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SallyBR_'s picture

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Yeap, I will be flying in one... to go to Europe on Friday. IN case you did not know, I am scared of flying, and would much rather go driving. Unfortunately, my car has problems with salt water. Never took the 747 before - huge thing. Guess it's one of the safest planes, though - any good experiences to pump me up? (skip the bad ones, please)

SallyBR_'s picture

(post #57237, reply #61 of 127)

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I did not reply because.... I cannot seem to make up my mind - I think I'll ask you to wait,ok? Give the answer after Friday - I promise to look for it when I come back! :-) (Hey, they don t delete threads here, do they?)

SandraM's picture

(post #57237, reply #62 of 127)

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There used to be an airline in Canada that actually served very good food, complete with white-linen service and complimentary wines and liqueurs and a dessert cart. Alas, they went broke, despite being everyone's airline of choice.

What I can't figure out is why bother with food service at all? At least on domestic flights, you'd think the airlines could just advise customers to bring their own lunch and maybe offer coffee, tea and soft drinks. Becomes more of a puzzlement when you consider that air rage is growing, fuelled often as not by alcohol.

dixie_'s picture

(post #57237, reply #63 of 127)

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Sally, I had to laugh at this - 25 years ago, my DH was going to put cedar shakes on our garage, and said he needed me to put them in place. He had built a little platform to hold the shakes, had lifted a bundle on the roof with fork lift, came back down to get me and lifted me to the roof on the fork lift. With his helping hand I daintily stepped onto the roof and sat down (holding onto the platform supporting the shakes). He moved to the far end of roof and told me to start laying the shakes in place so he could nail them. I said "what". This roof is a very steep pitch and when I got up there, I promptly laid flat on my back because I could not look around, getting nauseaous (sp). I could only look up into the sky. I started crying, could not move at all. When he realized how paralyzed with fear I actually was, he said "Let me get you off here now". I said "thank you, darling" and he literally had to pry my hands from the platform and drag me to the fork lift for the ride down. When I got on the ground the language that came out of my mouth surprised even me. He asked what happened to "darling" when I was on the roof. So now when I say "darling" to him, he just backs up and wonders what is coming. I didn't know I had it but "fear of heights" doesn't even come close to describing it, it is much more than fear, there is no word.

Peter, you have certainly given a lot of good info here. I used to want to fly, begged to take lessons - my Dad wouldn't hear of it, although he had a plane, and allowed my brother to take lessons and learn, I don't want to anymore. Glad my Dad was somewhat chauvenistic(sp).

I took same brother to airport (in Memphis) this morning for a flight to Portland, OR. He said it was TWA (I couldn't find TWA in this huge international airport) so just dropped him off - it was TWE? a shuttle little prop job of TWA. He got on the plane, said there were only 3 people working - one ticket agent, two at the gate, then all 3 had to gather together to load the luggage. Then came the announcement and I am quoting here - "the Plane is broke". He was very happy that it was "broke". Had no idea when he made reservations that it was this sort of situation/type of plane. He had just come in from Madrid late last night from a 6 week vacation, about 4 hours of sleep to get on this puddle jumper. He was happy flight was cancelled.

dixie_'s picture

(post #57237, reply #64 of 127)

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i My worst ones were an emergency landing in Atlanta

My idea of Hell - having to go through the Atlanta Airport and winding up with an endless pile of laundry. I think I can endure the laundry, just not sure of going through Atlanta Airport one more time.

Charlotte_Baker's picture

(post #57237, reply #65 of 127)

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Dixie
I love your roof story and I could not agree with you more about the Atlanta airport. That airport is the best ad for Amtrak there is.

TEC's picture

(post #57237, reply #66 of 127)

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Sally, good answer. I learned a lesson the hard way-darn it.

Jean_'s picture

(post #57237, reply #67 of 127)

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Being stuck at Atlanta while your plane undergoes some minor repairs......AT NIGHT .....with everything closed....not a cup of coffee or a deck of cards in sight. The ultimate in boredom.!!
BTW, I never knew that a big plane could fly so slow and still stay in the air! Something about the wheels not retracting all the way.
So encouraging to have the copilot walk back and peer out of the window while things below you are going clunk clunk. LOL. So back we went.

Cooking_Monster's picture

(post #57237, reply #68 of 127)

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And I thought I'd just had bad luck. The last time I flew through Atlanta, it was in the midst of a freak ice storm. We were boarded onto the plane and had to sit on the tarmac for over 2 hours while we waited our turn to be de-iced. And they lost my luggage.

Cissy_'s picture

(post #57237, reply #69 of 127)

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Dixie do not EVER go to Hoover Dam and look over the edge from the top.

dixie_'s picture

(post #57237, reply #70 of 127)

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Cissy, did this about 8-9 years ago, promptly grabbed the railing, my DH on one side of me and good friend on the other all at the same time of falling backward away from it. Thought I was going to pass out. When we got down into it, I didn't like that too much either. Felt as if it might cave in on me.

