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"

Friday, February 18, 2011

From You.....

"Dad, can I borrow the keys to the Airbus?" (Actually, Diesel Daughter left my car empty this morning and I had to rush to get gas prior to a deice tour I arranged. The tour went very well and I'll post tomorrow about it). This video apparently came out awhile ago but someone on Facebook posted it today. I think it's cute.

As I mentioned before, I receive lots of email from behind the scenes. Here's a few I thought I would post. (Some emails you'll never see...ahem) Yes, I asked first. :)

Some food for thought: For years, Ive been working on a modest-length essay about the value of an individuals services. Many years ago, when I was a relatively new, inexperienced registered nurse and pursuing some advanced training in heart surgery, I was more than a bit impressed with the technical skills of the cardiac surgeon that I was working with. During a long discussion with my late father, I expounded on the surgeon’s ability to diagnose and repair problems and his literal ability to give life to our patients. My father listened patiently and carefully considered every word, while drawing on his trademark pipe. In fairness, I suppose that I should mention that he was then recently retired from the large computer company that provided most of the computer horse power behind the FAAs ATC system and had been the director of that program for his company (Sperry-Univac, later Unisys) for some years. He was not a pilot.

After carefully listening to me and tamping his pipe a few times, he asked me to compare my then favorite surgeon to a very ordinary airline captain. Dad acknowledged my increasing skills and agreed that my surgeon was a very talented fellow. He then politely reminded me that in cardiac surgery, we use a team of five, up to ten or more people and devote between two and 10 hours of effort for the benefit of a single individual. How, he asked, does that compare to the two or three pilots in the front office of an airplane, carrying as many as 450 living, breathing humans? Not one, son, but literally hundreds. (This conversation occurred long before the A380 was conceived, but well within the life of the B747.) Which talented professional, he continued, holds a greater responsibility for life (or other) in his hands, as a nearly routine, daily occurrence? He carefully pointed out that my favorite surgeon might operate 300 times in a very busy year. Our surgical teams success rate was in the mid-80% range and of course, we operated on some extremely ill patients. The big airplane pilot sees and cares for a years worth of surgical patients almost daily and virtually never loses one. Granted that they are generally healthy to begin with, but the differences in numbers and degree of personal responsibility are staggering. He wondered why so much of the developed world dismissed pilots as little more than enhanced bus drivers, yet allowed them to quite literally control hundreds of lives, every time they practice their profession. My fathers comments were, to say the least, profoundly humbling. Ive never forgotten his remarks; they were a new beginning in my respect for the men and women who drive our commercial airplanes.

In the years since that conversation, I have certainly retained my respect for the surgeons that I have worked with. They are talented folks and it is my profession too! And my respect for airplane drivers has grown beyond measure. The still commonly held perception that pilots are irresponsible military retirees or wash-outs is so far from the truth as to be disgusting. In the intervening years, Ive come to know a few pilots, active and retired. Without exception, they are men and women of the highest integrity and truly remarkable professional skills. Much the same as the most serious surgeons, they are professionally well educated and address each and every flight as if it was a heart operation. The process of moving an airplane filled with living souls from A to B really IS as complicated as Heart Surgery, and the differences are two: Pilots care for tens or hundreds of clients at every outing; surgeons, but one. Surgeons get the glory and often the big bucks; pilots suffer with substandard wages, at least until they have devoted 20+ years to their profession. (In fairness, junior surgeons, the residents and juniorattending are also very poorly compensated.) And the flamboyant guy with the knife gets the accolades. As my late father so carefully reminded me, the man or woman with 400+ plus lives in his or her hands is worthy of both our profound respect and significant compensation. To take it one step farther, the surgeon who screws up, truly makes an avoidable error, is quickly forgiven, often in exchange for a handsome insurance settlement. We remark, ...well, the patient was nearly dead before he agreed to try…” On the other hand, a pilot who is lucky enough to survive his Pilot Error mistake, most likely never again fly professionally.

