Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bass ackwards

The planes are tied down facing south, into the prevailing wind.  To help the TSA, they are within sight of the FBO front desk.  It's been that way for years.

But when the large jet arrived the winds were from the north, at least briefly.  The peak wind for the week was only 36 knots, which is a lot for a Cessna 152 or a DA-20 but not so bad for a jet (I've landed a King Air at 55 knots so this is not just blowing smoke).  So the jet was parked facing north.

After a few days the jet was ready to leave.  Other jets had asked to be towed to face away, but this jet started the engines and applied breakaway thrust while tail-to-tail with a Cessna 172.

Crunch one Cessna 172.

The tail slammed down onto the pavement, bending the rudder and the elevators.  This is the shop's busiest season, so the airplane is grounded until...whenever.


The owner's company makes a product I use.  Would it be fair to ask for a few free cases as compensation for lost revenue?

That's not fair.  The crew probably doesn't know that they did this; they could not see or hear it from the cockpit. Besides, it happened behind them. They have "plausible deniability" because there were no witnesses.  But there was only one jet parked tail-to-tail with this 172 all week, and nobody had flown or even started the 172 in the meantime.

They might say "We didn't do it on purpose" but follow Dave English's reasoning to see that there is no such thing as an accident.

You have to "On purpose not do it."  Or as the Navy puts it, "Beware of jet blast."

I have been in similar situations in the King Air.  The solution is easy, if you think of it: you can start a PT-6 engine in feather, so there is no jet blast.  That's "on purpose not doing it."

Or you can have the plane towed so its jet blast won't hurt anything.

But that means looking behind you to see what your jet blast will hit.  I do this in everything except gliders.

We instructors often say "Never put an airplane anyplace you haven't put your brain first."  Now we have another saying to pass on:

Never put an airplane anyplace you haven't put your butt first.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

2016 Air-to-air

Thursday afternoon I was ferrying an aircraft home, VFR at 7500ft.  By habit, I was listening to Air Traffic Control even though there is no requirement to do so. Salt Lake Center is one of the few that does not separate high and low altitudes on separate frequencies, so it was no surprise to hear "Speedbird 282" check in. Speedbird, by the way, is the radio call sign for British Airways, headquartered at Speedbird House, London.
Curious, I looked them up on a flight tracker (maybe the same one you use?) and saw that Speedbird 282 was an Airbus 380 going from Los Angeles to London. I looked around a little bit and spotted them, well above me.
Oh, how nice. 
Air France 50 (LAX - CDG) was also on the frequency but I could not see them.  I spent some time thinking about when their paths would cross, since AF50 was north of BAW282.  I thought that would be the end of it.
The next morning my twitter feed featured a photo from a British Airways pilot of sunset over Greenland, "on my way home from LA." After a couple of tweets we pretty well established that he was crew on Speedbird 282 and that we had been flying many hours before within sight of each other.
I posted this story to facebook and got a comment from our local tower chief.  He had been sitting on his front porch (with a beer?  Who knows, but that makes for a good story) and saw "something large" going over so checked on flightaware: Speedbird 282!
You don't have to be very old to remember how difficult it used be to come into contact with people at such far remove. This is one of the things I like about this era.