Tor na do

Posted in Uncategorized on May 28, 2011 by luckyjet

Recently our route of flight required finding a way around or through a fairly nasty line of storms extending from somewhere near Canada to central Texas.

One of the highlights of the day was that a large gap in the line of storms would allow us to stay pretty much on course instead of deviating way down south near Waco Texas.

Our radar depicted a clearly defined hook echo with a secondary cell just to the northeast of the primary cell. Just on the southwest corner of the hook echo a perfectly round return appeared.

These little round ball shaped returns on the edge of a severe storm are known for being “debris balls”.  They will come and go on the radar as a tornado touches down for a while then moves up again.

We are seriously considering the installation of a storm shelter at home.  Having all my stuff on radar would be bad enough but I really prefer not to fly on my days off.

Radar Image

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New And Improved

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2010 by luckyjet

This will be our first Holiday Season with all of the new Passenger Bill Of Rights rules in effect. It will be just fine and there is little or nothing to worry about. All that is needed to have a happy peaceful travel day is an inner sense of peace that is not affected by how far you get or when you arrive.

I want to be among the first on the industry side of the passenger rights debate to point out that something needed to be done. It is simply wrong to leave people stranded on an airplane for hours when they clearly should have been stranded inside the airport. Airplanes are for travel, terminals are for waiting.

The potential downside of the new rules could be the unintended result of taking your Captain out of the decision loop. In the past the Captain was allowed to use judgement to determine what combination of  departure factors, weather trends, de-icing requirements, gate availability, traffic delays, and fuel load would be the most limiting.   Some days with heavy traffic and bad winter weather the game required us to get in our place in line so we could leave eventually. Admittedly, this could have added two hours or more to our trip time but it would place us in the strategic position of being ready for aircraft de-icing and departure when the opportunity came up.

Under the new rules these will be cancelled operations. Since same day service may not be an option the happy traveller should bring provisions. Cheese, crackers, nuts, inflatable pillow, music and earphones, a good book to read, extra socks and instant oatmeal are things that may set you apart from your fellow travelers when everybody is given a cot to sleep on and the automatic announcements about security and unattended bags drone on all night long instead of the planes.

Your little survival kit for happiness doesn’t need to take up much room in your  carry on bag and could make a huge difference. What a wonderful adventure.

Happy Landings

Stranger Than Fiction

Posted in Uncategorized on June 24, 2010 by luckyjet

Air sickness bags have a patent number on them.

Seatbelt extensions are required by the FAA to have a label that includes the word FAATSO.

Runway numbers are based on compass direction, but they often change.

Airlines sell alcohol and occasionally give it away but it is illegal to allow a passenger to board if they “appear to be intoxicated”.

It is illegal to allow a person to board if they “appear to be deranged”,  yet the Americans With Disabilities Act prevents denial of transport for a diagnosed condition.

Airline Transport Pilots are required by regulation to be “of good moral character”.

It is against Federal Law to wear any part of the American flag as an article of clothing. This is a real Federal Law but it has no stated consequence. However,  FAA regulations clearly state that “a person violating any Federal Law while exercising the privileges of a Pilot Certificate will have that Certificate and all associated ratings revoked”. Not suspended.  Revoked.  This was presumably a rule intended to make things difficult for smugglers or people who tear tags off of mattresses while flying. Since about half of  airline pilots wear a “patriotic” tie as part of the uniform they are not legal to fly again. Ever.  This interesting  intersection of a Federal Law and Federal Regulation doesn’t even require prosecution in order to take effect. There is no appeal allowed for intentionally violating a FAA Regulation. In order to be in full compliance with the regulations they  are REQUIRED to surrender their pilot certificate and presumably find their own way home.

Happy Landings

In The News

Posted in Uncategorized on May 17, 2010 by luckyjet

The media reported today that an airliner diverted to Dulles DIA airport due to a “Cockpit Fire”.  People are asking if this was serious.

Few things are as serious as a cockpit fire. Imagine you are in a space the size of a small dumpster with a bunch of equipment,  a valued coworker, and enough electrical circuits to operate several average homes in there with you.  Add some nice big windows and you have a fair idea of  an airliner cockpit. This is definitely not a place for a fire or heavy smoke.

The sequence of events usually goes a little like this …. What’s that smell?  I dunno. Izzat…..smoke? ….Shit!   Mask and goggles …… I’m ok it’s just a litle smoke ….. Uh… OK …. long pause   Shit! it’s a fire.     Variations on the theme sometimes follow the prescribed checklist very closely, sometimes not.

A good general policy to follow when in any vehicle or building is that if it smells like smoke it probably is a fire. I once had Flight Attendants call up front and tell me there was a fire in the cabin. When I asked where the fire was they told me they weren’t sure, it was really just smoke. When asked what color the smoke was they couldn’t really say and changed the report to a smell. We turned off power to the galleys and other non essential equipment and the smell went away before we could land.

A careful read of the news today indicated that a passenger had only seen pictures from another passenger of the fire. Maybe there was only some overheated equipment, maybe this was an impending disaster. It is too early to say, but if ALL potential smoke / fire events were handled this well the industry would be safer.  Sounds to me like a job well done.

Happy Landings

Half Way Home

Half Way Home

This Time You Guys Really Screwed Up.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 5, 2010 by luckyjet

I’m really too busy to post very often lately but I just can’t let this pass without comment.

The implementation of Federally Mandated passenger service law will be a total DISASTER. You will find that the airlines will no longer have you on the ground during FAA delays for more than about an hour. Then they will go back to the gate, dump your happy ass off and cancel the flight.

Leaving  government out of aviation is not possible or desired. Leaving the government out of  customer service might have been a good idea if you consider the following:

1. The airlines are losing massive amounts of money on almost every flight

2. When they toss you and your stuff out and cancel the flight they will have no fuel cost

3. They already have your money, you don’t yet have the ride

Those of you who understand that sometimes it is not safe to fly, sometimes the FAA won’t let us fly, and sometimes airplanes break are now going to have to understand that the airlines cannot afford the risk of being fined for having you on the plane for too long.

This is a well intentioned but really stupid law. It will, however, give the airlines the latitude to cancel all of the flights that aren’t profitable.

Assuming you ever take off …………. Happy Landings

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.