Q: How are aerial photos of airplanes taken?
Who better to ask than Air Canada’s photographer, Brian Losito? To film a non-commercial test flight of the Boeing 777, Losito used a leased modified business jet, equipped with a periscope on the belly. For still shots, Losito took pictures from a well-cleaned window with the inner pane removed to reduce glare. The flight plan included the Canadian Rockies as the backdrop with an extra pilot in the Boeing 777 acting as a spotter. At times, only a short distance separated the two aircraft, allowing for some fantastic shots.
Q: What happens during flight at cruise altitude?
Much of the cruise phase is spent communicating with air traffic control. We keep an ear out for ride reports, scan the sky for possible thunderstorms and monitor the international emergency frequency. We also do frequent fuel checks, make position reports over remote areas and check weather and the runway(s) in use at our destination via data link. Finally, pertinent data is inputted in our flight computers, and the pilot flying gives an in-depth approach briefing. And we still get to savour the view along the way!
Q: How do high and low pressure systems affect how you fly?
Low pressure affects takeoff performance because of the less dense air. In addition, large-scale low-pressure systems are associated with rain, snow and cloud cover, whereas high-pressure systems usually mean sunny skies. Pilots can pinpoint these systems on weather charts readily available online from our preflight weather briefing package. As well, we are always setting our sensitive altimeters (which depict altitude) to the local pressure setting.