There is a huge disconnect here! Hello? Since that long ago talk with my father, Ive joined the ranks of pilot supporters and with vigor. I did a bit of flying many years ago (topped out at ~602 hours?) and would not presume an even partial title today. A lifetime of experience and a quiet, father-son talk has parked me firmly in the camp of those who respect the professional pilots skill. And when the regulators want to increase the skill levels and required hours for the high-end tickets, I usually agree. Drivers in the sky must be committed professionals and every time an aircraft is granted TO clearance. With now up to 770, even 800 souls on board, is has to be every time. Thanks , but no, I do not want to write a book. If I ever flesh-out and finish the opinion paper, Ill let you publish it in pieces on your blog. It wont hurt your already glowing reputation and will enhance your profession.

A NEW BLOG from the Netherlands!!!

Dear Captain Doug,
Thank you for everything you do on your blog! You are an amazing source of inspiration for someone like me. I wanted to let you know that I made a small article on my blog about you, "MY BLOG" because I've bought your book. I hope you don't mind. (Not that I've got a lot of visitors) If you do, please let me know and I will remove it. It's purely for informational purpose, and to give a hint to others about you.
You are an amazing person Captain Doug, please keep on doing what you are doing. Everytime I see a new post from you on your blog I start smiling. Because I know it'll be good!
I hope your book just as awesome as your blog...
Please let me know, I know you are busy (And you are on a 4 day trip) but if you could, e-mail me back, or even better: Let me know on my blog,
It would be a great honor if you left a comment on my blog.

A Blog from DownUnder.

Hi Doug,
Long time reader, first time caller. I run my blog called "Mikes Flying," if you have seen it! Anyhoo, I'm going for my first airline interview next week and was hoping for any hints or tips that you could offer? I haven't had to deal with this before and it seems that even with a lot of study, im still unsure of how to approach it. I wasnt sure if you have been in recruitment or spoken to buddies that are.


Adam aka "The Winnipeger" said...

Hey Captain Doug!
I have to say, that is one funny commercial!!!!:)

The Winnipeger,


Hello Captain Doug!

re "some food for thought"

so very true. most take for granted when the wheels touch down, and complain if it is a little too hard ( albeit in big cross winds in weather ) they do not understand/appreciate the level of knowledge and skill it takes the "bus" driver of an A320 that has just gotten them to point B safe and sound. not to mention ( as you have before ) the "crew" ( not just on the flight deck ) and the "traffic directors" that have to be equally as surgical to make it all work seamlessly.

I applaud you and each and every pilot/ground crew/flight attendant/air traffic controller/maintenance crew/flight planning at Air Canada ( my airline period )...etc etc etc....who make it happen safely and consistently hundreads of times....daily.

It's VERY well understood and appreciated by this passenger ( because I've read your book and read your blog! )

Safe and happy flying

CAT III Approach

great post!

Chris Gardner said...

I remember those commercials a little while back. My favorate one was the hitchiker on a highway been pick up by a AC 320. Another topic nice shots San Fransico I never been to the west coast I guess that is on my to do bucket list. Have yourself a good weekend take care, Chris.


also checked out Mike's blog from down under....cool stuff...what a contrast from jets!!

aviation is truly amazing.

Mike, if you read this, great stuff! Good luck with the airline interview if you haven't had it already!

CAT III Approach

From the Flight Deck said...

Adam. I like the fact they used the A320. :)

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III Approach. Thanks for the "thanks." :)

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Chris. The West coast is worth the visit!

Might be a quiet weekend for me. My wife is heading to Florida with my eldest daughter.
My other daughter is flying to meet a friend in another part of Florida and my son
is leaving for cottage country with his friend.

Funny, I specifically bid these next four days off, but I got punted. My sister-in-law is going instead.
All I get are the bills. LOL

Maybe I should have a wild party like my "diesel daughter" had a couple of months ago? LOL

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...


We flew to LAX and laid over until the following evening.

The trip to SFO was a different pairing. We flew YYZ-SFO-YYZ with a SFO layover.

No we don't shuttle like that but on the JETZ charters we do.

Hope I answered your question.

Captain Doug

Christer said...

I want a car like that in my driveway!! I know my sons would also go nutso if I brought one of the them home one day:) I remember this commercial too- thanks for bringing it back.

Thanks for answering my last question too- that makes sense.

Excellent post yet again, and great essay, thanks to the author!

Enjoy that weekend off. Maybe this would be a good time for you to take advantage of a long flight in international "J" class and have a wild party there:)

From the Flight Deck said...

Christer. Now there's a thought! A trip... solo. Where would I go? hmmm?

Daniel Asuncion said...

