Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Don't Go Near The Volcano!

When I got up I looked out my window and could see the sun rising behind the mountains and sure enough, there was Mt Popocatepetl with a small ash cloud rising out of it. The plume was drifting away from the airport and appeared that it would not be a problem. I shot a photo of it through my window.

So I met up again with my FO and like the day before, we walked over to our operations office to get our flight plan, check on the weather, and get the latest reports on the volcano. Our plane had arrived the night before and was all set to go. Flight plan reviewed, crew documents in order, customs forms in hand and off through security we went. We both set off the metal detectors but the inspectors just waved us both through without a second glance. I just hoped that they were a little more thorough with passengers.

I made a quick trip through one of the many duty free shops to buy a small bottle of vanilla. A pint sized bottle only cost $4 No liquor this time. The cabinet is pretty full at home!

We taxied out again to runway 5R with a full load of passengers. 145 including the crew. In addition to the passengers, we were carrying about 1500 pounds of limes and lemons from Mexico to the US.... Muchas margaritas!

Passing 10,000 ft in the climb we broke through the smog and were in the clear. Off to the northeast the volcano was in view. The plume was small by now but still visible. My FO was flying this leg but he had the good view so I took the controls for a minute while he had camera duty. The smog is also clearly visible in the photo.

Two hours later we were back at DFW and clearing Customs again. Then off to Charlotte, North Carolina and back to DFW. While at DFW, it was nice out so I offered to do the preflight walk-around inspection. Normally the co-pilot does this but occasionally you will see a captain doing it. It is just a visual inspection of the aircraft that the pilot makes before taking a plane for a flight. The pilot is checking for anything that is visually wrong with the plane such as missing panels, dents, flat tires, oil leaks, gas leaks, etc.

Off to Charlotte and back and another crew meal. Chicken and pasta again. The menus only get changed about once a month. Same goes for the first class passengers. Many of the frequent fliers get tired of the same meals and end up bringing their own food sometimes. The pilots do the same.

Back from Charlotte by 10:00 PM and back home for one day off.

Be back soon.

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