‘Fucking shit! It’s fictitious. Everything is fictitious!’ So said the pilot in charge of AeroPeru Flight 603 from Lima to Santiago. The date was 2 October 1996 and within a few moments Flight 603 would crash into the sea. When he spoke the pilot had just realised that he might shortly die. It had suddenly become clear to him that none of his cockpit instruments was working properly. The ‘air data’ he was getting from his dashboard panel were inaccurate, all wrong – ‘fictitious’. When he tried to slow down, his speedometer said that he was accelerating. When he tried to lose height, his altimeter insisted he was soaring. ‘Everything has gone!’ he yelled to the control tower at Lima airport. But the control tower could not help. The plane was ‘flying blind’. It didn’t know where it was or what it should be doing. The flight’s final seconds were recorded thus:
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[*] HarperCollins, 184 pp., £8.99, 6 July 1998, 0 00 653045 1.