Tag Archives: Aviation

Air France 447: accident explained

A very interesting interview that clearly summarizes the crash of Air France flight 447.

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Posted by on October 29, 2011 in World Travel


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Does anyone have a spare APU ???

(photo by Razoray5150)

Walking down the Jetway to a brand new Continental B737-900, we couldn’t help but overhear a ground crew member on the phone with dispatch explaining that the plane had no APU….they tried putting a new one in, but it didn’t work!

What the Frick…’s those conversations I wish I never eavesdropped on….. everyone else boarding the plane seemed to be in ignorant bliss… but not me! I jumped on my I phone and Googled  APU.

Auxiliary Power Unit. A none essential piece of equipment, so I found out….unless you are flying in a ETOPS aircraft….then it is a essential piece of equipment and the plane cannot leave without it. Regardless, we didn’t have one.

The pilot announced that the plane had a equipment issue and would have to be started manually….aka “hand crank”???? haha

Then he mentioned that we were very close to the 11:30pm curfew at San Diego International Airport and would have to “pick up the pace”, to get out of the gate…..

Needless to say we were off in a NY minute and shot down the runway like a rock out of a catapult!

One thing I love about taking the red eye across North America… never know what to expect….APU or no APU…….

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Posted by on January 12, 2011 in World Travel


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ETOPS Anyone? Know what you are flying in…

Carlin is in my all time top 5 comedians. I'm ...

Image via Wikipedia

A recent incident involving an Air Canada Boeing 767-300 flying from Honolulu to Calgary brought to light how ETOPS procedures work. The plane, a twin engine widebody jet, was out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the pilots had to shut down one of the engines due to oil pressure issues. The flight was diverted to Vancouver, 900 miles away, on one engine…..sound scary? Not really. It’s part of ETOPS procedures.

All twin engine aircraft that fly up to 3 hours away from a suitable diversionary airport are ETOPS certified. 4 engine aircraft do not need ETOPS certification, because in theory they can fly on 2 or 3 engines. That is why certain routes will only be serviced by 4 engine aircraft. Flying over water has no bearing on ETOPS rating, just distance to nearest suitable airport. So if you are flying on a 4 engine plane, chances are you are far out there…..

Aviation Quote of Note:

Innocent Lady, “Young man are you flying on this plane”?

George Carlin“F#*k you lady, I’m flying in this plane”!



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Posted by on January 11, 2011 in World Travel


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Iran Air Crash

(Photo: AP/IRNA, Ali Asghar Shadjou):

A Iran Air 727 crashed today during a go around…in a snow storm. A very sad incident, 31 people are thought to have survived out of 97. RIP to the rest.

Iran has a terrible aviation safety record of late. Part of the problem is they are flying around in ancient 727’s, with horrible parts. Much has been made that the boycott from the West has caused this issue. Not to mix business with politics, but this could be a place to hand out a fig leaf……I think Iran needs to upgrade their aviation infrastructure…and we in the West can help….it’s a win win…what do you think?

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Posted by on January 9, 2011 in World Travel


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Aviation Obsession!

When did I become afraid of Flying……?


We were cleared to land at New York City’s JFK International Airport. It was sometime in the early 1980’s. As the plane, I believe a United Airlines DC-10, started lowering into ominous black clouds, the cabin grew dark as night…we were in a full-blown summer storm. Lightning was crashing outside our windows and exposing terrified faces. I quickly glanced over at my mother and noticed she was white as a ghost….it was a bit surreal…. We were all strapped in and it felt like we were on  Rolling Thunder at Six Flags Great Adventure….

A few minutes later we landed and the passengers broke out into cheers. Why all the fuss? What could ever possibly go afoul. I thought all the old folk were nuts!

15 years later

Having not flown for 15 years I found myself with my future wife boarding a Northwest Airways DC 9 for Detroit. As we sat down my nerves got the best of me. The doors closed and I felt like I was trapped in a sardine can. As we taxied down towards the runway, the cockpit doors flapped open and closed, adding to my anxiety. Airborne I was a white knuckled goon, sweating with clammy hands and stink breath!


How did I go from a fearless passenger bounding through turbulence to a pathetic nervous fool gliding over calm skies?

I pondered this question for a long time. I had travel plans in my future. I couldn’t go through the same horrible experience every time I boarded a plane.

I figured I had anxiety from a small case of claustrophobia and a slight fear of heights. But the big thing was a lack of control. I felt at the mercy of the aircraft, the weather and the Pilots. I would feel better if I was up in the cockpit, “controlling the thing”! But who was I to fly a plane? I will never be a pilot….So what could I control, how could I fly comfortably?

I addressed my fears by doing some of the following:

Fear of Heights: I take a pill before flying, this quells my anxiety. I am not a pill popper, but this little ones seem to take the edge off. xanex

Claustrophobia: I find the most spacious seat available. Economy class is different on certain airlines and plane types. Take control of where you sit and how much extra room you can get/afford. This website lets you compare different airlines seat set ups.Seat Guru

Control:  I went about to learn as much info about aviation as I could, to the point of becoming an aviation buff! I researched the safest aircraft and safest airlines. This site has an awesome data base that let’s you decide who and where you want to fly. Aviation Safety Network

I found out that the best cure for my fear of flying, was Flying!

So we flew from JFK to Berlin direct on a Delta 767 ER. Straight across the Atlantic, over a lightning storm, and then landed in pea soup fog…amazing!

Then we flew from JFK to Johannesburg South Africa on a South African Airways A340-500. 16 hours on a plane. We slept most the time, enjoyed South African wines, and were happy with the very comfortable economy class experience.

More recently I took a solo flight to San Diego on a Jet Blue A320. First thing I did was take advantage of the seat upgrade for $40. This gave me a larger seat up front in the plane, which provides a smoother ride. Surprisingly, no one else took advantage of this option. When we took off the pilot let us know we were going to hit some bumps on the way up, and we did. I could see the engine pods bouncing up and down in the turbulence. Once we hit smooth air one of the pilots came out of the cockpit and apologized for the rough ride. Was I bit nervous? Yes. Turbulence always gets my heart racing a bit, but all was good. I seem to be able to fly again….and even enjoy it!

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Posted by on January 4, 2011 in World Travel


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