!!!!! GONE FLYING !!!!!

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"Pic of the day" sent in by Craig M from Ottawa. He watched flight tracker for days until he got the shot of all shots. It's beautiful.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mostly normal flying on an abnormal day

Empty galleys, no passengers, no cargo and no flight attendants and NO coffee. A lonely 9/11.

September 11/2011 had me flying from Calgary, Alberta to Toronto and then to Victoria, British Columbia…almost nine hours of flying. But instead of flying with passengers and cargo we were asked to reposition a flight on the first leg YYC-YYZ. (I’m told about two airplanes “float” in the system and this one had to get back to work in Toronto) (The second leg from Toronto to Victoria had nearly a full flight and it proved to be a very uneventful flight....just the way I like 'em)

We were parked off gate with no galley. Heck we had a hard time finding a garbage bag for the flight deck. A “no go” item. We had no flight attendants to pamper us. Talking about throwing us out of kilter because we pilots love to be pampered. At least I do.

We were boarded two meals...but with a glitch. We weren’t “checked out” on the ovens. (Same excuse I have at home. Lol) The F/O who travelled the world as a geologist (he spent two years in Mongolia) and later flying survey planes knew how to improvise. Guess who was delegated to do the cooking? But no oven mitts had him improvise with our fire fighting gloves.

A 320 cabin with no "butts in the seats."

Captain getting his pic taken with the flight deck door open at FL390 on 9/11. At least I'm smiling.

On flights like these it’s best to stick to the script. Statistically incidents go “way up” especially when pilots are given an empty airplane and say…”let’s see what this baby can do!” Heck we didn’t arm the doors in fear of blowing a chute. So we walked the cabin, used the aft washroom (it’s a little bigger) and left the flight deck door open a few times. Three things we never do anymore.

And what day of all days did this happen? …Exactly a decade after the worst day in aviation. Irony. 


Andrew said...

No running up and down the aisles?

Craig said...

I love the pic of the day. Whenever I go to Montreal we always seem to get stuck in traffic near YUL. I never complain.

Seeing you in the cockpit reminds me that I've been putting off learning the Airbus in FSX. The FMS is a fair bit more different than Boeing (at least, more than I expected).

You should have booted up the AVOD and checked out the moving map, lol.

Oh, and insurance finally decided to replace my camera so perhaps I'll have a nice HD A320 video for you soon. When's the next time you're flying to YOW? Maybe I can get you touching down/departing.

Craig M

altstiff said...

I heard a story that on Cargo flights they heat meals with a Bunson burner ;)

I'm with Andrew, I would have been tempted to run up and down the aisle.

GREAT shot of you in the left seat too!

Thanks for sharing this neat story.

Cedarglen said...

Hi Capt. Doug. It sounds like the ferry flight was fun, if a bit dull. In the old days, ferry flights (too) often included a sharp attack and some 'Aisle Surfing.' Those days are long gone and yes, scripted flight is a good career move. So sorry to hear about the NO COFFEE flight, but glad that the FO could improvise in the galley. (Experienced pilots are born improvisers - no?) And always gald to hear that you had a safe, uneventful trip. As an aside, someday it would be fun to see a series of pix, maybe with a guest FA post, about how the gally crew manages to produce their pretty-darn-good F-class meals. They do *not* come aboard looking as good as when they reach my seat. How the heck do they do it?
Regards, -Craig

Cedarglen said...

And I forgot one item: The newest topshot, this time from Capt. Doug - a great cell phone shot. As you were driving, the flight deck conversation was...
"on course, on slope, 500 feet..."
"Blue Crew: Ready for drop..."
"Navigator ready, aiming for Capt. Doug's BMW. Ready...ready... DROP!"
Captain Doug hits the car wash on the way home... Sorry, I could not resist. -C.

Dave W said...

That's very funny Cedarglen, I now have an image of the F/O in the approaching jet with his hand hovering over the flusher in the washroom with the captain at the controls shouting "wait, wait, FLUSH!!"

Capt D, nice to hear you still play by the numbers on an empty flight - I'm sure most of your readers will be aware of Pinnacle Airlines Flight 3701 but if not, just follow this link to the wiki page.

Regards to all

Dave from the UK

Anonymous said...

That IS funny, Cedarglen...*giggle*

Another great post, Captain. :) Thanks.

Bas said...

LOL Cedarglen!

Awesome post Captain, the irony indeed... Open flight deck door, no passenger on board... assum! How as the Take off performance?

Foggy said...

Sounds like you need another item on the checklist, Doug: When passing under the 06 approaches - ensure vehicle windows in FULLY CLOSED position.

In the UK, the polis would have done you for having the phone in your hand! I have a small HP 707 camera that sits nicely on the glareshild ready for those "unexpected" moments - though driving on a 4/5 lane at 60+ mph as close as they look in your pic, my concentration would be on the road and what the drivers around me were doing - apart from trying to kill me!!

