Captain Ian Wilkinson astonished passengers and onlookers by taking a Cathay Pacific Boeing 77-300ER low over the landing strip shortly after take-off for its maiden trip to Hong Kong from Boeingâ€™s US manufacturing plant. The plane was loaded with VIPS including the CP Chairman.
The captain is said to be one of the most senior aviators with the airline, and it is even reported he got a champagne toast upon arrival in Hong Kong.
However footage of the stunt on January 30 was posted on YouTube and Mr Wilkinson was first suspended and later dismissed after a disciplinary hearing. Cathay Pacific executives took a dim view of his stunt without proper authorization by the Airline.
Another senior pilot with the airline is quoted:
Wilkinson was very much one of the elite in Cathay Pacific and would have been very chummy with the airline executives he was flying that day.
If no one else had found out about it, the incident would probably have gone no further. But once it began circulating on the internet and Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department got wind of it, that was the end of him.
Maiden flights are treated as a bit of a jolly for executives with lots of champagne flowing and these fly-bys used to be done for a wheeze in the old days.
But they are dangerous because however good the pilot thinks he is, he isn’t trained for it and the planes aren’t designed for it.
Wilkinson was showing off, and most of the pilots might be sympathetic but they feel he got what he deserved when he was sacked.
Someone else commented that if not for the Youtube publication, nothing would have happened.
It reminds me of the story of ad guru Neil French who lost his position at WWP after a slip of the tongue that was followed by a Bloggers War back in 2005…hm Time Flies !