Flight plan

To wish you were up there...then to achieve it...trumps everything...
Captain D

......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! :)))))

If for any reason you have an issue found within, send an email and I will rectify it. [email protected]

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

My style...

My Style

Even though my writing comes off as lighthearted and carefree when dealing with aviation issues, one can rest assured the "T"s are crossed and the "I"s dotted when it comes to weather, safety and maintenance issues. If I wrote in a stoic style my blog would turn into an aviation manual. And who would read that?
.... gone flying..........

YYZ 05

YYZ 05
"Pic of the day" sent in by Craig R landing on runway 05 (Toronto)

Runway 05

Like Craig R, I landed on runway 05 at 10:00 p.m last night during a route check. I was suppose to stay in Calgary for the night. Even though I work in the most regulated industry I know, it sure is dynamic.
Yesterday, one of my flights was subbed to an Embraer, so I deadheaded and then once deadheading we were drafted to fly to Toronto.

Can anyone guess what that yellow hook like device on the wing is?

Gone flying again....

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Couldn't avoid the Big Apple

My Son "sans" a team. Picture taken by my Blackberry should've bought an iphone. 

La Guardia on a "Good" day. 

Couldn’t avoid the Big Apple

The fact I dropped some flying (long layover in San Francisco) to attend the enRoute party had me short in hours. But, I didn’t have to fly because I had “time in the bank.” We can accrue up to twenty hours if we exceed the quota for the month. I have nine hours stored up.

Be it greed, the love of flying or just to get out of the house. I went on “make up.” I get a call asking if I want Newark, New Jersey across the way from the Big Apple. No thanks. Finally I’m awarded an easy jaunt to Ottawa and back. For two hours of flying I’ll get a minimum guarantee of 4:25. Sweet.

I had to drop my son off at the hockey rink as per “number one’s” request prior to work. She wanted him spooled up for the season and some organized shinny was available. The only glitch…no one showed. My son had an Olympic size hockey surface all to himself. A Canadian blasphemy!

I asked myself, “why am I going to work?” I could be out on the ice skating and bonding with my son. It was a Kodak moment seeing him growing up. I rush back to my car and grab the camera out of my flight bag. The battery was dead. Bloody camera. Perhaps an omen? I stayed a little longer than I should have causing me to be a few minutes tardy. Oops.  Heck, it was only an Ottawa turn.

As soon as I walked in, I’m told, “Call crew sked!” Here we go.

“Doug, we need you to fly to LaGuardia instead of Ottawa.” And what did greedy captain D ask, “Is this a draft?” Translation, it’s now time and a half. Sweet. Maybe I can pay for all the new hockey gear I bought my son? (Luckily I brought my LGA charts) Usually I leave all my Caribbean and American charts at home to save on weight. But I always keep LaGuardia) 

Crew sked told me I’m out in 20 minutes. I look at my watch (yes, the one with the amputated strap) and laugh. That isn’t happening with me having to go through American customs and security, find my F/O, find my gate and a plane. The adventure begun. I am told the F/O is there and he has everything done. You can see where this is going. J

I make it to the plane only to be greeted by the in-charge saying, “I got a flight attendant walking at 6:03. Not 6:00 p.m or 6:05 but three minutes after six she turns into a pumpkin.  As a recent new hire (six months) she sure knew her rules and I admired her gumption.

I entered the flight deck. No F/O and there is datalink paper spewing all over the flight deck as if a kid unraveled a roll of toilet paper(tissue). The in-charge wants answers. But I have no F/O and no flight plan. A pilot without a flight plan is like an actor without a script. And a captain without an F/O is…lonely. I jokingly told operations I am looking for “my man…I am lonely.” Now maintenance appears, we have a potable water problem. A further delay and the in-charge keeps reminding me of the F/A wanting to walk. It’s hot in the cabin. I asked three times to have the air removed. These brand new high performance jetway conditioners need to be tweaked. They pump out hot air in the summer and cold in the winter. 

I decided to do the walk around while I wait for the F/O. Half way through I realize I’m walking around a 321. The next thought is, the weather better be good because it’s not my favourite around thunderbumpers. Guess what much of the datalink was spewing out? Yup, weather warnings.

