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Thread: The Jeremy Newton GCA (Ground Controlled Approach) Revision

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    Chapter One - Meow....Meow...Meow

    “Trans-Consoligamated 754, Seattle approach. SEATAC runway 16 right touchdown RVR now 700 feet, midpoint 800 and rollout 700. State your minimums.”

    With a heavy sigh I momentarily restrained my first impulse, which was to key the mic and reply “A 12 year old Scotch, 38 D cups and 225 bucks an hour.” :P Instead, peering through my “cheaters” at the small print on the Jeppeson CAT II/III approach plate I found the appropriate number and replied “Trans-YadaYada 754....looks like 700 feet works for us today.”

    “Roger TC 754, this will be radar vectors for a Runway 16 Right ILS to Seattle descend now to one-zero thousand and turn right heading three five zero.”

    The first officer, who was still at this point flying the airplane, complied with the controller’s instructions. Rotating the appropriate knobs on the upper center glareshield mounted flight control unit and pulling the altitude alerter knob, he initiated the descent while I focused my map light on the approach plate and increased the intensity of the bulb to it’s full brilliance.

    Within the next two minutes I had reviewed all the pertinent information on the plate aloud to the agreement of my partner and we both verified individually and together that all entries into the navigation computers were correct. Meanwhile our Airbus 320 had covered another eight or nine miles and under the controller’s directions were we now descending through seven thousand headed for five thousand.

    My airline dictates that only the Captain may be the “Pilot Flying” during any Category Two or Three approach and landing. Therefore, as the first officer completes maneuvering the aircraft onto the base leg and rolls the airspeed select knob back to 190 knots in accordance with the controller’s wishes, afterward I look over and say “my aircraft” and per procedure (gotta’ get it right for the cockpit voice recorder you know, JUST in case) my friend sitting on the right replies “your aircraft” The sounds of our two IAE turbojets fade to a whisper as the autothrust system, having been notified by some series of electrons transmitted (somehow ) from the 1st officers fingertips through the airspeed select knob to the FADEC (Fully Automated Digital Electronic Control) - think carburetor - now reduces our engine thrust to idle. NeverMIND the throttles remain MOTIONLESS in a detent labeled “cruise” on the center control pedestal.

    I watch the vertical airspeed “tape” on the left side of my PFD (Primary Flight Display) tube as it slowly scrolls upward and the numbers get smaller and smaller until it passes 210 knots indicated. I slide my booted feet forward onto the rudder pedals and call out “Flaps One, please.”

    In the right seat my flying partner glances up from studying the airport diagram to verify that the airspeed is allowable [standard procedure ALL the time in NORMAL and (almost) all NON-NORMAL operations; almost NOTHING is done or moved without both pilots being “in the loop” so to speak]. As he moves the flap handle to the first detent he replies “Flaps One” and we both glance at the upper of the two center mounted ECAM (Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitoring) screens and observe the pretty blue (in transit) pictures of the leading edge slats extending until they turn green when they lock into place.

    In another couple of miles comes the final instructions from this controller.

    “Trans-Consoligamated 754 turn left heading two zero zero degrees and slow to 180 knots. You are cleared for the ILS Runway 16 Right approach to the Seattle-Tacoma Airport maintain four thousand until established on the localizer and maintain 180 knots until at least ANVIL advise if unable, contact tower at SODOE one-one-niner point niner.”

    The “pilot monitoring” (the guy in the RIGHT seat now) replies and repeats verbatim every syllable the controller just uttered. By the time he has finished talking I have cranked the heading knob to the left initiating the turn even before I get the number 200 set in the window. I have also pushed two more buttons, one labeled “approach” and the other labeled “AP 2'”, and follow that with a new airspeed setting..

    Both of us now look at our respective FMA (Flight Mode Annunciator) which spans the top of our respective PFDs and verify that (hopefully) all is well and our machine is “all systems GO” for lack of a better term. At the extreme right the approach capability reads in white “CAT III Dual”. Indeed....we are “all systems GO.”

    I watch the bottom right of the PFD where at any moment I will see the chartreuse “diamond’ that represents the localizer slide leftward (horizontally) across the bottom of the screen until it centers indicating we are on the localizer as my lateral deviation indication now tells me I am down to less that 6/10's of a mile off the localizer centerline and closing.

    I call for the next notch of flaps as the diamond makes it’s appearance and the FMA announces we have “captured” the localizer.

    Well HELL...... I think to myself. I guess this is what they pay us the “big bucks” for huh? I’ve trained for this in the simulator and done it a dozen times. We reviewed the two page CAT II/III “cheat sheet” in the QRH (Quick Reference Handbook) line by stinkin’ line passing Yakima when it became fairly obvious that this might happen today. So far...everything works just like the sim.

    The silence in the cockpit is eerie. It is the first CAT II/III approach for real for the first officer too. And I know that he, like I, is most likely mentally running through two dozen or so “things” that make a difference on this approach versus a normal Category One approach at 200 and a half.

