Thursday, June 4, 2009

Planes everywhere

Runway incursions. They happen everyday. I came close to having not only my first runway incursion, but first collision with another aircraft when I was just of IOE.

I was deadheaded from my home base to an outstation. A Captain was deadheaded from another base to the same outstation. The flight was one leg back to my base. Prior to this flight I had never met this Captain before.

Lucky for me I was to fly the same plane I was deadheading on. After the passengers deplaned, I made my way to the cockpit. The Captain's deadhead flight was running late. I began setting up the plane while the passengers boarded. This was in the middle of winter and there was quite a bit on snow falling.

The Captain arrived just prior to departure and quickly took his seat and we were out of the gate within minutes. For a reason I still don't understand he was rushing himself and me to get through checklist. Normally on the ground the First Officer handles the radio while the Captain drives. After de-icing he took over the radios and began taxiing. I had maybe 40 hours in the plane. My taxi flow has my head down quite a bit. I heard ground advise to taxi to 24R hold short 24L at Sierra.

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The Captain was working the radios and repeated back the instructions. The ground controller then advise to monitor tower. I reached over and put the frequency into the radio. As soon as I flipped over to tower I heard our call sign and flight number followed by "Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop!"

The Captain hit the brakes hard and I looked up to see us just shy of the hold short line for 24L. Out of the corner of my eye I saw an ERJ landing on 24L just over the threshold. We almost had an incursion and a collision.

I looked over at the Captain who simply stated, "What did they not think I was going to stop?" I didn't say a word. I don't think he was going to stop. The rest of the flight went decently. Thankfully I have never seen or flown with this Captain since.

Since this flight I refuse to be rushed. Rushing in the cockpit will only lead to mistakes. This hasn't been a problem since almost every Captain I fly with works at a normal pace and lets me do the same.

Yesterday I flew out of an airport with several interesecting runways. While taxing around I was in awe at the number of planes being launched in all directions. This place was a zoo.

We were assigned to taxi to runway 9. We were number 2. Meanwhile a plane took off from runway 32, while another plane was waiting to take off from runwway 4, another plane was landing on runway 9. Wow.

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Finally we were told to taxi into position and hold. At the same time an aircraft was cleared to land runway 9 and advised there would be one departure from runway 9 prior to his arrival.

I could clearly see another plane also in position on runway 4 and several more waiting for runway 4 and 9. While waiting a plane just took off from runway 32. A few seconds later it was our turn. Initally we were told to fly runway heading. After takeoff we were told to turn south heading 130. This place is nuts.

The first flight was mostly smooth. We tried climbing to FL390 to avoid weather. Didn't happen. Just a little light chop. It was worse down low.

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The first flight was into a hub of another airline. Flying into major hubs while being a different airline just feels odd. I had never been to this airport before, but the Captain had. I reviewed the airport diagram and ramp procedures. We were assigned to follow in a heavy 757. The Captain stayed one dot high and slightly right of course as the winds were coming from the right. The landing was uneventful.

The return flight was fine. We climbed up to FL400 and were finally clear of weather. Nice sunset.

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We were vectored in close so we thought we would get a short approach. I dirtied up the plane in anticipation only to be vectored out for a 12 mile final. Oh well...we got a nice view of the suburbs.

For the first time in a while I nailed the landing. Nice and smooth.

We had an hour and change between flights. I didn't want tuna fish for dinner and went on the hunt for food. For some reason the eating choices at 9PM are slim. I settled on a small cafe. They had a Salmon and Veggie Quiche. I risked it. Turned out it was quite tastey.

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Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9:55PM. We pushed out 5 minutes early due to a light load. My leg again. Being a hotel leg I flew a little faster than normal. Ok a lot faster. The dispatcher filed us for 280 knots indicated. I flew at 330 knots. We would have been 15 minutes early, but the airport put us behind two Citations.

It had been a long day. Winds were calm and the sky was clear. I was following the VASI down, backing it up with the ILS. At 100 feet it looked good. I was right on approach speed with not a knot extra. At 50 feet I was a little under speed. The ground was approaching quickly. The long day slowed my thinking process and I pitched up and only added a little power. Instead of a thumper of a landing I had a slightly better than average. The deck angle though was higher than normal. We weren't near a tail scrape, but if I had kept rotating we would have been. Eh. I admitted my mistake with the power and pitch. No big deal.  The Captain realized what I was doing and knew what I meant to do. We arrived 5 minutes early.

This outstation has two hotels. One for short overnight, one for long. From my base we used to have short overnights. That hotel is awesome. My second favorite. From the other base they have a long overnight. This hotel is horrible. I don't use that word lightly. It really is the pits. I won't proffer for this overnight again.

Today all I do is a flight to MY base and then over to the northeast for an overnight.

Still looking at going to Washington, D.C. next week. I think I will fly into DCA, see the Air & Space Museum in the mall then take the 5A bus to IAD and catch a ride to the Air & Space Museum there and fly out of IAD that night.


  1. Great post! I bet the Captain did his training at Gulfstream Academy.

    Just thought I'd chime in.

    Ben Wind

  2. Plan on most of the day @ IAD, there are a lot of planes to droll over. The mall location will only take a few hours. Have fun. Enjoy.


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