Separation Day

Ladies and gentlemen, this is First Officer Roan here. Good evening. We have commenced our descent. The weather is dead wet, dead windy. The present temperature is dead cold. Death is all around. We’ll be landing shortly. Please take off your seatbelts and observe the no smoking signs. This does not extend to the aircraft, which is already on fire. We apologise for the turbulence you’re experiencing at the moment. It won’t get any better. In fact, there are fatigue cracks the size of a tree trunk already in the fuselage. If you look out of your windows on the left hand side of the plane, you’ll see your life flashing by.

On this day in history, Florida was recognised as the 27th state, Apollo 9 was launched and Alexander Graham Bell was born in Edinburgh.

But nuts to all that.

March 3 sees the publication of Loss of Separation in the UK (be brave, America, you have to wait until March 29).

To celebrate this momentous occasion, as promised, we have a competition, open to readers worldwide. On offer is a signed copy of Loss of Separation and a signed and framed photograph, taken by the author, of Flight Z. Solaris have also kindly donated a copy of The End of the Line. All you need to do is answer this simple question:

To the nearest gallon, how much blood is on board a fully laden Boeing 747-400?

Your estimate should include the maximum number of crew and passengers for a trans-Atlantic flight (assuming that there are no children/animals on board). Use your judgment to decide what the most accurate figure might be (lots of variables to consider here…). *During any conversions, please always use UK pints and UK gallons.

Send your answers along with your name, address and inscription request to:

Closing date: noon (GMT), Friday 11th March 2011. The gmail account will not be checked again after this date.

The figure that tallies with the judges’ total will be the winner. If the figures do not match, the entrant submitting the figure closest to the judges’ total will be deemed the winner. In the event of a tie, the winner will be drawn from a hat. There are no runners-up prizes.

The decision of the judges is final. There is no cash alternative. Please wait 28 days for delivery. No dialogue will be entered into. Most important of all, your statutory rights are not affected (whatever that means).

Thank you and good luck.

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