Multiple Single Point Failure Modality

Posted in Uncategorized on November 15, 2009 by luckyjet

The trip went far better than could have been expected.  The only exceptions were total random unexplained failure of  an Expensive Ass Nikon M something camera )(   and a dang good  well travelled HP laptop.

The combined effect of these malfunctions was to prevent posting as the trip progressed.  

Archival posting from my notes will be forthcoming notwithstanding and fortwith.

From my house to my Uncle Bills in New Mexico is about 673 miles. An early departure on the 2nd allowed for a full day of  preparation, get ready, and setting things aside to be forgotten.

Things like tightening all of the framework on the trailer, some of which came loose on the far side of Fort Worth. Nothing a short stop by the road couldn’t fix.

This is about where the Nikon started to give up.  It would act like it was taking a picture, and go through all of the picture taking behaviours except the part where it remembers the danged image.

So imagine the photo below of the trailer rig except with a white Suburban attached to the front. The early morning sun back lights the scene of a middle aged man climbing around on steel rails reattaching crossmembers above the trailer. 

Breezy Trip 006

He looks great.  That’s me up there, out there.  The Western sky illuminated only by the brushstrokes of  a gentle sunrise of a perfect morning.

With only 3,500 miles to go what could possibly go wrong?


Wests Best Kept Secrets

Posted in Uncategorized on November 4, 2009 by luckyjet

Organ MountainsAt the top of  four AM mountain time,  five central, but since the daylight savings thing just changed it was really later. I think.

Anticipation of the adventure ahead pulled me from a light sleep and wrestled me out of bed after only a few hours rest.  The previous day had been filled with trailer and truck preparation after returning from a four day “Airline Adventure”.

A mere 12 solo  hours later arrival at my uncles house in New Mexico marked the end of the first leg of the trip.  After some chile that couldn’t be beat and a good solid nap we were ready to hit the road.

With the Sun still well over the horizon we were on the way. The photo is right before we departed.

The days drive took us across New Mexico Indian Country, Arizona, through Nevada across the Hoover dam and well in to the desert.

We ended up somewhere beyond Area 51,  precisely in the middle of nowhere.  The reason it is so secret is that there is nobody here. Nothing                                                                                 for                   a very                long                       ways.

Good God Y’all

Posted in Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 by luckyjet

James Brown couldn’t have expressed it better.  As an indirect  result of the tragic loss of a friend in a sport flying accident our family will be re-united with the airplane my brother, dad, uncle, friends, and I built.  The airplane is not only ugly, it is improbable.  It has been in other ownership for almost forty years but now comes home for overhaul, refit and a new look. 

The Breezy comes home now after all this time. Dad has been gone 25 years. Hi gone 27,  Jack  we dont really know  but we didn’t really get along anyway.breezy

you can’t tell much from the photo but much will revealed during the epic recovery of the airframe starting November 1. None of the usual airline nonsense is of real consequence anyway. This will be fun. 

Stay tuned while the execution of a multiple thousand mile recovery and restoration mission unfolds. 

Coming home after all these years. Positively Homeric.

Moron The News

Posted in Uncategorized on January 25, 2009 by luckyjet

Somebody did it again.  The news reports that a valued passenger arriving in Phoenix got out of the airplane through an emergency exit. 

After arriving safely at the gate.

We should all wonder what a person uses in place of a thought process when they do something this dang weird. 

Imagine trying to explain this to a fifth grader. Why were you gone so long daddy? Oh, I got tired of waiting to get off of the airplane and felt a little anxious so I bolted out onto the wing,  slid down a ten foot drop to the concrete and ran like a rabbit.

I rarely offer unsolicited suggestions to the FAA but the following signage might be an improvement  for the Over-wing exits.













Heroic Stuff Indeed

Posted in Uncategorized on January 20, 2009 by luckyjet

In May of 1988 an Aero TACA Boing 737  full of passengers was on approach to New Orleans in an area of rain showers and thunderstorms.  The Honduran Captain was at the controls when descending through about two thousand feet both engines failed. The pilots attempted to restart the engines but this often takes a while, and it didn’t work. They were going down about a thousand feet per minute and were less than two thousand feet high.

Just as they broke through the clouds the co-pilot pointed out what looked like a road they might be able to crash land on.  The airport was much too far away to consider making it to a runway. A crash was certain.

With no engines running the Captain maneuvered for a safe and uneventful landing on the levee road. The road was barely as wide as the landing gear of the 737 and only a few thousand feet long.

