Photo credit: www.bk.com/menu/burgers

“Xanadu 330, you are cleared for the Burger King arrival, Runway 16L”

Is what they meant to say. Duh, what else could “BK” stand for.

We are on approach into the Beijing Capital International Airport. The aircraft in managed nav mode, I watch the little yellow stick aircraft represent our position on the navigational display. The figure advance with rigid confidence. Kind of like my husband during the Pavilion Lego store grand opening mega sales.
ATC wants us to reduce our speed to 200 knots.

The green dot hovers at 216 knots. Hands flying across the FMGS keypad, I activate approach phase and call for Flap 1. Then, I pull the speed selector knot on the FCU panel and give it a little twist.
We are right on course for Burger King, prompt on schedule. But fate and our sweet controller friends would have no such thing.

“Xanadu 330, turn right heading 300.”

Your compliance will be rewarded. Brainwashed Agent 33 was told on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. In contrast to Hydra’s brainwashing trigger phase, a pilot’s compliance is expected, and non compliance will be severely punished. I grudgingly comply.

The heading takes us well off course…

… and into a patch of brilliant magenta. Magenta of that magnitude on the weather radar could mean only one thing- the roller coaster ride of a lifetime. Or, as captain simply puts it, “turbulence that makes passengers say their prayers”. I might have peed in my big girl pants a little.

ATC finally has mercy on us, and we are given a heading to intercept the localizer. We make it over the runway without any further hiccups.

50 ft, I gently pull back on the control column. The aircraft shallows her dive, smoothly matching the easing thrust power. A sudden draft appears, and we take a momentary sink. I checked on the control column once again, arresting our unplanned plunge. We hang over the runway a little longer, before contacting the solid concrete with a gentle thump.

And then, I have a strange, unexplained cravings for burgers.