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Takeoffs

rstark
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My dad used to say takeoff was the easiest part of flying: "Go fast. Pull up." After doing several thousand of them, I agree. The plane's configuration doesn't change (except for retracting the landing gear, which are useless during flight) until it's well away from the ground. Newer, more powerful engines, make the acceleration quicker, and that makes the whole process safer. The faster you get to flying speed, the faster you get airborne. Faster acceleration also means that, in the event the Pilot wants to stop (abort) the takeoff, more runway is left on which to stop. Those powerful engines allow us to climb out of the low-level bumps brought on by summer heat, and it lets the plane quickly climb above most of the weather ahead. Power is a good thing. You can't have "too much." The only surprise might be wake turbulence from a jet departing ahead. It can be startling, but it is no threat at all to your plane. Until someone figures out how to see air, wakes will always be out there to surprise us. Takeoff pitch angle startles some, but the Pilots rotate the aircraft to a very precise climb angle. (We have to rotate to about 20 degrees to avoid placing too much stress on the flaps.)  If you look outside and it seems the plane is slowing down, you have been duped. The perceived slowing of the plane is due to the fact that it is getting farther away from the ground--the only reference you have.  In fact, the plane is speeding up throughout the process. Another reason people think the pitch angle is so steep is because the Otolith organs in your inner ear lie to you under hard acceleration and make you feel like you are going uphill. Upon landing with all the braking that goes on, you feel like you are going downhill. Watch the front of the cabin during takeoff and landing and see if you can catch your balance system fibbing to you. More about takeoffs: I don't like the feeling of leaving ground especially when the plane shakes. Some take off's are better than others, why is that? The plane will shake. Some runways are rough. After takeoff ,the plane shudders and shakes if it is in any wake turbulence from the plane ahead (almost a given at today's busy airports). Your first clue of wake turbulence is when one wing drops sharply and seems to hang there a couple of heartbeats. Nothing to worry about--it's just rough air emanating from each wingtip. Since air can't be seen, Pilots can only guess where the rough air is. Even if you are in smooth air, you can feel the landing gear turbulence hit the tail as the gear retracts into the fuselage. This turbulence shakes the back of the plane and then disappears as the gear settles into the well located in the wing and belly. Gear turbulence is worse if the Pilot climbs the aircraft steeply, as one often does trying to avoid the wake from the preceding plane. I don't try to force the rotation of the aircraft, I simply let her fly off by herself. She'll go when she is good and ready. No need to rush her. A slow rotation makes the takeoff very gentle, and other than the forward acceleration, which can be rather brisk, the airplane accelerates away from the ground very gently. Initial climb rates are as high as 6,000 feet per minute. That's over 60mph! If I accelerate the plane and then pitch up steeply, I have accelerated your body to 150 mph across the ground and then started an upward acceleration up of 60 mph. If you aren't gentle, you can make the initial climb after takeoff an unnecessarily rough maneuver, but sometimes, you have no choice, as in trying to avoid wake from the plane that departed right in front of you. However, smoothly rotating lets the plane fly away from the ground genty and with a little extra energy because the speed builds rapidly after liftoff. Power is a good thing as it gets you away from the ground quickly. No Pilot has ever had a problem hitting air. It is the ground that always wins. A landing is just a tie.
83 Comments
Pamela_Kay
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As a FFA (hopefully!!) I found this article very informative! Thank you for this, I always wondered about those "shakes"! "In the pool"
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[...] Go fast. Pull up. - Southwest Airlines Captain Ray Stark goes over the ins and outs of takeoffs. His three-word description of a landing is very respectful of gravity. [...]
Francisco_Delga1
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Back in the '90s there was a plane crash and it had to do with wake turbulence from another airplane. I believe it was the USAIR crash near Pittsburg. They hit some wake turbulence and for whatever reason their controls jammed and they crashed. Is this still a possibility? USS BLOG BOY FRANCISCO
chuchoteur
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Hi Francisco, Like everything else, our knowledge of flying is constantly increasing. It is only over the last few decades that we have truly started to understand what "happens" behind an aircraft, and what the possible issues may be. Back in the 90's, Air Traffic Controllers did not have the equipment they have today, which incorporates software that analyses aircraft positions and triggers warnings in case of close proximity. Today, with a better understanding and better systems, we can ensure better separation between aircraft to ensure that wake turbulence is not a safety of flight issue. As an industry, we in aviation are constantly learning from other people's mistakes, and building our collective knowledge! this is what makes us the safety industry in the world in relation to transporting people from A to B. :o)
joe-mdw-plane-d
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Too steep of a rotation can cause your ears to "pop". My family had this problem on Republic 9pre N/W merger not the current one). Since I had tubes I had no problem ;-) Achoo! Ding!! boy Joe Friedmann
Leah4
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I LUV to take off, except when it's time to go home from a trip; that's because I don't want to come home. Anyway, it always gives me an adrenaline rush, as well as flying & landing! 🙂 I wish I could sit in the cockpit during take off, but know I'm not allowed.
