Apparently the Captain of a JetBlue flight had some sort of a breakdown inflight today. He was running up and down the aisle yelling something about a bomb before being restrained by passengers. Another airline pilot happened to be a passenger on that flight and was brought up to the flight deck to help land the plane. This touches on something I’ve always wondered about. If both pilots were incapacitated could I land the plane? It has been done before, By Kurt Russell in the movie “Executive Decision.” Although he did a crappy job. I’m pretty sure I could land a large jet, they’re mandatory after all, landings that is. If I can find the throttles, flaps and landing gear I can fly a reasonable approach in any aircraft. The problem might be in selecting reverse thrust If I’m going too fast for the breaks or if I had to shoot an approach in bad weather, then all bets are off. I shudder to think what might happen if one pilot has a breakdown and kills or incapacitates the other pilot. If there doesn’t happen to be a spare in the back things could get ugly.
Here’s the F-33 Bonanza over southern Brazil last September on the way to the new owners ranch. The Bonanza is a great plane except for the fact that it’s very easy to load it with an aft center of gravity making weight and balance calculations vital. The photo was taken from the owners friend in his SR-22 Cirrus.
I started flying small planes over big oceans in 1990 and immediately began gathering information and experiences for a book someday, mostly by almost getting killed. Two years ago I finally started trying to get some of my flying stories down on paper if for no other reason than to keep me from forgetting them, how will I bore my children if I run out of stories? Anyway I’m getting close to finishing the book, here’s on of the shorter stories about when I lost an engine on a Mooney I was delivering to Italy.
To say that our accommodations in Anadyr Siberia were spartan would be the understatement of the year. There was no hot tub, TV, room service, coffee, mini bar, restaurant or anyone who spoke English, and that included our handler Boris, his real name I swear to god. So after a
good nights sleep Marcio and I endured the standard three hour Russian goodby, courtesy of the ever friendly customs and immigration services we pointed the nose of the Phenom east and headed out over the Bearing sea. The flight to Anchorage was an easy one. Not much to see over the ocean except the occasional Deadliest Catch boat out there trolling for ratings. Once we hit Alaska the view became fantastic. The clouds broke and we could see vast mountain ranges with Denali rising above them all. At one point a 747 bound for Asia passed beneath us giving me a chance for a picture and a little bit of gloating, I was flying a jet higher than Air Force One flew, pretty cool.
The sun was setting as we landed in Anchorage and by the time we cleared customs and put the plane to bed a full moon had risen above the mountains and bathed the ramp in a golden glow.
The next day’s flight to Las Vegas was pretty dull stuff, fun for us but dull to read about. The next two nights on the other hand would be very interesting to read about but you know what they say about what happens in Vegas. All in all my first trip over the Pacific was a blast and besides being a slow learner on the computer I thought I did a reasonably good job flying my first jet. I hope there are more of those in my future.
Our flight back from Deadwood this weekend was three and a half hours long with the detour around Mt. Rushmore thrown in. After taking the required pictures of the stone presidents it was time to point the nose for home. It wasn’t long before Joe, on of my non-pilot friends in the back, inquired as to how is might be until the first fuel stop. I proudly informed him that due to a nice tailwind we could make it all the way to Minneapolis saving both fuel and time and wasn’t that wonderful? It was not. Having counted on two short legs instead of one long one my friend wasn’t shy about having that second or third cup of coffee that morning. Joe was forced to use the empty glass orange juicehe’d brought along for just such an emergency. I only wagged the wings while he was so engaged once.
My skydiving school opens this Friday and having not made a jump in five months I’m really ready to grab some air.
I spent twelve years in the Minnesota Army National Guard as a UH-1H “Huey” crew chief getting out just as the Blackhawks were coming on line. And while the Hawks get all the press and look really sexy the Chinooks are the real work horse of Army aviation and don’t get the respect they deserve. I love the “ROUGN’N REDDY” nose art on the Australian Chook. Can’t have anything like that on US. aircraft, might offend somebody.