That's too bad...you booked "family time" and they booked flights...

Very deep thoughts from the gentleman with the pipe. I can't speak for real pilots, but if I were one, thinking about that responsibility too much could become a problem.


"Diesel Daughter". When I read that phrase, I think it sounds like a band name.

Tonight Show. Jay Leno:

"Okay, let's get right to it. My next guests are a British Indy Rock group just winding up a North American tour to promote their debut CD. Please give a warm welcome to...DIESEL DAUGHTER!!!

Christer said...

Where to go? NRT of course! There seem to still be plenty of J seats open on flight 2 for the 22nd...Maybe we can find a few other flyertalkers interested in a last minute mileage run, and we'll have a party:)!

Take care,


From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. Yeah, they are all scrambling because the flights are booked up. Go figure, there is a University break on the go plus everyone is sick and tired of this winter. Are where does everyone want to go? Florida!

Now I am on hold with our "travel" department. I need to reset my password. So THEY can go on a trip. :)

Daniel. Excellent point! "Thinking too much of the responsibility" can keep you up at night.

And Diesel Daughter is also in a dilemma because her flight is sold out too.

Traveling on a pass ain't what it used to be. LOL


Zee said...

Hello Cpt Doug,

Thanks firstly for your response to my question a few days ago. I really, really appreciate it. I am actually in Australia but you words ring true this far south of the equator.

The email you posted ('some food for thought' is amazing. Most people really do not see the responsibility that the 'sky bus drivers' take upon. I highly respect men like you and wish this world had more of them.

Well, enjoy the weekend and thanks again.

Bas said...

Hello Captain Doug,

Thank you a lot! Your book has arrived yesterday and I'll start reading it tonight =).

Good luck, and I'll keep you posted on my progress :) Thanks once again,

The Netherlands


Hello Captain Doug,

I found a video that has the "buzz" sound in it from the cabin I asked you about....if you go on youtube and type in "frightening takeoff" it's a Boeing taking off from Cuba( exact same sound in the airbus )....at 3:37 min in the video they pull back the throttles for some pretty nasty looking cloud and you can really hear the "buzzing" noise I was talking about! If you get a chance...when you're not on hold lol....
good luck with the travel plans for your family!

I was reading about how many hours you had in a Dash....and had a question for you.....do you remember how it felt when you switched from the Dash and were the PF in your first ever jet take off?? What did that feel like advancing the throttles of monster turbines vs. props? I imagine it kind of like going from a Civic to a BMW.....like to hear your thoughts on it.

Thanks again Captain!

Enjoy bachin it for a few days! :)

CAT III Approach

"Diesel Daughter" .... I think Daniel is on to something there! :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Christer. Something about sitting in the back of an airplane does not entice me...anymore. Of course you know where I want to be. :)

But if there is good conversation and "J" class beverages then maybe my rubber arm can be twisted. lol

Just heard my wife's mission may be scrapped. Apparently her sister (the one who punted me) allowed her passport to expire. Not a good thing for trying to get into the States or anywhere else for that matter.

Drat! I wanted to party.

Looks like it's "everybody out of the pool" ...party is over! :(

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Zee. Thanks for the kind words! Those words of wisdom were from a frequent follower on my blog but we both felt it still should remain anonymous.

I've never been to your neck of the woods. One day. :)

Hope you drop by on my blog now and again.
It would be neat to hear your "down-under" take on things.

Captain Doug in wintery Canada :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Bas. I hope you get lots of visitors to your blog.

I really like the picture you used for your "sign in" avatar. I miss the A330. What airline is it? Doesn't matter, we still have eight of them here I can drool over. :)

Again, enjoy the read and tell everyone about my book in the Netherlands! lol

I once dated a girl from the Netherlands....okay now I'm having flashbacks.

Captain Doug now reminiscing. lol

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III approach. You have a great ear! You are an "in-tune" passenger.

That noise is when they set "climb thrust." For the bird I fly, it used to happen at 1500 AGL but someone figured it would save some fuel if we do it at 1000 AGL.

I'm not sure what type of engine Sunwing (yes, I noticed the head rests) has on their B737s but our A320s have CFM-56s.

When we set "climb thrust" it's the last time I touch the thrust levers until the airplane calls me a "retard" on landing..at 30 AGL. :)

So, that noise is "simple harmonic oscillation causing a distinctive resonant frequency when climb thrust is actuated."