The airplane was not damaged and there were no injuries. These were mostly little brown people from Honduras and the airplane wasn’t destroyed so media coverage was limited.

Boing put some new engines on the lucky jet and flew it out.


Another time on departure from Austin Texas I was making the takeoff, the First Officer said BIRDS and pointed straight ahead just after we left the runway. 

I selected the FLT / BOTH position for the engine ignition and increased the rate of climb a little by raising the pitch of the airplane above the standard pitch profile.

Several Geese flashed by and we heard one good thump. Within a minute or so the ignition was  put back to Left / Continuous and a normal climb resumed. No real damage was done and the rest of the day was uneventful.

Stuff  like this happens more than we usually remember. Frankly, I think airline pilots are all heros and should , by Presidential Executive Order, be compensated at an inflation adjusted rate for the job  as it paid in 1960. The difference could easily be made up by the Federal Government and would help the economy.  

Pilots are expert at two things. Managing resources in difficult dynamic situations to ensure the optimal desired outcome to avoid disaster and spending money.

So let’s hear it for a HERO stipend for Airline Pilots. Set our pay back to 1960 inflation adjusted rates and make some pilot friends.

Happy Landings (on and off airport), Ditchings, Whatever

Hudson Smhudson Flight 1549

Posted in Uncategorized on January 16, 2009 by luckyjet

I usually insist that a really good landing requires that the airplane be available for re-use. It is a little early to make conclusions but I am willing to make a tentative exception in this instance.

We have to leave it up to the birds to get out of our way. They usually do a really good job of doing so but didn’t manage it today. It is amazing to see a bird trying to maneuver to avoid collision with an airplane.  They fold one wing under and extend the other. Flapping and purposely rolling inverted they dive like a bullet.  It looks like it would hurt.

As for hero talk  …. it was a fine execution of competence and professionalism. The hero thing must be spread around to the cabin crew, rescuers, volunteer bystanders, and passengers though. 

The Captain reportedly did everything but complete the paperwork for the flight, and might even have brought the logbook with him from the sound of things.

Nothing in our FAA required training  would prepare pilots adequately for this.  There is a little litany pilots are supposed to remember regarding in flight engine restart and ditching but there are  no regular drills or practiced procedures for this.  

The sort of preparation that results in this sort performance is individual, not standardized.  Airline training programs do NOT provide drills for dual engine failure, wake turbulence, cabin fires, electrical failure, or farting in the cockpit.  All of these are likely occurances.

The vast majority of pilots do not prepare themselves for the big nasty unlikely events either.  The airlines aren’t really required to train us for these. Those of us that want to be prepared for this sort of thing do it on our own.

This is accomplished through  visualization of a series of unfortunate events and  devising a reasonable course of action just in case it should ever happen.

These people were lucky.  There are more than one Luckyjet out there.

Happy Landings, Ditchings, whatever.

The Appearance Of Things

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2008 by luckyjet

There are a great many things in aviation that have been for  a purpose not readily apparent.

The Flight School where I got my first paying flying job, for example, seemed to be a place for the purpose of teaching primary and instrument flight students how to fly.

In reality it was a place for the instructors (me included) to learn to fly at someone else’s expense.  Having reached  the first rung of the  experience ladder a Flight Instructor  can finally gain flight time without paying for it. Our school was actually founded for the purpose of furthering the career of the instructors.

Now from the top of the aviation career ladder the view is different. It might seem that the purpose of the airline industry is to move passengers and materials around the world safely and efficiently. In reality it exists for the purpose of providing pilots with an awe inspiring view of our planet.

Since 1970 pilot compensation has been falling  like blue ice from an old 747 fuselage. Inflation, pay concessions, robbing of pensions, layoffs, strikes, and longer work periods have worked together to bring pilot pay down TO about 37 percent of what it was less than 40 years ago. This is true.

The view from the cockpit  however, is better than ever. Air pollution brings us nice colorful sunsets, longer higher cruise segments and longer flights give us a better view of storms, and there seem to be more photogenic storms to see.

And all this time you thought that we were flying you around to get you where you wanted to go, not so. You have just been subsidising the view out the front of the airplane.

If the airlines were as smart as I am there would be special seats in the back with cockpit style obversation windows. People should pay a LOT more for a ticket to sit there.

The Empire State Building made more money from the observation deck than it did from rent for the first five years it was open.  Happy Landings.dsc_3764