    The glide slope “diamond” falls from the top right of the screen prompting a "Glide Slope alive” call from my slightly nervous friend on my right, to which I respond “landing gear down, flaps three, landing checklist.” The four item landing checklist is finished just as the glideslope “captures” and as the nose of the now "slaved" airplane starts to lower I call for full flaps. Yep. Works JUST like the sim.

    EXCEPT. This is REAL. One hundred fifty trusting adults passengers, along with three babes in arms and five very overworked and underpaid airline employees have just placed their hearts, souls, dreams and aspirations, not to mention their one and ONLY ASS ....SOMEwhat WILLINGLY in the hands of the HUMANS who designed the 427 on board COMPUTERS.

    Now GRANTED only about a good two dozen or so of those 427 electronic marvels are really doing anything.....um....imPORtant right now. And truth be told I could even LOSE a couple at this point and everything would still be hunky-DORY according to the engineers.

    I on the other hand, along with my partner up here, can’t help but remember that we (he and I) get to the CRASH SCENE just a SPLIT SECOND aHEAD of everybody else and this....this....
    MACHINE.....of wish I am supposedly in COMMAND of.......is rapidly closing the vertical distance between my seat (read ASS) and some very SOLID earth. As a matter of fact, given our current rate of descent and altitude remaining....SOMEthing is gonna’ happen here in the next minute and a half.

    I’ve been flying this airplane for over eleven years now I remember, and SELDOM does a month go by (that’s four four-day trips) where this airplane doesn’t do SOMEthing either weird or that I’ve never seen before. It is said truly, even by those who designed and built her, that you can not, and WILL not EVER know all there is to know about an Airbus.

    Thirty-four years of professional flying. Over twenty-two thousand something hours. How many landings IS that I wonder briefly. And now...for the first time in MY life I am about to let an AIRplane land ME!!

    I am SO spring loaded as my left hand loosely grips my joystick.......(no you sickos.....the Airbus has a side panel mounted JOYSTICK instead of a yoke).

    My right hand rests curled around the thrust levers.....just READY to SLAM those babies full forward at the first sign of......hell....ANYthing. I mean...at this point I’m so TENSE I don’t think it would take even a Master Caution or Master Warning light and chime. A sudden unexpected loud fart or belch from the right seat would probably launch me into “go around” mode.

    Now, with less than a thousand feet to go ‘til....IMpact/landing?....I await the appropriate callouts from the first officer. I focus on my PFD and ND (Nav Display) exclusively.

    For just the briefest second....I flash back to another place and time....when it was WAY EASIER. I can almost here Jeremy saying “CloudDancer. You west. Come EAST”.

    I snicker loudly as I shake my head to free it of the now unwanted distracting thought which prompts the F/O to ask...”What’s FUNNY”?

    As I reply “I’ll tell you later” I watch the radar altimeter go down through six hundred feet

  2. #2
    Snert's Avatar
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    Excellent! What a lead in to the story.

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    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Hiya Snert -

    Yeah. Gladja' liked it. I figger that's a bit more appropriate for where this story is headed.

    I just hope I didn't give it all away. But..oh....wait. This is a CloudDancer story.

    And one thing we ALL know. Just when our hero THINKS he's got it nailed....either he's LIKELY to trip over his.....SHOElaces ...or ol' Murph...of Murphy's Law fame put in another (he should EXPECT it by now) appearance. :P

    Which will it be THIS time???

    Come back tomorrow dear readers and learn how we USED to do "instument approaches" when the term "avionics" stood exclusively for Channel 15 on your CB radio.

    CloudDancer

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    Chapter Two - East is ODD (+) 500, RIGHT??

    In the time passed since my flying debut in the arctic a few years earlier, the numbers on the bottoms of the logbook pages under the “total time”, “airplane single engine land ”and “X-country” columns had built into the thousands. One column however remained stubbornly below a hundred; the “actual instrument” column.

    This of course was due to a couple of VERY basic factors. There were no electronic nav aids on the ground anywhere other than Kotzebue , which now boasted a VOR in addition to the Hotham beacon. No nav aids means...no fancy-schmancy radios in a lot of the airplanes either.

    Hence....all our flying....was of course VFR. Oh, and occasionally....SPECIAL VFR to enter and leave the control zone with less than three miles visibility. And CloudDancer, being the good Catholic lad that he is, raised to tell no lies ......must therefore NOT log any “illegal” instrument time in aircraft that were CLEARLY not certified for it.

    Don’t ask me HOW I justified in my mind writing all the time in the logbooks I spent sitting on the edge of my chair, hunched forward; peering into a mile or less of snow or fog whilst following a riverbank or shoreline at some altitude below five hundred feet.

    Much less nerve wracking was the hundreds and HUNdreds of hours I had spent religiously maintaining the appropriate-for-direction VFR altitudes while sitting back relaxed in my chair solid on the gauges.

    A high overcast at night or even a moonless CLEAR night in the far arctic can be blacker than ol’ Hailey’s AS....er EIGHT ball! With sometimes up to a hundred miles between small settlements of as few as thirty to up to three hundred people and absolutely NOTHING else to be seen, you spend a lot of time NOT looking out the windshield. And the same holds true for many winters days when much of your VFR flying may be done with no more than vertical or just minimal slant range visibility. It doesn’t have to be snowing TOO hard before a large percentage of your airborne time, until the village comes into view, is spent ALSO on the gauges. Oh...uh...vf R!, of course!!

