Monday, September 21, 2009

London Calling

All servicing complete, security checks OK, flight plan and routing reviewed, logbook onboard, international documents checked and onboard, ATC clearance confirmed, catering is complete, flight attendants briefed, cargo doors closed, passengers seated, entry doors closed, before starting engines checklist complete. We are ready for pushback!

We're all loaded up...217 passengers, 111,000 lbs of Jet-A, a payload of 55,000 lbs, ramp weight of 380,000 lbs, and a crew of 12. This 767 is ready to go to work.

Destination...London, England.

Tonight we are operating one of three daily flights from DFW to London, Heathrow. The early flight is operated with a Boeing 777 and the later two are Boeing 767's.

DFW Ground Control clears us to taxi to runway 35L. Approaching the runway with all before takeoff checklists complete, we switch over to Tower frequency and await our turn.

The " flight attendants prepare for takeoff " PA is made and then DFW Tower clears us into position on the runway. We line up on the runway and crosscheck our headings. I mentally review our emergency procedures for an aborted takeoff or an engine failure right after takeoff. We have already briefed this at the gate but I like to review it one last time before takeoff.

I have briefed my crew that in the event of an emergency requiring an immediate landing that we will plan a right downwind back to one of the East runways at DFW. Both of the other pilots already know their duties in an emergency but the Captain has the last word on what runway to use and how to get there. I have also briefed the relief pilot to begin dumping fuel immediately if we have to return for landing, otherwise we would be way overweight and could experience structural damage upon landing. I jokingly tell him to aim the fuel at the new Dallas Cowboys stadium if possible! (I'm not a Cowboys fan)

And then comes the clearance for takeoff...

The throttles are smoothly advanced. The engines spool up and begin to develop their takeoff thrust. Autothrottles are engaged and the engines are now producing roughly 60,000 lbs of thrust per side.

Takeoff weight is 379,000 lbs. V1 is computed at 155 knots, Vr is 158, and V2 is 165 knots.

I'm now steering the jet with the rudder pedals as the tiller is now way too sensitive to use for directional control. The 80 knot call is made by the First Officer and all is well.....the engines are producing their rated power, N1's and N2's are good, EGT's are good, and we are accelerating rapidly.

155 knots is reached and the FO calls V1 and then calls "rotate"....I gently pull back on the yoke and the nose lifts off followed by the mains a few seconds later. I verify on the VSI that we are climbing and call for "gear up". At 400 ft the LNAV is engaged, at 1000 ft VNAV is engaged and the engines are set for climb power. We are accelerating towards a climb speed of 250 KIAS below 10,000 ft. As our speed permits we retract our flaps and slats and soon our wings are clean and 250 knots is attained. We're on our way...

DFW Tower has switched us over and we're now talking to DFW Departure Control, but soon they will hand us off to Ft Worth Center. Passing 10,000 ft we accelerate to a computed climb speed of 330 KIAS to a crossover speed of .80 Mach. Passing FL 180 the relief pilot is off to begin his rest break and now it's just the FO and me.

We have now reached FL 330 and have leveled off until we burn off enough fuel to reach a higher flight level. All climb checks are now complete, our actual fuel burn is checked against our fight plan and our time over one of our multiple waypoints is also checked. So far so good. I make a PA to the passengers..."We will be arriving on time and London is reporting good weather, etc".

The sun has set as we aim towards the Northeast.

The first few hours are relatively quiet in the cockpit with little to do except monitor our progress and make a number of radio calls as required. It will get a little busier once we begin the oceanic part of the leg. Memphis, Louisville, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Albany, and Bangor will all pass below. We are under radar contact with ATC the entire way through the Northeast US as well as Northeastern Canada. VHF radio frequencies will be all we'll use this leg.

The cockpit chime's our Purser calling to advise us that it's time for dinner!


Stay tuned for the rest of the story.

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Seaplanes Anyone?

There wont be much substance in this post. Even less than usual!

This one is all about the photos.

My second trip to Anchorage this summer resulted in a perfect day for a bike ride. Temps started out in the 50's with no wind and sunny skies. The bike rental shop hooked me up with a nice road bike and pointed me towards one of the nicer trails around the town.

First stop...the train station...where I got a shot of this GP-40 ready to go to work.

Then back on the trail.

This particular trail runs along the coastline and winds up back near the Anchorage airport.

And what a fine trail it is!! Very scenic.

I couldn't pass up a great day like this without visiting the Lake Hood seaplane base. It is the busiest seaplane base in the world. It is co-located at the Anchorage airport.

I had to so a double take when I saw this one! How many general aviation people have ever seen a Cessna 195 on floats? This was a rare sight.Cessna U206Piper PA-14 CruiserSome of these are a little blurry. Remember, I was shooting from a bike.Piper PA-18 Super CubDe Havilland DHC-2 BeaverPiper PA-18 Super CubAnother rare sight was this Helio Super Courier H-295Cessna 208 Grand CaravanYes, I know it's not a seaplane but what fun this must be to fly and land just about anywhere off the pavement.

I could have remained for hours. The action on the lake was very entertaining, but it was time to return. So back to the trail I went with a watchful eye for any wildlife.

With the bike returned to the shop, all that was left was a short rest-up and clean-up before leaving on the all-nighter back to Texas. The days are starting to get a little shorter now, but the first hour of flight still allowed for some great sightseeing just before darkness fell.No more Alaska trips for me this year. Service from DFW will cease at the end of September only to resume again next spring. I'm looking forward to another trip North next year.

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