THEN, good friend booked a helicopter ride over Vegas at night (his wife and I were in a restroom and had no vote). They had to practically drag me to the copter. Since friend had already paid, I tried to be a good sport. The pilot said the one who weighed the least had to ride in front with him. I told him I weighed about 300 pounds-he wouldn't buy it and put me right up front with him. He was pretty noncommital, all-business, and didn't seem phased at all when I was choking the life out of him on take-off. After we got in the air, it was a very spectacular sight indeed to behold. I am happy I did that, would I do it again? Nah. Helicopters don't have good enough doors on the sides for me.

Michael_P.'s picture

(post #57237, reply #71 of 127)

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Wow! I found a picture of Peter. He's on the left.

Jean_'s picture

(post #57237, reply #72 of 127)

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He kinda looked a little like Rock Hudson, didn't he?

Michael_P.'s picture

(post #57237, reply #73 of 127)

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I was thinking Cary Grant, later on.

Peter_Durand's picture

(post #57237, reply #74 of 127)

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OK I will do that.

And Sally, do enjoy your trip. Make a side trip to Fauchon's when you are there. Damn it, now you have me thinking back to the coffee/croisants and other pleasures of France. Will you be posting some pictures of it??

Cheers

Peter

Peter_Durand's picture

(post #57237, reply #75 of 127)

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Looks like I will never live that one down. But you should see the shape of the other guy!

Peter

Wolverine's picture

(post #57237, reply #76 of 127)

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now where on earth did MP ever come up with that shot of you? Are you famous or something? ;-)

Concerning windshear and landings, my worst experience was in Dallas. American Airlines. Took me 10 years to fly that Airline again, even tho I knew it wasn't the pilot's fault. Of course, I have also never routed a plane thru Dallas again.

When you answer Sally's question, can you tell me which airport you consider to be the worst for windshear? TIA, I think!

zally_'s picture

(post #57237, reply #77 of 127)

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Cissy: Hoover Dam didn't bother me a whit (all that concrete and sturdy, shoulder-high railings) but Grand Canyon simply did me in -- walking along on sane, sensible (this from a born & raised prairie girl) level ground and suddenly the earth falls away. No railings, hardly a tree branch to cling to. If the fall didn't kill me, the fact that I simply stopped breathing certainly would. Got out of there
b fast!

cam14's picture

(post #57237, reply #78 of 127)

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Hi Peter, nice picture, so what's the story behind this one? By the way this was a very interesting topic, thanks for answering so many questions and giving so much information. Facinating stuff.

cam14's picture

(post #57237, reply #79 of 127)

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Great roof story Dixie, gives new meaning to the term "darling".

Peter_Durand's picture

(post #57237, reply #80 of 127)

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Hi Cam,

I don't know where that picture came from. Its been around aviation for some years. Its just a guess, but I suspect it first appeared in something like National Lampoon.

Peter

Wolverine's picture

(post #57237, reply #81 of 127)

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heh heh heh. Oh boy!

cam14's picture

(post #57237, reply #82 of 127)

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Well, this sounds like a story I'd like to hear about Peter, maybe at out next lunch outing?

Michael_P.'s picture

(post #57237, reply #83 of 127)

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Well, this is something I didn't expect.

kai_'s picture

(post #57237, reply #84 of 127)

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Thanks again, Peter--You have helped me be less of a scairdy-cat-type potential flyer. But I still want answers to all questions :-) Sounds like San Diego is ripe for unpredictable wind shear, and that building (I think it's the Laurel Travel Center) will be getting an unexpected haircut one of these days :-/

I really appreciate all the time and effort you have taken to explain, answer, elaborate, and otherwise calm those of us who did not understand the day-in-day-out stuff of flights.

Hey, all a pilot would have to say to reassure me is "Hello, this is your pilot, Peter Durand, eh" LOL

Peter_Durand's picture

(post #57237, reply #85 of 127)

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Folks...

that is NOT me!!

remember I am still alive and kicking.

Peter

Peter_Durand's picture

(post #57237, reply #86 of 127)

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Kai,

Thanks for your kind words. What questions need elaboration? Be happy to expand.

BTW,I know it may sound glib, but don't worry about the building. The performance data that is used for each runway takes into consideration the obstacles. We have unique data for each and every runway of every airport we use.

Your example for instance would mean that the takeoff weight is restricted to enable the airplane to clear the obstacle in the worst case scenario. That scenario being an engine failure at rotation.

That was a phenomena
not unheard of in the 1950s with large piston powered aircraft. In the modern jet age, it is a VERY rare occurrence.

