There are hundreds of people walking around today who probably don’t know that they should be very grateful that Benny Young from Castlederg is a radio enthusiast.
This is the frankly incredible story of how one man, fiddling about with his ham radio in Tyrone a few weeks ago, helped land a Boston bound flight from Dublin during Hurricane Sandy.
According to today’s Belfast Telegraph, Benny Young was scanning the world’s airwaves last month and he was listening in to two Boston residents discussing the impact of Hurricane Sandy and the damage it was doing.
Then he heard the dreaded ‘Mayday, Mayday’ call come over his radio.
“I had heard two ordinary people discussing the effects of the storm and the amount of debris that was flying around because of Sandy,” he told the paper.
“I listened for a while and was just about to move the dial when I heard the mayday.
“The call was coming into an emergency frequency but I realised the two local people couldn't hear the distress call and neither could the operator, but because I was at the other side of the Atlantic I could, so I spoke up and established contact.
“The pilot explained that the plane’s transponder had been taken out by the storm, which meant he was unable to contact Boston Airport.
“So, because I was able to speak with both the pilot and the operator of the emergency frequency, I relayed the information between the two and the flight was safely diverted and landed.”
It doesn’t sound like much but Benny’s actions helped get hundreds of people back to earth safely, and they never even knew about the drama.
“The whole thing lasted about 10 minutes and I never got any sense of panic at any time.
“But I felt good when the plane landed and all the passengers had arrived safely, and as far as I know, not one of them was in any way aware of the drama, or that a van driver from Castlederg was talking to their plane from his garden shed.”