Flight plan

......My flight plan....

My blog is to inspire and motivate those who have a love for aviation. I will attempt to virtually open the flight deck door and allow a peek behind the scenes. And please help make this blog interactive by sending in comments. Don't be shy! :)))))

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Again, this blog is for aviation enthusiasts so welcome aboard!!!

CFM 56

CFM 56
Looking up the "butt" of my CFM56-5B

Monday, April 18, 2011

Re-checked out in Mexico City

We were just about to descend into Mexico City and the full moon off to the east gave a spectacular display. I know one thing.. it's time to get a new camera. My phone camera just isn't cutting it. I should not have christened the camera while sitting in lapping waves on our Mexico vacation. Mybad.  Our routing took us over Nashville, Tennessee, NEW ORLEANS (KMSY) :) and the western portion of the Gulf Of Mexico.

One of the first questions I asked my F/O, "have you been to Mexico City?" He said, "yes, many times" with me saying, "phew!" (I haven't been there in nearly 12 years). Next to Bogota, Colombia, Mexico City sits the highest in elevation requiring special procedures. One is running the air conditioning units from the APU just in case we had to go around. Then there is a higher altitude from where we transition from flight level to feet in altitude. For Canada and the U.S the transition is 18,000 feet (Mexico it's 18,500). Plus it's a mountainous airport so we have to monitor the GPWS (ground proximity warning system), monitor raw data because of possible map shifts and blah, blah, blah.

As well, I had in the back of my mind one blogger's recount (Jet Head's) of landing in Mexico, with thunderstorms, at night, using a Nav display for weather and the other for terrain avoidance.What a minute...that's what we did! Thunderstorms were causing a rare runway change due to wind shifts. Thunderstorms are entitled to do that.

Yes, the F/O flew the first leg and did an excellent job. We did fly through one convective cloud which felt like going through a car wash at 280 knots. Can you said loud?
I don't like those surprises especially when it didn't show on the weather radar. Rrrrr.
He got it "dirty" much sooner than I would and I'm glad he did. With a 100 degree intercept, with higher than normal true airspeed due to high altitude it's always a challenge. The rule of thumb... "get down and get dirty."

I don't know who gets the "sprawled out city" award....Mexico city or Sao Paulo, Brazil? An expanse of lights finally greeted us as we exited the high speed car wash. But black, ominous, luminous void mountains sat dap smack in the middle of the lights. Unlit and uninhabited, they were "black islands of demise" for those who venture too close.
They were so black and so out of place much like the "glass mountains" seen in the simulator.

Showers and wet runways greeted us with the windshield wipers slappin out of tempo....hey isn't there a song about this by Eddie Rabbit?...

Those windshield wipers slappin out a tempo
keepin perfect rhythm with the song on the radio

Yes, the F/O greased it on but we sure did chew up real estate. Another attribute to high density altitude flying.

Tomorrow I will be meeting up with follower "Carlton" from the U.K. We will be discussing aviation over a beverage or two but we must be careful, we are bringing the bosses along. :)))))


Bas said...

Awesome story! And yeah, you should really go for a compact digital camera! :)

From the Flight Deck said...

Bas. Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, it's time to buy yet another digital camera. :))))

Cheesecake C-CAKE said...

That sounds like a challenging trip into 'Mehico' Captain Doug. Do you ever make an PA announcement when flying through turbulence? The puddle jumpers I fly get kicked around a lot so I tell my passengers not to worry we're just "riding the waves" lol.

...btw I'm half way through your book (I'm such a slow reader).

coreydotcom said...

Long-time reader. Love your blog. I'm usually not a huge stickler for things like these but it's "Colombia", not "Columbia". Had to say it... it's my biggest pet peeve.

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Captain Doug,

Thanks for the great update.

How long was your take-off roll to get out of MMMX with the high altitude? Does AC operate into there later in the day (or early) to take advantage of some cooler temperatures?

I've noticed a couple of other aviation bloggers who take pictures use Nikon Coolpix P7000s. I've been debating about buying one to have around when I don't have the room, or don't want to lug around my Nikon DSLR. Canon also has an excellent line of compact digital cameras that would work very well on the flight deck.

YYC Dispatcher

Cedarglen said...

An excellent post, Capt. Doug. Yes, that Density Altitude stuff is no joke. That you review the special procedures, check the charts, know your options (and run the AC on the APU) as well as agreeing with the FO's approach is not trivial. That's why they give you that wing-flapping bus and 130+ souls to play with. This is not the place to visit with an MEL'd APU! -Craig

Bas said...

Hey Cheesecake,

No worries, I wasn't that fast either xD. You'll just be enjoying it a little longer! :D

From the Flight Deck said...

Cheesecake. Actually the trip went well in and out of 'Mehico." :)

As far as turbulence, I will make an announcement if it was bad so I try to explain why it happened.
I don't like making announcements prior to because I find it makes the apprehensive passengers even more apprehensive. :)
I never make it on my welcome aboard announcement because there are 30 to 40 percent in the back with some form of fear flying.
Why have them upset prior to take off?