rstark
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Blog Boy, If you are in a Cessna and run across a 747 wake and you are low to the ground??? Maybe. Regarding transport category aircraft? In a word, no. Different sized transport category aircraft are separated for takeoff and landing. Hitting a "bump" from another plane will still be "exciting" but not dangerous. Ray
Amy5
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Thanks for an explaination that was easy to understand. It makes me feel better knowing why you do thos things. I'm scared to fly and I'm flying tomorrow to Phoenix with my husband and 5 month old son. I will think of this post when we take off and I hear all those noises and feel all those bumps. I know they can't be avoided, especially taking off from Midway!! Talk about going fast and pulling up. How about straight up like a rocket! 🙂
chuchoteur
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Incidentally, the better and more precise positioning of aircraft today has generated its own problems. Prior to GPS and the latest generation of inertial systems, when an aircraft was asked to fly a track, it would be on the correct route, with plus or minus up to 5 nautical miles either side, particularly over desertic environments (ie, pacific or atlantic for the greater part!). With today's aircraft flying precisely the track requested, it has been discovered (particularly over the atlantic, where the airways are used to pretty much full capacity) that it has generated issues of a new kind. With aircraft flying exactly the same path, and with vertical separation of 2000ft, one aircraft could end up spending a transatlantic crossing in the wake turbulence of an aircraft 200ft higher and slightly ahead! Resulting in a pretty uncomfortable ride for some passengers. Today, we now have the definition of "offset tracks", allowing airliners to fly a certain distance to the left or right of a given track, in order to be clear of wake turbulence of an aircraft above and in front. :o)
Jeramy_Brian1
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I noticed that some landings are smooth and slow and some are bumpy and fast. Is there a certain speed that you guys are supossed to maintain at landing? Do some pilots recieve complaints from passengers for making too many rough landings?
rstark
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I noticed that some landings are smooth and slow and some are bumpy and fast. Is there a certain speed that you guys are supossed to maintain at landing? Do some pilots recieve complaints from passengers for making too many rough landings? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rough landings? I have no idea what you are talking about! :) Mother Nature throws the works at us in the form of wind and weather and a pilot who gets his multi-ton aircraft into the landing zone and stopped on a short runway like MDW or BUR has little interest in making the smoothest landing. Most passengers who make comments make them out of complete ignorance of this simple fact. I made a textbook perfect landing into BUR one morning crossing the threshold right on speed and tounching down pretty smooth with smooth reverse and braking, tuning a 90 degree corner off the runway into the gate located near the end of the runway. As an elderly lady deplaned she looked at me and glared, saying "That was WAY too FAST and ROUGH! Way too fast!" No one else seemed to have an issue with the landing and when the lady cleared the stairs the Flight Attendant looked at me and said, "One of the better landings I have had here if I may say so myself." Some people fly once a decade. What can I say. As for speed, we have a designated speed based on out weight. Our tolerance for this speed is five knots, above or bleow which our partner will speak up looking for a correction. At the average approach speed of 135 knots, five knots is about a 3% tolerance. Name another job where the tolerances are that close! Ray
chuchoteur
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... a perfectly smooth landing is a luxury pilots are able to entertain when they have long runways... When the landing gear comes into contact with the runway, it compresses and this compression triggers the autobrake and spoiler deployment (on approach, spoilers are "armed" by the pilots, for actuation by the contact of the gears with the ground). In effect, when performing a perfectly smooth landing (with little noticeable transition from flight to ground other than surface rumbling!), you may be delaying that critical landing gear compression, which will activate the braking systems (spoilers & autobrake). Aircraft manufacturers all recommend a "firm" contact with the runway, ensuring optimal deployment of the braking systems, so as a passenger, you should not be surprised if you come back to earth with a (small) bump. But sometimes, if the weather's good, the runway is long, and the optimal turnoff taxiway is at the other end of the runway, you may get the benefit of a perfectly smooth landing, soft braking and no reverse thrust... :o)
Francisco_Delga1
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Ray, What is your favorite airport to take off from to? OR your favorite airport to land? I love landing in San Diego because you can see the bay on the right hand side and you can see my ship (CVN 68) and i enjoy landing in ABQ because its my home. It would seem like a pain to land in SAN because of the short runway... USS BLOG BOY
Bob_in_CT
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Ray: Any idea how long it takes for the turbulence of a heavy jet dissapate? Is it like the wake from a ship spreading out from either side or is it more like a confused sea? Capt [sea] Bob
pcerda
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Raphael, Are you a pilot with SWA or another airline? Kudos to you and Ray for all the knowledge you've dropped on us! Jeramy, The last flight I took to the Dominican Republic everyone CLAPPED when the pilot landed. I guess everyone was greatful he didn't screw up!