    With poor to marginally reliable to non-existent weather reporting from your village destination; quite often your go-NO go decision was based on the existing Kotzebue weather and the terminal and area forecasts. And THE most valued weather resource was a less than an hour old pilot report from one of your fellow Kotzebue or Kobuk Valley based aviators. But only (mostly) from the professionals who did it for a living. I tended to SOMEwhat discount what any of the local “leisure” pilots filed for PIREPS. Nothing personal of course as these guys were my friends as well. But, I don’t know their capabilities and how accurately they can call the weather they see in comparison with the guys who are out flying in it and reporting PIREPS all day every day.

    So, quite often, after evaluating ALL the available weather intelligence, it becomes a choice to “Well...go give it a look and see what happens.”

    So how, after working our way, to within a few miles of the village (VFR, of course) did we find our way to the ground you ask. I’ll tell you about a few of my favorites.

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    Chapter Three - The Alaska "State Flower" Approach

    When dealing with what we euphemistically referred to as “kinda’ poor visibility”, generally taken to mean two miles or less; there were a couple of “standard procedures” generally employed by all.

    Essentially it boiled down to this. Go out visual and remain in visual contact with the ground continually if possible until reaching your destination. When you reached your VFR “limits”; which in my case varied from oh....150 feet and three/eights of a mile or so....up to a high as five hundred feet and a couple of miles depending on the village in question and the surrounding and enroute terrain; you had another decision to make.

    Whether the restriction was snow, fog or smoke made little difference. What is the icing level if any. How far to my destination yet? Can I set a reliable DG and pick a good heading? And most importantly what is the terrain in the immediate area around my target?

    If all the answers came back positive and you were feeling frisky ....you might just “punch up”....take a heading and watch your Timex. If you are REAL lucky you break out into an area of good visibility farther up the road, descend VFR and press on again visual. Or....you reach your “time limit” and initiate a spiraling descent to your “pucker factor” limit. When exercising THIS option...my PF limit was determined by a combination of the destination’s known terrain combined with how LONG I’d been “winging it”.

    The longer (and farther) I had been unsure of my preCISE position the higher would be my minimum descent level.

    For instance. To go ANYwhere up the Kobuk Valley in those days with two miles in snow, Noorvik and the Kobuk River was the key.

    ***********************

    It just doesn’t GET much easier than that.

    But my all-time favorite...the one you just WON’T believe; is the bad weather approach to Selawik. I am STILL amazed to this day how consistently it...um HE ....worked!!

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    Hiya ya'll -

    Just a note tuh letcha' know I'll RE-commence tuh scribin' on this here (hear?) story on or ABOUT June 7th.

    On accountta' not ONLY has Momma CloudDancer dropped in to check on her young'un and offer a few suGEStions for my "cleaner living campaign" (which HAS been sufferin' of late) ....but oh JOY....be STILL my beating HEART

    it is onced AGIN' that time of year where I git tuh go spend pretty much the whole week at the company SCHOOL house in the classrooms and simulators learnin' such VITALLY IMPORTANT STUFF as how NOT to offend any of our .....er......um......MINORITY crew (or CABIN crew) members. And how NOT to offend any EYE-MOMS er other religious type people who may feel the need to sing praises to Allah before or during the flight.

    An' THEN after it's been clearly explained to me that I am ONLY allowed to piss off other AMERICAN BORN ANGLO-SAXON PROTESTANT MALES and only if THEY are not my first officer or otherwise subordinate to me....then...as they do EVERY year.....they wil make me sign a paper that says I have BEEN so trained.....so that the company legal beagles can have it available to wave about in the courtroom after I DO up and offend the feelings of someone other than an AMERICAN BORN ANGLO-SAXON PROTESTANT MALE by doing something a radical as say "I'm sorry. I can't underSTAND you....try ENGLISH!!"




    Sorry. PHEW.....I guess it's a good thing I got THAT outta' my system before showing up for "sensitivity training". Hope they still care if I can FLY or not!!

    Cloud(USA! USA!)Dancer

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    Why beat yourself up over a 'dry spell', in your writing that is. Forcing it doesn't do much good. Sits in front of the computer and just type, for 20 minutes, 10 minutes, it doesn't matter.

    Unfortunately, the above might work and then you won't be able to get up from the computer. Then I'll have to go hide somewhere 'cause you'll be all

  8. #8
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Hey!! EverBODY -

    Pay ATTENSHUN !! .......Ya'll LIStenin' ? ........Okay............GOOD !! :P

    Just wanted to let everybody know I am about to RE-commence story tellin' directly. So's ya'll can 'spect to learn about the Jeremy Newton GCA today and tamale.

    Hope everbody's been well. I'll be back in a dozen hours or so to let mah digits dance acrost the keyboard here and see if 'n old Cloudy can still weave a tale that will both make ya' whilst keepin' ya'

    Break Time is OH-ver (for now anyway).

