Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bird Brains...I Think We Hit Something!

My suitcase was packed again...this time for a three day trip. It was similar to a Mexico trip from last month. It started off with a departure delay from DFW due to fog in the Dallas area. Our plane was late in arriving from Chicago but we finally got airborne about an hour and a half late with a full load headed for New Orleans.

Shortly after reaching our cruising altitude over Shreveport, a warning light came on. "Forward Cargo Door Open" Inflight, a door light like this is almost always a problem with a switch. The cargo compartment is a pressurized area and if the door had really been open, we would have been losing cabin pressure as well as suitcases and various other things like mail, cargo, pets, etc. That wasn't the case so we pressed on to New Orleans.

On very short final to runway 10 I heard and felt a large thwack on the corner of my windshield. Accompanied by that was a big splotch of blood and guts streaming over my windshield. Seems that we had hit a bird or a giant bug. Luckily the FO was flying and he made the landing. Had it been my leg, I would have had to quickly turn it over to him since I couldn't see enough to make the landing. After parking, the ground crew cleaned up the mess, maintenance checked out the cargo door switch and soon we were headed back to DFW.

The fog at DFW was getting worse so we had to set up for a full instrument approach. Visibility was being reported at 1/4 mile and the ceiling was at 100 ft. The MD-80 has auto-land capability but we only use that when the visibility is extra low. This would be my landing. The captain is required to make the landing any time the visibility is below 3/4 of a mile. The autopilot would be used until I could see the runway and then I would take over and land. As expected, the fog was still hanging around and I didn't even see the runway until we were almost over it. Autopilot off and I made the landing. A slow taxi to the gate, change of planes and then off to Mexico City again.

We were running almost two hours late by now but fortunately Mexico City was reporting good weather and no volcano action. The approach and landing were smooth and luckily we had a gate this time. The terminal was deserted when we arrived but Customs was a little slow. We had to wait for an Air France wide-body crew to clear before us and they were having some issues with their passports. 30 minutes later we cleared and we all walked over to our hotel again just like last time.

Once again, in bed by 2:00 AM

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