Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Scenic Route

The layover having been a great success (a future post), it is time to return to the States.

223 Dallas bound passengers are in their seats, doors closed, checklists complete, and we're pushing back on schedule. Heathrow Ground Control has cleared us to runway 9R. We pass the British Airways terminal #5 on the way. Nice looking fleet of heavies over there!

Kind of busy today, we are number 7 in the lineup behind Iberia.

"Line up and wait" says Heathrow Tower. The First Officer is flying this leg. We are flight planned for a 10 hour 20 minute leg. It will be a long day.

I notice a Qantas A-380 on the parallel taxiway as we pull onto the runway. That is one BIG airplane. UGLY too!"Turn left heading 040 degrees, runway 9 right, cleared for takeoff" says Tower. Takeoff weight today is 401,000 lbs...Liftoff speed will be 168 knots.
We quickly reach takeoff speed, I call "V1", then "rotate", then "V2". We're airborne!

The takeoff is a success...gear in the wells and we're on our way. Flaps are coming up, speed is increasing, we say goodbye to Tower and call Departure Control.

We are now climbing to the Northeast. I can see Wembley Stadium in Northwest London.Soon we are given a turn to fly heading 350 degrees. This takes us directly over Luton Airport.

Not long after, we are cleared on course and find ourselves pointed towards Northern Ireland. Belfast will pass below but no photos as the clouds have interfered.

Again we have a datalink equipped aircraft today so the workload is somewhat reduced. London Control has now said goodbye and we are in the hands of Shanwick Radio. Our oceanic clearance has now been received and confirmed, Selcal checks are complete, the routing has been verified for the third time, climb and cruise checklists are complete, the PA has been made...must be time to eat!

Sure enough...the cockpit chime rings....The choices today are chicken, pasta, or fish.

Initial cruise altitude is FL 320 for the oceanic crossing. The headwinds are lighter towards the Northern latitudes today and we are flight planned to pass just South of Iceland and directly over the Southern portion of Greenland. It is rare to get a look at Greenland due to there always being cloudy skies this far North....but we have our fingers crossed.

As we pass Iceland with solid cloud cover below, the FO has now left and the Relief pilot has taken his place.

Greenland is approaching. It looks like the clouds are breaking.

We have lucked out. The view is fantastic! Look at that glacier.

We press on towards Northeastern Canada. It's cloudy again so no more photos.

But wait, the TCAS shows traffic approaching us from behind and 2000 ft above us. We are cruising at .80 Mach but these guys are passing us quickly! As they pass directly over us we see that it's a Qatar Airways 777. They are clearly in a hurry. Fuel is probably cheap where they come from!

I manage to get a few shots before they're gone.

Several hours to go and soon I get to take my rest break. I try to watch a movie but a nap seems like a better idea. When the purser wakes me up we have already started a slow descent for DFW.

I report back to duty...DFW is reporting clear skies, warm temps, calm winds, and they're landing South. I ask for and receive a clearance to runway 18R on DFW's West side. The FO makes a nice landing and before long we are parked and running our post flight checklists.

We all shake hands, say goodbye, and head for Customs.

Another successful mission....

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


Dan in ALB said...

Nice post! I like all the pictures!

Interesting shot of Luton. I've never seen that airport before. Interesting how much space is given to ramp and terminal compared to the amount for the runway and taxiways - seems opposite of the norm to me.

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Dan,

I think Luton was once a RAF fighter base. Perhaps that is why the layout is a little different.


Ryan said...

Great shot of that 777 overhead! You just made me want to upgrade my camera.



Mark Lawrence said...

Great blog Len! That is some awesome photography of Greenland - I'm envious of your view from up front! Thanks for some great pics!


Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Mark,

Yeah, sometimes you just get lucky...and that day over Greenland was one of those!

Thanks for your nice comments.


Mark Lawrence said...


Interesting the last picture - of N345AN - I was at FLL at lunchtime today - and she was on an equipment sub today - rare to get an AA B763 in FLL - even rarer to get a B763 with winglets! I managed to get a decent close up shot of he if you happen to know the crew of AA711 FLL-ORD today.


Joel P. said...


Nice to see you blogging about Heathrow. I'm traveling to Europe this winter and looking forward to flying on one of your company's 777s ORD-LHR. Cool pictures and great blog. Thanks!

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Joel,

Thanks for being a loyal reader!

That 777 is one nice machine. I hope to fly it someday.


Anik said...

nice post.... i like it.....