    CloudDancer

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    Chapter Four - With Apologies to Charles Shultz and Snoopy


    It was a dark and stormy night. No...... REALLY. It WAS! I mean...THINK about it. It was the arctic. It was December. It was about 3 P.M. It happened a lot!! When you only HAVE a mile to a mile and a half visibility in snow that is going sideways even faster than it’s falling; with winds gusting between a steady state of twenty knots up to thirty-two rocking the airplanes in their tiedowns; you essentially HAVE “a DARK and STORMY NIGHT!”

    With Yours Truly at the controls, Comanche 7761 Papa lined up on the centerline (such as I could deTERmine it) of Runway 08 in Kotzebue; destination Selawik to pickup a couple of school teachers to make the evening jet to Anchorage. THEIR destination was “points beyond”, as in the Lower 48 where their distant immediate families awaited their arrivals to complete the Holiday tables. I would come to know it in years hence as quite an annual ritual throughOUT the entire region.

    Not much has changed over the last few decades. Then as now, passengers often waited ‘til the last possible day to leave, or left themselves only 48 hours to spare in their travel plans. Which, if you are going from Chicago to Detroit by air the week before Christmas can be risky enough. BUT, if you’re going from Selawik to Rochester, New York.....not leaving a MINIMUM or two days “slack time” each way is just DUMB! But. People did it.

    With the only phone in Selawik not working and very few pireps (none in the last two hours) and no one else known to be currently in the Noorvik, Kiana, Selawik triangle area this had become a go look ‘n see ‘n give it your best shot operation. I knew I would have passengers there, ready and chomping at the bit.

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    Chapter Five - Can You Hear Me NOW

    Jeremy was a first cousin to Dan and Rod, my bosses. About the same age, they had grown up together as kids in Selawik. Like so many of the Gunderson brother’s extended families of first, second, and third cousins, in-law’s and outlaws, by blood or by marriage Jeremy basically adored his flying cousins with an occasional twinge of envy showing through. But overwhelmingly the Arctic communities feelings for the flying Gunderson brothers were awe bordering on worship and deep respect.

    Over the years I would work with Jeremy in many capacities as he loved to be around “the aviation” as it was often called. Sometimes he would work for the Gundersons or other operators in town for periods of months as either a mechanic’s helper or ramp lead man. But whenever he was in Selawik in these early (for me) days of the 70's he was the Gundersons main man for all purposes.

    I’ll never forget the first time Dan told me about cousin Jeremy’s special “talent”.

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    Chapter Six - Every Which Way but...UP!

    Murph just started to play his hand out as I about figured I was over the east shore of Kobuk Lake outbound. :P After about twelve minutes of a smooth flight from liftoff, during which I shot up to all of fifty-five hundred feet and established a nice smooth cruise for the short thirty minute trip to Selawik, first came the bumps.

    Mild to begin with, over the space of the next five minutes I noticed a substantial increase to continuous moderate. Also I noted that during the same five minutes I had to add in over another five or six degrees to my southerly crab angle. Now holding an eleven to twelve degree angle to stay centered on OTZ’s 087 degree radial. Hmmmmmmm. Now THIS is getting interesting.

    At the 20 minute from liftoff mark I first reset my directional gyro. Then, still centered on my radial I nose the Piper over into a five hundred foot per minute cruise descent and pull back just an inch or two on the manifold pressure. After five minutes of descent I pass 2500 feet now almost fifty-five miles from the VOR behind me, and begin losing signal strength.

    But still, until the first slight wavering of the white course deviation needle, followed almost instantly by the first glimpse of the top of the red “OFF” flag as it rolls slightly fore and aft; a steady 98 to 100 degrees on the DG had held the course centerline. I commit to a descent to only eight hundred feet given this changing weather instead of my normal five hundred until I can get Jeremy on the radio and get an altimeter setting from him.

    Up..... down....WHAM!.... and the tail of the Comanche slews left as I reach across the right side control yoke for the CB radio on/off rotary switch. Trimming back for level cruise as we descend through a thousand feet starts the nose up and the airspeed reducing from the high of 165 knots it hit during the descent which helps to soften SOME of the biggest bumps. MAN. This IS I think the WORST turbulence I’VE ever flown a plane in. Damn I hope those teachers got good stomachs.

    I lean WAAAAAY over to the right and glance to make sure the barely dimly internally lit rotary channel selector in the citizen’s band is reading number 11 and must lean even FURTHER as it seems to be off center requiring I turn it back and forth to ensure it is in the detent.

    It’s taken no more than five quick seconds and even though my descent rate was almost back to zero when I leaned over, that five seconds seems like an eternity without a look at my trusty gauges, so I straighten up quickly for a fast look out the forward windscreen and a comforting scan of my flight instruments. That was my inTENT ANYway....MURphy however..... :P

    You know...I remember once...I was about fifteen or sixteen....and my Civil Air Patrol event for the summer was a two-week flying encampment at Lackland AFB, a big pilot training center. JILLIONS of exciting things were available to an air-minded teenager to keep him or her inspired to fly, all of which were made available to us by the Air Force. And in preparation for rides in REAL jets we all got a ride one day in the “Vertigo Chair”.

