The United Kingdom today is being battered by its worst storm in 30 years. Storm Eunice is reported to have reached wind speeds of 122 mph as it sweeps through the Southern half of the UK, breaking all-time records. So what are the Brits doing in response? Yes, that’s right, they’re tuning in to a live stream of airplanes struggling to land at London’s Heathrow Airport, while Londoner Jerry Dyer yells encouraging remarks.
YouTube channel Big Jet TV has suddenly found itself a viral sensation, with live views peaking today at around 210,000, as people swarmed in to watch the incredibly wobbly landings at the country’s busiest airport. The footage has included planes coming in sideways, worryingly hard landings, and a great number of aborted attempts as planes have bailed last-second and returned to the skies. All accompanied by presenter Jerry Dyer, bellowing out Lah-dahn geezer remarks like, “GO-AWN MY SON!”, “EASY SON, EASY!” and “GET IN THERE!” as they reach the tarmac.
The channel was already fairly popular amongst aviation fans, regularly live-streaming landing runways at Heathrow. Last month it had another viral video (above) of an A321's brush with disaster as it horrendously messed up its landing, striking its tail on the runway, and then astonishingly bouncing back into the air. But the attention on the channel today is unsurpassed, with constant interruptions to its jovial commentary as every British news outlet shows up to interview him for this evening’s news broadcasts.
The cries of “WOAH ‘E GREASED THA’ ONE!” as planes weave and tilt in an attempt to land despite the enormously dangerous crosswinds, make for the most peculiar and entertaining viewing. Awkward viewing too, because let’s be honest, no one’s watching in the hopes that every landing is textbook and smooth.
In fact, viewing the stream (as I have been for hours, despite absolutely zero interest in aeroplanes (as they are correctly spelt)) is an uncomfortable combination of thrill and unease. The idea of seeing a crash is abhorrent. But watching them chicken out last second, arm’s length from the runway, and return to the sky for a go-around is incredible TV. Also, you know, when the crosswinds shifted to head on, and the landings became simpler, viewing almost immediately dropped by 100k.
Storm Eunice developed in the Atlantic ocean in the late hours of Thursday night, and made landfall on the South West of the UK in the early hours of the morning. But the real winds arrived around 9am GMT, battering the coasts, and taking out electricity and phone lines in their path. Yesterday the UK’s national weather service, the Met Office, issued an extremely rare “Red” warning for the coastal areas in Cornwall, Devon, Wales and Bristol, before extending it overnight to include the far more densely populated South East, including London. Schools are closed across the country, along with train lines, and people are being advised to stay indoors.
It blew over where I live in the South West with relatively little harm, beyond a few trees coming down, but my family in Cornwall are still without power, my sister’s roof now sporting an unpleasant hole. It’s looking like things could end up being far more rough for the South East as the day goes on. But at least we can pass the latest incarnation of an enforced lockdown by sucking teeth while watching planes almost crash all afternoon.