Why Prime Minister Thompson Is Like A Boeing 747 Pilot

Robert Tells Cliverton To Be More Understanding Of Barbados PM

Flying a loaded airliner has very little to do with flying.

That might sound a little funny to many of our readers, but pilots who handle heavy metal made by Boeing, Airbus and Antonov know exactly what I’m talking about. It is all about systems and controlling momentum – especially momentum.

When you have 700,000 pounds of aircraft barreling down Runway 20 Left (short) and your go/no-go decision speed is just about NOW and number four engine flames out, there are two certainties in life…

1/ That sucker is not going to fly before the end of the runway… and

2/ That sucker is not going to stop before the end of the runway.

Momentum. Boeing 747’s take a lot of time and distance to turn or to stop, and, if you find yourself half way through the takeoff suddenly inserted into the left-hand seat as pilot-in-command and facing a “situation” – it takes a while to make that airplane do what you want it to do.

The situation is much like that faced by our Prime Minister, David Thompson, as he finds himself flying our Barbados 747…

The last pilots – “Rum-breath” Owen Arthur and his cranky co-pilot Mia Mottley – never spent money on maintenance or training. They were busy cricket partying and buying new uniforms. They painted our Barbados 747 to make it look beautiful, but they never spent a dollar repairing the engines. The tires are worn and the brakes are spongy. Anti-skid doesn’t work anymore and the backup hydraulic system is “iffy” – because Owen and Mia never spent a dime on the important systems, only new paint.

Then we had an election and changed the pilot-in-command to Captain Thompson – and inserted him in the middle of the takeoff roll. Maybe we could have continued the flight somehow, but the “US Economy” engine gave up the ghost, the “Oil Price” engine is overheating and the “tourism tires” that hold up the whole airplane have suddenly gone flat.

So while the old pilot-in-command lies drunk and silent on the floor, and the old co-pilot is still screeching what she thinks should be done, our Captain Thompson has a few command decisions to make about what to do with this ailing airplane called Barbados.

But there is momentum to contend with and the end of the runway is approaching.

It may be that Captain Thompson has been placed in a “no win” situation and the best he can do is to try and limit the damage so that people don’t get hurt too badly. “Any landing you can walk away from…” and all that.

But whatever is going to happen, it will be a rough ride – so tighten up those seatbelts folks, and maybe Cliverton should lighten up on the new Captain for a while. He’s got his hands full right now and we might all need a change of underwear when this baby finally lands…

Photos: May 25, 2008 – Brussels Zaventem Airport (EBBR) – Kalitta Air Boeing 747-209F aircraft (registration number N704CK) rejected takeoff after engine failure. Five crew, no pax. Everybody walked away.

747. Heavy load of cargo and 150,000 pounds of fuel. No fire.

Thank you LORD!


Filed under Aviation, Disaster, Politics

36 responses to “Why Prime Minister Thompson Is Like A Boeing 747 Pilot

  1. Adrian Loveridge

    Once again, the B747 scenario is a wonderful analogy of the situation ‘we’ find ourselves in.
    So many things need to be done, but with spiralling costs and a legacy of debt, plans and policies to limit the economic damage and inevitable consquences have to be restricted to what we can actually afford.

    Certainly, from a tourism perspective, the hands-out-to-Goverment approach is not one I would actively support.


    Because it is fundamentally flawed!

    I would rather concentrate my efforts on helping to rebuild a tourism industry that for at least 15 years has adopted a ‘national’ knee-jerking, crisis management approach that frankly has not worked to our long term competitive advantage.

    I personally see Government as an enabling body. Put the right policies in place and let the private sector get on with it and make it happen.

    If the policies are right, then their should be no need to go cap-in-hand to any Government.

    While sitting opposite the PM in the lofty surroundings of Ilaro Court yesterday, I asked for two small concessions. Both I believe would be cost-effective for the tourism industry and the country.
    I will sit attentively by on the 7th July to see if these requests become a reality.