    Now that is a SPECIAL chair that they use to demonstrate vertigo. The remainder of the group would gather around the chair in a circle as the “victim”-to-be was belted in.

    The chair was built to be especially SILENT and practically SENSORY depriving. In addition the rider was given a box to wear comfortably over his or her eyes. The box was light, and fit quite comfortably on the face and the inside was battery illuminated to resemble a dark (but notably) blue night sky with very dim “stars” emitting a soft light.

    The rider was instructed to sit up completely straight and relaxed in the chair as it began moving.

    Then the chair silently began to revolve slowly and gradually picked up speed over the next sixty or so seconds until it was stabilized at oh....12 to 15 revolutions per minute say.

    The rider was asked a series of questions about the movement of the chair and consistently only got the first one right. It was ‘Tell us when you start to move and in which direction”. After that they were asked to announce when they had stopped, or the chair had reversed direction (if it did, which of course, it never did). Lastly the chair was truly braked to a halt, again noiselessly and gradually. Then the victim would try to announce when he or she had stopped, either often very early or VERY late.

    The instructor would position himself in front and to the right of the now motionless rider and say “Okay. Now QUICKLY look over your left shoulder.!” We laughed our ASSES off EVERY time as, sometimes gently and slowly, or maybe violently and INstantly the rider would fall or almost CATAPULT the upper potion of their body forward and to the right side. Kids... meet VERTIGO !!

    Never had it happen in a real airplane ‘til....you guessed it.

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    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    We-e-ell....SHUCKS Folks !!

    I wuz a'hopin' tuh wrap this one up all nice 'n purty for you Chronicle Crazies .....BUT.....I has to do laundry and pack my bags 'cause as you know tomorrow is a HOLIDAY for most of America. (And a GREAT one TOO. So DON'T FORGET to shake a veterans hand tomorrow and say "Hey. Thanks for the extra day off among other things!!")

    I and the REST of the low seniority airline workers of America will be out doin' what we STILL do BEST for LESS.

    On the UP side however my three overnights are Anchorage, San Fran, and Portland, Ore. so it ain't ALL bad...........

    Therefore I reckon it'll be about the 8th or 10th of this month or so afore we can figger out if our knee-deep in doo-doo protagonist can get the monkey (named Murphy) off his back LONG enough to find his way safely back to Mother Earth....or at least to where he can sit UP straight again!!

    Happy Fourth to ALL of You MY FRIENDS

    and please....PLEASE.....do NOT and DRIVE...or and BOAT......or 'n Bar-B-Que (at least with any SHARP OBJECTS!!)

    Cloud(HooRAY for the Red White and Blue) Dancer

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    Chapter Seven - Oh Say Can You See

    Nothing but silence interspersed with brief bursts of static come back from the overhead speaker. For over fifteen seconds, mayber twenty, I sat waiting to hear Jeremy's voice, and after what seemed like a month to me I rekeyed the microphone pressed close to my lips again. "Hell-oooooh Jeremy ol' buddy....CloudDancer's come to visit my friend."

    The only sound in return is the continued roaring of the Lycoming under the cowl. Not even static back over the speaker this time. I KNOW I've passed Selawik by now, and I MUST reverse course. I feel absolutely alone and very insignificant in the universe right now. I'm not really scared as such. But the combination of this turbulence, the vertigo, darkness and a lack of human communication is very unnerving. AppreHENsion. Yeah. THERE's a good word. I'm just apprHENsive as HELL! Too young and stupid to realize just how FAR I am pushing my personal "envelope" this bleak arctic night. I MUST reverse course soon...

    SIDEBAR *******

    In later years...after far too many "experiences" .....a more "mature" CloudDancer would develop a few unbreakable rules designed to prevent .....um.....unPLEAsant flight terminations.

    1. When your options for ending the flight in a positive manner are reduced to TWO....select one of them and EXECUTE. Too often I've found waiting 'til your last option is left and THEN executing; (particularly if your last option is a 180) may well result in finding that circumstances have CHANGED since you last reviewed your list.

    2. There are two very KEY phrases that, when EITHER of them passes my lips or even silently runs through the bramble patch I call a brain; sets off ALL the internal sirens and warning lights. ANY variety of the phrase "I THINK I can." ..like 'I'm PRETTY SURE it will work." If you ever find yourself wondering silently to yourself..."Should I BE HERE/doing this?" or "I wonder IF I should turn around?" Consider these to be RHETORICAL QUESTIONS is MY recommendation!!

    Thus endeth today's CloudDancer Flying Tips diatribe. Now back to our LONEly EAGLE....

    ******************

    I ve-e-e-ry cautiously and slowly this time erect my body in my seat taking a full three or four seconds to move the thiurty degrees from resting on the left window to straight up and down in my seat. And although it is very difficult, I am able to override my intense desire to fall to the left again by sitting stock-still and only allowing my eyeballs to roam about the panel.

