February 03, 2018
Unguided Missiles

From The Week magazine of February 2:

Villagers in rural India were thrilled when a mysterious blue rock fell from the sky, thinking it was an “asteroid” or a piece of a UFO. When the 26-pound lump of ice landed in the middle of Fazilpur Badi, residents chopped off samples of it, said local official Vivek Kalia. But authorities determined that the ice was likely human waste that was discharged from a passing plane’s toilet, and that its bluish color was caused by liquid disinfectants.
Back in the day I was an authority myself: Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs of the Federal Aviation Administration. I was well acquainted with blue ice, which occasionally showed up in the news, always treated as a harmless curiosity — a treatment we did nothing to discourage.

But this would change once a lump of frozen piss brained a cute little four-year old girl as she played in the backyard with Flopsy, her pet bunny rabbit. As the man who would have to face the press on that statisticaIly inevitable day I had better be armed with the facts.

Blue ice turned out to result from incomplete closing of the valve that drains airplane toilets. At cruising altitude the leakage freezes to the outside of the plane; at the warmer altitudes of the approach the giant ice cube melts free — and it’s curtains for Flopsy’s pet.

So what can we do about it? Nothing, I was told. There’s no way to punish the anonymous ground crew mechanic who didn’t tighten the valve properly. We don't know who he works for. He can't even turn himself in, because he doesn’t know he screwed up. Neither does the flight crew; there was no ice when the plane took off and none when it landed.

I thought about it for a while and then went to see the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety. The problem is that there’s a missing link in the chain of evidence, I told him. Once we find out whose plane it is, the company can be fined or sued or something. Next time they’ll make damned sure those valves are screwed down instead of up. Yeah right, the Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety said. And how do you propose we find that out?

Simple, I told him. You put different-colored dye in the toilets. Orange for United, green for Delta, purple for Frontier, pink for American, whatever. He laughed, thinking I was joking. So there you have it. That's why Fazilpur Badi got shitbombed.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at February 03, 2018 05:09 PM
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