Tales from Flying the Line

Aviators sit in the shade of their weatherbeaten, fabric-covered biplanes, exchange hangar talk and tell stories of their barnstorming days before they take to the air again and fly toward the setting sun ....

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Dummy Pilot
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Tales from Flying the Line

Postby Dummy Pilot » Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:35 pm

Story #1) I call this the "3WE" Wet Dream scenario....you know, the plane is getting ready to takeoff and the passenger sees ice on the wings or an engine cowl hanging open....What should he do? It finally happened.....

I'm at Kennedy airport getting pushed back and the tow bar breaks midpush. Several minutes go by while we wait for new towbar. We finally get dropped off at the spot holding short of TWY Alpha and start the left engine. The spot we have been dropped of at is where we would normally call Ground for taxi, which we do and we are told to switch to and monitor the other Ground frequency. As soon as we start listening to Ground you can tell it's a classic early evening ClusterF*ck at JFK. It has become gridlock with arriving planes trying to enter alleys that are jammed full of International planes trying to exit and we are probably going to be about #30 for takeoff on 4L. My guess is that they aren't even going to call me for taxi for another 15 minutes and in the meantime, we have the pleasure of listening to Ground control get increasingly irritated with other planes who are screwing up the readbacks of ridiculously complicated taxi instructions...as Flyboy will attest, it's pure entertainment sometimes, particularly listening to some of the foreign crews struggling with a New Yorker's version of rapid fire english. I know that things are so backed up that I get on the PA and tell the people that we are probably looking at a minimum of 45 minutes to an hour of ground time and it will likely be some time before we actually even move for the first time off the ramp. I tell them they can use their cell phones on the ground and that we will give them a call before takeoff to shutt all those electronic devices off. I also tell the F/As to go ahead and start a 'Water' service on the ground.....passing out bottled water to the Pax.

It is worth noting at this point that many F/Os position the flaps as soon as the ramp crew gives the waveoff. However, it's not a requirement from our manuals. In fact, while the manual says the F/O may position the flaps after the salute, they are absolutely not allowed to continue with the Taxi checklist until clear of the congested ramp area. In my experience, some extend the flaps immediatley and some don't do it until I call for the taxi checklist and some do it at some point in between. In any event, I haven't left the ramp and can't call for the Taxi checklist so I don't really give a damn where the flaps are. Further, as I briefed, my biggest 'threat' or concern right now is paying attention to our eventual taxi instructions amongst the non stop radio chatter so that we don't screw it up and get yelled at or worse have a runway incursion. It is also important to point out that while we are far away from our eventual departure runway of 4L, under certain conditions, JFK will operate simultaneous departures from RWY 31L at the TWYKK intersection. (JFK Diagram). We are sitting literally a few feet from this intersection and no doubt the Pax on the right side are watching planes takeoff nearby on 31L. But only planes going over certain departure fixes use 31LKK and we aren't one of them.....we are going all the way to 4L.

We finally get our instructions....'Left on Alpha, right on hotel, follow the Airbus, right on Bravo cross 31L at KA" and I begin to taxi and not 20 feet into the roll I get a chime from the F/A telling me that we have a passenger who is furiously pressing his flight attendant call button and telling her that we are taking off without the flaps down. She tells him eveything is probably fine but she will give me a call...which she has done. Now never mind that we are not even in the mile long line for takeoff which is across the other side of the field and we probably have another half hour of ground time to go. Never mind that I told the Pax the PA that we were nowhere near takeoff. Never mind that I haven't asked the Pax to shut off their electronic devices and the entire cabin is filled with people on their cellphones telling everyone at their destination that they will be late. Never mind that we haven't made the "Flight attendants please prepare for takeoff" PA and I have F/As strolling up and down the aisles handing out water. Nevermind that I have just started taxiing and haven't even called for the Taxi checklist which I plan to delay until I can find my sequence among all the chaos and safely get across RWY 31 and then call for the checklist when things quiet down. Never mind that fact that I've only got one freaking engine running......this guy presumably has been watching planes depart nearby on 31L and as soon as we start to roll for the first time since we unhooked from the tug, he assumes we are taking off.

I tell the F/A that we are nowhere near takeoff and to assure the Pax we will get to the flaps. The F/O teasingly suggests that we should now hold off on the flaps during the half hour taxi to really make the guy sweat....and while I like his thinking, I tell him him 'No'.....but I still hold off on calling for the checklist until we're across the runway and things quiet down. At the destination, the F/A apologized for bothering me during the taxi but I assured her that I always want to hear if there is a problem in back....no matter how trivial it seems. Our nervous pax also stopped by to tell us he has 'some' flight time and he just wanted to prevent an accident. I also assur him that he should always feel free to bring up any concerns though admittedly, after he left there was much eyerolling among the crew. And I would say to everyone that I still want to hear if you have concerns....but try to use a little common sense. Ask yourself if it looks like we are really taking the runway....have they made the "Prepare for takeoff" PA.....did I hear the second engine even start....etc, etc....

