Flight Plan

My flight plan....to encourage, mentor, guide those pining for the sky. I'm also here to virtually open the flight deck door for those who want to take a peek at the many aspects of aviation.....enjoy!

...and welcome aboard!...


The latest "Readbacks"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Checked out on Grand Cayman

"Welcome to the Cayman Islands"
Glad to see some airports still have observation decks. Most have put a kibosh in airplane watching.
(Sorry for the poor quality - it's a reflection off my window)

The month of March is another low block month (I was projecting 74 flight hours) so Captain Doug went on 'make up' to top up his hours. Crew sked called an offered me a juicy Grand Caman turn worth 8 hours which would project me to 82 hours. Sweet.

Two questions I asked. When do I show for work and who am I flying with? I didn't recognize the F/O's name for being on my "no fly" list. After 2 1/2 years of flying left seat, you realize 99 percent of the pilots are great to be with. The others are "rather nots." (An aviation fact of life) Besides, it was shaping up to be a great day, why not enjoy it?

The F/O is senior and does many one day pairings, meaning he's been there before. I, a Grand Cayman virgin, elected him to fly us down. Everything looks good for a sked departure, but the in-charge mentions there was a flight attendant change so our "General Declaration" documents had to be altered. Can she change the name herself? In the back of mind, I'm thinking we are heading to an ex-British Colony so we better check with STOC (Systems Operations Control). Sure enough, we can NOT do this, we need new docs. I go into my rant with my F/O about British meaning bureaucracy (sorry Ian) and recount stories of my visits to India where it takes 10 people to do one person's job. We push ten late.

We arrive only ten minutes late. Not bad because the flight plan had us over sked by 10 minutes. There's billions of dollars in the banks of Grand Camen but the airport is text book Caribbean. No ILS or radar identification, but so what, it's VFR 98 percent of the time.

During the taxi out, we get a datalink for me. I was suppose to fly to Orlando and back (today) but they subbed the flight to a B767. Translation...I'm told I have the day off with pay. Sweet.

Not only did I get checked out on a new airport we also switched employee parking lots. We now take the "people mover" from the garage to terminal one. Translation 15 to 25 minutes extra on my commute. But hey, it's a new parking lot and now we get to socialize a little more. But I can hear rumbling in the distance because they are only operating with one train. Plus they haven't fixed the "continuous light chop" experienced on its ride. Luckily, it's not a Disney attraction ride because it might intimidate a few.

So here I sit on a paid day off. Don't think this fairy tale story always happens in the airlines. I must savour it and go the gym.



Anonymous said...

Back to the 'lawyer' questions again:

If you were at 74hrs and scheduled to do Orlando today, then you would have been projecting around 80-81, no? How come you elected to do Cayman? Cayman + Orlando would have put you over, right? Its as if you somehow knew the Orlando flight would be a 767?

Jack said...

Those are beautiful pictures, Doug. Thanks for sharing! I can almost feel the warmth looking at them. When you do these turns, do you get out of the aircraft and go outside for a few minutes before going back home?

The terminal looks like the one at Punta Cana that I've been to. I called it "Gilligan's Island" airport with the thatched roof!


From the Flight Deck said...

Jack. It was sunny and humid at 30 C. Not sure if I could handle long periods of it, but a week or two can fix most winter blues.

Yes, I actually go for a small walk. They had a welcoming calypso band playing so I listened to them. I forgot my camera in the flight deck.

Jack I thought the same thing, this terminal looks familiar! And you're right, it does look like Punta Cana's. Good way of putting it - Gilligan's island.

We have a couple of pilots that commute from there. I'll give the four hour commute each way a miss.

From the Flight Deck said...

Anon. The 74 hours included today's flight to Orlando and back. So with my extra flying yesterday it is now projecting me to 82 hours. Our maximum allowable for this month is 85 hours. I have three hours to spare. I start a three day pairing tomorrow which might generate some block growth but not three hours. If it does, it meant my pairing went off the rails.

Flights are subbed by different aircraft quite frequently mainly because of the loads. Seems Orlando had more passengers than they bargained for, hence the 767-300.

Thanks for the query.

Captain Doug

Tim said...

KMDT has a nice observation area. It was designed post-9/11 so you don't have to go through security.


From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Tim. Glad to hear KMDT (Harrisburg, PA) has an observation deck. Most airport designers forget many people like to watch airplanes.

CYHZ (Halifax,Nova Scotia) also has a nice observation deck on the non-secure side as well. Maybe that explains why they keep getting best airport for its size in North America?