pcerda
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Oh yeah, takeoffs AND landings make my stomach turn! No Inflight for me! I can handle the rest though. Maybe I can handle them after a while (unless I eat the green chile in ABQ, then all bets are off!)
chuchoteur
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Hi Bob! Ref wake vortex, behind the heaviest aircraft in commercial service today, current separation on landing is 6 nm, and on departure, 2 minutes. That would apply for example for a 747 followed by a Cessna 152, so it is fairly representative of how long it takes for wake turbulence to dissipate. it is fairly similar to the wake of a ship, although it does not spread laterally as much, and there is a 3 dimensional effect whereas the wake turbulences "fall". They are therefore encountered behind and below an aircraft. As Ray mentions, he climbs steeply to stay "over" the wake turbulence of the preceeding aircraft! Paco, I am nothing but an enthousiastic Southwest customer! Even though I'm based in Europe, I travel to the USA fairly often, and on a couple of occasions have flown Southwest, and LUV'd it! :o))) I do however work in aerospace, primarily in new technologies on board aircraft, navigation procedures and terminal area solutions (flightpaths around airports, for noise abatement, shorter track distances, and decision altitude reductions). I am also a very keen private pilot, flying light aircraft, a passion I have had since I was a kid! The great thing about Southwest is that everybody there is passionate about flying, and they know how to share it! :o) Raphael
chuchoteur
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ooops forgot to mention an important fact! Wake turbulence dissipates at different speeds depending on conditions, for example if there is a lot of wind or not (bearing in mind wind may "push" the turbulence to the left or right of an aircraft). It is pretty similar to the wake of a ship, depending on wether the sea is heavy or not, on a calm lake, the wake of a ship may ripple all the way across the surface! Wake is actually a vortex, with air spinning in an opening cone shape. Hence, when you initially encounter it, the aircraft will "drop" one wing, as the aircraft is induced into a slight spin movement inside this rolling mass of air in the direction of the vortex. When you see aircraft flying in close formation (for example, the US Navy Blue Angels or the US Air Force Thunderbirds), not only do they have to keep in position with each other at high speed and close range, but they also have to avoid each other's wake turbulence! That requires extreme skills, and a level of precision that has me in awe! http://thunderbirds.airforce.com/ http://www.blueangels.navy.mil/
Leah4
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I will be flying to MCO in July! 🙂 Maybe at least one of my planes will have seats that face backwards & I can try sitting there. I bet that would feel interesting at take off & landing.
FriendofBlogBoy
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Leah, I'm not sure if SW has any planes left with the old front/back configuration in the center. If they do, there aren't many, based on my own non-scientific observations over the last few years, so your chances of taking off or landing backwards are reduced to your ability to convince the FAs that your reversed sitting posture is the way you always sit. Good luck with that! It did feel "backwards" to face the rear of the aircraft on those SWA planes, and as I mentioned to you before, I had the same sensation at times on the private jet of my (former) employer. An Air Force friend told me that all USAF transports configured to accomodate passengers have only rear-facing seats because in the event of a violent landing, that position offers the most spinal/neck/head support. What really DID unnerve me was on the occasions when I got stuck flying on the couch of our corporate jet. It was oriented front-to-back along the length of the cabin, as opposed to side-to-side, which meant that you sat facing the center aisle and looking straight out the left-side windows. During takeoff, your body would lean to the left, and landings would reverse that with your body being pulled to the right. Neither of those movements "feel" right on a plane! A good friend of mine who was a career Air Force pilot summarized flying into these layman's terms for folks who asked about the intricacies of driving complex jet aircraft: "pull back on the stick, houses get smaller; push forward on the stick, houses get bigger." Kim 🙂
rstark
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Favorite airport? PHX! (Because, unless I am just passing through, it means I am home!) Second favorite: San Diego because of the fantastic view ahead. The runway is not all that short and I cannot remember ever having used the whole runway on landing. Reno is another challenging approach with a nice view. Lots of winds and a steep descent so energy management is fun. ABQ is fun in the summer because it is a high density-altitude airport and that means the air is thin making the plane hard to slow down. More energy management fun there too. My all-time favorite has to be the visual approach into Honolulu. Passing over Diamond Head at about 14,000 feet we would coast down to around 10,000 abeam the runway where they would usually clear us for a visual approach. After droning across the longest no-alternate stretch of water in the world, seeing land was good but seeing Hawaii was literally like seeing paradise. Knowing we had a day and a half on the ground made it even better! Maybe HNL will show up in our schedule one of these days! Ray
Jeramy_Brian1
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Thanks to all the pilots for all the great info. I would love to be a pilot but my vision isn't good enough 😞 My favorite view is flying into oak-town or sfo because it's fun to see the golden gate bridge from the sky. It's amazing how big that thing is.