Finally my F/O arrives. He was told the flight was delayed two hours because of ground delays going into New York. He came off the Embraer so LGA was his second home. I offer the first leg and he graciously accepts. The doors close up and the F/A who wanted to bolt, stayed.

The weather warnings mentioned moderate to severe turbulence from FL 220 to FL 280. There had been numerous reports. Mother nature still hasn’t calmed down. This woman has been out of control lately. Women! :)

We check in with Cleveland center who gave us a heads up about the bumps. Then a shaken pilot comes on, they just got womped by severe turbulence. It sounded like he defecated in his pants. (another reason to bring extra uniform pants/trousers). LOL Not once in my entire aviation career did I report severe turbulence. But today it’s all around us. Mother Nature is psychotic.

Yes, we got bumps but much milder. Now we check in with Boston center. As I thought, New York is not taking any more planes. Many American airports are equivalent to a bees hive on a good day. With weather in the area, someone has taken a stick to a bee's nest.

Air Canada 7--, “ Are you ready for your holding instructions?” Here we go.

Our ‘expect further clearance’ is not for another 40 minutes. Plus they have us holding downwind of some nasty weather. We go around the race track once and I told them we will have to hold further east. They allow us. I impressed myself by programing a hold displaced 15 miles from the original fix. The ride is rough as we are cleared to lower levels. Then ATC decides to vector us, taking us very close to the weather, Then a vector right into the “convective mass.” I curtly told him, “I am ‘painting red’ on my radar, I don’t fly into red!” Silence. Actually someone made a snide remark. I ask myself, am I missing something here? Now our fuel is getting tight. The alternate is back to Toronto. I datalink dispatch to “tighten up our alternate” to buy some time. We can use Newark. Phew!

ATC did put us into some heavy showers and we quickly picked up an inch of airframe ice. I had enough! I told him MY plan. For you new pilots out there, learn to stand your ground. I fully understand ATC are trying to do their jobs and to be honest I don’t know how they do such a great job on a continual basis when dealing with the world’s busiest airspace.

I now and again flash back to my son skating alone in a huge rink telling myself...I don’t need this.
It's like a simulator session but this time it's a real airplane with real weather and real passengers.

Finally we are upwind of the weather, descend into above freeing temperatures, the ice is gone, New York City is in sight and we are cleared to land. My f/O greases the A321 on and we quickly come to a halt with “medium” autobrake. Now the wait for a gate and thoughts of the return flight.

We are flight planned at turboprop altitudes back to Toronto to avoid that moody [email protected], but she still had her way with us a little just to show who’s boss. 

I’m off to LAX tonight.

The life on an airline pilot. 


YYC Dispatcher said...

Captain Doug,

Thanks for another 'day in the life of' post, always an enjoyment.

I'd tell you that better weather is just around the corner, but I expect that the 'Iceman' checklists are starting to get closer to the top of your bag again. Hopefully you are avoiding the east coast early next week!

Have a safe flight to LAX tonight.

YYC Dispatcher

Heather said...

Hi Doug!

Wow! That one was intense! I won't lie - I'm so glad I can sit in the back watching TV possibly oblivious to most stuff while you guys do all the busy work up front! :) :)

If anything it's exciting!!

Hope Los Angeles is more Re-LAX-ed than NY! ...hehe....sorry, I had to!


Henry said...

Hi Captain Doug,

What would be your flight plan altitude i.e. the turboprop altitude? Sounds very interesting to me!

Also, if the passengers were dropped of at Newark? What happens after that? Bus service to La Guardia?

I love flying in weather on a simulator but my virtual passengers don't like it (I have an add-on which shows the passenger satisfaction level along flight and they get adrenaline in severe turbulence. By the way, have you ever flown in a Hurricane before? Typhoon days in Japan are best for Japanese domestic flights :D


Hello Captain Doug.....

yet another reason to have METMAN flying left seat....the pilot from the poop deck, obviously wasn't curt enough, or decided to be a cowboy and venture into the "red" like the nice ATC controller told him too........it should be part of ATC's training to fly into the red with someone, so they know why it's NOT an option.....risking lives for traffic control is BS........

