Saturday, June 26, 2010

School's out! ...and mentoring

Photos by Erik in FRA
These photos are found on a charter airline: Thomas Cook

Well I know teachers are rejoicing as school comes to an end for yet another year. One grade six teacher from west of Toronto sent me several questions compiled during their "theory of flight" classes. Two of these questions will be published in enRoute's September edition! My hats off to the teacher for going out of her way to send them to enRoute.

Another grade six teacher from YOW (Ottawa) asked whether I could visit her class on an Ottawa layover this winter. It turned out my hotel and where she taught was too far away. She is an avid aviation fan and instigated a discussion this winter on my blog about who's theory of flight is right... Bernoulli, Newton or the Kutta-Joukowski theorem?
Because of her persistence, contributions to my blog, (she even bought my book) maybe Captain Doug will be showing up in uniform next year. :)

Funny, my son who is twelve and also in grade six learned the theory of flight this year but midway through school he had a teacher return from maternity leave. Because of this transition Captain Doug did not have the opportunity to give a talk. I still feel bad about not pushing the issue.

I feel it is imperative kids should get to hear about the wonderful world of aviation. 9/11 has done more than just close the flight deck door forever. It stopped visitation. It's stopped dreams from happening. It stopped encouragement. I can't take my 12 year old son in the flight deck and show him what his dad does. Heck, I can't even take my wife in the jumpseat who I've known for 30 years, but a brand new flight attendant has full privileges. I better stop while I'm ahead.

I just finished a three day pairing and my F/O mentioned how he got wooed into this business. His mother, an Air Canada flight attendant, would take him on several layovers. One such memorable layover included a ride in the flight deck in an L1011 from Montreal to Los Angeles. He sat there from start to finish...both ways! This confirmed what this twelve year old wanted to do for a living.

I too was wooed by the flight deck. During an Air Canada strike many years ago when I was a weatherman, I had to make other arrangements to get from Toronto to Halifax. I received the last seat on Canadian's B737. While settling in my seat the flight attendant informed me they "duplicated " my seat i.e. I had to deplane. Quick thinking Metman Morris asked if he could have the jumpseat as he had his commercial pilot license. The flight attendant returned after showing the captain my license....I was invited to the flight deck. I'll never forget landing in Halifax with visibility down in snow showers while watching the captain fly a flawless backcourse approach. Weeks later Metman Morris pulled the plug as a weatherman and chased his dream to become Captain Morris. A true story.

Flight Questions:

Here are some of the questions the students from class 6C came up with:

How are planes powered to fly?

Planes use turbine jet engines to power the airplane. As you learned, there are four forces of flight: lift, weight, thrust and drag. The jet engines provide the thrust. At Air Canada, we have the world’s most powerful commercial jet engine found on our largest airplane, the Boeing 777. One can fit an official sized basketball hoop inside the engine intake or even a hummer! Jet engines also provide the electricity, hydraulic power to move the flight controls and landing gear, pressurization and air conditioning. Did you know Air Canada has only two engine jets in its entire fleet?

-How long does it take to build a plane?

Congratulations on this one. This question will be printed in enRoute’s September edition.

I’m not supposed to show anyone, but here’s the answer. J

Boeing’s production rate for the Boeing 777, the largest aircraft in Air Canada’s fleet, is about five to seven aircraft per month. REMAINDER REMOVED JUST IN CASE....

-Is it hard to control a plane? Is it harder than driving a car?

Flying big jets is quite easy. You turn left and the airplanes banks to the left. When you pull back on the control column the airplane climbs. I’m certain you would agree basic flight is easy.

So it’s easy as driving a car. We airline pilots joke, the most dangerous thing about flying is the drive to the airport. J But we pilots must deal with all kinds of weather and runway conditions and that is where experience helps.

-How does wingspan affect flight?

Congratulations again! And again, I’m not suppose to show the answer but…J

Lift is directly proportional to wing area, double the area, double the lift.