  2. Barbados the Beautiful

    Thompy has three jobs

    I- stop the bleeding that goes on daily because of all the corruption- hard to hold water in a leaky bucket

    II- pay attention to foreigners reasons for coming here-tourism attractiveness and tax treaties have to both be working well

    III- then when we get the foreigners to come and invest stop robbing them

    the stories good and bad are all coming out because of the blogs so hiding is not going to get the job done

  3. BA88/98

    BFP keeps getting better and better. Robert(?) I enjoyed this article.

  4. I tip my hat to Robert… What an amazingly appropriate analogy and metaphor.

    This has inspired me to share a bit of my personal life experience… (I hope you all will indulge me…)

    When I was very young, I used to spend a lot of time playing video games… Some of these had a button which could be pressed, such that if you found yourself in trouble, you could press it to reset your situation to nominal. (For anyone who cares, on the old TRS-80s, this was the ESC key — still found in the upper-left hand corner of modern keyboards.)

    A few years later, I was young, ignorant, stupid, and immortal. And, worst of all, with a divers license, and a car…

    One day, I found myself at 160 km/h. And out of control…

    What was my first reaction? My left hand reached up to the dashboard, trying to find that reset button. And you know what? It wasn’t there…

    Obviously, I managed to bring my momentum (read: kinetic energy) down to zero without killing myself (or my younger passengers). BUT, I was lucky… (So were my friends.)

    That day I learnt a critical lessen. (So did my friends…)

    Never put yourself into a situation which you cannot manage. Never let anyone else put you into a similar situation.

    AND, most importantly: the unexpected happens; always be prepared to deal with everything which might or could possibly happen….

    (Thank you for tolerating this.)

  5. Hants

    Good article Robert.

    We all need to focus on the economy. Prehaps we should start a “BFP think tank” where we share ideas and information.

  6. Damn… This always happens (this is actually why I prefer having a good editor between writers and readers…)

    In the Geek: s/divers/drivers/

  7. For everyone who’s seen my above, and may not understand the context, there is a post awaiting moderation with the an error to which I’ve provided the above delta.

    Also, BFP, please note that there were no smilies intended in either post. “dot-dot-dot closing bracket” is *not* meant nor should they be interpreted as a smiley…


    BFP says

    Hi Chris,

    Darned if I know how to turn off the smileys. Clive does but he’s “busy” right now up near Grape Hall.

    I don’t know what her name is, but she must be pretty because we haven’t seen much of Cliverton lately. 🙂

  8. OK, BFP. Perhaps you could approve my post which my above two refer to? (Apply the s/diving/driving/ delta if you can; if not, I’ll live with typing too quickly.)

    P.S. Perhaps ask David at BU — he applied the Smiley delta upon my request/rant only a short while ago… 9-)

  9. Whoops. Typed too quickly, without reviewing the posts on this entry… (Juggling four different debates at the moment…)

  10. Straight talk

    Read today that if oil keeps its present price ( $130+ per barrel ) EVERY US airline will have to file for bankruptcy by year-end.

    Don’t know how true it is, but re-regulation is on the cards to save all air travel.

    It is well past time for some serious out of the box thinking for our tourism industry.

    If disaster strikes it will be swift, and I hope there are contingency plans in place,

  11. Try140!

    Oil today momentarily hit $140.bbl, dread!
    As I type this
    it’s down to around $139.28
    according to


    Yes, airlines are taking it on the chin harder than any other human sector, I fear.

    VERY SOON, only the rich will be able to fly.
    Just like it was back in the 1960s.
    Americans are cutting back.
    Tourism will be affected, directly and indirectly
    in the medium and long term
    as long as this (artificial?) price-situation continues.

    We need to get Barbados spick and span, and I mean SPICK AND SPAN.
    The other day I stopped at a layby near the Chalky Mt. massif to discover that nasty Bajans had left sardine cans and plastic cups all over a spot where tourisses regularly stop to tek pictures.
    National Pride in SPADES, den!
    ‘We CARE about our island’.

  12. Cat Scan

    “Hawaii suffers a tourism blow”

    “High fuel prices have forced up airfare, pushing a Hawaiian vacation out of reach for many cash-strapped Americans.”


    Is this what we have to look forward to in our tourist industry?

  13. Rumplestilskin

    Re the oil price, as stated previously, what one has to ask oneself is why are the big funds and other investors running from stocks into commodities i.e. oil and gold.