    Dropping the CB mike between my thighs I reach for the throttle (still very slowly) and with the heel of my right hand push it in a 1/4 of an inch as I begin to roll the wings to the right. I focus soley on the faded white plastic lines of the horizon and wing indicators on the huge artificial horizon. I WANT to roll QUICKLY into a thirty degree bank so as to stay as close to where I THINK Selawik is as is possible. But. Even as young and stupid as I AM at this point I realize that I am walking a tightrope covered in strawberry jelly barefoot essentially. I therefore settle for slo-o-o-wly entering just a twenty degree bank.

    For five or six seconds after the bank is stabilized at twenty degrees I remain rigidly focused on the horizon. Then I rotate my eyes down and to the right to the VSI which shows a descent of 100 FPM. I immediately ease the yoke back to center the needle on the zero at the left side of the face of the dial and VERY carefully and slowly give a half-crank of the silver rotary elevator trim handle. With the elevator pressure minimized, zero feet per minute on the VSI accomplishes the task of not giving UP any altitude. No matter WHAT your bank angle. Zero FPM on the VSI is easier to maintain an altitude with than trying to "chase" a moving target on the altimeter.

    Back and forth between the horizon and vertical speed I go (with my eyeballs ONLY). Every second pass at the horizon followed by a right and UPward shift of the eyeballs to the "drum style" directional gyro face as I check the numbers rolling past the age-yellowed smokey dirty plastic rectangular window on the face of the instrument. The white numbers come into view on the right and marchly steadily to the left in sequence to disappear one after the other. 13........14........15...and so on.

    The rotation of my eyeballs continues as I sit rigid and motionless. And while I no longer have the INTENSE feeling of falling (to the right) I am certainly far from OVER this attack of vertigo as my brain is still in serious DISagreement with the artificial horizon. Only by continuous RE-cofirmation from the directional gyro am I able to believe that we are in fact in a right bank. My inner ear gyros are screaming "INVERTED" and "Full BACK All Engines" or SOMEthing like that!! I remember thinking I was damn thankful Dan Gunderson had INSISTED I show up with an instrument rating.

    Just as I again return my sight to the DG and the "S" indicating we are halfway through the turn passes dead center on the instrument a screeching parrot on my right shoulder blurts out "Gunderson PIlot! Are you THERE Gunderson pilot? Selawik HERE!"

  14. #14
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Well I wuz all set to do some scribin' tonight, but I picked up a trip for WAAAAAAY early in the morning, 'bout sunup.
    So I gota' get up way aFORE sunup. I know you folks are a'waitin' patiently for the conclusion of this one, but I really need the dough on accountta' the rate of return on my recent...um...inVESTments hasn't been so good.

    I wunder how much it costs to jus' buy yer OWN slot machine? Put it in the den maybe....

    Anyway. I promise I'll try to wrap this package up tight on the 20th.....

    Your Addiction-afflicted friend..........

    CD

  15. #15
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    WHOLE -lee NAS-tee NIGHTmares Batman -

    Halfway throught the night. VERTIGO in my SLEEP. Thrashing and fighting with Dreamer ( ) and Gaston ( ) about SENtence structure and PLACEment!! (NO! NOT in the CORner...NO! under the BED DAMMIT ... don't TOUCH it you sunnama'.... %$^#!! )

    Damn near HUNG myself in my sheet!

    Brief middle-of-the-night keyboard break to hopefully push mental "reset" (not reWIND) button. OI !! TOO much peppeROni!!

    G'nite...

    Cloud(I ain't 'fraid 'o no GHOSTS!)Dancer

    P.S.

    Now I lay me down to sleep...
    I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
    If (by "coincidence") I SHOULD die afore I awake...
    I pray the Lord....LOOK FOR A FELLER' NAME'A JERRY!!

  16. #16

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    Hey CloudDancer

    I have just finished reading the complete chronicles, It's been along time since I've been captivated by stories like this. Please keep up the good work. The people that are trying to remove your sack are not very good detectives. You used to work at a restaurant in Texas. I know where you worked. I'll keep it Quiet for a little while. I only want an 8 x 10.

    Thanks for the stories
    Rocket98

  17. #17
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Hiya Rocket98 -

    I see you just "joined up"!! And you read ALL the Chronicles. I AM impressed, not to mention humbled as always by your kind comments about the stories.

    There is absitiviley NOTHING more fun for me :P than knowing I've given someone some enjoyment and laughter.

    The "sack" was never really planned either....any more than trying to publish a book was. But once adopted, it seems to have somehow added to the CloudDancer merriment for both the readers AND the writer.

    Hmmmmm. SPEAKing of writing......I believe have a STORY to conclude.

    Thanx again Rocket98 for the favorable review. and WELCOME to the
    Chronically COMMITED!!

    CloudDancer

  18. #18
    dreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CloudDancer
    WHOLE -lee NAS-tee NIGHTmares Batman -

    Halfway throught the night. VERTIGO in my SLEEP. Thrashing and fighting with Dreamer ( ) and Gaston ( ) about SENtence structure and PLACEment!! (NO! NOT in the CORner...NO! under the BED DAMMIT ... don't TOUCH it you sunnama'.... %$^#!! )

    Damn near HUNG myself in my sheet!
    LMAO! Dunno how I missed this one! Musta been hiding under the bed myself Living on the edge my friend... Vertigo happens!

