Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cape Air From Martha's Vineyard



Map picture

As one of only two passengers going to Providence, Rhode Island from Martha's Vineyard, I am in for a treat.


Cape 003 Returning to Martha's Vineyard Airport (MVY) on Bus No.9 ($2.00) from Oaks Bluff, I check in at Cape Air about 45 minutes prior to departure.

Since the airport is so small there is no hurry to process passengers through TSA security. I am told this will take place about 15 minutes prior to departure.



Martha 091 At “The Plane View” airport restaurant I relax as I have a steaming hot cup of soup. For $5.75 it is chicken and dumpling soup loaded with dumplings and carrots.

From my table I have an “Obstructed View” of the tarmac and other passengers boarding their flight to Boston.




Cape 005

“Now boarding all passengers for Cape Air Flight 1369 to Providence”.


Myself along with the other passenger make up “all passengers” and we are quickly processed through TSA security. Met at the exit door by a Cape Air employee, we are escorted and then boarded on the flight.

To my surprise it is the same pilot, Captain Kim that brought me to Martha's Vineyard that will be flying us back to Providence. This time I get the opportunity to sit upfront next to Captain Kim. I am sort of a honorary Cape Air Co-Pilot.

Expecting the views to be even better than my trip over, I ask permission to take pictures and receive quick approval. My Canon Rebel is ready. 


Cape 006 Taking The Runway At Martha’s Vineyard









Cape 009 Airborne From Martha’s Vineyard









Cape 010 Captain Kim At The Controls









Cape 012



Cape 015 Lonely Passenger








Cape 019 Cessna 402 Flight Deck Instruments








Cape 021 Rhode Island Sound

Although busy as we are getting airborne, at our cruising altitude of about 2500 feet, Captain Kim takes the time to share with me a little about her life as a pilot. Having been employed at Cape Air for about thirteen years she currently flies six round trips a day between Providence (PVD) and Martha's Vineyard (MVY).


Cape 024 New Bedford In The Distance








I wonder if she has any aspirations to work for a “Big Airline” but Captain Kim is quite comfortable with her situation. Even though she can probably make more money elsewhere she is happy being at home every night which can be very rare in the airline business.


Cape 027 Providence Arrival








Twenty five minutes passes to quickly as we are soon lined up for landing at TF Green International. Captain Kim again does a nice professional job safely transporting a few more passengers across Rhode Island Sound.


Cape 029

I hope her skills and experience are well rewarded by Cape Air. Thanks, Captain Kim.


Monday, August 16, 2010

130 People Survive Colombian Airline Crash


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While attempting to make a landing early Monday morning at San Andres Island, an Aerovias de Integracion Regional SA Boeing 737 was involved in an unfortunate accident. San Andres Island is a Colombian Island located in the Caribbean, 120 miles east of Nicaragua. Although it can be considered a miracle that only 1 person was killed, I believe part of that miracle relied on the flight crew training, experience and skills.


Colombia CrashOfficials are investigating the possibility that the airplane was struck by lighting. However, it is a rare occurrence that lighting strikes cause accidents.






f09a349736b183523bec Airplanes in general are designed to withstand lighting strikes which can occur often around thunderstorms.

Thunderstorms (depicted in yellow) and their effects like windshear (rapid change in wind speed and direction) are best avoided especially when landing.


What needs to be learned here is what actions could have been taken to avoid accidents like this from happening again. If thunderstorms were close to the airport maybe a landing attempt should have been delayed.

Sometimes even with adequate experience it can be difficult to estimate the effects of a storm on airline, airplane or airport operations. Furthermore, if a flight crew is fatigued their judgment can easily become impaired and safety comprised.

With accidents such as this many questions are raised. We must not be quick to rush to judgment but allow investigators to do their work. Hopefully their conclusions will help us all as passengers or crews to prevent or survive such unfortunate events.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

Kudos To Cape Air From PVD To Martha's Vineyard


Map picture


Cape 030 With down time while working in Providence, Rhode Island, I get the opportunity to fly Cape Air to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

What an experience!



Checking in at TF (Theodore Francis) Green International Airport or better know as Providence (PVD), I am asked my weight. 200 pounds. Okay, what's a few pounds among friends.