CYYZ (Toronto Pearson) gets an "F" in that department. But hey, they are now piping music throughout the airport. A spin off from this Christmas.


carlton said...

London Heathrow had a great observation deck on the roof of one of the terminals that was sandwiched between the two runways - I spent many happy hours there. Unfortunately, this has been closed for several years for security reasons.

Manchester Airport is the best in the UK - they have an aviation viewing park alongside the runway where you are very close to the action. There are also several old aircraft parked up there - including the flagship Concorde.

From the Flight Deck said...

Carlton. Thanks for the U.K perspective. I'm trying to envision where exactly the observation deck was at Heathrow.

When I watch Coronation Street (my wife has me hooked) they have the odd scene at the airport. I assume it to be Manchester. It looked well equipped.

I believe Frankfurt had quite a spot but it was faraway from the Air Canada gates.

Mark said...

Hey Doug,

Enjoy the Grand Cayman weather. It was freezing today in T.O / Oakville. Sunny however.

So it was another big lesson today. No solo yet (only at 7 hrs since I started flying again), but we did 1.3hrs of stalls and spins today. I was rather nervous at the beginning, but got used to it fairly quickly. I wouldn't line up to do it all the time, but I'm not afraid of the thought of them anymore. I guess a lot of it is psychological. After the 3rd spin (full, not just incipient), I seemed to be fine to go from slow flight, stall with full rudder, full spin and then recovery. Not too sure the last time you were in spin, but I'll take a guess and say not in the A320!!!

Messed up my landing today. Pulled the control column back too much at flare (probably because I was used to pulling it back all the way during the stalls earlier in the lesson), and then almost went and stalled the bird at touchdown. The horn started to whine. Well, I guess that’s why it's call training.

I love the flying. It’s a different world up there, and I couldn't be happier to be a part of it. Thanks for giving me the extra push to get back into it.

Don't forget the sunscreen down in the Caribbean. 30SPF at least.

Safe flying.


From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Mark. Grand Cayman was just a turn. I was there for 45 minutes.

Again, I never got off on spins and stalls either.

I knew you were going to like yourself for getting back into flying. It's about gratification.

Solo? That won't happen until the 12 to 15 hour range unless you are a prodigy. :)

When you get your private we'll have to go for a beer (coffee).


carlton said...

Capt Doug,

The viewing area at Heathrow was on the roof of Terminal 2, with a huge elevated platform offering great vantage points of the action. I was very sad when this closed.

As for Coronation Street, yes, Ken Barlow, Jack Duckworth and the team do use Manchester Airport ;)- which boasts more facilities than the Rovers Return, which is in reality an empty shell, as all the 'indoor' filming is done in the studio.

From the Flight Deck said...

Carlton. Yes, I heard Coronation Street is one big warehouse production. Years ago, many overnighting Air Canada crews would take a tour of the actual site.

I guess nothing stays the same - an observation deck at LHR and Coronation Street. :)

I'm off to Calgary, Alberta.


whywhyzed said...

Speaking of stalls and spins, when I was learning to fly at NC3 many years ago, I was terrified of crosswind landings. I remember driving out and watching the corn fields sway in the brezze and I'd get sweaty palms before I even got out of the car.
Eventually I mastered it, and actually ended up enjoying crosswind landings.
But I never liked spins much at all -- stalls were easy, but spins I hated. The worst part was practicing them solo, knowing that I had to do it for the flight test.
Eventually nailed them as well, but that part of the flight test wasn't fun.
I went on and did the Commercial as well.
Doug, one of my instructors went straight to AC from being an instructor at NC3 - can you believe it? This would never happen today I guess. You probably know him, I'll tell you by email f you like!

Geoff said...

Last time and the only time rather I was in Grand Caymen, Unfortunately the plane went mechanical and we had to have a 24hr layover there...

Very tough to take!

(hoping Im not on the "no fly list")

Mark said...

Doug & whywhyz,

Your reference to sweaty palms is exactly how I reacted under the pressure of spins yesterday. I was laughing about it with my instructor that the control column was going to slip out of my hands with all the sweat!

I agree stalls are a breeze. No issues. Just a slight pitch down, keep ailerons and rudder relatively neutral and the bird corrects itself. Spins are nerve-racking on the other hand.

My instructor did say that spins are not a flight test item for ppl, but stalls are. So, not too sure what my future exposure will be to spins other than if I do more with my instructor. I don’t think I’d be to keen to do one on my own, plus ppl students are not permitted to do them on solo.

