Commercial aircraft coming in for landing at London Heathrow Airport as Storm Eunice hits, Courtesy of Big Jet TV YouTube.England, February 18th. A perfectly ordinary day in all but one respect: we're currently experiencing what the media claims to be the 'most significant' storm in about three decades. This particular force of nature has been named 'Storm Eunice', the coming of which has been publicized in near-apocalyptic terms by the local news: public transport has shut down for the day, as have local schools and many businesses.
A storm that was prophesied to cause widespread disruption - heralded by a rare 'red weather warning' from the UK Met office, indicating risk to life - did indeed cause chaos. A neighbor's tree has been uprooted, an overturned vehicle is blocking a main road, and nationally, three people have tragically lost their lives. Branches and buildings alike groan and sway. However, in the immediacy of the moment, most of these events are going unnoticed. Why?
Back inside, over 200,000 viewers are currently glued to their screens, watching not the national news but live-stream footage from London Heathrow; wherein winds of up to 90 mph - commercial pilots are proving their skills to an enthralled audience. YouTube channel Big Jets TV has got all eyes to the skies, and never before has plane-spotting seemed so popular.
It's not the first time Jerry Dyer, creator of the channel, has pitched up at the airport to deliver real-time content to his airline-appreciating fans. But today is different, and an alternative audience can't seem to get enough of the entertainment on his live stream.
And under today's conditions, it's one hell of a show. Airbus A380s, buffeted by the storm, are brought down safely amid cheers and shouts. His commentary catchphrases - "Bosh, and he's down!" - are trending on Twitter; entertainment value apparent. It's much like watching the Superbowl if the Superbowl had wheels and wings and was played out in entirely unfavorable winds.
The Big Jets TV YouTube channel has reportedly gained an extra 45,000 new followers in 24hrs as rapt audiences watch airliners make multiple attempts at landings, including a Qatar A380, which touched down on its third (and final) go. So just why are airplanes proving so irresistible to the general public all of a sudden?
In an undeniably dramatic display, perhaps it's the high-stakes adrenaline that's proving so popular; the visceral onslaught of several hundred tons of airborne metal noticeably fighting the forces of nature. But the opportunity for disaster notwithstanding, their crews persevere, and safety prevails. And it's a success that is celebrated; even my office - who don't know their rudder from their ailerons - erupt into cheers as wheels touch tarmac and taxi off.
Sure, some said that watching a jumbo jet buffeted around like a toy did nothing to help their fear of flying. I beg to differ: despite what British Airways themselves acknowledged as "significant disruption", not one single accident occurred as the result of an unsafe approach. Certainly, it may have been a bumpy ride. But it was a fantastic display of flying which the world watched with admiration. And it's a testament to the professionalism and skill of the crews that so many managed to land in truly terrible conditions.
In Southeast London, alongside the river Thames, a section of the roof has just blown off the iconic 02 arena. Further west, a church spire has been toppled. But while the country remains captivated by Big Jets TV, I can only hope this newfound appreciation of aviation - and the strong skill set displayed today by the unlikely stars in the sky - lasts longer than this truly terrible weather.
Previous stories from Charlotte Bailey:
Touring the 747 bought for less than $2 and turned into a party planeThe Weather Divert: 'time to spare, go by air'What it's like to fly the UK's famous Mach Loop