Archive for September, 2007

Happy Birthday Graham

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30, 2007 by luckyjet

Grandson 2.0 is two today ….

Bebe

Grandson 2.0 is two today……

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It’s Always an Ugly Day Somewhere

Posted in Uncategorized on September 29, 2007 by luckyjet

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Sometimes we will fly a route that crosses back across the same place two or three times. On nights when there is a storm sitting in one place you have to wonder what that guy that lives right there did, and who to?

After all this time I finally figured out some things about photographing lightning. You guys all probably knew it already, so I won’t bother with a how-to unless the comment volume is massive.

This was a smallish storm east of Atlanta last week with tops of about 250. The picture was taken about forty miles from the storm. The picture is un-retouched. Dang Scary.

Physicist Hopping Doctor PHD

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2007 by luckyjet

Recurring dreams, there’s a real bitch of a concept.  Maybe we just don’t get the point the first time so our brain’s executive producer just contracts a slight rewrite and plays the same thing over again.

A recent addition to my “entertainment while sleeping” has been a large chain smoking rabbit with a Brooklyn accent. He lectures on physics.  This is especially great since my dreams usually suck and this is entertaining.

The physics part is understandable, the accent is obviously Feynman’s but the chain smoking part bugged me. So did one of the lectures.  A lecture from a rabbit I couldn’t understand.

Why a chain smoking rabbit? Is this some kind of sub-conscious need to smoke? Are old cravings coming back? No, as it turns out Feynman is smoking like crazy during his lectures, you can hear it clearly on the recordings.  It never occurred to me that just about all of his pictures show him holding a cigarette.

Why a rabbit in the first place?  The Rocky and Bullwinkle show occasionally featured a wise assed hare with a Brooklyn accent. On review the voice could be Richard himself.

I’ve been a fan of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show since before it was a rerun.  Yes, there was TV that long ago. If you haven’t seen it you have missed out on some fundamentally important American literature.

 If you don’t have recurring dreams of a pooka pacing around drawing Feynman diagrams and debating the existence of neutrino mass with himself I recommend that you start right away.

I’m pretty sure that if I can understand what the rabbit is trying to explain the “Theory of Everything” will be within my grasp.

I just wish he would quit smoking before it kills him. 

Seeking Balance

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2007 by luckyjet

Knowing where the center of the Earth is. It is a requirement for modern navigation systems. Without about seven minutes of “alignment” each morning the seemingly magic systems that provide position and attitude guidance to airplanes can’t even function.

After each flight a “quick alignment” is necessary to cancell out any accumulated errors. This takes about 30 seconds.

It is terribly important that we, as people, know where the center of the Earth is. Without quiet introspection it is difficult if not impossible for us to really tell what is screwed up and what isn’t. 

About seven minutes is all it takes. And during the day a few thirty second “quick alignments” really seem to make it easier to maintain focus.

You know, not choke the living shit out of somebody that really needs it.

What Could Possible Go Wrung

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2007 by luckyjet

The way home is now clear after four days of ping-pong around the contiguous 48. Tampa-Louisville-Orlando-St Louis-Dallas is scheduled for eight hours block time. I haven’t bothered to measure but it is probably about three thousand miles or so. Maybe more. This being day 4 of 4 it seems like we’ve been gone forever again. 

It isn’t healthy to travel and not go anywhere but this trip doesn’t really allow time or opportunity to get out once one gets in. With eleven PM arrivals and before Noon departures  the whole thing becomes a blur of hotels.

The beauty of having fair weather and a good crew is that it all just blends in. Usually only huge mistakes, horrible weather, or things that come apart unexpectedly really stand out.

Wrath Visited On Those Down Under

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2007 by luckyjet

The guys on the ramp (pilots do not say tarmac) are the unsung and often unseen hard working types that load all of the luggage by hand into the cargo bins. They also guide the airplane in for parking, drive the push-back tug, and take care of hooking up and disconnecting the “Ground Power and Ground Air”.

A little explanation is in order. The airplane is capable of being self sufficient as to electrical power and air-conditioning. This power and air is provided by a little jet engine mounted in the tail called an Auxiliary Power Unit ( APU ). The little APU is very capable but it burns a fairly large amount of fuel. Since the airlines get electricity for free for some reason it makes more economic sense to provide power and air-conditioning to the airplane from the building, than it does to use the APU. This program should save about three thousand hundred trillion dollars a day or something.

Since many of our electrical components and computers are a little fussy about power surges and interruptions it is important that the change over from ground power to ships power be coordinated to some degree. This is accomplished through a combination of Plains Indian sign language and banging on the side of the airplane.

So here we all were  ready to get started with the third leg of the day, somebody in every seat, two cockpit observers along with us in the cockpit, and the agent was just handing us the final load sheet so we could enter the takeoff data in the computer.

CLICK. …the  airplane went dark, multiple warnings, click and chirp, no power, navigation system warnings, emergency exit lighting activated.

The first response is to initiate the start sequence for the APU, this takes about two minutes.

My second response (and one nobody expected) was to yank the cockpit window open lean out over the side of the plane and yell HeeeYaaaEeee. I asked the cockpit observers if they had any fruit I could throw at the guys down there. What? Yea, an orange or something just to get their attention. Nobody admitted to having any good ammo for a food fight so I yelled again, “TURN ON THE POWER” . Finally one of the guys appeared from under the airplane holding the airplane end of the umbilical cord in his hand. WHAT are You DOING?  Were ANY of your Mothers Children born with Brains?     

       wha?  (nobody looks smart looking up from 20 feet down)

I’ve got a hundred and forty two people sitting up here in the dark because you are an idiot. Why did you do that? Is that part of your training? Is that in your manual?

By now the rest of the cockpit system warnings were beeping and complaining telling us that e v e r y t h i n g would have to be reprogrammed for departure. “She said you were ready to go”, which would have meant that we were all boarded up, what she (the operations agent in the jetway) meant to indicate to him was that it was time to stop playing frisbee and talk to the pilots.

I wasn’t very nice but I didn’t scream anything obscene or especially demeaning since the airplane is really quiet with no fans or equipment running. All of the passengers could hear clearly and were listening since they didn’t have anything else to do.

 Any more time with the emergency lighting system activated and we would been delayed up to an hour while it recharged.

“You get that power hooked back up right now or I’m coming out of this window after you.” So they hooked it up. We got everything re-programmed, re-set and re-entered, It took about ten minutes. When we were finally ready to go they went and got a different crew to push the airplane back so they wouldn’t have to talk to the wild man hanging out of the window anymore.

Idiots, and cowards too. But still valued, hardworking, recognized co-workers.  I’ll see them again next week.

Departure Storm

Posted in Uncategorized on September 21, 2007 by luckyjet

Airline families will all understand. There is a gathering storm. Some pilots have a padded room in the back of their house where the suitcases and uniforms are kept so they can get ready in peace. So the family isn’t exposed.

I check in late today so it is important to wait ’till the last minute then tear through the house on the underwear, epaulette, sock hunt. An early start on any of this would give the appearance of overpreparation.

Where’s my fucking hat? It’s hanging on the guestroom door, and don’t say the EFF word in front of the children. They all grew up and moved away, where’s my fucking epauletts?  Did you check your ass for them? I’ll but they flew up your Captain ass, honey.

OK, so the routine has changed a little over the years but today the “haired one” is around and as a result I have to wear clothes while I run around looking for clothes. An additional three minutes will be required.

I love my job, especially the view outside. I think I love being home more.