He did give me a heads up on spiral dives which we will be doing next lesson, so he executed one on the way back to CZBA at the end of the spins lesson. I thought the spiral dives would be more nerve-racking than the spins, but they were actually not. As I learned, spirals dives are high speed the plane is not falling out of the sky like a spin, it doesn't produce that top-of-the-roller-coaster-drop-feeling sensation, if you no what I mean.

Chat later everyone


From the Flight Deck said...

Geoff. I was telling your story to the F/O while on the ramp in Grand Cayman. How you broke down and spent the night with three attractive flight attendants. I hope your wife doesn't read this because I also remember you saying one was a part time body builder. My three F/As fell into the same category, but I didn't break anything. Shame. :)

Your scenario is as rare as me getting told to stay home. Only in fairy tales.

Doug in cloudy Calgary.

P.S You are definitely NOT on my 'no fly' list

P.S2 Thanks for the post.

From the Flight Deck said...

Whywhyzed. I hear you about practising stalls and spins solo. From what I remember, I only practised 'incipient' spins solo.

Yes, gone are the days when Air Canada hired "250" hour wonders. Many of our senior pilots only had one job in their entire life. I referenced one case in my book where the 18 year old had lots of work experience. He had two paper routes.

Now, there is the odd pilot hired with only 2500 hours, but that is rare. Especially since there has been a drought in hiring, everyone's resumes will be getting thicker.

Thanks for the post. F.Y.I I'm still planning to write something on pilot fatigue.


From the Flight Deck said...

Mark. Great way of explaining things. Yes, I too preferred a spiral dive instead of a climbing turn stall with power on.

I went to get checked out a few years ago at Spectrum and the instructor had me doing stalls and spins, etc. I was thinking, is this necessary? Especially when I just wanted to rent an airplane for local sightseeing. I think he was trying to put an Air Canada pilot through his paces. It didn't help I was flying the A340 at the time and it took some time for me to realize the gear was NOT going to go through the floor boards at such a low altitude flare.

I may go back again and give it another whirl. Especially since the flare is a little closer on the A320.

Doug in Calgary.

Daniel said...

Corrie has a real street for some outdoor scenes - you can see it from the kids hands on section of the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry.

Bureaucracy here is indeed out of control. If you think changing the contents of a GenDec is hard work, you should try getting and maintaining a license and a rating or two!

Andrew said...

The spin is no longer a flight test item for the PPL, but I think most instructors will teach it, i can remember looking straight down at a tree and this barn was roatating around it...what a wild experience.

This past weekend I completed my Dual X-country Guelph -> Hanover -> London -> Guelph, couldn't believe how many grass fires there were (about 5) but it was good fun navigating and working in the control zone.


From the Flight Deck said...

Andrew. I thought someone else mentioned that as well No more spins. That will take a load off the students.

Glad to hear your cross country went well.

I'll be flying into YYZ tomorrow from Calgary.
I'll take a look for those fires.

Doug In Calgary.

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. Yes, some of the scenes on Coronation street look too real to be in a studio.

Sounds like lots of hassle maintaining a license in Grand Cayman.

Despite the hassle factor it must be hind of neat to be flying our of there.

When I worked for Air Atlantic a check pilot, Paul Williams, left to fly in the Caymans about 17 years ago. Don;t know where he ended up.

Ian said...

Well chucks - Corrie is one of my faves too! Have you heard what the actor who played Les Battersby has been up to ? A SHOCKER!

Manchester has a spectators park with great facilities along with one at the airport itself in the car park. Very forward thinking.

The Queens Building which Carlton talked about - succumbed to demolition and now the memories are rubble. HAL (Heathrow Airport Limited) sounds about the same as Pearson Doug - "F" for the those who enjoy spotting the silver birds.

Hey- does anyone remember the storyline in Corrie where Deirdre got taken in by a bogus pilot (who worked in Manchester airport tie shop) - the only throttle he had in mind was her neck!

Cheers, Ian

From the Flight Deck said...

Ian. Do tell about Les Battersby.I noticed he's been off the show for quite some time.

I thought it was the Queen's building Carlton was referencing. Last time in LHR for me, Terminal 5 had yet to open and there was massive reconstruction on the go to welcome the A380.

Coronation Street (Corrie) does a great job depicting real life situations. They didn't hold back depicting a "typical airline pilot" in regards to Deirdre: good looking, smooth talker, and a double life. :)

If it wasn't for Coronation Street, I don't think I would have a television. However, my kids and wife would beg to differ.