pcerda
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Mine has to be BWI...coming over Inner Harbor, seeing the Power Plant, Domino Sugar building, the Science Center, and the Aquarium is an AWESOME sight!
Leah4
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Yea, Kim, I've noticed that, too. 😞 I should have tried it before. Oh, well; I don't mind where I sit on SWA planes. I'm just happy to be on the plane! :) SWA LUV!
Francisco_Delga1
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LEAH AND KIM, I MISS THE OLD SEAT CONFIGURATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LETS START A MOVEMENT TO BRING THEM BACK!!!! 🙂 BY THE WAY I DO MIND WERE I SIT...... I DO NOT LIKE SITTING IN THE FRONT OF THE PLANE BECAUSE OF THOSE CRYING KIDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!AHAHAHAHAHAHA USS BLOG BOY
Leah4
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That's a good idea, Francisco! I wonder who we could talk to about that? :) I don't (or at least I try not to, if possible) sit by crying kids (I don't remember ever having to, but maybe I'm wrong); I do remember, though, the second time I came home from Europe & on the flight from Frankfurt to DAL, a baby sat behind me; s/he actually did better than I thought, & it was a 10 hour, 45 minute, N/S flight. There was another child (a little bit older), who sat across the aisle & up a few rows. The mother walked him up & down the aisles a few times, but when it was time to land, they obviously couldn't walk then. The child cried quite a while! I admit, I'm glad I wasn't sitting next to or right across from them! Of course, though, kids might be quite at first, & then start crying during the flight.
Francisco_Delga1
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Leah, I am sure Brian can call Gary for us to let him know that we want those seats back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I even miss those dividers... I know, I know it saves gas. The more weight on a plane the more gas it burns.... I think children should have their own section on a plane. I should stop complaining because one day i might have 10 kids of my own.. :) USS BLOG BOY
blusk
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USS Blog Boy and Leah, I'm afraid the rear-facing seats are gone for good. There are two major reasons for this, and they have to do with safety and security: At about the time we began accepting deliveries of the 737-700, the FAA changed the impact requirements for seating. Previously, seats had been designed to withstand a force of 9g, but with the new rule the requirement was changed to 16-g. There were no rear-facing seats that met that requirement, so all 737-700s were delivered with forward-facing seats, and we began to reequip our existing 737-300s and 737-500s. The 737-200s were allowed to keep their lounge areas until the were phased out two years ago. Also, at the same time the 737-700 was being introduced, the FAA mandated that Flight Attendants be able to see the entire cabin, and the high bulkheads of the lounge areas prevented this. Bottomline, the lounges and their rear-facing seats are history, along with hot pants. (Darn on both!) Blog Boy By the way, Leah and USS Blog Boy, you two seem to be awfully compatible! (But don't tell External Blog Boy)
Francisco_Delga1
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Brian, Thanks for the story.................... I am sure the FAA could make an exception.. "SET THE SEATS FREE" So there are no more cabin dividers for that same reason??? See you on Thursday in ABQ......................As far as Leah goes well I am sure the country gal has plenty of choices when she flies and i am not sure if i am the airline for her... well maybe i am we just never know.... LUV IS IN THE AIR??????????????????????? TO BE CONTINUED... USS BLOG BOY
Leah4
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I'm disappointed about the rear-facing seats! 😞 Oh well, that's okay. Yes, Francisco, I LUV your idea of kids having their own section! That's funny. Let's send a letter to Gary about that. :) I fly SWA every time I can. Well, two years ago when I went to Baltimore (BWI), I flew another AAirline. Can you guess which one? Ha, ha. I could have, should have, & wish I'd flown SWA. Well, next time I go there I can.
