Plane Stupid and AAA crash Virgin Atlantic 25th birthday party
Monday the 22nd of June was Virgin Atlantic's 25th Anniversary. Branson has been pushing the joke that biofuels are the solution to another 25 years of aviation growth, so we decided to team up with Action Against Agrofuels and join in the party. Our tickets must have got lost in the post, but we dressed up and strolled along anyway.
The balloon banner rose through the main lobby of Terminal 3, and minutes later Heathrow tube shut. The underground crew got out just as the station was closing, and despite the fact that the area was now full of fluro vests and cop cars, two stewardesses calmly unfolded their collapsible ladder and climbed onto the roof of the porch entrance to departures.
Check out the photos on our Flickr photostream.
Their escorts unravelled a giant banner, and two more stewardesses emerged from inside the building. They tossed around handfuls of banner confetti that read ‘biofuels, no way out’ and gleefully squirted silly string on the growing group of intrigued travellers. Meanwhile on the roof, our ladies in red were applying their lipstick and arranging thier coconut pillbox hats.
The headgear was a reference to Virgin's biofuel experiment last year. The flight from London to Amsterdam contained just 5% coconut oil, yet the journey still required 150,000 coconuts for a one-way flight from London to Amsterdam. Yep, that’s 150,000 thousand coconuts. To cover just 5% of one flight. Across the Channel. To put it into perspective, that's enough coconuts to make 300,000 pina coladas.
There’s a farcical discrepancy between how biofuels are dressed up, and what their actual impacts are. The evidence suggests that agro fuels take more carbon to produce than just using kerosene outright, and bring with them the complications of deforestation and mass hunger.
After half an hour or so of falling into step with amused Virgin stewardesses and friendly banter with passengers, the police decided that everyone was having far too much fun and proceeded to arrest everyone. Heathrow is covered by SOCPA - the legislation that ‘protects’ parliament from spontaneous protest. 9 people were taken away on suspicion of aggravated trespass and breach of bylaws.
Apparently the airport's cherry picker had left from the far side of the runways as soon as it heard of the protest, it’s just not very fast, and Heathrow is very, very big. So the two on the roof held out till 1pm, as the re-enactment of Virgins maiden flight was boarding.
Everyone was held without charge till 11 that night and bailed to return.