The Gimli glider
Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16
On 23rd July 1983, a Boeing 737 jet flying from Montreal to Edmonton completely ran out of fuel and had to glide for 30 minutes to an abandoned Royal Canadian Air Force base at Gimli. The first officer had used a conversion factor to convert the volume of fuel required into a mass. However, he erroneously used a conversion from litres into pounds, rather than kilograms. Flight controllers directed the plane to a landing strip which they believed was abandoned but, on the day of the flight, was being used as a car racetrack. This problem was compounded by the silent nature of the glide landing. Fortunately, the pilots managed to land the plane without serious injury to any of the passengers or people on the ground.