Translation, the engines make a different sound when thrust setting is changed. lol

Ever been on a lightly loaded A319 when we must level off on departure? It's like telling a home sick angel....patience, patience! :)

Topic 2:

I went from flying the Dash 8 to cruising on the A340. So it was only the simulator I got to take off.

My first real take off was in the A320 some two years later. :)

But you know, that Dash 8 had pep too!

What I really liked was looking back in A340 with row upon row of seats and realizing...WOW...I made it!

Captain Doug

Anonymous said...

May look like a duck,quack like a duck, waddle like a duck...but all I smell is HAM....LOL

From the Flight Deck said...

Anon. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck....it's probably a "pilot." LOL

Captain Duck (Doug)

Christer said...

I understand what you mean- when you're used to the flight deck it must be a drag to be anywhere but! For a FF like me the best I can look forward to is J or F, other than that it's hoping for tailwinds and shortcuts....

Sorry to hear of your family's mishaps re: Florida. Bummer! Seems as though many more flights are sold out these days though even when there is no big vacation time, especially in the US. I guess capacity reductions are to thank for that, or there are just that many more people flying? It's gotta be better for the airlines' bottom line, but the gate area has become a circus in the last few years, especially thanks to the baggage fees. Everyone seems to think they need to bring their kitchen sinks and elephants in their carry ons and often are ready for all-out war vying for bin space!

Regarding the Dash-8s- aren't they (turboprops) basically jet engines spinning a prop rathre than a turbine? I've always enjoyed takeoff in a Dash. You really feel the thrust push you in your seat!

Take care,



Hello Captain Duck ( Doug )!

and you sir have a good eye :)

no need to translate....I understand harmonics ... for some reason I had myself thinking it was coming from another system. Thanks for the answer sir!
I sure have levelled off many times on a light load( passenger load anyway )A319 and remember thinking" oh God, there is a problem with the engines! " going from climb to level quickly almost feels like sink to a passenger! You might as well shut them down and glide! ( not really but you get what I mean ) It used to scare me not knowing what was happening until one night an RJ pilot was deadheading in the seat beside be to YSJ ( he lived a couple of minutes from me ) and gave me a running commentary of what was happening from his experience.( sound familiar :) :) ) I'm picking up what you're laying down with the "retard" comment ( i.e. Getjets :) )

I can imagine it must have been quite the feeling after all those years/hours getting to the A340! Yes, I've flown many a Dash flight before a direct YYZ to YMM flight was commissioned....they do have some grunt! Sorry if I offended any Dash pilots by saying that. Christer, from what I believe you're correct, turboprops that are not shaft driven, but "air coupled" from the turbine if you will, so if you seize an engine in flight, you can "feather fully" the prop and let it sit there in the air without affecting flight.

Thanks again Captain! Very much appreciated. ( ps....the bearings in those engines must be wicked strong to account for the huge thrust loading, let alone accounting for turbulence in flight .... nuts )

CAT III Approach

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III Approach. Thanks for all the feedback. You know that would be a good question for my enRoute column. We are always recruiting.

Captain "home alone" Doug
(And no I'm not used to an empty nest) :)


Hello Captain Bachelor!

You can take any questions from me anytime for Enroute as you see fit! :)

I know what you mean...empty house when you're used to your wife and kids always coming in and out feels very empty when they're away.

Good time for "book writing" ....that will make it go fast! lol

Take care,

CAT III Approach

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III Approach. I was thinking the same thing...time to get into the book.

Just got a call from Diesel Daughter. She did not get on Westjet. They didn't even call her name
and just said the "flight is gone." I guess they do things differently.

Poor thing, she's been at the airport all day.
Now I have an upset daughter coming home.

I guess the silence was short lived. :(

Cook said...

Doug, Some pretty great stuff from "The Outside," and thanks for sharing what you can with your readers. Those new blogs/websites are wonderful. Yes, we should honor your profession more, as related by the some of the pipe tamper. Periodic posts from the civilian world are great, but your remarks are what attract the readers. Just over 150k hits as I write: The numbers don't lie, so go for it! Best wishes.

Captain Doug Morris said...

Cook (Craig). Thanks for dropping by. And all the best to you. Captain Doug