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Posted by: 3. May 2010

Tech Days and the Volcano

Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano, Iceland Photo Credit: NASA image by Robert Simmon

 

On April 17, I was ticketed on a flight from Atlanta to Stuttgart, Germany at the invitation of cutting tool maker Horn USA. The occasion was a global gathering of customers, press and distributors at the company’s headquarters in Tubingen, Germany. I was going to see new cutting tool technology as well as newly built additions to the company’s campus.

Unfortunately, Iceland’s unpronounceable volcano filled the skies over Europe with nature’s version of a grit blast machine. Clouds filled with abrasive ash that could potentially bring down a modern jet aircraft had me riveted to CNN’s Web site in the days leading up to my departure. As the crisis unfolded, I saw pictures of the damage an ash cloud can do to a jet engine—it isn’t pretty, and it certainly does not inspire confidence that flying through one of these is a good idea.

One by one, the airports across Europe closed. On the day before I was to leave, Stuttgart and Munich were the last standing in Germany. Then Stuttgart closed and my options to visit Horn were nil. One might think I dodged a bullet, which is true, but I also missed a great trip to a good company in country that I love to visit. I hope they reschedule sometime soon.

While I was lucky, five people from my company weren’t. They had been at a show in Paris, which ended just as Charles De Gaulle closed. Now being stranded in Paris for several days could be worse, but it’s still not home. (Read an account of one of these intrepid travelers here.)

My question to you is: Did you or anyone you know get caught up in this mess? Send me an e-mail and let me know.

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