Archive for February, 2008
Now there’s a title to conjure with. With the industrial strife that is running our way I need to consider my next job if things don’t work out. A common line of flight deck conversational banter in the small hours seems to be, ‘What would you do if this job went t*ts up or you lost your license?’
Another one from a friend on the internet. I just couldn’t resist posting this story, when I compare Bill’s quiet day at the office with ours he leaves me full of admiration for the test pilots role. See what you think…
By Bill Weaver
Chief Test Pilot, Lockheed
Among professional aviators, there’s a well-worn saying: Flying is simply hours of boredom punctuated by moments of stark terror. But I don’t recall too many periods of boredom during my 30-year career with Lockheed, most of which was spent as a test pilot. By far, the most memorable flight occurred on Jan. 25, 1966.
Jim Zwayer, a Lockheed flight-test specialist, and I were evaluating systems on an SR-71 Blackbird test from Edwards. We also were investigating procedures designed to reduce trim drag and improve high-Mach cruise performance The latter involved flying with the center-of-gravity (CG) located further aft than normal, reducing the Blackbird’s longitudinal stability.
We took off from Edwards at 11:20 a.m. and completed the mission’s first leg without incident. After refueling from a KC-135 tanker, we turned eastbound, accelerated to a Mach 3.2 cruise speed and climbed to 78,000 ft., our initial cruise-climb altitude.
Strange isn’t it, you can ream your way through pages of images looking for that indefinable something that makes an image bounce off page at you. I couldn’t tell you what it is, I could try but I might leave you vacant unless you knew what I was talking about. Professionals shoot thousands of images and turn out tens that they are happy with if they are lucky. Some will never get that shot – the composition that moves the heart or stirs the soul.
I am no photographer, I snap away hoping for a decent outcome. Very occasionally I come across a sight that is just not to be missed and if I’m lucky, I catch it. I love photographs that evoke the spirit of the subject they are catching, the transient moment that I can identify with, or the majesty of fine engineering. Perhaps you do too?
Long haul flying with large time zone transits can be debilitating; more so if you are making an effort to enjoy yourself in the process and who wouldn’t want to do that? Most people seem to have a preference, some like going East, others West. With my airline if you are really senior, you go South where the winters are summers and the wine and steak are exquisite. The time change is tiny too.
“But how do you cope with it,” is often the question posed by those who deal with the problem as a nomadic business sufferer.
These pictures don’t require much in the way of explanation, do they? The photographer/loadmaster must have been roped in, otherwise he may well have been sucked in. Nasty….
I guess we all contemplate what it would be like working for another carrier, one that is substantially different to the one we currently fly for. Reading snippets from Southwest, I can’t help but admit to a secret longing to work for a company where conventions are broken and there isn’t a constant battle raging to keep the company’s hands out of your pockets.
Don’t misunderstand me, from previous posts you will know that I am very proud to fly for my current airline but since well prior to 9/11, conditions in this industry have been bloody all over the world. The translation of this pressure into a force for change has wreaked havok as differing management styles produce largely similar pressures within companies. Cost cutting has tuned into a religious fervor in some departments and owing to industrial pressure, a farce in others. I suppose companies are defined by the way that they react to these pressures with their characters being forged in the process.
Southwest has a model which is intriguing, Ryanair’s wunderkind O’Leary went to visit Herb Kelleher and returned to Ireland with his ‘unique’ version. I rather think he might have produced a more pleasing translation but that is for those in that highly successful airline to judge with their cheers or their feet.
This is a difficult trick to pull with sincerity, but wouldn’t I love to see just a bit of it on my home turf. Cool Mr Kelly, give Willie a call and lend him your ‘Alice band’.
Brrr Brrr, Click!
“Thank you for calling the British Army. I’m sorry, but all our units are out at the moment, or are otherwise engaged. Please leave a message with your country, name of organisation, the region, the specific crisis and a number at which we can call you.
As soon as we have sorted out Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia, Iraq, Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, The Congo, marching up and down bits of tarmac in London, oh! and compulsory health and safety at work training – we will return your call.”
Please speak after the tone or, if you require more options, listen to the following:-
- If your crisis is small and close to the sea, press ’1′for the Royal Marines.
- If your concern is distant, with a tropical climate, good hotels and can be solved by one or two low-risk bombing runs, please press ’2′ for the Royal Air Force. (Please note that this service is not available after 1630 or weekends.)
- If your enquiry concerns a situation which can be resolved by a warship, some bunting, flags, a damn good cocktail party and a first class marching band, please write, well in advance, to the First Sea Lord, The Royal Navy, Whitehall, London SW1.”
A friend of mine recently asked me what to do with his cat having changed his social circumstances. Now with him being an aviator of quality, I felt that only the very best advice would do.
So here goes; you may have seen something like this before – but for those that have not ….
As an aviator of some standing you will have heard of the Cat, Duck and Chicken system of aviating. Perhaps your cat has uses beyond the ordinary.
The cat is use during instrument flight in cloud or very limited visibility.
Place a live cat on the cockpit floor, because a cat always remains upright, he or she can be used in lieu of a needle and ball instrument. Merely watch to see which way he leans to determine if a wing is low and if so, which one. This will enable you to your aircraft level in route with complete accuracy and confidence.
A duck is used for final instrument approach and landing, because of the fact that any sensible old duck will refuse to fly under instrument conditions, it is only necessary to hurl your duck out of the cockpit window and follow her to the ground.
There are some limitations on the cat and duck method, but by rigidly adhering to the following check list a degree of success will be achieved which will not only startle you, but will astonish your passengers as well.
- Get a wide-awake cat, most cats do not want to stand up all the time, so it may be necessary to carry a fierce dog along to keep the cat at attention.
- Make sure your cat is clean, dirty cats will spend all the time washing. Trying to follow a washing cat usually results in a slow roll followed by an inverted spin. You will see that this is most unprofessional.
- Old cats are the best, young cats have nine lives, but an old used up cat with only one life left has just as much to loose and will be more dependable.
- Avoid stray cats. Try to get one with good character because you may want to spend time with her.
- Beware of cowardly ducks, if the duck discovers that you are using the cat to stay upright, she will refuse to leave the aeroplane without the cat. Ducks are no better on instruments than you are.
- Get a duck with good eyes. Near sighted ducks sometimes fail to recognise that they are on the gauges and will go flogging into the nearest hill. Very near sighted ducks will not realise that they have been thrown out and will descend to the ground in a sitting position. This is a most difficult manoeuvre to follow in an aircraft.
- Choose your duck carefully, it is easy to confuse ducks with geese. Many large birds look alike. While they are very competent instrument flyers, geese seldom want to go in the same direction that you do. If your duck seems to be taking a heading to Ireland or Sweden, you may be safe in assuming that someone has given you a goose.
- Emergency procedures. If you have used your duck and lost it – If unsure of your attitude, you drop the cat overboard. Now as everyone realizes, cats always land on their feet and have nine lives. You can there retrieve your cat for use later after landing safely.
In your case Ian, only one life has been used so its resale value is degraded slightly. Perversely the feline’s value rises as the lives diminish as the cat has made successful descents, and been retrieved by saved pilots. How else would they reappear for sale?
Lady cats are best, they have intuition and cunning bundled as part of the package ….
That just leaves the the chicken…. grip the chicken before flight, they are good decision makers. If the chicken doesn’t want to go flying – don’t fly.
Here is one practitioner with his standby ‘instrument.’