    To verify this theory, that stock uncertainty is a part of the formula sending the commodities prices high, see that today the gold price also went up, not just oil, so this is not just about energy.

    Now, what does this say, that ‘big’ investors are running from the stock market?

    It means that there is absolutely no confidence in the stock market generally, even to the point of downright worry over future earnings figures.

    However, this is also self-fulfilling, as the perceived energy crisis, neverthesless real but with sudden percetion of disaster, has resulted in major firms such as GM to cut plants and thus earnings expectations are lower, thus a further hit on the stock price.

    This is a very unstable time for the US stock market.


  14. Bush tea

    It is even worse that you all fear…

    Robert what does a pilot do in a stall just after takeoff? With serious fuel problems and the tourism engines aflame?

    ….PM David took over control well after the point of no return. Bush tea at the time wondered aloud (on these blogs) if he really understood what he was getting into…. but we agree that anything is better that a drunken pilot…

    The real problem is that EVEN in the absence of a major shock like natural disaster or terrorist strike, the world economic situation looks dire….

    ..can you imagine the effect of another Katrina this season? Or if this is the year that we get another Janet? or any of another hundred possibilities? …and the experiences in China and Burma are somewhat foreboding…

    Your article is a beautiful analogy of the situation – but it is well out of date….. the aircraft is in a much more fragile position than you posit.

  15. Rumplestilskin

    In addition to the above, you think that we in Barbados alone will be affected?

    What do you think will happen in a ‘down’ US economy.

    Life in the US is not all about streets paved with sugar.

    Further, at least we in Barbados do not have to look for heating oil in autumn and winter, those in US and Canada do.

    What the Government needs to do is to prepare for economic recession by placing legislation on mortgages relief and home repossession limitations, such that persons will not all lose their homes because of a recession, but will be able to seek protection under new legislation that will make lenders provide alternate repayment schemes when the ‘recession clause’ is triggered.

    This may sound soft to some, but it is necessary to ensure a stable economy and socio-economic environment.


  16. Bush tea

    ….Has anyone heard of the ‘secret’ intelligence report presented to the US senate on the likely effects of global warming on the world?

    …although details are classified, it seems that these ‘experts’ expect massive chaos and dislocation across the world, but somehow conclude that the good old US of A ‘may even benefit from improved agricultural yields’…. What a laugh.

    Bush tea have news for these ‘intelligence gurus’,

    ……you are in for a serious shock. … but then again these are the same experts that warned us about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – and who responded with Shock and Awe….

    ….the real Shock and Awe is yet to unfold.

  17. can I use the words contained in this thread to write a calypso ?

    these are some good lyrics


    BFP says,

    Hi Asiba,

    You are most welcome to use anything we’ve written as long as you state somewhere that some of the words are borrowed from BFP (please). We’d love to hear it!


  18. Bimbro

    Following on the theme of your advice to Clive, I have always longed for Barbados again to be governed by an airline pilot. You’ve chosen the name for the party, when may we now obtain the opportunity to vote you into power?!!!!

    U know I mischiveous!!!! 🙂


    BTW, why am I always under moderation!!!


  19. Bimbro

    I don’t know what her name is, but she must be pretty because we haven’t seen much of Cliverton lately.


    Given the state of the world these days, and of Bim, thank heavens it’s a ‘she’!!!! A homosexual world is approaching fast on the inside-track!

    Good luck with her, Clive, my friend!!!!

  20. Bimbro

    Dear Robert, an actual reply from any of my much vaunted heroes would actually, be much appreciated. You surely, can’t be so continuously, serious-minded to spare a BFP acolyte a reply.

    If we’re ever to assume power a heady, mixture of the ridiculous to the sublime is what will be required. I don’t scribe these pearls of wisdom for the mere sake of it.

  21. BFP

    Hello Bimbro

    Much vaunted Heros? We know of no heros ’bout hey on a Friday afternoon.

    I (clive) am on my way out the door for our regular Friday chat. Contrary to what some of my friends have been saying I have not been kidnapped by my ah… how did Dr. Duguid refer to Gline Clarke’s lady? Oh yes… “special friend”.