Jim13
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Captain Stark's postings are my favorites - I love the technical "stuff" about aircraft and flying in general. I am curious about the departure from ELP when the plane is pointing west. You mention the perception of slowing down on takeoff is just that - a perception. But when departing to the west from ELP, a hard left turn is required (good thing too, or the Franklin Mountains would result in an unscheduled termination of the flight) and not only does it seem we slow down while in that turn, but I can hear the engines slow down and feel the thrust being reduced. It is more pronounced if the flight is going to Dallas or other points east. Now, I understand increased thrust equals increased lift; and I understand banking results in less lift, therefore slowing down while banking means even less lift. This left turn after ELP departure is the ONLY time I ever have a slight queasy feeling when flying. When flying the departure I mention above does the plane really continue accelerating all the way? Or is there about 20 seconds where the speed is not increasing? (I don't think it decreases.)
Francisco_Delga1
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Leah, Leah oh our poor Leah.... I think you committed treason.. FLYING AA TO BWI???? I will forgive you and I am sure Southwest would forgive u this once....... I COULD SEE IF YOU FLEW THEM BECAUSE SOUTHWEST DID'T FLY THERE BUT BWI..............ONE OF SOUTHWEST BIGGEST OPERATIONS........ I am only giving u a hard time..... are you a flight attendant yet?? what happened to your interview?? HERE IS MY E-MAIL ADDRESS.. Francisco.delgado@cvn68.navy.mil USS BLOG BOY
FriendofBlogBoy
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Dear Blog Boy, I am writing on behalf of two of my friends with a special request. Despite the FAA rules about sight-lines, bulkheads and rear-facing seats, I would like to ask for just ONE Southwest 737 to be reconfigured in the following manner: a.) exactly TWO rear-facing seats to be located at the BACK of the plane b.) a tall bulkhead to be installed in front of and behind those seats c.) a privacy curtain to be installed on the aisle side of those two seats d.) a sign to be placed overhead that reads "Reserved for Francisco and Leah" When this plane has been appropriately modified, please let me know that it is ready. Then, enter a flight plan that sends it first to ABQ, next directly to TUL, and then leave the next flight segment confidential. Please send me the itinerary details. I have two friends who seem ready to occupy those seats... Resident matchmaker, External Blog Boy P. S. If you can make all that happen, then let's talk about the hot pants and boots issue... 🙂
chuchoteur
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Hi Jim, Although I am unfamiliar with SID's (Standard Instrument Departures) at El Paso Int'l, I believe that there are probably a number of factors in play. There are obstacles in the field of departure, with a Minimum Safe Atitude (MSA) that is set quite high, 4000ft above airfield level. You have the border with mexico that is not too far away, and a tight left turn in the procedure. I would guess that in this case you would be restricting your speed in order to maintain a short turning circle. In the same way as the faster you go on your bicycle, the greater your turn radius will be, the same principle applies to aircraft. Maybe Ray could advise the speed he maintains in the turn? http://www.airnav.com/airport/KELP An interesting website that provides some of the airport information and approach charts. Of course when flying, make SURE that your documentation is up to date, websites like these should not be relied upon as they may not be updated with the latest info (Flight operations departments within airlines ensure pilots fly with up to date charts, whereas private pilots have to subscribe to specialised services in most cases!). At other airports, noise abatement procedures on departure require a "cutback" in throttle setting to diminish engine noise over residential areas, hence in some cases you may hear the engine power diminishing. This is usually carried out between 800 and 1500ft in altitude, so you should not be worried! :o)
Francisco_Delga1
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Kim, Oh our cupid..................... YOU ARE TOO FUNNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Leah seems like a nice gal, but what would a nice gal want with a NAVY BOY in San Diego???? Besides i am going on deployment in three weeks.. 😞 i am going to miss you guys. IF ONLY SOUTHWEST COULD OFFER A NON-STOP FLIGHT FROM SAN TO TUL PERHAPS IT COULD WORK OUT.. BUT THIS WHOLE DAL LAYOVER????????? FOR those that are interested here is my address on the ship.. we can be pen-pals... HINT HINT LEAH..... AND KIM.... AND BRIAN.. AND MR. OWENS... AND HERB AND COLLEEN... IF YOU WORK AT AA AND YOU ARE READING THIS YOU ARE WELCOME TO WRITE TO ME AS WELL.. I WILL FORGIVE U. SKSN DELGADO, FRANCISCO SUPPLY S-6 USS NIMITZ CVN 68 FPO AP 96620 USS BLOG BOY
blusk
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Hi Raphael, I was on a westbound flight out of El Paso last month, and we took off on Runway 26L. Instead of making the tight right turn back to the west over downtown El Paso as I have often experienced, we made a more gentle turn and crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico. We turned back to the west south of downtown Ciudad Juarez and followed the Mexican side of the river until we were able to cross back into the US into New Mexicco. Cap'n Ray, this is the second time I have flown over Mexico into/out of El Paso--the other time was landing from Phoenix and we flew near the bull ring. Is this procedure more common now? Blog Boy
blusk
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USS Blog Boy, easy Sailor, women can smell desperation! Blog Boy
Leah4
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Ha, ha Kim! That's funny! I LUV it! 🙂 I have to laugh. USS Blog Boy, we'll miss you & be glad when you're able to post again. Stay safe! Thanks for your address.