I'm hoping the BIAAAA###CH calms down by the time I fly next week....if not, I'm putting in a request to have you fly the YMM to YYZ route ..... but I'll also request an A319 so we have the performance to play with altitude if we need to!

Great post.....I soooo hear you about the "I don't need this" on bad days, when you know the rink was available......making life saving decisions, literally, or playing hockey with the boy.....hmmmmmmm.....no brainer

but that's why they pay us the big bucks.....you earn your yearly salary with ONE decision that was well made.....and that day you damn well earned every last cent.

CAT III Approach

Stuart Seemungal said...

You aren't kidding about the rough ride weather holding over Toronto Captain D, I did my weekly commute YOW-YYZ-YOW from Wednesday to Friday last week and it was pretty rough on both legs...and that's coming from someone that does 70 segments a year and usually gets more annoyed trying to eat a beef empinada when it's bumpy than being bothered by the bumps.

Anonymous said...


Turboprop altitudes are 20,000 ish range. Ok for short hops but long ones would be real ugly for fuel consumption

I think he said Newark was just his alternate, allowing him to continue holding without calling min fuel or diverting. Sounds like he still went into La Guardia.

Craig said...

My favourite type of post!

Too bad about no YOW (then again, I suppose we wouldn't have this great post if you did go there). We've had some fun winds the last few days.

And speaking of LAX, I was there in flight sim the other day and it was raining (using real world weather of course). Can't say I'd be too pleased to see rain flying into LAX.

Craig M

Captain Doug said...

YYC Dispatcher. Funny I mentioned to my F/O last week, "I love flying in the fall." Boy did I ever tempt the weather gods. :))))

Yesterday, was the first time we had to use engine anti-ice on take off for the season (visible moisture with ambient temperatures 10C or less).

I am in Halifax now and they have a heavy rainfall warning. It's looking pretty wet out there.

I'm in YYC on Wednesday. I'm staying at the short layover hotel and the "certain math" looks okay until the early evening. :)))

Captain Doug said...

Heather. Yes the TVs have everyone glued to the screens although the bumps would have reminded people something was up. :)))

And I did re-LAX but it was a very short layover. Everyone is relaxed in California. :)

Now I'm in wet Halifax and then back to Toronto this evening.

Tomorrow morning I'll be teaching another class of new hires.

Are you working Wednesday?

Captain Doug said...

Anon. Thanks for stepping up and explaining things to Henry. You were right on all counts.

Captain Doug said...

Henry. As Anon mentioned turboprop altitudes are around 20,000 to 25,000 feet.

Again, if we landed in Newark arrangements would have been made to bus them.

Reminds me of my first week on the A320 as a brans new first officer some 13 years ago. We did a go-around into LaGuardia due to fog and then landed in Newark. Every time I see the captain I flew with that day, he smiles. It was quite a day for a "newbie."

No sane pilot flies into a hurricane, typhoon, or thunderstorm intentionally.

Captain Doug said...

CAT III approach.

I may have mislead you (and others) about the turbulence. The moderate to severe turbulence has been associated with a jet stream and it's
associated shear. We call it CAT (Clear Air Turbulence). But you are right, if we flew into "red" we would be whacked with moderate to severe bumps. No thanks.

ATC gives us a heads up on nasty weather ahead...in the United States. I am not sure what's happening with NAVCANADA. Maybe someone out there can comment???
About ten years ago, all of Canada's weather radars were upgraded to Doppler. Shortly thereafter the Doppler images were supposed to be superimposed on ATC radar screens. There was a problem with the interface and I'm not sure where they are as far as a fix.

Bottom line, don't assume ATC sees the weather. Having said that, while descending into LAX a couple of nights ago, ATC pointed out "moderate to possibly extreme precipitation"
at 12 o'clock and our weather radar was not detecting it. Although it did look dark ahead. We deviated and it all worked out.

A weather radar is mostly a rain detector and if there is not much precipitation or the thunderbumper is composed of ice crystals (the top portion) then it doesn't "paint" well.

Well I am in rain drenched Halifax so that BIAAAA###CH is still hanging around. Reminds me of the movie, Fatal Attraction. LOL

Captain Doug said...