Peter

Jean_'s picture

(post #57237, reply #87 of 127)

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ROFLMAO!!!!!!! And we're Glad you are, Peter! That plane must have veered off at the last second, huh?? (snort)

kai_'s picture

(post #57237, reply #88 of 127)

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One of the questions, I think Wolvie asked, was which airports have the worst wind shear risks. Also, perhaps you've never flown into CHS or MYR--just wondering which a pilot might prefer.

Also, the building in question is not in the normal takeoff path, only landing--you clear the building, cross a freeway, and land.

(I think the folks who thought that was you in the pic didn't see the oncoming plane!)

Peter_Durand's picture

(post #57237, reply #89 of 127)

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Sally,

The short answer is yes. But not quite in the sense you are thinking.

Let me try to explain a bit about the different types. I know that it feels the same to you but it will help you understand the steps we have taken in the industry to minimize the danger.

Keep the thought in the back of your mind that air is a fluid and will behave like one. Heat it, stir it, move it around, rub it against things and it will create disturbances. So you can see that there a quite a number of triggers here; the sun will heat the ground which will cause the air close to it heat up. Hot air rises, creating eddies similar to the motion you see in a pot of warming or boiling water. Mix hot and cold air together and you will also trigger some bumps. There are a lot of other factors that come into play

I suppose the most obvious phenomena that you would recognize as a generator is a typical thunderstorm. Or a long line of them. They are violent things and we give them a wide berth. Typically 20 miles. The aircraft radar is the key to this. In fact an airplane is not dispatched if it does not have a serviceable radar. And they are very reliable. In 30 years I have never had one quit on me. Radar does not display turbulence as such. It shows moisture. And thunderstorms have a great deal of it. It measures the actual amount and also the rate of motion of the water vapor. This shows up on the cockpit screens as irregular shaped blobs. In colour. Going from green to yellow to red. The red would typically define the core of a thunderstorm. The presentation is clear and accurate. And that tool enables us to avoid the areas that would do great damage. During my flight today from Montreal to Vancouver I took this picture (jpg "thunderstorm on radar") to show you what we see on our instruments. It is not as sharp as I had wanted but you will see a typical thunderstorm that we take great pains to avoid.

Coming in to land, or taking off presents a different set of problems when dealing with thunderstorms. A number of years ago (around 1974) atmospheric physicists documented the dangerous things coming out of them. called microbursts. See the jpg named microburst. It shows the danger that they present. Over the years they have been the cause of many accidents. And also over the years tools have been developed to help us avoid them. Doppler radar is one of them. Because these winds do not carry much moisture conventional radar did not "see" it. Doppler radar does. It is used in conjunction at many airports with a system called LowLevelWindShear (LLWS) alert. Works like a damn.

By far the most insidious form of turbulence is called Clear Air Turbulence (CAT). As the name implies, there are no visible indicators of what is going to happen. Work on the detection and forecasting is ongoing. Meteorologists know that certain circumstances will tend to produce it and those areas will appear on our weather briefing charts. Flights will dispatched around those areas. But by and large it is simply pilot reports that keep us informed.

The vortex caused by an airplane ahead is also a cause. (jpg "tip vortex") That is avoided by keeping far enough back. Mountain regions also have potential as air moves over and around these obstructions. Sometimes there is a vast region that is bumpy at all altitudes and there is just no getting out of it.

That takes care of most of the heavy stuff. The original question…yes. But the days of aircraft breaking up because of it are past.

"Can a plane be brought down (aka CRASH) exclusively because of strong turbulence?" With airliners the problem is more what may accompany the turbulence, such as wind shear. (see microbursts above) Although wind shear can be very rapid and smooth. I really believe that a pilot faced with very bad turbulence at low level will simply elect to execute a missed approach.

"On a related note: what exactly do you have to do during turbulence?" If we are lucky enough to be warned ahead of time, we inform the flight attendants so that they can secure the passenger area. (it goes without saying that we ask if there are altitudes reported smooth and go there) The seat belt sign goes on and personally I make a PA that we may be encountering some turbulence and would the passengers please direct their attention to the instructions of the flight attendants. We then reduce speed to the turb penetration speed of the aircraft. Different airplanes have different configuration procedures. Some disconnect the auto thrust. Others disconnect the altitude hold or airspeed hold. All this to enable us to ride and wallow through the equivalent of raging rapids.

"in other words, is there a thing as a "bad pilot", who would be unable to control the plane under such and such circumstances?"
Training and experience do go a long way but no one is perfect. Auto accidents happen, trains derail, boats sink and airplanes crash. And Sally, I am not alone in working hard to make sure it does not happen on my shift.

Peter

Peter_Durand's picture

(post #57237, reply #90 of 127)

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jpg re wingtip vortex