[000001]_1 The friendly gate agent also weighs my backpack.







[000003]_1I guess weight becomes critical when you are flying on a 9 passenger, Cessna 402 airplane.

Boarding according to weight we all end up with window seats in a surprisingly comfortable cabin. With an open seat up front, one lucky passenger gets to sit next to the single pilot operating our flight. Nevertheless, I can tell most of us are just as excited by the unique experience ahead.


[000006] A quick safety briefing by our pilot Captain Kim and we sit back to watch her do her piloting thing.

I am impressed.





[000008]_1Captain Kim takes a few attempts to get the propeller driven engine started then like the Space Shuttle launch, it’s a go.

With a smile, I am taken back to romantic and glory days of flying minus the engine smoke and oil leaks.





[000009] It takes just a few minutes of taxiing around with a window open before Captain Kim has us airborne for Martha's Vineyard a 25 minute flight from Providence.


[000011]_1 Initially the ride is a little bumpy as Captain Kim moves levers and pushes buttons.

Feeling confident we are in good hands, cameras click away as we enjoy the scenery below us.





[000014] About 20 minutes into the flight we begin a gradual descent from about 3000 feet.

A beautiful day gives us a nice view of Martha's Vineyard and more photo opportunities.

A fast ferry but slow compared to us can be seen below heading for the island.




[000015] Lined up for landing, with a gentle thump the Cape Air Cessna 402 returns us to Mother Earth.








[000016] Deplaning, the passengers seated at the rear of the aircraft leave first.

My backpack is retrieved from a compartment behind the left engine and placed with others from the nose section of the airplane.




[000017] We are given more photo opportunities before being escorted along the tarmac to an exit gate.







Cape 002 Welcome to Martha's Vineyard!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Steven Slater Hero, Rude Customers Villains


Steve Slater It is unfortunate that it takes a frustrated and abused employee with courage to expose what most in the airline and service industry have known and dealt with for years.

Customers can be downright rude and nasty to employees with no consequences.



Jet Blue A320 Often companies like Jet Blue encourage this type of treatment because they will normally reward a customer's bad behavior.

In light of this incident (publicity) Jet Blue announced it is giving all passengers on board the flight a $100 “Reward”.



This incident on Jet Blue Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh to New York’s JFK and daily occurrences of similar issues could be avoided if companies like Jet Blue had the courage to support their employees and not let them be treated with disrespect from their customers.


Captain Hat This issue may have not even escalated to the point it did if the Captain of the flight became involved. He or she would have had the authority to have the passengers removed.

The Captain is ultimately responsible for who flies on the airplane and he or she should always take into consideration other crew members when making that decision.


Any passenger that is disrespectful to an employee and will not comply with safety instructions (which is required by law) should be removed from the flight. Why should Flight Attendant Slater or any other employee doing their job be treated with disrespect by a rude customer?

While I cannot condone Mr. Slater's actions in possibly violating airport security rules or airline policy I still consider him a hero. It is ridiculous to see the criminalization of his actions. I know of others that I have violated airport security procedures and the worst outcome has been suspension of airport security privileges.

I hope those “investigating” this incident will have the courage to do the right thing and let Mr Slater go on with his life.

There are real criminals that the Queen’s New York District Attorney should spend taxpayer’s money prosecuting instead of an employee fed up from years of customer abuse.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

From Departure Gate To Takeoff, How Do Pilots Do That?


A simple answer would be, hopefully very safe and carefully. However, in reality to do so requires a lot of planning and experience.


DC10 Panel Arriving at the airplane, pilots must complete an interior and exterior preflight to check that the airplane is safe for flight.

Manuals and checklists are provided to ensure this process is completed correctly.




DC10 INS Most commercial aircraft are equipped with on board computers and navigation systems to assist pilots in safely operating your flight.

Before your flight can depart a flight plan is loaded into the on board navigation system manually or through an automatic up link.

This is an electronic Point A to B map.



Once the flight deck preparation is complete your flight will be ready to depart the gate after the boarding process is complete.


American At Gate “Phoenix Ground, American 41 is ready to push Gate 19”.








Although your flight is ready to depart it cannot leave the gate until it has permission to do so from a Ramp or Ground Traffic Controller.