Stuart. Yes, the Northeastern portion of North America sure is experiencing rough air. Out of Montreal to Halifax last night we got it to about 28,000 feet. Then we traversed a jet clocked at 140 knots. Just some ripples.

Hope you are you liking the empanadas. I know I am. :)))

Captain Doug said...


I realize most of you enjoy my "reality posts" but I must tread lightly in what I say and how I say it.

There were rain showers in the hills east of LAX a couple of nights ago. But LAX was just a sea lights under clear skies. :)

Cedarglen said...

Hello Doug and thanks for a most interesting 'reality' post. Regular readers understand the constraints, but these ARE still the best of the lot. I'm still LMAO about the on-ground details and the "6:03" walker. Making it all work is why they made YOU the Captain. Once flying, it is all business and congrats for telling ATC, "I don't do red." Hockey drills with your son would have been a good choice, but the 1.5X pocket money is OK, too. Best wishes, -Craig (of Cedarglen)
(Off-topic, I hope you're able to shed some light on Foggy's private questions. I hate to see him have to start from scratch. C.)

Mark767 said...

Cpt Doug,

Another interesting post. I would really love to know the details of what what said when you decided to do it "MY WAY".


Stuart Seemungal said...

Meh, the empanadas aren't really that bad. I'm going to catch flack for saying it, but sometimes I miss the cheese plate. (pause for gasps). I like that they are changing it up, but not everything they've come up with have been winners and they seems to be stuck on Mexican the last few months.

I'm still hoping I'll run into you one of these days, I think I'm doing a same day turn on Friday this week, any chance you've got YOW this week?

Captain Doug said...


I told ATC we wanted to be vectored AROUND the cells, not THROUGH them.

And yes, they were probably cussing behind my back. But remember, they are sitting in a chair that doesn't go up and down like a bronc rider. :)

Foggy said...

Hi Doug - Very interesting post, thanks.

Particularly like the pic of your son in "all the gear"! Another Mr. Gretzky in the making? Or has he got sights on other ways to keep the bank manager happy? So what happened with the team no-show? Scheduling mishap? To think, all that ice just begging for a game...

I understand your "tippy-toe" approach to the "operational" posts, especially when the ladies and gentlemen down the back are involved!

As to ATC trying to vector you into the "weather", what was going on there? Perhaps someone decided that the big hole on the radar display with no aircraft in it needed to be filled! OK, so the ATC'ers may not have superimposed weather, but they know it is out there and is it not logical to assume that in circumstances where there are no aircraft returns, that could be where the weather is? Oh, hang-on... Sure does sound like you had to take the scenic route though - Cleveland Center, Boston Center and New York. Did Cleveland hand you directly to Boston, or was NY involved somewhere in the middle?

Another question - with CYYZ being so close to the Center boundary(s), does Toronto Departure tend to hand you off directly to Cleveland or NY Centers, if you're headed that way, or does Toronto Center take their cut for 30 secs?

OK, I think I may be about to bust the "word-count" limit so, cheers for now,


Heather said...

Hi Doug,

I do enjoy the distraction of the TV yet don't mind a few bumps along the way (I'm an odd one...hehe...).

I don't work Wednesday unfortunately - I'm usually a weekend girl but I'll keep watching out for you!

Regarding the Pierce Brosnan autograph a) cool and b) I believe it's "'heart' life". :)

I did a little plane watching this morning. Many AirCanadas and WestJets of course but was treated with a Lufthansa jet (possibly an A340?) which was a treat!! I find it relaxing on a nice autumn day!

Enjoy the wet fall colours of Halifax!

Heather :)

Captain Doug said...

Cedarglen. Lots of words of wisdom... yet again. :)

And no, I don't do red. :)

I've been emailing Foggy behind the scenes. I keep telling him he should have bought a MAC. LOL

Having said that, I've been tweaking my PowerPoint presentation for tomorrow's new hire class and I lost my Air Canada slide background.

As I sit in Halifax, about to launch back to Toronto this evening, there will be lots of red painting on the weather radar as Hurricane Ophelia tracks south of here.

Captain Doug said...

Stuart. I had a cold chicken J class snack last night enroute to Halifax. Wasn't bad. :)))

Yes, one day our paths will cross especially with you doing 70 segments/year.

