“I have finished my weekly supermarket shop, stocking up on provisions for my three kids, my husband, our dog and our cat. I push the loaded trolley across the car park, battling to keep its wonky wheels on track. I pop open the boot of my car and then for some reason, I have no idea why, I look up, into the clear blue autumnal sky. And I see him. It takes me a long moment to figure out what I am looking at. He is falling from the sky. A dark mass, growing larger quickly. I let go of the trolley and am dimly aware that it is getting away from me but I can’t move, I am stuck there in the middle of the supermarket car park, watching, as he hurtles toward the earth. I have no idea how long it takes – a few seconds, an entire lifetime – but I stand there holding my breath as the city goes about its business around me until…He crashes into the roof of my car.”
The car park of Sainsbury’s supermarket in Richmond, southwest London, lies directly beneath one of the main flight paths into Heathrow Airport. Over the last decade, on at least five separate occasions, the bodies of young men have fallen from the sky and landed on or near this car park. All these men were stowaways on flights from the Indian subcontinent who had believed that they could find a way into the cargo hold of an airplane by climbing up into the airplane wheel shaft. It is thought that none could have survived the journey, killed by either the tremendous heat generated by the airplane wheels on the runway, crushed when the landing gear retracts into the plane after take off, or frozen to death once the airplane reaches altitude.
‘Flight Paths’ seeks to explore what happens when lives collide – an airplane stowaway and the fictional suburban London housewife, quoted above. This project will tell their stories.
Through the fiction of these two lives, and the cross-connections and contradictions they represent, a larger story about the way we live today will emerge. The collision between the unknown young man, who will be both memorialised and brought back to life by the piece