  19. #19
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Hiya Chronicle Followers -

    Well...GOOD! I got THAT much done. And now you know how THAT flight ended. Well. I lived to fly another day anyway, and learn more.

    I got home safe. Jeremy had a great time in Anchorage and returned to Selawik after a couple of weeks and guided me in another three or four times through the fog and the snow.

    Sarah lived to the ripe old age of ninety, but her vision and hearing never did improve.

    And Selma. Well. Selma moved to town for awhile and eventually talked me into giving her a key to my place for a while.

    Eventually though , after changing the locks I had to repair about one broken window every week (usually on Mondays ) until she moved back to Selawik.

    Hey! If ya'll come back an' check next week. There's a good chance that we can finish learnin' if'n that computerized auto-landin' thingie at the beginning of this story is really gonna' work!!

    CloudDancer

  20. #20
    Bob Breeden's Avatar
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    Cloudy

    Good Tale, Cloudy!

    Bob Breeden

    www.AlaskaAirpark.com

  21. #21
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    I was watching a CNBC live report from either the Paris or Farnborough Air Show (I can’t remember which ) oh...almost a year ago whilst sitting in my hotel room in ANC early one morning. One of the anchors was interviewing the CEO of Siemans Corp., which is the company that provides the unmanned drones for the government.

    In closing the interview he stated that it was his unwavering opinion that within ten years (by 2017) that either Federal Express or United Parcel Service will be operating the first unmanned full-sized cargo jets. He further stated that within ten years after that he anticipated the commencement of pilotless passenger flights.

    Now before you pooh-pooh that notion ponder this. Seventy years ago who would think of getting in an elevator without an elevator operator? And even FORTY years ago who (besides Walt Disney and a few others) would have considered riding on a TRAIN without an engineer??

    My “Breakfast at Gwennie’s” transport arrived shortly after I had seen the piece on T.V, and the driver happed to be one of my former bush pilot friends now driving for FredEx. I told him about the story and jokingly offered that he might consider an upcoming career change.

    He was far too serious as he told me that it was only a foregone conclusion. FedEx indeed had already operated a real Boeing 727 around the pattern at Roswell, New Mexico more than once with absolutely NO intervention from the three human pilots sitting in the cockpit. They just sat there and watched it all happen from startup to shutdown.

    Given not just Fred Smith’s but ALL airline CEO’s antagonism towards employees (cost units) in general and PILOTS in particular ; as we are generally the “leaders” of the employee groups followed closely by the mechanics (currently you could keep moving passengers and some airplanes for three or four days without mechanics ‘til they were all broke.....but no pilots ..... no zoom-zoom ); and whatever we by our bargaining strength (or lack thereof) gain or lose in OUR contracts sets the bar for every other employee group at the corporation; Fred and his fellow “Bonus Buddy” CEO’s would love nothing more than to get rid of us at the EARLIEST opportunity

    Let's finish this one up, eh? :P

    CloudDancer

  22. #22
    skagwaypilot's Avatar
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    FedEx indeed had already operated a real Boeing 727 around the pattern at Roswell, New Mexico more than once with absolutely NO intervention from the three human pilots sitting in the cockpit. They just sat there and watched it all happen from startup to shutdown.
    I have it on very good authority that a major air carrier has experienced at least 14 STALLS at cruising altitude due to the fact that the aircraft was on autopilot and was heavier than programmed into the FCS. The autopilot attempted to hold the assigned altitude and the result was a a buffet, but on at least one occasion, a full stall and loss of altitude resulted. Since I don't fly the heavy stuff... and 7000 MSL is the best I can wring out of a loaded Cessna Sled (as in DOG, with emphasis on the DOG part), I can only relate the event second-handed. However, if this happened with two qualified(?) pilots aboard, just think of the result if there was no one there???

  23. #23
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Epilogue - cont'd

    ***************************

    My First Officer returns from below as I wait now in the jetway. The airplane goes dark as he kills the power before emerging into the bight neon lit glare and as we trudge still silently up the incline walkway to the terminal he speaks his first words since we hit the gate.

    “Oh..hey! What wazzit made you LAUGH at six hundred feet of all things.”

    I now give a small but very REAL laugh and shake my head as a picture of Jeremy’s face fully fills the picture in my mind. It is winter. It is a howling blizzard. His face is surrounded by a parka ruff whipping in the gale.

    “Well...see....you PRObably won’t beLIEVE this but....there was this old Eskimo who.....ya’ know what. It’ll take to long to tell ya’ now. How about I tell ya’ over dinner?”

    The End


    CloudDancer

  24. #24
    dreamer's Avatar
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    where's the "applause" emoticon?

    Good one Cloudy!

    Thanks for the story! Now I can...