I'm passing through YOW but I continue to Halifax. That's it. Sorry.

Captain Doug said...


"Number one" thinks she sees a Wayne Gretsky and hence the extra practices. :)))
Actually the ice was open to young lads wanting to hone their skills but no one knew about it.
Maybe next week? This time I'll bring my gear. I'll pretend I'm a big kid.

As far as ATC and the weather, I don't think they were painting the same as our weather radar and I wasn't entering that cloud to see who was right.

LOL about the hole on the radar screen. Again American ATC have the capability of superimposing weather on their radar, it's NAVCANADA that have the issues.

We go through a couple of Toronto frequencies (they get their cut lol) and then we are handed off to Cleveland, then Boston. We are not taking the scenic route per se. As you know
airspace is divided geographically and into layers. Boston ATC looks after the higher levels. :))

Captain Doug said...

Heather. Some one else mentioned it was a the "heart life." Thanks for taking the time to look. :)))

007 hit his chest with his fist when deplaning and gave a bow in respect and said "thank you!" I thought that was classy. No wonder he gets all the women. LOL

As far as fall colors, everything is drenched as Hurricane Ophelia tracks south of Nova Scotia. I can't escape moody Mother Nature.

Dave W said...

Hey Capt. D,

A lovely post that gives a real sense of the frustration and pitfalls that befall us all - what job is complete without them, whether it be flying a multi-million dollar jet or just being in charge of the local coffee shop, I'm sure a large number of people can relate to your predicament! Would have loved a pic of the "toilet paper" littering the flight deck. :)

I appreciate you have to tread a fine line in your blog as you have chosen to "break the third wall", there are those who remain anonymous and can afford a little latitude........

Let's be honest, if you criticise anyone, they know who you are!...

I for one enjoy knowing a little of the person behind the words, thank you.

I'm with Heather on the "Heart life" theory re: Pierce's monika!

Whilst you, quite rightly, avoid the red I found a group of people who seek it out - apologies if you or your readers are aware of the link below but I found it fascinating and I hope you enjoy it too..

Hunting Hugo

To Henry J and Craig M, I too am an avid simmer, thank you for asking the kind of questions I am sometimes too cautious to ask!

Regards to all

Dave (trying hard to observe the 12 hrs bottle to throttle rule) from the UK

Captain Doug said...

Hi Dave. A fine line it is.

I wrote about the Hurricane hunters in my book. They would be out chasing the ones in the Atlantic now.
Actually, Hurricane Ophelia is in Canadian waters so it's our problem now. Hurricane Phillippe is further south. Those guys see "red" all the time. No thanks!!! :)))

Captain tightrope. :))))

Bas said...

Awesome post Captain! Like these a lot! Oh if I could jumpseat with you once... :)

I'm not sure what James Bond is trying to say in your book... looks like a heart and the word 'yo'

'Luv yo' ? :P Doh...
I thought he was the bomb when I was younger lol... (The one and only 007 for me, for my parents it's Sir Sean Connery lol)

Hope your weekend was great!

Captain Doug said...

Bas. I wish I could have you in the jumpseat but unfortunately I can't even have my son in the flight deck. But I better not get myself upset about policy. :(

I was thinking the same thing... 007 took a liking to me. LOL

I'm off to the lobby where I will be meeting Daniel Asuncion (blog commenter) 30 minutes before crew pick up.

Andrew said...


That was an awesome post!

Newly Licensed,

altstiff said...

Excellent tale from the flight deck CPT. Doug!

I think the sig in your book reads "thanks for letting me scribble on your book" P.B.


gonna take a stab at the pic of the day....

I think he wrote,

For Doug,

Love life,

Pierce Brosnan 2011

looks like a dot above the "i" and an "f" "e" at the end.........

Craig R said...


I also liked the cheese plates. Perhaps it will come back at some point. Along with that really nice chianti AC had going for a while.

I have YOW on Tuesday .... hope the weather girl behaves.

Henry said...

Hi Captain Doug!
LOL! Sane pilots do not fly into sever weather conditions. How about making a VOR DME approach when the ILS is available? Do sane pilots do that and request from the ATC?

