Wednesday, August 5, 2009

We're Out Of Fuel!!

A few weeks back I had just returned from my morning pool duty at the hotel in San Jose, Costa Rica and was online checking to see if we would be running on time for that afternoon's departure to Miami. Well, the inbound flight was showing on time into SJO but when I checked a little deeper, it showed that our flight would be departing SJO on time but arriving into MIA over 90 minutes late.

What was up with that? Didn't know and didn't really care....these things always work out in the end.


So a little later I'm sitting in my room when my phone rang. It was the station manager at the airport calling to tell me that we were going to have to make an unexpected fuel stop on the way to Miami. It seems that the local jet fuel supply in San Jose was very limited due to a delay in the weekly shipment. Apparently all the airlines were having to either cancel some flights or as in our case, plan a fuel stop enroute.


I asked the manager if we could stop at Havana for fuel.....she wasn't amused.

"So where would we be going" I asked?
"Managua, Nicaragua" was her answer.


A little later on when the entire crew met for the ride out to the airport, I gave them the news. Groans from the flight attendants, but the first officer was pleased as was I. You see, we get paid only when the plane is away from the gate....and any more flight time than scheduled during a given trip means more pay for us! Also, Managua would be a new destination for both of us and that is always fun.

All our passengers had been informed about the fuel stop and they all seemed to be accepting of it. There wasn't much they could do about it anyhow but I still made an onboard announcement about the extra leg and that there would be no extra charge for it! They weren't amused either. We pushed back just as this Iberia A-340 was arriving.


Then off we went for the 35 minute flight to Managua.


We climbed up to 24,000 ft and enjoyed the view.




Managua's radar was out of service that day so we had to fly a full instrument approach until we spotted the runway and were able to proceed visually.



The terrain here was pretty impressive. Very green and lush. Notice the crater in the foreground and the distant volcano.

Final approach was right over the city. The runway is in the top left area of the photo. Kind of hard to see.

The ground crew at MGA was outstanding. We parked at the gate, the fuelers immediately hooked up, the first officer did his walkaround, the agent came on board to deliver some paperwork, and in less than 20 minutes we were airborne for Miami.

Cruising over central Cuba at 40,000 ft we passed around this monster cell. It was topping out at well over 50,000 ft. Havana ATC was nice enough to let us go around it.
Bad press about Cuba notwithstanding, their air traffic controllers are quite good. They are always accommodating and very easy to work with. Their English is also easily understood.


So on to Miami and then back home to DFW. What an interesting day.

I still think that Havana would have been a good fuel stop!




For a look at some more of my photos, please aviate over to Plane & Simple.

9 comments:

Capt. Schmoe said...

Thanks for the post. Did anybody tell Iberia that the 70's are over? I have to say, that paint scheme would look more at home on a CV-880 or a DC-8-63 than it does on that A340.

Just my opinion. Nice pics, thanks again.

Len (Barfbag) said...

Joe,

I agree 100% about the paint. They need to update it!

Len

Sarah said...

Interesting. Your post title, "We're out of fuel!!" reminded me of the Gary Larson cartoon. Can't find it online, lets see if I can do it in words.

Airliner with alarrmed big-eyed passenger faces visible in the windows. Pilot: "Oh my god we're out of fuel!! We're going down!! Oh wait, that red light is the public address button."

Len (Barfbag) said...

Sarah,

Yeah, I thought that title might get people's attention.

Thanks for stopping by.

Len

Mark Lawrence said...

Interesting to think that a little delay in a delivery can cause so much havoc! But then you can benefit from the new location and the additional flight time! That thunderhead only goes to show how high those can go. Interesting read Len - how was the seond trip to ANC - are you going to post on that?

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Mark,

The ANC trip went well. I'm not sure if I'll post anything on it or not. I didn't get that many photos on my bike ride that day.

I may go back up there again this month though.

Thanks again for the info you sent me.

Len

mlesser said...

Another trip down that way for something different! i seem to be doing the same mailruns every week as well.

I was meaning to ask Len.. In GA especially, once you start flying a plane, you end up needing a rego endorsement, as all the planes are different and have different characterisitcs etc etc. I was wondering if the jets are the same.. Do you get some regos with jets as well.. like some will be slower than others, some things never work, some are just torublesome..

cheers have a good one

mike

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Mike,

Not sure I understand your question. I don't really know what "regos" means. Maybe I'm losing something in the translation!!

Len

Marc said...

What a view from the 75 !