-What are the hardest things about being a pilot? The best thing?

For me the hardest thing about being a pilot is the constant training. We are in the simulator every six to eight months which consists of one day of practicing emergencies and malfunctions followed by a day of testing. The best thing about being a pilot is going to work. When you love your job, you will never work a day in your life.

-What is the hardest thing to do during a flight?

People ask me that a lot by asking which is more dangerous, the take off or the landing.

For the take off, mechanical issues are a bigger concern but for landing weather is more of an issue. After that, it’s easy.

-Which plane structures are best?

The basic plane structure has not changed much over the years. Some airplanes have the wing over the top of the fuselage but most airliners have the wing attached through the belly of the airplane. Did you know all the fuel is stored in the wing?

-What part of a plane uses the most energy?

The jet engines provide the most energy, but also uses the most. As far as flight controls, the elevator, rudder, landing gear require lots of energy. So much so, they must be powered by powerful hydraulic pumps. A pilot could barely move them by themselves. Did you know the landing gear of one airplane I flew, the jumbo Airbus 340, weighed 17,000 kg?

Here's a bonus that a lot of them had, but were too afraid to put on the official list-how do the toilets on a plane work?

Airplane toilets work on differences in air pressure, i.e they work on suction. Sometimes the toilet pumps on the airplane do not work on the ground but when we get higher in altitude the difference in pressure is great enough to cause suction. For the airplane I fly, this happens at 16,000 feet. Waste from the toilets are stored in big tanks and are emptied after the flight.


ATC Happenings said...

Nicely done on the questions from the kids. I'll have to wait and read enroute on my next trip to get the full answers.

Funny enough, I just saw one of those Thomas Cook planes with the "Peanuts" characters on them. They look kinda cute.

From the Flight Deck said...

ATC Happenings. Yes, I see Thomas Cook in Toronto on a regular basis. Speaking of unique airplane paint schemes, the entire deice facility is loaded with "heavies" from around the world for the G8 and G20 summits. Including Air Force one. I taxied by the plane a few times in the last few days. You should see the security.

I'm off to TPA (Tampa, Florida) and back this afternoon.

Thanks for the feedback. I'll pay your site a visit tonight.

Captain Doug

Daniel said...

I was reading that you can fit a whole 737 fuselage into a GE90, if its true it wouldn't surprise me ._. lol. I wish my teacher could have brought in a pilot for my grade 6 class, then again my teacher thought she knew everything. Hopfully I may go to the airport to spot the queens BA plane? coming in if it brightens up. Its not a giant meeting of planes but its something different in YHZ.

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. I think that was the problem with my son's second teacher this year, "knowing everything."

I heard the Queen and her hubby will be visiting Halifax today.

Again, you should have seen the airplanes parked at the deice centre in YYZ. The place is 42 acres and it was full.

I was talking to my fueler yesterday prior to our launch to Tampa. He said he went over to Air Force One to see if they needed fuel.
They didn't, but for some reason he kicked the airplane. (bragging rights I guess?). He said, two marines popped out of nowhere and asked,
"why he did that?" He is lucky he wasn't hauled away. Anyway, he has a story to brag he kicked the president's plane

Giulia said...

My husband says I am a "know-it-all" but I still like having people from other professions come into the classroom to teach. This past school year I invited a biologist, an athlete, a musician, a visual artist, 2 chemists, and a dancer into the Grade 6 class. Each one inspired my children in different ways. Tried to nab the pilot...maybe I will try the "other airline" next year. Kidding. :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Giulia. Sorry I could not get to your school. But to suggest the "other airline." Now there's a challenge! Because we, from the "number one airline,"
will give the "other airline" a run for their money. :) All kidding aside, I will try to attend class this winter. That's a promise from a pilot flying for an airline just voted...again..."Best Airline in North America."

Thanks for the post.

Captain Doug...up for the challenge. :)