That's what I should say... "Ladies and Gentleman, just sit back and relax and ride the waves." LOL

It's good to read my book slowly. That way you won't overlook anything. Kidding. :))) Again, enjoy the rest of the read!

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

HI Coreydotcom. Thanks for pointing out the faux pas. I adjusted it. :))) I must have had British Columbia on my mind, instead of Bogota, Colombia. Funny I looked at the map before I posted. Maybe it really is time for glasses? :))))

Thanks for checking in. :)

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

YYC Dispatcher. We took off at 8:30 a.m with a temperature around 12C. But I was thinking that very thing barreling down the runway, I wouldn't want to be doing this at 35 C.
We have flights into there from YVR, YYZ and YUL. Not sure about the timing.
I know airlines like Emirates must launch in the wee hours of the morning because of surface temperatures. We had that same problem departing New Delhi for Toronto.

Las Vegas is an issue as well in the summer (they sit pretty high as well), plus the heating of the brakes during landing and taxiing.

Lots to consider when running an airline as you very well know...Mr. Dispatcher. :)))))

Thanks for the tips on digital cameras. I'll take a look at your suggestions.

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

Cedarglen (Craig) You are correct about the APU. No APU...no can do. :)))) Actually, one can do it without an APU but they don't offer air conditioning on the ground so that would be an issue as well.

Looks like you figured out the technical issues with the posts. :))))

Captain Doug

getjets said...

Yep,Captain Doug, caught ya passing over head(literally) on your trek to MMMX over New Orleans, and just southeast of my house....moving right along at around 38 thou...at aprox 419 knots...thanks to my trusty "Airport monitor" out of KMSY....I had your flight narrowed down....to a line in the sky!!! and I'm not kidding!!!! pretty cool;)))))oh and a tail light was out...ha ha

On your return flight back north to CYYZ...
your flight plan looked to have you flying further west through Central Louisiana...where I could not keep such close tabs on ya....lol

being an "Aviation Geek" is serious business to me.....and is not for the faint-of-heart....ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!!!!!!

Cedarglen said...

And One More: For All Readers of this [fill-in-blank] blog, the Good Captain Doug is within a week or so of reaching 200,000 Hits. Let's start now and be well prepared to hoist a 'beverage' in the Captain's honor, when the meter hits Two Hundred Thousand. Pretty darn impressive, good Captain. I guess it is fair to say that a blogger does not hold an audience of 750 - 900 daily visitors without some GREAT material. Thanks, Doug. -Craig.

From the Flight Deck said...

Getjets. So you did see me? Was that your "unique" laundry hanging on the clothesline? Kidding..it must have been the neighbour's. Kidding again, we can't see clotheslines at FL 380. :)))))

It was a smooth flight until the descent into Mexico. There sure weren't many people who wanted to go to Mexico City that night. It was a Dash-8 load. The morning's flight made up for it. :)

You are absolutely right, our return track was further west, but those bright red knickers stood out from afar. Kidding again. :))))

Thanks for looking out for me.

Thursday I'm off to the American Southwest.


From the Flight Deck said...

CedarGlen (Craig) I am all for hoisting a beverage for the 200,000th visitor!

I will be on vacation...again... so everything is fair game!

Thanks Craig!

Captain Doug

getjets said...



getjets said...




(sidenote)a small part of me wants to say sorry for my sometimes rambling comments....like perhaps today....but i won't, good day all

Mark said...

Geez Doug, I thought flying in Toronto airspace was complicated! I'll reserve Mexico City for another year. Great post as always.

I think Sao Paulo takes the cake for sprawl. The city never seems to end. I remember flying in there on a Varig / AC code share (when they existed) flight, and the Shanty towns are remarkable (and sad).

Chat later

(I guess I fall into the bucket of wannabe pilots at PPL level still???? Not for long though. Registerd for CPL... start next month!)

From the Flight Deck said...

Mark. You are hooked and I'm glad to see you are fulfilling your addiction with more flying. It's the only thing for it. :))))

Remember, now that you are going commercial, your private pilot license is income tax deductible. A bonus!

Captain Doug

P.S is Spectrum Airways looking for a ground school weather instructor? When I go flying with you, I'll ask them. :))))

Mark said...

Doug, I will ask around at the club if they are looking for, or would be interested in having you teach a few Met classes. Obviously, I think that would be a great idea! I am already aware of the tuition tax credits, thanks for bringing it up though. I am very excited to continue the more advanced training!

Look forward to our flight. I am now checked out on the C172 also, so we will have a bit more room when we go up for a whirl.

Chat later

D said...


Maybe someday, NOISES like what is heard while flying through convective clouds, and thunder will be programmed into the SIM?

Such noises can startle [even veteran pilots, I would imagine], and make communication within the flight deck more challenging.

Daniel Asuncion said...

Oops. "D" is me.

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel (D). Yes, heavy rain hitting the windshield at over 250 mph can be deafening and distracting.
Sometimes it gets so loud one can barely hear the radios. Disconcerting to say the least!


P.S I could tell it was you. Usually you take a few days to absorb and analysis the posts.