I should have guessed what kind of day it would be after seeing six cars in the ditch because of an overnight freezing rain/snow attack. I get to flight planning and see my F/O already mired in the MELs (Minimum Equipment List) due to an inoperative bleed air. Translation...we are restricted to 31,000 feet. Immediately I check the weather to see if thunderbumpers would be an issue. I see the Eastern seaboard will be littered with them topping at 35,000 to 38,000 feet. It's early Sunday morning with no coffee and I'm grumpy. I call dispatch and insinuate they fix the airplane or get me a new one. The dispatcher knew where I was coming from. She easily handled Captain Grumpy. They found us a new airplane, but it's coming from Halifax. No biggie, we get a new flight plan and make our way to the gate. They posted a 30 minute delay.
My F/O doing a sweep without gloves.
(No, I didn't volunteer him) :)
Change of plans. We are going to get a third airplane. Time for yet another flight plan. This time there is a glitch. We are told the airplane is "in" the hangar. Another glitch, the taxiways are icy and one of the tow vehicles with chains broke down. There are 15 aircraft waiting for a "tow job."
Two hours after scheduled departure, we volunteered to taxi the airplane to the gate. More phone calls to several departments. A manager will meet us at the gate. We get to one of the huge hangars (it's the first time I got to drive around the airport without being in an airplane) and realized the airplane was not "in" the hangar but "at" the hangar. It's covered in snow and ice. Plus the "towbarless" tug (it lifts the nose) is having a hard time.
Finally, we get a push back and start up. It was an irregular operation and now I know what the JETZ pilots go through. You have to improvise. I turned on the navigation system, but did not initialize things. The airplane started squawking at us. We called maintenance to see if things are okay. We get the green light.
Over to the gate we go in slippery conditions and load up. But wait... our third airplane has supposedly a potable water issue. Call maintenance. It's an indication problem.
I make a welcome aboard announcement and try to explain our over three hour delay.
We push back. We get a "vent" system fault. Apparently ice and snow are affecting our outflow (pressurization) valves. After several C/B resets, it's an RTG (Return To Gate).
But wait, there's no crew to marshal us in. Now we are looking at duty time.
Finally, we get to the gate and maintenance determines it's snow melting from the bridge flowing directly into the valves. After paperwork, yet another announcement, a 15 minute wait for another push back crew, it's off to the CDF we go. After a heavy deicing we blast off runway 06 Left...4 1/2 hours late.
I won't tell you what flight directors do when not selected for take off or whether the F/O got a little high on approach or where my brand new Blackberry Torch cell phone ended up under the rudder pedals after landing.
The water issue raised it's ugly head again, but we decided we are heading back to Toronto. A few of the F/As were thinking a Nassau layover, but Captain Doug had new hires to teach the next day.
On the return flight we dodged thunderstorms topped at 36,000 confirming Captain Doug's decision on getting another airplane. One plane encountered severe turbulence at FL 290 where we just got ripples at 39, 000.
|Can you say undulation? My "senses" were tingling when we were climbing through this cloud formation out of Nassau at around 30,000 feet. Just got a few bumps.|
|After 11 hours into our day a sense of calm sets in. We are heading north and the western sky sees night close in.|