training and resilience you and your crew demonstrated. Hard to believe it has been 9 years.
So refreshing to hear you will be just as driven, motivated and passionate in your upcoming retirement. Although if anyone deserves to relax and put their feet up after such a great career, it’s you.
After reading both ‘QF32’ and ‘Fly!’ I can’t wait until the release of ‘Big Jets’
Also fascinated to read what your plans are in the robotics area. I wish you all the very best for your remaining years in commercial aviation and your plans beyond these years.
Ben thanks for your kind words.
It’s great to receive these words of encouragement and so I reflect them back to you and wish you the best of a happy, fulfilling and meaningful life!
Keep up the great work you have all done
Hi Rich, amazing it is 9 years since QF32. I’m still hoping to be on one of your flights b4 u retire! And what a wonderful idea to make robots to stop the elderly (or anyone living on their own, for that matter) from getting lonely! All the best, Mandy
Thank you so very much indeed for your letter with the various included comments and Links.
It is most kind of you to take the trouble in remembering us all on this memorable day.
It is with unspeakable gratitude to you for the last nine years, as I remember your incredible skills and decisions that day.
With special renewed thanks and with love and best wishes in your future coming years.
Sent from my iPhonel
What a decade – well done on so many levels.
Didn’t know you had a book on Physics on your timeline.
Are you aware of the 1968 book by J.E. Gordon? – published at the end of his career & eminently accessible.
The New Science of Strong Materials: Or Why You Don’t Fall through the Floor (https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691180984/the-new-science-of-strong-materials)
Gordon closes out with ’new materials’ – including composites, well before carbon fibre and a host of other current run-of-the-mill materials and processes.
Your A380 and every new jet since it weren’t possible in 1968 – not just materials, tolerances, manufacturing techniques, design, simulation, testing and ’new’ failure modes, but the on-plane Flight & Control Systems, Digital & Sensor techniques, Communications, new Quantum Physics + Physical Chemistry, maintenance, scheduling, booking & financial systems needed to support these New ‘most complex machines ever made’.
Perhaps your Physics Book could morph into either something more or something different.
I’ve been impressed at the level of detailed inquiry you’ve made into the jets you’ve flown. There aren’t going to be many people that know, and could explain, all the materials supporting us in the air, so reliably, so routinely. “Miracle of Engineering” doesn’t, IMHO, come close.
I’m a similar vintage as you, with a varied career path through Chemistry/ Chemical Engineering into Computing and many of its technical disciplines.
all my best steve j
You have raised many fascinating considerations. Food for more thought!
It would be fun to take physics into some of the areas you discussed. My book might be allied to Julius Sumner Miller’s books “Millergrams”. I have such fond memories of those books. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki is a good friend with whom I enjoy and share our love of physics. So many opportunities!
Please keep in touch.