Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It just didn't feel right

I couldn't trade away my 13 hour 3 day trip.

Yesterday was spent with my daughter. My wife had to travel to testify for work. My mother in law was attempting a cross country flight as a non-rev. Busy day.

My daughter and I had a pretty good day. Took her to the dentist for the first time. My wife had a decent time testifying. My mother in law had a long day sitting in airports. Full flights meant she had to hope and wait for a seat. She got the LAST seat on the LAST flight to her home last night. Cut it very close.

This morning was supposed to start at 4:45AM for me. I packed last night. All I had to do was pack up my Ipad, phone and leave. I woke up at 4:35AM....because I'm weird like that.


Out the door at 5:01AM. Pulled into the employee lot at 5:30AM. Employee bus was running slow. I decided to get off at the first stop versus the second stop so I could sign in for my trip on time. Glad I did as the first stop was much closer to the departure gate.

I walked down the jet bridge at 5:45AM. Cold and dark plane.

Powered it up, did my pre-flight then headed back up to the terminal.

A man wearing a tie and a neon green safety vest was at the counter talking to the agent. He said "hello" to me. I replied, "Morning" and kept walking to an empty gate. I didn't know the man and thought he was just a manager.

I looked at my schedule and tried to print a copy. Printer broken. Bleh.

My Captain arrived at the gate and was talking to the man in the vest. I overheard the conversation as I walked by. The man was the FAA....he was THE MAN....and would be riding in the jump seat for the first turn. Nice way to start a day eh?

Only 12 passengers, but a few small issues. One of the flashlights for the cabin was missing was one of them. With the FAA over our shoulder the Captain was very deliberate in his actions and speech. I had done all of my preflight duties....so I just sat there and waited. Blocked out 5 minutes late. Not good considering airlines are graded on "kick off" flights (first flights of the day) and we only had 12 passengers. Eh.

Normal flight..very short. Just a 110 NM between the two airports.

Captain made a great landing. Short taxi to the gate. Normally he calls for me to shutdown the #1 engine during the taxi. Because it was a short taxi there wasn't time. After he parked the ground crew plugged in the ground power and the Captain shutdown the number 2 engine and then called for the parking checklist. "Do you want to shutdown the number 1 engine first?" I asked. The FAA observer laughed and said, "Good catch!". Done.

Quick turn. The FAA observer walked with me on my post flight. He didn't ask any questions....he just watched me. Fine.

My turn. I just did my job the way I do everyday. It's much easier to fly right everyday than to slack off and put on a show when being observed.

Only odd thing that happened was the flight director on the Captain's side went out during my approach. We were VFR so it wasn't an issue. It was odd though.

Once back at the gate in the hub The FAA observer said we did a great job and left. We then had 34 minutes to shutdown this plane and walk 12 gates to the next plane and depart.

First Dunkin. I was tired and wanted coffee. I already had a 16 ouncer from home. Still needed a little kick.

Just 35 passengers for the next flight. My leg.

It was a normal flight for the most part. Just a 2 hour flight.

Winds at the out station on the ATIS were reported as 310@14G20 landing runway 5. A direct 90 degree crosswind. Fine.

Visual approach. Everything felt fine as I descended through 1000 feet. Around 500 feet I noticed I had to add more power than I was used to. I began to correct for the crosswind descending through 50 feet.

I noticed I needed a lot more rudder and aileron and I was eating up runway much faster than I expected.

"Watch your wingtip" said my Captain.  I was about 20 feet above the ground.

It just didn't feel right.

I pushed the thrust levers up and calmly stated, "I'm going around."

Up and away we went. Tower came back with the wind.....270@15G20. I had a 16 knot quartering tailwind during my approach. That's why I was eating up runway. That's why the power setting wasn't normal. That's why I needed more aileron and rudder. That's why I went around.

Cleared for a visual to runway 23. I turned 60 degrees to the right to make a teardrop approach.

The Captain loaded up the GPS to 23 as a backup.

The winds kicked up a bit to 260@18G24. A little gusty but it felt much better during the approach. On short final tower came on, "New ATIS Uniform current active runway is 23".

Normal landing.

I made a short PA explaining the go around.

Pilots get paid to make accurate decisions and to conduct a safe flight from point A to point B. Most flights are easy and routine. Today was a little different. Only my 3rd time to go around in almost 5 years at my airline (excluding the sim). My first time going around I was over 1000 feet AGL. The second time was about 2500 AGL. This time I was just at 20 feet....about 3 seconds from landing.

Time to find something to do.....17 hour overnight.


  1. "It just didn't feel right..."
    That's all the explanation I need, really...you're the professional.:)

  2. Love the snappy delivery and packed with detail!

    How accurate is the sim in dealing with cross wind approaches and the asymetric lift? (I'm a fsx simmer so apologies if my terminology is way off the mark!)

    All the Best!

  3. I started on Microsoft Flight Sim 2.0...or whatever was around in 1989. The flight sim versions from FeelThere are pretty good...... Except for the cross wind stuff. Heck even the flight simulator I train on at my airline isn't that great. It flies like a simulator not an airplane. I've "landed" with a 30 knot cross wind in the sim that felt like 5 knots in the real plane.

    That being said I do miss flying on the computer. I play around maybe once a month. I far prefer FS2004 over FSX.... And don't get me started on the new "Microsoft Flight " that just came out.

  4. Good post and a great GA decision.  Rarely needed, but always available.  If you don't like the situation (or you're not stable and the book says, GA) do t he GA and get over it.  That's why you have the license.  Thanks for flying safe!

  5. Two thoughts from t his decades-stale former pilot:  1) Great call on the go-around!  Of course they are rare.  When y ou're the one driving and YOU don't like whatever t he circumstance may be, going around is always the right choice.  Duh?  2) Those FAA inspectors may be an annoyance at times, but I'm not  sure why.  They are honest, competent professionals just as as  you are.  Their objectives do not include violating or 'busting' x% of inspected pilots, but - just the same as  yours, safety of flight - via compliance with SOPs, regulatons and rules.  In the end, they are on your side - and my side and we all go home to our families at 5 - or when ever the work is done.  Happy Landings!


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