FriendofBlogBoy
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Blog Boy, Is THAT what causes that humid and salty aroma around ships? (or as Captain Chekov woulda referred to USS Blog Boy's current ride, "nuclear wessels") External Blog Boy 🙂
Jim13
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@Raphael - ELP is 3958 feet ASL and the Franklin Mountains top out at 7,100 feet ASL. It is less than four miles from the edge of the runway to the base of the mountain. So, as a flying passenger I appreciate the pilot making the left turn in an expedient manner. I understand the tighter turn radius bicycle analogy, but a plane can bank tighter and go faster to make the same turn. It is the (apparent?) throttling back of the engines that gives the pit of the stomach feeling. Maybe if we went faster and banked sharper it would be even worse. @Blog Boy - Leaving and departing ELP often involves flying into Mexican airspace. Since it is so common, I believe no permissions or overflight fees are needed. Just last night I flew in and we landed on runway 4/22 (I don't understand "L" and "R" - probably left and right, but from whose perspective?) while the plane was pointing northeast. I actually love this approach because it is so uncommon - I've probably only done it 6 or 7 times in my life, so it's maybe 2% of my landings in El Paso. To bad we were landing at night :-( If you look at an aerial photo (Google Earth, of course) of ELP, you can see that if wind requires you to land facing northeast on runway 4/22, you HAVE to fly over Mexico - no way can a commercial airliner make that tight left turn around the Franklins to land without overflying Mexico. @Everybody cheering for Fransisco and Leah - I will gladly donate any and all unused SWA drink coupons if SWA will place a bottle of good champagne on the flight they take together. Anybody else willing to join me? Jim in El Paso
chuchoteur
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Hi Brian! I do love it so when a flight departs from the usual procedures, and I get to discover an area I don't normally see! That must've been a great flight, especially with good weather! Over here in Europe, we don't really get half as much of the varied scenery that you can experience over the USA... although we can fly round the Mont Blanc and have the joys of transiting through the airspace of 3 different countries (France, Italy and Switzerland - fun to do, especially when you have to call them in turn on the radio!). I do also remember flying from Europe over to Atlanta, and overflying NY and JFK at night... a great view indeed! Hi Jim, Indeed, the pilot could increase airspeed and tighten the turn, however this would result in additional G's, which is fine for fighter pilots but generally rather unsettling for fare paying passengers! Airliners tend to try to minimise G's (as also, this is additional stress to the airframe that will at one stage or another result in additional maintenance), even though a commercial aircraft these days can fly some pretty spectacular ways, as Southwest have in the past demonstrated when doing flyby's at airshows! From a flight operations perspective, the lowest admissible speed is 1.3 of stall speed (to factor in a margin), and this is sometimes increased again by 5-10kts. In a turn, as you bank, your stall speed increases, which requires you to have additional speed than what you would require in straight and level flight. The more bank angle you have, the higher the stall speed, the more speed you require to fly safely. In that sense, a tighter but higher speed turn may only offer the same 1.3 of stall speed coefficient, so not necessarily be safer. Finally, when flying IFR (Instrument Flight Rules), you are taught to fly "standard" turns, and these are generally at low bank angles, in order to maintain the precision of your turn. Hope this explains some! :o)
blusk
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Raphael, I have had some other memorable experiences flying between the States and Europe. Seeing ice bergs in the North Atlantic, the ice cap in Greenland, and flying right down the middle of Lake Michigan. One of the most memorable was landing at London Heathrow and flying along the Thames over central London and seeing the Tower Bridge, St. Paul's, the Houses of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace. Jim, the R and L stand for left and right when you have two parallel runways. I actually was turned around when I was writing about taking off in El Paso. We took off on Runway 8 Right, which is the opposited end of Runway 26 Left. The R and L designations are in relation to your looking straight down the runway. In the case of 8R, you are looking almost due East and it is the runway on the right. By the way, if you have three parallel runways like Detroit used to have, the middle one is designated C for Center. Blog Boy Brian
chuchoteur
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Brian, you need to come and visit! we can definitely make that a memorable experience... aviation-wise as well as in culinary terms! :o)) Flying around Europe, a great flight was a night time flight from Paris (FR) to Birmingham (UK). A crystal clear night, with the pilot commenting the flight, taking off from CDG due east, flying around the north of Paris, over the channel abeam of Calis/Dover with the ferries on the water, and around the east and north of London! Another great flight was on a BAe146 from Brimingham to Paris, and coming into Paris, the Captain advised us that we would be required to hold, as Concorde was coming in and they had priority (as they were always low on fuel). As we were stacking, Concorde overtook us on the right, same altitude and about a mile away at the most! A fantastic sight! Those were the days as they say! :o)
blusk
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Raphael, I so miss Concorde. I was fortunate enough to fly it twice between London and New York, and I can't think of a more beautiful airliner ever. Of course, a takeoff in Concorde was nothing like any other airliner with the afterburners on the four engines pressing you into your seat. Ray, that really was a case of "go fast, pull up." Blog Boy By the way, Raphael, food and aviation have certainlly peaked my interest. I worked for a month at Orly when I was with Delta, and it was an amazing time. Of course, every aviation buff must make two pilgrimages in life. One is to Le Bourget not just for the Art Deco Terminal and the Musee de l'Air, but to imagine what it was like when Lindbergh touched down after his epic trip--one of the 20th Century's truly transforming moments. The other is to visit Kitty Hawk to see where it all began. Kitty Hawk is still on my "to do" list.
