Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lightening Crashes...but not my plane

Interesting day one of a three day trip. Five legs.

Captain took the first. Gusty (20+ knots) crosswinds were standard fare for the day. Wicked cold front moving across the county.

First approach winds were 220@20G35. Longest runway is runway 15. Runway 23 was into the wind, but just 5800 feet long. We chose to land into the wind.

Gusty, bumpy approach....done.

My turn. We can land on Runway 15, but my company ops specs state we can't take off from Runway 15. Gusty departure for me.

Taking off in a jet with a crosswind is the same as taking off in a Cessna with a crosswind.

My Captain turned the plane onto the runway and stated "your aircraft."

I replied, "My aircraft," and turned the yoke into the wind.

VR was set for 135 knots. The faster we accelerated the less aileron deflection I needed. At VR I rotated the nose into the air. Around 25 feet, which is about the height of a row of trees next to the airport, the wind intensified a bit. A little rock and roll.

The front was more developed. A wall of weather with holes. We'd have to go 400 miles north to go around, or find a hole and go through the roughly 10 mile thick weather.

Autopilot on, I had one hand on the thrust levers and one hand on the yoke.

RADAR showed a good sized hole. A few bumps....and then it happened. Lightening.

"That was close," I said, "But everything still looks normal."

"I think we got hit, did you hear that pop?" replied my Captain.

I wear a Bose ANR headset. It blocks out some small sounds....and a lot of wind noise. I didn't hear the pop.

Winds at the hub were 320@18G25. Landed runway 31. Winds at 2000 feet were over 45 knots. With an approach speed of 138 knots....the ground speed was hovering around 100 knots. Cessna slow.

Plopped it onto the runway.

The last person to get off the plane was a very southern gentleman, "Y'all know we got hit by lightening right? The wing was smoking for a bit." he said. We said we thought we got hit and would go investigate. "Now I'm going out of this same gate in about an hour, it's going to be a different plane right?" he asked. We assured him it would be.

On my post flight I saw the wing tip. No doubt it was the exit point. I looked all over the nose for the entry point, but couldn't find it.

Mechanics called. We had a 2 hour sit.

Next three legs were just full of bumps and crosswinds. Overnight winds were the worst. Weather was clear skies, winds 330@30G35, temperature was 7 degrees Fahrenheit!! Seven! SEVEN!

This morning the temp outside is 1......1....ONE.

I don't do cold. I need to start bidding more southerly.

1 comment:

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