    I have not been kidnapped by my “special friend”, but I have been rather busy of late. 😉

    Thanks for your best wishes. I have removed your “bimbro” name from the autolist. Apparently you were posting so many comments that the computer decided you were a spammer!


    Cliverton (and “special friend”)

  22. Bimbro

    Much vaunted Heros? We know of no heros ’bout hey on a Friday afternoon.


    You’re so mistaken, Clive. You’re ALL my heroes, at BFP and have a lovely, day in the Bajan sun!

    Give us plenty of warning of the impending election so we can come and cast our votes for the BFPPP (political party) or other insignia.


  23. Getting it off my chest....

    This is ridiculous…..

    A better analogy would be an inexperienced pilot taking the controls of a 747 in stormy weather. And then choosing to shut down two of it’s engines as he points it at the biggest thunderhead he can find.

    Current account deficit was the highest in years for the first quarter (can’t blame the BLP for that one)

    Estimates speech contains contradictions and obvious mistakes (can’t blame the BLP for that either)

    Increase the cost of Diesel by 70% at the stroke of a pen, just to backpedal furiously when they realise WHY it was subsidised in the first place.

    Keep talking about a PLAN that will be revealed “shortly” or “soon” more likely as soon as they can think of something.

    Wake up BFP!

    BICO is talking about shutting down their plant and putting 125 Bajans out of work. Why? Because the diesel that allowed them to be competitive got REAL EXPENSIVE OVERNIGHT.

    Wake UP BFP!

    Minibuses and Gas station owners are in a complete uproar because of the hasty attempt to re subsidise diesel without calling it that. The handling of this matter just shows how amateurish this new “pilot” is.


    No one has even raised the point about how farmers are supposed to access their (differently priced) diesel. It isn’t happening WHY? Because no one has figured out how to do it yet.

    It’s not like the weather forecast changed suddenly on the new pilot.

    When he said he was capable of flying the 747. Oil was a hurricane blowing at 115 dollars a barrel and predicted to go to $200.00. He can hardly claim to be surprised now.

    The new pilot claimed to have a flight plan, now we keep hearing that the plan will be announced “soon” or “shortly” sounds very much like they are trying to figure out what to do.

    WAKE UP BFP!!!!!

    Don’t you get it? How seriously do you take public consultations on the Budget that take place AFTER the Estimates are already signed sealed and delivered?

    This new pilot is an amateur who shouldn’t even be piloting a paper plane far less a 747.


    BFP says,

    Ah…. but at least he is sober!

  24. Redds

    BFP what stupid answer is that at least he is sober that is all you could come up with do you live in Thompson house to know if he is sober or how well he holds his drinks, I agree with you getting off my chest, when he was in opposition he had all the answers, now all his supporters making all types of excuses.

  25. Time Will Tell

    BFP says,

    Ah…. but at least he is sober!
    June 28, 2008 at 4:40 am
    BFP what stupid answer is that at least he is sober that is all you could come up with do you live in Thompson house to know if he is sober or how well he holds his drinks,

    I told you so ! You ceremoniously unleashed this political, fiscal and mentally disturbed novice upon the gullible people of Barbados, and have the nerve to sum it up as ” Ah…. but at least he is sober!” …..

    Then give be back my drunken genius….

    Time Will Tell…


    BFP says

    So how much credit do you give the Barbados blogs for the defeat of Owen Arthur and the election of David Thompson?

  26. Hants

    “There are dangerous prejudices embedded within this country, frightening prejudices that are going to lead to a class war in this country. Since I’ve been in the Ministry of Education I’ve been asking myself so many questions as to what we are really doing in this country.”

    I thought we Bajans are not supposed to talk about these “things”.

  27. Bush tea

    I personally would settle for NO pilot rather that a bribe taking, drunken thief who deliberately devalued Barbadians, insulted our immigration officers and laws, and institutionalized graft.

    BFP, if you were a real pilot you would know that the ONLY hope of saving a stalling plane with failing engines is to push that nose way down and hope to regain some lift under those wings…

    After the excesses of the BLP, our only hope now is a steep dive aimed at settling down in steady flight at a lower altitude….. attempts to hold this current unrealistic altitude will result in a fatal stall…

    The mistake that the DLP is making is in listening to the same Civil Servants that have been compromised over the past 15 years; and especially in NOT being open and candid with Bajans about the challenges faced.