I must say that running up and down the aisle would have been a "must do" on the positioning flight. Not "arming" the doors was also a good move!

Cheers for now - "Foggy", back on t'interweb!!

getjets said...

Captain...did you have your "Superdooper" landing #4, and just you and F/O as witness????? Thats right..he was taking Home Economics at the time.... ha ha

not to mention no F/A to wipe the sweat(yea right) off your brow...the Injustice of it all....LOL

great pic, nice watch..I didn't know it worked.....almost tell what time it is or was....thank Gawd Digital watches were out-o-style...:))))))))))))))

This is a very good post....No really it is.......

I took a picture just like the one you took on the road...only mine says (New Orleans Int'l Airport exit coming up.....
the traffic was slow....but I don't advise taking pics..while in the driver's seat.......made me very nervous.....


getjets said...

referenc to the past......

Hey "ANOUN"....did you notice that apparently...........

""""""SCIENCE TRUMPS?????????????????""""""

i like weather too...ha ha

miss(big baby)twa

I gotta sick feeling everything will now.....:)))))))))))))

YOWJeff said...

Capt. Doug, you need to bribe a flight attendant to give you an oven certification (would that just be a check-ride or would there be some oven simulator time too?)

Anonymous said...

"Anoun" here...

...what did you want me to notice, oh dearest Gets-of-Jets? ;)

carlton said...

When you were flying with no pax did you have to add ballast weights to compensate?

Captain Doug said...

Carlton. Just in the door. No ballast required. Good point though. :)

All the cargo holds were checked to see if they were indeed empty.

They sure didn't load us up with "treats." No coffee, no tea (the F/O searched up and down). We had to requisition two bottles of water for our
two basic highly salted meals. No love there for us needy pilots. :))))

Captain Doug said...

YOWJEFF. LOL. I should be asking more questions about the galley but when I go back I feel I'm intruding in their kitchen.

In other words, "hands off the food and stay out of the way." :)))

A few pilots make it a point to make themselves a coffee, but there is no way I'm overstepping my boundary.

Captain Doug said...

Foggy. Welcome back to the t'interweb!!!

Actually, I used my digital camera for that pic. I tend to carry it in my uniform shirt pocket when flying.
You never know when a "kodak" moment will arise. :)))

But you are right, taking a picture going at that speed was looking for trouble. Then again, I was thinking closure rates with the airplane.."let's see, if he is at 120 knots and I'm heading in the opposite direction at 60 knots when will we........"

I did walk up and down the aisle to determine different noise levels. (I can't do that anymore) I also noticed the tail sure does swing a little more than the other pointy end. The flight attendants are right when they say it is bumpier back there.

I wonder if they do studies about men's aim when in the washroom. Are the aft galleys a little messier as they "miss their target?" Maybe we should have a sign..."if you sprinkle when you twinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie."

I know, I know, TMI and too much thinking on my part. LOL

Captain Doug said...


The Take off performance was great, but again, we didn't deviate from the norm to see what that "homesick angel would do!"

Sometimes boring is good...and safe. :)))

The landing on the other hand is unforgiving. The airplane is very light and light airplanes tend to thump it on. Glad it was the F/O's landing.

My bad. :))))


great pics!

could you "feel" the difference with the unloaded aircraft from the flight deck?

I remember reading once about a new "unloaded" CRJ ( I think ) being "ceilinged" by the crew delivering it.....lets just say the "coffin corner" won. :(

missed approach into YSJ last night "GO AROUND!" Clear skys everywhere except for the thickest fog bank you've ever seen.....figures....got a great tour of the surrounding areas a few time around until we got an opening!

Did you notice the blog count yesterday "763"......or 767-300 for those in the know....lol....another omen!

Flew YMM to YSJ on the Trans Canada Airlines A319......only about half full on the 12th?? still jittery I guess.

Safe Flying....

CAT III Approach

Captain Doug said...

Cedarglen. I hear ya.....some of the flight attendants do an amazing job in the presentation department. Some even have a knack of sprucing up
our pilot crew meals. And that takes talent because we are all getting very tired of our green melon for dessert. We pilots kid we should be negotiating this in our next contract....replace the melon. We are all "meloned out!" LOL

But then again, I've been to some raunchy eateries around the world and the final product is amazing.

I still remember being at a "hole in the wall" in Beijing, we made sure none of the cats went missing when we ordered our food. :))))

I guess meal presentation is like weather presentation. Looks and appearance (food wise) goes a long way.... lol

YYC Dispatcher said...

Captain Doug,

Just ask your contacts over at the hangar what some poor aim or a leaking lav will do to an airplane. I remember watching a couple of documentaries, galleys and lavs in aircraft sure to make a mess over the years of the 'structure' of an aircraft underneath!

Hopefully we can catch up next time you're back out west!