chuchoteur
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Brian, you are so lucky! I only ever flew concorde once, on one of those outings when they took people up to go supersonic (over the med and north africa - apparently they didn't use to complain about the sonic boom!). Flying London to NY must've been great! There are so many good stories associated with the aircraft as well! Although Southwest have also got a fair share of stories! :o) Any chance you may be over for this year's Paris Air Show? Although we'd quite like to welcome you down south as well! :o))
FriendofBlogBoy
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Jim, To piggyback on Brian's explanation about "L" and "R", you didn't ask, but I'll tell you a bit about the runway numbering system. If you think about looking straight down at an airport from overhead (as in the Google Earth view that you mentioned), then imagine superimposing a compass dial over that view. The due north direction would be labeled 360 to represent the "top" of a 360 degree circle. Due south would be 180, or halfway around from the top of the circle. Inbetween, looking to the east would be 90 and to the west would be 270. (Aren't you glad that you stayed awake during geometry now?) The runway numbering system drops the last zero, and then labels that concrete strip based on the direction you'd be flying if you landed on it. If you had an airport with a runway that ran true north/south, it would be numbered 36/18. If the landing approach was from the south, flying northbound, you would call that runway "36" because you'd be heading towards 360 on the compass dial. If you came from the other direction, going south as you landed, that same runway would be referred to as "18". However, not many airports have runways that perfectly align to the four 'corners' of the compass. For example, at Dallas Love Field, the two main runways are numbered "13/31". The numbers will always deviate from 360 and 180 by the same amount; 13 (actually 130 degrees) is fifty degrees to the southeast of true south (180) and the 31 direction is shifted fifty degrees to the northwest of true north (360). Since DAL has the two parallel runways (I'm ignoring the one smaller cross runway for this discussion), it is necessary to identify them for incoming/departing pilots by left or right. When you approach DAL from the north, landing into a southerly headwind, you'd see two runways in front of you. 13L would be the one on the left that is heading towards a compass point of 130 degrees, and 13R would be its parallel sibling to your right. Here's what it looks like in Dallas: http://flightaware.com/resources/airport/KDAL So, you can figure out from this explanation that the runway that you and Brian are referring to at ELP is aligned to 40 degrees or 220 degrees on the compass dial depending on your approach. That's almost a true northeast/southwest heading, which would be 45/225 degrees. For a long time now, I've never landed at Love Field without remembering an incident that happened to me years ago but has been indelibly etched into my memory. I was riding in the cockpit of my former employer's jet, chatting with our pilots, listening to the aviation radio traffic and enjoying the view. The Love Field approach controllers directed us to land on 31L as we came in from the south. At DAL, commercial traffic, like Southwest's planes, is usually routed to 31L because it is the longer runway and is closer to the SWA side of the terminal, thereby shortening the taxiing time. For the same reason, the GA (General Aviation -- private planes) flights are usually sent to 31R since that runway is closer to the FBOs (Fixed Base Operators -- private 'terminals') located along the east side of DAL. Our pilot radioed back to confirm a destination of 31L, but also asked if it would be possible to use 31R. All three of us heard in our headsets when the reply was in the negative, that we were to use 31L. Since pilots normally don't argue or debate with controllers, we accepted that assignment, knowing that we'd have further to taxi, but it wasn't a big deal overall. As we passed over downtown Dallas, now only about 30 - 45 seconds from touchdown, the radio came alive with a frantic voice telling us we were lined up on the WRONG runway. The man in our headsets was telling us that he had said 31R and we had messed up. Our pilot reconfirmed 31R and he just veered to our right to re-align to the east side of the airport, without any compromise to safety or violent movements. In fact, he did it gently enough that our pax never realized that we had "scooted over", but the three of us all knew who had made the mistake. So, the "L" and the "R" definitely make a BIG difference! LOL Happy flying, Kim 🙂
