Planned and Unplanned Emergencies
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    Tuesday
    Jul192011

    Simulator Time!

    Currently in Paris for 4 days carrying out my six monthly simulator check.  This has turned out to be a blessing in disguise because the weather is awful.  Mind you, the weather in the sim was bad too!  We are practising for our winter operations (and summer has barely started!!) so all the emergencies involved some kind of icing problem.  Today it was a lot of control malfunctions, single engine failures and take off aborts.  Tomorrow, we have a check ride, and the following day we get to practise 'special airports', which is mainly finding out how to get into the Alps in bad weather without crashing.  This is all good stuff - I just hope I can remember what I did here when the ski season starts next year!

    Thursday
    Jul072011

    Helsinki Hell!

    I started tour this time by airlining to Helsinki, which is, as I saw out of the airplane window on the way in, a beautiful place.  However, the airport is way out of town and the hotel I am staying in is at the airport.  It's a nice hotel, a hilton, so you can't go wrong there.  The downside is that we have spent two days here and are only planned to fly out midday tomorrow.  It is the same everytime - the hotels are nice when you are in airport hell!  No wonder the films are free on the in-room television!

    Friday
    Jul012011

    The Italian Job

    I am just coming to the end of a tour that was predominantly in Italy.  After starting in Farnborough, we did a very short positioning flight to Biggin Hill (I seem to be getting a lot of sub 30 minute flights these days) before putting the aircraft to bed.  The next day we left the cool shores of the UK for Italy, firstly flying into Venice (always a great approach) before continuing to Sardinia.  After the usual Italian faff, we continued to Sicily and then onto Rome.  My flight into Sardinia was a little eventful; low level turbulence and mis-identifying the field left me high and fast!  However, judicious use of the airbrake and early gear and flap extension recovered the situation.  It did mean that I had to buy the beers that night for my colleague though!  Italy was very hot and humid and it was almost a pleasure to leave it behind the next day and go to Paris and then Farnborough, before flying to a country I have never been to before - Lithuania.  I would have enjoyed the approach over the lush, green countryside had we not been picking our way around the thunderstorms that were covering our approach!  It got very dark very quickly and the lightening was a little scary, but thankfully the heavy rain cleaned the bugs from the windshield!  After landing we let our heart rates slow before spending a couple of nights in Vilnius.  Then it wa time for me to go and I had to leave the crew and airline home.  All in all, an interesting tour! 

    Saturday
    Jun182011

    Getting busy!

    Back on tour after a few days off and now getting some flying in as the busy seasons hots up! Yesterday was a 3 leg day starting from Rome Ciampino after a beautiful evening eating dinner overlooking the Lake Albano - an excellent start to the tour. From Rome we flew to Venice, with great views of the lagoon on the flight in, then on to Geneva before the final leg to Farnborough.  Arrived quite late in Farnborough but stayed in our usual hotel and met up with some other company colleagues for a drink.  Later we were joined by some Gulfstream pilots from our sister company in the States.  How do I know they were Gulfstream pilots?  Well, they always tell you within a few seconds of saying hello!

    Today was just a 2 leg day, flying up to Londonderry to drop some golfers, and then down to Pontoise which is on the outskirts of Paris.  A few thunderstorms around Paris today, so it was a challenging VOR approach to runway 23 (an offset approach) whilst under some heavy rain!  A nice relaxed evening in the hotel after a gentle jog through the park, and nicely set for another 3 leg day tomorrow - Northolt, Basle and then back to Farnborough!

    Thursday
    Jun092011

    Wake Turbulence!

    Well, the wish to get back flying was granted and I got three short flights yesterday - 2 of 30 minutes and one of an hour! Hard work but a little more enjoyable than long range flights, where there is little to do for several hours in the cruise. However, the final flight did have an unfortunate incident.  Air Traffic vectored another aircraft infront of us, and as it climbed through our level we flew through its wake.  Even though there was 7 miles seperation, our aircraft suffered a sudden and abrupt departure which was quickly recovered!  There was some mess in the cabin; spilt food, broken glasses and some wet passengers (from the spilt champagne) but the Flight Attendant came off worse.  She had gone to warn the passengers about the expected turbulence encounter and was still standing when we hit it!  Luckily, it was just some pulled back muscles so after some rest and a visit to the 'back doctor' she was able to continue the next day!  Things like that remind me not to get too complacent when flying!