Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Caracas Re-Visited

It's been a while since my last post. A multitude of issues have kept me busy of late.

Recurrent training came and went uneventfully and the summertime line flying is just as busy as ever.

It has been almost one year since I moved over to 767 / 757 international flying and the change has been well worth it. I should have done it sooner. The MD-80 is a worthy machine but I sure don't miss it.

A recent trip took me back to Caracas, Venezuela. As you may recall, the ATC service there is rather slow and the local workers have an affinity for sitting around and doing the minimum required of them. Sometimes they seem to do even less.

The inbound leg went without a hitch. Maybe it was because our arrival time was at 11:00 PM at night. After leaving Curacao's airspace we contacted Maiquetia Control and were promptly cleared directly to the outer marker for runway 10. A maximum gross weight landing with autobrakes and full reverse had us stopped with plenty of room leftover. A smooth trip through Customs and Immigration and off to the hotel
we went.

The smoothness continued the next morning. We sailed right through the three (yes three!) security checkpoints and arrived at our gate to find our inbound flight from Miami had arrived early.

No maintenance issues today so we were all set to launch for Miami.

Our call for clearance from ATC was almost immediately answered with "cleared as filed". That was amazing....what has happened here? Has Caracas ATC joined the rest of the world with their efficiency? Hope so.

Next up was to get all our passengers and their luggage on board, and the door shut for an on time departure. Would it be possible? Amazingly, yes. In fact we pushed back a few minutes early and we given a prompt clearance to taxi to runway 28.

Along the way we spotted a Cubana Ilyushin Il 62. We don't see these Russian planes very often. Very interesting! Click on the photo to get a larger view and you can see that this airliner has a tailwheel.

A takeoff from runway 28 and a turn to the north and we were on our way.

I could soon smell our crew meals cooking in the galley. Or was that the smell from the lavatory?

Not long after takeoff we passed over the Dutch island of Bonaire in the Lesser Antilles. Supposed to be some great diving there I hear.

Two hours later the gear was down with full flaps on final approach to runway 9 at Miami. An approaching thunderstorm was threatening but we made it just in time.

This visit to Caracas went quite well. No issues and no complaints. Let's hope it continues this way in the future.