Jim13
Not applicable
@Blog Boy Brian - Eureka! The light bulb went off, R and L - and 8 and 26 - now make sense. In El Paso, there is no 22L or 4R since only one runway runs NE/SW. One more tiny clarification. When the flight departs from or lands on runway 8R, the plane is pointed east - correct? If the plane is facing west, it is landing on or departing from runway 26L. In my (simple) mind, runway 26L and 8R were just one runway. But even though it is only one stretch of concrete - one physical runway - it is actually two separate (by designation) runways. Ergo - it is impossible to depart pointing west on runway 8R, and impossible to depart pointing east from runway 26R. I wonder if I can drop a photo of El Paso's runways in here? Let's try: http://66.226.83.248/aptdiag/w240/01625.gif And using Raphael's link above, I looked at ATL and DFW. ATL has five parelel runways, but they are named 8L, 8R, 9L, 9R, and 10. DFW has a 17L, 17C and 17R, plus 8L, 8R, 9L and 9R. Atlanta's Hartsfield - http://204.108.4.16/d-tpp/0702/00026AD.PDF The secondary airport in Dallas - http://204.108.4.16/d-tpp/0702/06039AD.PDF El Paso's runway diagram - http://204.108.4.16/d-tpp/0702/00134AD.PDF (Interesting, the El Paso runways aren't flat. 8R/26L is 33 feet higher in elevation on the east side, and runway 4/22 is 32 feet higher on one end. The small runway is just three feet higher.) And thank you to all, it's pretty cool when perfect strangers take the time and effort to help other perfect strangers who just don't understand something. You might say, "Oh, that's just the SWA attitude", but it's a little more, and it is appreciated.
blusk
Not applicable
Jim, You have it right, and as Kim explains, runways are numbered by the direction they point. It's not unusual for runways to vary in altitude along their length, after all, some are two miles long. You mentioned Atlanta, and the runways there have a pronounced dip in the middle. Also Atlanta illustrates what happens when you have more than three parallel runways. For the fourth runway, Right, Left, and Center are gone, so what do you do? Keep in mind that runway number isn't an exact representation of heading. Runway 8 may well point 085 degrees, and since we only use two digits, the last one is eliminated. In ATL they named the two runways north of the terminal 8L and 8R, and two of the runways to the south 9R and 9L even though all four point the same direction. Runway 10 is a newer runway more to the south and it may have a slightly different direction. Incidentally, while runways have numbers, taxiways have letters that are pronounced phonetically. In most places, taxiway "B" is "taxiway Bravo," and "D" is taxiway Delta. In ATL because Delta has almost 1,000 daily flights, they call it taxiway Dixie to avoid confusion in radio transmissions to all the Delta flights. This stuff fascinates me. By the way Jim, did you get my e-mails? Blog Boy
chuchoteur
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Hi Jim, You have got it! :o) Alas, runways are rarely flat, and some are more like cross country courses than anything else! this is where the pilots' skills come into play. :o) There is an infamous one in Europe, which goes up a hill and back down again. The Instrument Landing System guides you right into the upslope, and when performing automatic landings (known as category III landings - with an automated flare at a set descent rate), you hit the bump in a rather sharp and uncomfortable way. Pilots prefer to finish the approach off manually whenever they have the visibility to do so! Ref runway headings, as Kim mentioned they are MAGNETIC headings. As the magnetic north does not correspond to true (geographic) north, there can sometimes be a deviation of up to 20 degrees or more in some parts of the american continent. Also, as the magnetic north "floats" with the earth's crust, it actually moves in relation to fixed points, and every dozen years or so, a runway will change numbers (for ex from 31L to 32L etc etc) and have to be re-painted! The really fun thing about aviation is that you always learn something new! :o)
Jim13
Not applicable
Blog Boy, this stuff fascinates me too. Especially arcane details like taxiway "Dixie" - so appropriate for the area. If you want another arcane detail, ATC and ground control used to refer to America West as "Cactus" - since between AAmerican and Southwest, Northwest, Midwest airlines, confusion could result. So insteead of saying, "America West flight 123, you are clear to land on Runway 26R" they would say, "Cactus 123, you are..." I just found your emails Brian, thanks for making me look. I have one email address used only for signing up for things and I don't visit often. THANKS!