AndyToop
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby AndyToop » Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:08 pm

Did you ask if he frequented any aviation forums :lol: :lol:

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Half Bottle
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby Half Bottle » Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:27 pm

Not bad, but I was really, really hoping it was going to be that the PAX thought they saw ice on the wings.
~~~ In Oxford Town, you smell like dead lab rats. ~~~

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Verbal
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby Verbal » Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:46 pm

I am sick and tired of these motherfucking passengers on this motherfucking plane.
"I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability."

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Dummy Pilot
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby Dummy Pilot » Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:26 pm

Did you ask if he frequented any aviation forums :lol: :lol:
He did kind of have 'that look'!

Story #2

I'm flying back into Kennedy after massive delays on the last leg of my trip and once again the whole northeast is screwed up by T Storms and fog and I have serious doubts about whether I'm going to be able to commute home and sleep in my own bed tonight. However, in a rare bit of good luck, because of the general screwed up nature of JFK, the 7:30 departure to my home city is still at the gate at 9:00 PM and the jumpseat is open. The Captain tells me that they have a wheels up time of 10:30PM but that we will load up and push at 9:30 and hope for the best.....this is still better than having to wait for the last late night flight that will also be massively delayed and more likely cancelled. Looking around the waiting area I see that many of the passengers are from foreign connections and have proably been up for many hours and are tired of the delays.

We push and there is one open seat in First Class which I gladly take and off we go to sit on the taxiway and await our wheels up time. As the appointed time approaches, the lead F/A who I know, comes up and tells me that a woman in coach is having trouble breathing and speaks only Italian but has adamantly refused any help. The F/A wants to know if I think she should tell the Captain. I just want to get home and I know that this will not end well, but I tell her that the Captain should definitely be told as it's his call not mine. She tells the Captain and we manage to bring the distressed lady up to the front galley along with a Doctor ( a sweeet little old lady) who has overheard the commotion in back. The woman sounds terrible, her breathing is labored and her speech is barely audible. We also find a young woman from Italy who speaks passable english (and who was kinda' cute BTW). The Doctor uses the on board medical equipment and listens to her lungs with the stethoscope and shakes her head. She asks the woman if she is asthmatic. Through the translator, the woman says, Yes. The Doctor asks if she has an asthma inhaler. Yes, she replies. Great, we all think because we are moving up rapidly in the takeoff line and soon our hours of tortuous delay will end. Where is the inhaler, she is asked......it's in her luggage, in the cargo bins below our feet. WTF!!!!

The doctor, who undoubtedly wants to go home as well, says no way can this lady go flying and without an inhaler, we must go back to the gate and get medical treatment. Captain is told and announces to the PAX that although we were #2 for takeoff, we have a medical problem and must go back.....an audible groan erupts from the cabin. Having been through many gate returns I know that there's no such thing as a 'quick' dropoff and I wonder aloud if we'll be able to get a new wheels up time any time soon. Just prior to getting to the gate, the F/A who has been digging through the onboard medical pouch finds an inhaler which for some reason was not listed on the pouch's contents. The woman partakes of said medicine and we all hope that perhaps we can get right back in line but the Captain tells us that the JFK Port Authority EMTs have been called and responded to the gate and apparently there is a rule that once they have been called, they must see the patient...even if the patient refuses treatment, they must hear it from her mouth (liability issue I guess). So back to the gate we go. A return to the gate requires new paperwork. We need more fuel. Some passengers now want off so new pax counts must be made. The woman with the aid of the inhaler now feels great and doesn't want to get off the plane. Time ticks on towards midnight. When we finally get everything together, we are told that at the destination where fog has caused CAT III weather and thus the delays, the ILS has gone down and there is now an indefinite groundstop. Much audible groaning ensues. I worry that the crowd is going to get to the woman with asthma and no inhaler will help her.

I finally make it home in the wee hours of the morning and in the end, if we had taken off, it's likely that we would have been holding airborne for the failed ILS and perhaps diverted, so the passengers asthma may have been a 'good thing'...who knows. But the moral of this story is that if you have a medicine that you need to keep yourself alive....don't pack it in your checked baggage. This woman had left Milan way earlier that morning, so she had been without it for almost 24 hours. This is not the first time I have seen this. I was working a flight once and a pax who had angina developed chest pains but his Nitro pills were in his baggage. Fortunately we were at the gate and after digging around and a slight delay, we found his pills. I also can't believe the number of people who will check important documents like passports. BTW, the EMTs who greeted the plane were glad the woman didn't need treatment because they had to get back to another plane that had a passenger with H1N1 flu symptoms and they were contemplating quarantining the whole planeload.
Last edited by Dummy Pilot on Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Verbal
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby Verbal » Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:33 pm

That story wins second place in the Clusterfuck of The Year competition (first place having already been awarded to Boeing management).
"I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability."