  25. #25
    CloudDancer's Avatar
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    Post Script -

    For centuries man navigated by the stars. One the earliest wooden boats there were navigators. The sextant came along and made it official. On storm tossed seas awaiting a break in the clouds overhead; or calm and placid sea under a clear sky blanketed with millions of stars....navigators would raise there sextants to their eye and search out Orion, Ursa Major or one of the Dippers.

    The days of airplanes with “navigators stations”; little areas with a cramped fold down table for charts and an overhead mounted window or even dome for star sights is long gone. Navigators replaced with all sorts of acronyms like ADF and VOR at first to which we now add INS and GPS.

    So the four man crew became a three man crew.

    Microchips, RAM, megabytes and FADECs (Fully Automated Digital Engine Controls)

    If you can find any of the few hundred men and women left who can honestly this day say that they make their living as a Flight Engineer...try finding one that uses an engine analyzer inflight to ascertain WHICH spark plug is the SICK spark plug out of the hundreds out there on both wings firing by looking at a small green screen with flashing squiggly white lines on it.

    And so the three PILOT cockpit became the two pilot cockpit.

    Many times I’ve read stories of the old mariners. Often there was a ‘ship’s mascot”. A mongrel dog. Often a stray picked up by the crew along the way. Helped retain some semblence of sanity and normalcy on a long voyage. A dog ANY crewmember could talk to when lonely. And often the dog, while adopted by the whole crew belonged to the Captain.

    By merely automating two or three more functions on my flight deck, my A320 or A319 could be operated entirely by remote control from a keyboard on an earthbound desk. As it is already....my maintainance people can TALK to my AIRPLANE (not me) as we sit at the gate in Anchorage from their desktop thousands of miles away. Airborne or in-flight.

    Oh. Jet-Blue does the same thing too. Yeah. Remember that Jet-Blue flight that landed live and in living color on television at LAX about two years ago with the nose gear cocked ninety degrees off. Essentially sideways.

    Well.....seems the MAINTENANCE CONTROLLER, ALL the way across the freakin’ CONTINENT at some console in some dark room in operation CONTROL in new YORK...

    Well......he TALKED to the damn airplane and HE and the AIRPLANE....independently of and with NO input from the pilot came to the CONCLUSION....that it was a FAULTY indication!

    This, even though it had already happened a half a DOZEN times to other A320s (including TWICE at my airline). Told the pilot that HE (sitting safely in his chair over 1800 NM away) after having had a good discussion with the %^$&ing AIRplane felt the was no REAL problem and that he should just go ahead and do a NORMAL landing back at Long Beach.

    The pilot, being a kindred spirit of mine obviously, decided he was not in a hurry to trust the computer and bet his whole wad on the first approach. So he, using his poor limited gigawatt, low RAM human BRAIN decided to first do a FLY-BY of the Long Beach control tower which ASSURED him (the human pilot with the human BRAIN) that indeed..... the nose gear was NOT NORMAL but instead cocked off to the side it ninety degrees. Maintenance Control can KISS my HUMAN ASS!

    I HEARD the tapes for myself! Thank God THOSE passengers had not just a human pilot, but one with a WORKING BRAIN that just doesn’t follow “orders” mindlessly.

    The joke around the industry is that there will never be pilotless passenger airplanes. The two pilot plane will become....

    One Pilot and a Dog.

    The pilot’s “job” is to feed the dog. The dog’s “job”.....

    The DOG’S job is to BITE the DAMN PILOT if he tries to TOUCH anything ELSE!!

    May I NEVER live to see the day.........

    Cloud(where's my abacus)Dancer

  26. #26
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    Hiya Dreamer (Ya' Liddle CUPcake you!) -

    Glad ya' liked it. The A320 stuff must sound a little like "Star Trek" from your current "vantage point" right now. but trust me on this one. You are having WAY more fun every ten minutes YOU fly these days than I have on a four day trip. I ENVY you.

    But, as promised, CloudDancer's next true-life adventure, originating off a grass strip on the south side of the Columbia River in a small town just east of Portland, Oregon will seem much more familiar to you.

    From our 427 computer carrying Airbus we go to a zero computer J-3 Cub, which is okay...'cause there weren't no 'lectrical system NEITHER.

    Just a few cables, pulleys, cotter pins and a couple of basic instruments being hauled around bya humble old A-80-8 four cylinder Continental
    engine and a fixed pitch wooden prop. Keep it simple. Fewer things that could POSSIBLY go wrong.

    But then again. 's doing the stick and rudder work so.....

    CD

  27. #27
    dreamer's Avatar
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    I can't sleep... tossing and turning, DREAMING about how to get my hands on a sweet little J-3 cub... I decide to check the (non-flight) computer while up and here you are talking about a J-3 cub.

    The first tattoo I got was part of Orion across my shoulders. Just the two shoulder stars on the corresponding area of my shoulders... always hoped to get the rest filled in some day. Got the North Star on my guiding hand (ancient mariner tattoo). The North Star so if ever lost at sea, to find the way home... Pliedes on my arm... The FAA knows the rest! (in the records now!) Yes sir... these tattoos here? Uhm... Navigational aids!


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