    Instead of ministers jumping on TV every night reading stupid speeches about nothing, written by the same idiots who wrote speeches for the BLP, Thompson and a few key ministers should hold weekly press briefings on critical issues and keep Bajans informed of the challenges that we face.

    ….good pilots know how to use the public address system to keep their passengers informed.

  28. Tell me Why

    ….good pilots know how to use the public address system to keep their passengers informed.
    ….and what will the captain say. “This is your captain…..I am in a predicament, this plane is about to crash and I never had any crash program to assist me in such eventualities….will you remain seated while I read my manual” This is just a way to keep the stress from us. Goodnight my friends.

  29. The Devil

    Now that Bush Tea suggests that “Thompson and a few key ministers should hold weekly press briefings on critical issues and keep Bajans informed of the challenges that we face.”; I must ask what happened to the post Cabinet press briefings? Am I missing them or did they last about as long as a ice cube on a hot day?

    We are so gullible it’s amazing. I refer to the parade of eager beavers going to meet the PM on what should be in the budget. Someone needs to tell them that the estimates have been debated and concluded and that the budget presentation is just a few days away. I believe that the budget is already finalised and printed.

  30. Tell me Why

    So how much credit do you give the Barbados blogs for the defeat of Owen Arthur and the election of David Thompson?
    Full credit, you deserved a knighthood.

    Goodnight BFP

  31. Bush tea

    I like you ‘address’ Tell me Why,

    but mine would go something like-

    ” Ladies and Gentlemen, the last pilot that you dragged kicking from the cockpit left us in a big mess. Our only real hope is for all of us to work together to steady this aircraft, and try to bring her in for a safe landing.

    …seems that our ex-pilot messed up the controls, (issued multi million dollar contracts without plans for ABC), wasted fuel (burnt down the prison and then used international crooks to scam us at Dodds) ..and generally left us in duck’s guts.

    …so fasten your seat belts and standby for some tight maneuvering as I get us all safely back to earth.
    There will be some jolts and steep turns as my flight assistants and I work to bring some order back to this machine. However you should have no fear, we have everything under control and while we will be flying at a reduced altitude, I am confident that we will all reach our destination intact…

    ….ahhh, Flight steward…. have the two trouble makers in rows 16F and 18 B escorted to the cockpit – I believe they are called TMW and The Devil, I want to show them what real flying is all about….

  32. The Devil

    LOL. Good one BT but that would be a face saving tactic to get us in the cockpit where upon the “New” pilot would say “Thank goodness wunnuh here! Wuh to do, Wuh to do?”
    To which I reply “Calm down, remember what Prof. Howard told you to do! Follow the last pilot’s manual (manifesto)!”

    I think I see Bush Tea putting on his parachute….

  33. Tell me Why

    ….ahhh, Flight steward…. have the two trouble makers in rows 16F and 18 B escorted to the cockpit – I believe they are called TMW and The Devil, I want to show them what real flying is all about….
    I have 2 scenarios
    Firstly, the captain is talking too much and a plane loosing altitude so fast would have crashed by the time by time he finish his second paragraph. Lo!
    Secondly: The captain might request my presence to take control in saving over 200 passengers. Lo!

    So Bush Tea, you are simply the best. Thanks my friend, I am needed in cockpit. My wife is the captain. Goodnight my friend(s). Sorry, it is already morning. If this plane crash, I will find myself in the Dog House.

  34. BajanAgent

    All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward. ~Ellen Glasgow

    The passengers on the plane had a hand in deciding who should be the pilot. The new captain paraded up and down the aisles indicating ” I am the better pilot!” The former pilot drunk or otherwise had the presence of mind to warn the passengers of stormy weather ahead. The new captain should stop bitching about the the weather and fly the plane!

    There is a certain relief in change, even though it be from bad to worse! As I have often found in travelling in a stagecoach, that it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place. ~Washington Irving

  35. Mischief Maker

    sounds like BFP is making excuses for Thompson!

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