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Verbal
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby Verbal » Thu Jul 02, 2009 9:34 pm

That story wins second place in the Clusterfuck of The Year competition (first place having already been awarded to Boeing executive management).
"I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability."

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Robert Hilton
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby Robert Hilton » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:03 pm

That story wins second place in the Clusterfuck of The Year competition (first place having already been awarded to Boeing executive management).
Nice catch Verbal.

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Verbal
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby Verbal » Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:14 pm

That story wins second place in the Clusterfuck of The Year competition (first place having already been awarded to Boeing executive management).
Nice catch Verbal.
Thanks! (Software and/or bioware went wonky on me.)
"I think of a man, and I take away reason and accountability."

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FrankM
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby FrankM » Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:19 am

Much audible groaning ensues.
Just from reading this story I started groaning in front of my screen. As much as I'm an aviation enthusiast, right now I'm really glad I'm flying only 2-3 times a year those days ... :roll:
Wir sind dann mal oben !

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Ancient Mariner
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby Ancient Mariner » Fri Jul 03, 2009 12:09 pm

DP, you just told the story of my life. And people wonder why I'm grumpy. I'm a Ray of Sunshine in total darkness, all things considered.
Per

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3WE
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby 3WE » Fri Jul 03, 2009 2:50 pm

Dummy:

I have to defend myself.

It's not a wet dream- it's a nightmare.

Actually, it's a "fearful flyer" issue.

Simply put, we have no control back there in seat 23F, and know that we are going to be going hundreds of MPH in a flimsy aluminum tube that on rare occasions treats folks to a sudden, firey death.

We know that a few planes have crashed when they took off with the flaps up.

We also know that there's a strong tendency for the flaps to go down right as the plane starts rolling after push back.

Some dude wrote a book on how to survive a plane crash- it makes the point that perhaps someone on those planes probably knew the flaps were up- what if.....what if they had said something?

In my personal case, I've had thee instances (once on a DC-9 and once on a 767) where I it LOOKED LIKE the trailing edge flaps were up. The third instance was the flaps going down on a CRJ when the pilot started the second engine when we were in the last ~1000 feet of taxi.

I belive that Putt-4-Par has a similar instance- and he "muttered out loud" "Hmmm, that's strange, the flaps are up".

Give me some credit that I assumed (and hoped) that the leading edge slats were down. I kept my mouth shut.

To summarize, you have the following problems:

-Fearful flyers know that planes have crashed because "you" forgot the flaps.
-Fearful flyers know that the flaps USUALLY go down when you initiate taxi.
-Some dude wrote a book that said "inform the flight crew if you see something unusual"
(Heck, do the rules of CRM not specify that you consider all valid input that you reasonably can).
-Apparetly there's a lot of us out there who think about this- some who even act.

FINALLY- you need to know that my travels in the last two weeks have been ATL, MOB, MSP and PHX.......it wadn't me!

AND, while I confess to being a slightly fearful flyier, I trust statistics and your 1-hour parked on the ramp is something I truly fear!!!!!!!!!!.
Commercial Pilot, Vandelay Industries, Inc., Plant Nutrient Division.

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Putt4Par
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby Putt4Par » Mon Jul 06, 2009 4:54 pm

I get a chime from the F/A telling me that we have a passenger who is furiously pressing his flight attendant call button and telling her that we are taking off without the flaps down.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Where is the inhaler, she is asked......it's in her luggage, in the cargo bins below our feet. WTF!!!!
An even louder :lol: :lol: :lol:


I cannot imagine the crap you guys have to deal with. We, people, are a funny species.

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Gabriel
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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby Gabriel » Fri Aug 28, 2009 11:01 pm

Re: flaps up take-off

99.999% of the times it will be just a false alarm.
Hundreds of lives would have been already saved.

The passenger made the (wrong) judgement that they might be taking off without flaps.
He advised the FA.
The FA advised you.
You advised them that you were still far from the take-off, but that they did right to pass the concern on.

I say great teamwork. Congratulations to all of you. I doubt I would have had the courage to make the call, knowing that chances are by far that I'm wrong.

It resulted just a funny tale and a false alarm, but it could save some lives someday, as it could have saved hundreds of lives previously had the passenger and the crew acted like in this case, but they didn't and lives were not saved.

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Re: Tales from Flying the Line

Postby GlennAB1 » Sun Aug 30, 2009 11:09 pm

What if:
Story #1) The F/O teasingly suggests that we should now hold off on the flaps during the half hour taxi to really make the guy sweat....and while I like his thinking, I tell him Ok.... LOL
That would have been something to hear on a CVR play back after the crash..... after all the busy work up there in the pit, you forgot, and the TO warning system failed....

Thanks for sharing Dummy, your FO was a real professional...... reminds me of the comic where the two pilots are having fun up front pretending there's turbulence......
you still have to find a crew willing to fly this "barely airworthy" heap
no such thing as "barely airworthy" it's either Airworthy or Not
100% incorrect Ever hear of Ferry Permit? issued for Non airworthy aircraft
LOL


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