Olympic Torch In Flight?

04 May 2008

Question

It occurred to me when I was listening to the Olympic torch being discussed recently – how do you transport a naked flame on an aeroplane? It has to be a naked flame I think to conserve the Olympic spirit but even without the current security situation I’m sure it must be quite difficult. It’s obviously possible so I wondered how they did it.

Answer

Jordan Parham, part of the team that worked on the Sydney, Athens and Asian games torches. How they keep the flame alight on aeroplanes and therefore continuous along the whole relay journey is in miners' lanterns. These miners' lanterns are specially designed to maintain a small flame alight in all wind conditions. They actually carry four of these lanterns at a minimum as back-up flames for the mother flame at all times during the relay. When they take the flames onto an aeroplane the miners' lanterns are approved prior to taking them on by the commercial airline or by the chartered airline, depending on how they run the relay. They are then stored in an appropriate vessel. In the case of the Sydney Olympics that was a specially designed seat and in other games such as Athens and the Asian games they used specially-designed storage racks on the side of the aeroplane. These miners' lanterns don't create any emissions. The fuel is a methylated spirits type flame to keep it burning, it won't create any risk to any other occupants. That's how they keep the flame alight on the aeroplane.

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