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Folks Stranded by Eyjafjallajökull Eruption Trickle Home

Quantel U.K. Staff ‘Enjoy’ Extended Stay in Vegas
: The U.K.-based staff members of broadcast vendor Quantel are still in Las Vegas. Company spokesman Roger Thornton said around 25 people from the United Kingdom came to the desert city for the 2010 NAB Show, which ended last Thursday. For them, what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas, at least for the time being thanks to the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption in Iceland. The resulting cloud of ash halted air traffic across Europe for five days.

“On the last day of the show we began to understand the extent of the disruption the ash cloud was causing, and it soon became clear that it wasn’t going to disperse any time soon,” Thornton wrote. “As a result, our CEO Ray Cross, and sales and marketing director, Martin Mulligan, quickly put a plan together to keep business going and to follow up on the huge amount of interest we generated at the show.”

E.g., they opened up an impromptu shot at the Grand’s Signature Tower in Las Vegas (pictured above). A few members of the U.K. contingent were sent off to various customers around the world where air traffic was unaffected.

“All in all we’re making the best of the situation and ensuring that all our normal operations continue uninterrupted,” Cross said.

Thornton said the earliest return flights most of the staff members could secure were on Monday and Tuesday, “although we’re trying as hard as can to bring these dates forward for everyone’s sake.”

As of yesterday, at least two staff members made it out of San Francisco, he said.

Folks who joined Stuck@NAB Facebook page are starting to make it home. Kash A. of Twickenham, U.K. reports that he’s in New York and flying home tomorrow. Sue Sillitoe, a very busy public relations professional from Gloucester, is home and happy about it. Many others report being home or en route today. -- Deborah D. McAdams

Stranded NAB Folks Form Facebook Page
April 19, 2010: A new community of people stranded by the Eyjafjallajökull ash cloud because they attended the NAB Show in Las Vegas has more than 100 members and counting. Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull began erupting April 15, the last day of the trade show.

Scott Rose of London created Stuck@NAB on Facebook “for all those stuck at NAB 2010 thanks to Iceland’s latest export, keep in touch, find out who is held up where and share tips on how to get home. Raffaella Calabrese, sales manager in Spain and Italy for TVB parent NewBay Media said she was in Denver for two days and is currently stuck in Washington D.C., with hopes to reach Paris on Thursday. Home is in Milan, Italy.

Tony T. of London went hiking in Zion National Park. An image shows his hiking party on Angel’s Landing, with a near 1,500-foot drop on either side. “A little scare but it made us forget about the problems of air travel and getting home,” he wrote.

One contingent of Brits schlepped to San Francisco in a rented SUV and arrived “after 17 hours,” one said. Another stranded individual from Prague, Czech Republic secured a flight from Los Angeles to Moscow, though hadn’t yet determined how to get from Moscow to Prague.

The U.K. National Weather Service office has been publishing periodic graphic maps of the ash cloud. As of this morning, it had reached the coast of Newfoundland. Meanwhile, airports across Europe are in their fifth day of closure, with losses mounting to more than $1 billion. As many as 750,000 people are believed to be stranded.

Lufthansa cut loose 50 jets with the intention to fly in 15,000 passengers. AP reported that the German aviation authority granted the airline permission to make the flights from Asia, Africa, South and North America. They’re expected to arrive at airports in Munich, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf on Tuesday.

-- Deborah D. McAdams
(Volcano image by Örvar Atli Þorgeirsson taken April 18; satellite image of the ash plume from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Washington, D.C., taken at 9: 20 a.m. EDT April 17;whiteboard image from a Facebook Stuck@NAB post.)

Volcanic Ash Cloud Strands NAB Travelers
April 16, 2010: Nearly 24,000 of the folks who attended the NAB Show came from abroad this year, and more than a few are going to be away from home longer than expected thanks to the Eyjafjallajökull eruption.

Eyjafjallajökull, a glacier-covered volcano in southern Iceland, erupted April 15 causing massive disruptions to air traffic across Northern Europe. As the ash plume spread, countries in the affected area began shutting down airspace, starting with the United Kingdom at noon British Summer Time on April 15; U.K. airspace is expected to be reopened at 1 p.m. BST on April 17, if the ash has sufficiently dispersed.

Airborne volcanic ash can clog jet engines to a point where they shut down. According to the International Airways Volcano Watch Operations Group, volcanic ash can damage jet turbine engines, abrade cockpit windows and airframes, clog pitot-static systems, penetrate air-conditioning and cooling systems, and contaminate fuel, hydraulic, electrical and smoke-detection systems.

IAVWOG recommendations bar planes from traveling through plumes for two to three days after an eruption; it assumed that if ash is visible in the air, either visually from the aircraft or via satellite, then it presents a hazard.

As of this morning, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Ireland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom had closed or restricted airspace, leading to flight delays across Europe. -- T. Carter Ross

(Photo by RadioDNS Chairman Nick Piggott who was able to return to England from Las Vegas. As Piggott explained on Flickr: “These photos were taken from a CO B757-200 enroute from EWR-BRS around 06:00 UTC on 15-APR, fly southerly of Iceland--these are looking towards Iceland from the northern side of the aircraft. The normal cloud layer is at the bottom, and usually the sky would be clear to the horizon. The wispy black line at the top looks like a vapour trail from a preceding aircraft, but much darker than usual, possibly from the ingestion of ash into the engine.”)