To Anon: Thank you! I thought the plane would be hopping around 5000 to 15000 which is bound to waste fuel as IAS is something like 300+ while GS is also 300+ LOL

To Dave W: Thank you :D By the way, do you fly on VATSIM?

Foggy said...

Good morning Doug, Thanks.

That's a nice sig(s) on the Dedication Page of your book. Perhaps Mr. Brosnan started out having a bad day, but after some ACA fresh bake cookies 'n' ice cream...?

Talking of Hurricane Ophelia, she's moved on from Canada and is coming across to our side!! North Britain - where ever that is, North braced for Ophelia (just noticed "they" changed the strap-line) - is going to get "it" later today/tomorrow. Here in the South it's another morning of climbing temps and clear blue sky!! Life's a Beach!!

Good luck with the PPT and the new hires.


aderollo said...

Wow Capt Doug, That'll teach you to mumble under your breath "What more could go wrong now" ;-) Glad everything turned out okay. We had one of our F-111s declare In Flight Emergency (IFE) for hydro and on approach back to RAF Lakenheath, got hit in the nose dome by LIGHTNING as they were over the approach lights. A rather sporty day for that crew.

Tony DeRollo


Cedarglen said...

Morning Capt. Doug,
Are we celebrating an event this week? In Andrew's modest post of 10-2, I see the phrase, "Newly Licensed." I don't know Andrew's history, but perhaps we should be raising 'beverages of choice' in his honor, no? Hope you have an attentive class of newbies today.
-Craig (of Cedarglen)

Anonymous said...

I saw that too, Craig (Cedarglen)...


Good for you!! :)

Andrew said...

Thanks guys!

Just finished my PPL. Took me a while thats forsure.


Captain Doug said...

Andrew. Congratulations!!! Even though it took longer than you expected, at least you did it!

Do you have a picture? I'll post it?

Captain Doug

Captain Doug said...

Henry. A pilot would request an ILS over a VOR approach any time of the day. :)


congrats Andrew!

Captain Doug said...


LOL about 007's signature. I too thought, he took up a lot of room. I should do that when I am signing my books. What a minute... I "DO" do that. LOL

I sold six books today while teaching the new hire class.

Funny, I sold one book prior to this and I was on fire today. :)))

Another great class of 20!

Captain Doug said...

CAT III Approach. You too are hieroglyphics certified. I can now see the word "life."

Captain Doug said...

Foggy. You guys hold onto your hats when Ophelia visits. It brushed by St. John's, Newfoundland.
CYYT is the focal point of three tracks of low pressure systems, hurricanes and succumbs to advection fog from almost every direction. No wonder alcohol is consumed in copious amounts. :))))

Captain Doug said...

Tony. Funny how lightning usually hits the radome...where the weather radar antenna is located. Irony. :)))

Captain Doug said...

Cedarglen. The class went well. The youngest of the 20 new hires just turned 25 and the oldest was 43.

I think I wooed them again. :)

When I came home I raised a beverage for Andrew. Plus I was drowning my sorrows because this morning I was informed my next pairing will be my annual route check. Apparently the checker will be with me for three days including seven legs.
The joy! :)))))


WOW! beautiful pic of the day!!

one of the nicest yet.....

making me long for ski season! lol

took me a long time to decipher that....LOL....he should have been a doctor....

Captain Doug said...

CAT III Approach. Yes, how would like to do some Heli-skiing on that hill? :)))

YYC Dispatcher said...

Captain Doug,

Is it normal for an annual route check to involve that many legs over that many days?

YYC Dispatcher

Captain Doug said...

YYC Dispatcher.

I was asking the same thing. Seems like a cruel joke. :)))
But apparently they (AC) want the check pilot to fly the entire pairing.

Heather said...

Congratulations Andrew! :)



heli skiing!!!!!

can you fly a helo?? lol

Captain Doug said...

CAT III Approach. Nope can't fly a helicopter. The F/O on my last pairing could. In fact, he flew for Irving Oil and lived in your hometown for a bit. :)

threemilesfinal said...

Great Blog!

It's amazing how many people just take what ATC says and doesn't think about it.

Keep up the good work! Maybe see you if you're ever through YYT. ;)