YYC Dispatcher

Captain Doug said...

Cedarglen. LOL about my BMW. It looks like you got several chuckles out of this. And chuckles are good!

After going through a grim reminder of September 11th, a "pilot to bombardier" joke is a great way to lighten things up. :)))

Captain Doug said...

Dave W.

Thanks for the link. I vaguely remember this incident. In fact, our SOPs have recently been amended to remind pilots of this very thing..."exploring the envelope."

I remember when building time in a light twin engine Navajo doing fisheries patrol. We finished up early and the F/O wanted to do a "roll."
I thought about it for a minute and then suggested it to be "not such a good idea." Who knows...they may be still looking for us in the cold waters of the Atlantic.

Straight and level...Doug....again boring is good when flying an airliner. :)))


I just read Dave W's LINK after you just posted ( and me before )
that's the one.

Captain Doug said...


I now know what the "cargo" guys feel when they hit turbulence...."who cares?" Then again, I guess they don't want their load shifting.

Funny, the F/O even made the "one minute before take off announcement" to an empty cabin.

We did recount stories about situations in the past about when pilots did not stick to the script
on reposition/ferry flights. That's why we have dedicated crews to "ferry flights." The incident rate goes up significantly.

In hindsight, I should have run down the aisle, sat in a flight attendant seat, press the call button, say dirty words and dirty jokes on the P.A,
try to watch movies (if I knew how to turn on the system) and check the seat pockets for lost items or change in the seat cushions....but I resorted back to that "stoic" captain image. How boooooring!!!!!

Thanks about the pic. Again, we were able take this with the door open in order to include my BIG head. :))))

Captain Doug said...

Craig M

That's great news about the camera! YOW is not on the radar but we use you guys as an alternate all the time so you never know....

Looking forward to the video.

And speaking of Montreal, I don't know who has the worst road structure YUL or New York. I think we had light to moderate turbulece on the recent ride into
New York City.

Captain Doug said...

Andrew. Here's what one person said in a private email.

Looks like many think the way you do.... :)))

"I would be running up and down the aisle, singing...dancing...hopping on seats...pretending I was a FA giving her song n dance on the intercom....sitting in various seats...pressing the "help" button...complaining about lousy service....sticking my head in your flight deck saying peekaboo...

Gosh, making a general nuisance of myself. Who let this person board?! Giggle.... "

Captain Doug said...

YYC Dispatcher.

Sorry about not meeting up with you in Calgary. My wife and son made it to Victoria on Jazz and we spent two great days in Victoria.

This morning, the flight was full and they got the last two seats. I was about to leave my wife behind
but one passenger did not show up. In fact, they did show at check in but the flight "closed."

It still bothers me big time I can't have my wife in the jump seat. Sometimes I wish "others to be" had the gumption to change things but I'll stop there...

I forgot to mention I got a great shot of the vintage DC-8 you told me about. I'll post it tonight.

And you are right when the serious over haul checks are done the galleys and lavs are notorious for problem spots for corrosion. Coffee stains are a big one.


P.S I do have a another YYC layover next week but I arrive at 1:00 a.m. :((((

Captain Doug said...


All kidding aside, I think you would have been one heck of a flight attendant.

Why? Because you "know" people. You know how to cut to the chase and yet soften the blow. You have a huge heart and willing to help..no matter the effort.

You can give compliments one minute and take them away the next. You have oodles of energy, quick witted and passion.

I hope this blog will be honoured with your presence for some time to come.

And you care....

Why am I getting mushy? Because sometimes people take others for granted. That's why.

And you are right...I shouldn't be taking pictures while driving. So I won't tell you it was actually three pictures I took as the airplane neared. :)))

Captain Mushy...just saying..... :)))

Captain Doug said...

CAT III approach. Glad Dave W sent the link.

Our flight this morning was full. Looks like the jitters are over. :)))

A little foggy in YSJ, eh? Been there! I never did take the A320 into there. If I do, I'm not having a good day. lol

So you flew on FIN 264 in TCA's colours?

Thanks for your pic. I'll post it soon!

Doug now in YYZ

Clinton said...

Hi Captain Doug;

I've heard that airlines will sometimes pay extra close attention to pilots on ferry flights to make sure they aren't flying overly aggressive or performing acrobatics. Is there any truth to this? The guy that did a barrel roll in the 707 prototype comes to mind.

Captain Doug said...


The entire "small Airbus fleet" is scrutinized by a department watching our every move on the airplane. Data is taken from the flight data recorders regularly and scrutinized based on a safety point of view.

They know how fast we touched down, where on the runway, when we selected the flaps, at what speed, if we were high on the profile, brake application and the list goes on.

To ask if "Big Brother" is watching...you betchya!

Gee, if a pilot passes wind in the flight deck the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder) is going to hear about it.

It's stick to the script or you are going to hear about it. :))))