Boring boeing going … gone

Yesterday’s post sounds really dull now that I read it. Sorry.

Aviation at its very best is really a dull activity. Relaxed awaredness is what we try for. Nobody wants to spend the day in a space the size of a Boeing cockpit with a hyperactive spider monkey. And falling sound asleep is really frowned upon although not unheard of. Something in between is best.

Raleigh – Las Vegas – El Paso – Midland. Arriving almost thirty minutes early in Vegas there was another plane parked at our gate. They would have been gone but the crew asked for lavatory service at the last minute. The ramp area (pilots don’t say tarmac) doesn’t allow a comfortable turn around area so we squeezed between two parked airplanes and waited. And waited. For about twenty eight minutes, then the surly kid on the radio at operations gave us the good news that we could park at the next gate over. The parking brake was set exactly at the scheduled arrival time. Lots of fuel and time wasted.

Lunch, plane change, new cabin crew, people pushing and acting stupid in the terminal for an hour and we were off to El Paso.

Today was “stupid day” for ATC. Nobody really knows why it happens but there will be days when a given airline crew will get all of the stupidity that is usually evenly distributed across the industry. Missed radio calls, misunderstood radio calls, mixed up radio call signs (the thing we call ourselves) etc. We asked for a ten degree course deviation for weather and the man answered with a question “Did you need that now or can you wait a while?” Effective radio communication is usually fairly standardized but occasionally it just has to be conversational to make any sense. Well, we could wait about eighty miles but then it would be a ninety degree turn, whatever you need is fine. He approved the ten degree deviation and left me and the First Officer girl wondering out loud what the hell was that all about. I picture the controller sitting in the bat cave outside of Memphis asking the guy sitting next to him “What the hell was that all about?” at the same time.

In three legs we had two cancelled takeoff clearances. These are rare, maybe one a year or even fewer would be expected.

Our approach into El Paso got weird because the controller lady decided that just after we were all configured with landing gear and all the flaps out for a visual slam dunk over the mountains that a MD80 on a fifteen mile final should be in front of us. We complained, actually F O girl complained, and controller lady changed her mind again back to the original plan. Not a huge deal but a little weird.

The ground controller gave every indication of being a moron. With only two airplanes on the entire airport moving he managed to create a traffic conflict. My four year old grandson would have been more effective. At least he would sound cute on the radio.

And why oh why do air traffic controllers everywhere want to say things to the pilots while we are in the middle of trying to stop the fucking airplane? I would gleefully discuss subatomic particle physics or debate the finer points of Roman contributions to civilization over the radio before landing. Usually our workload is fairly light before touchdown. The transition from a 150 mile per hour tri-cycle to a docile lumbering Winnebago at taxi speed can be a total bitch. This is not a time for chit chat or silly instructions that could wait a little while. Much like a violinist you might try to talk to while playing a difficult piece we usually don’t remember what was said anyway.

Home tomorrow night, yipee!

Flight Time Today:  7:19

         Month Total: 12:58

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One Response to “Boring boeing going … gone”

  1. A third of people are dumb. Another (sometimes overlapping) third drink a lot and are hungover at work. Another (often overlapping) third, are stoned at any given moment.

    It’s just disturbing to realize that those people work in important jobs like air traffic controller or teacher or surgical assistant or president of the United States.

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