Airplane Engine Leaving the gate area one or both engines will be started depending on your airline, airport or airline company procedure.

There is no key involved. For the most part this is an automatic process initiated and monitored by the pilot.



If a lengthy taxi time is anticipated it is possible the airplane will taxi (move around) with only one engine running. This can save a considerable amount of fuel and money. At idle, a jet engine can use more than 100 gallons per hour. With a fleet of 600 airplanes, using just 10 gallons less fuel per hour per airplane with Jet Fuel at $2.00 per gallon equals about a $12,000 savings in fuel cost.


Flaps-Slats As the airplane begins to roll the noises you hear are flaps being extended and brakes being checked. Both of these are normally operated by a hydraulic system.

In order for the airplane to fly it must produce lift. In essence it must overcome the effect of gravity.

The aircraft wing is the primary source for producing lift and flaps supplement it's lift producing capability.

Flaps are used for takeoffs and landings with the amount used depending on the airplane weight and configuration.


At the gate or as the airplane is taxiing to the runway the airplane’s weight is calculated. This is important because it determines what configuration will be used to allow for a safe takeoff.

Fat Albert Did you know that standard weights are used for all passengers? You weigh about 200 pounds in the winter and about 175 in the summer. Either way you look marvelous. Hey, hey, hey!

With the aircraft weight determined safe takeoff speeds and power settings can be determined.

Sometimes this calculation is delayed and you cannot takeoff until it is complete. Although unusual you might find yourself in a “We are waiting for takeoff numbers” delay which is normally brief.


For maintenance and fuel savings along with other safety considerations your flight may not always takeoff at full power. An airplane with few passengers departing on a long runway might be such case.

Have you ever stuck your hand out the window of a moving car while your mom was not looking? What happens? Your hand wants to fly especially if your mom has a lead foot. However, if she drives slow like me nothing much happens.


Madrid 021 The same is true of an airplane. It must reach a certain speed before it will fly. Again this speed depends on it's weight and atmospheric conditions.

On a hot day with all things equal the airplane must go faster to fly than on a cold day. Most commercial airplanes safely become airborne between 150-200 miles per hour although airplane speeds are referenced in knots.


“Northwest 807, turn right heading 230, cleared for takeoff”


777 Throttles When conditions allow most airplanes will take off with a headwind to reduce the amount of runway required to become airborne. That is why at different times you may depart an airport in a different direction depending on surface winds.

Using throttle levers located on a center console, pilots set a pre-determined power setting.


As the airplane gains speed pilots are required to make system checks to ensure the airplane can be safely taken airborne. Any malfunctions require a swift decision that is made based on experience, aircraft procedures and airline policies. 99.9 percent of the time reaching the correct calculated lift off speed your flight will become safely airborne.


NWA Tail And Tower This is done by the pilot manipulating a flight control surface on the tail of the airplane called the elevator combined with “rudder” pedals for ground directional control.





A coordination of flight control surfaces on the tail along with the wings and you are accelerating to your cruising altitude. You will be traveling about 500 miles an hour when you get there.



With nice weather it will seem like you are sitting in a comfortable bus except you will soon be about 5 miles above the earth. Enjoy your flight.


Fly Spirit Airlines, Pay For Carry On Luggage


Spirit 003 As of August 1st Spirit Airlines now charges it's passengers for carry on luggage.

Despite politicians like Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York meddling, Spirit has gone ahead with it's previously announced plans.

I say good for Spirit Airlines having the courage to run their business how they see fit to do so.



Spirit 001 I recently flew Spirit to Boston on August 2nd and from what I could tell passengers have quickly adapted to the new fees.

I don't think Spirit has lost many of it's customers as my flight was still relatively full for a weekday 7am departure. It boarded without any problems and departed on time.



Like most businesses Spirit is doing what it feels it must to survive and stay profitable. For some reason, I think politicians and a good portion of the flying public feel that airlines must sacrifice their viability for the sake of cheap airfares.

Most would feel differently if the same standards were applied to where they earned their bread and butter.


Spirit 005 In my opinion baggage fees along with “nickel and diming” of customers would be unnecessary if airlines could upfront get a reasonable price for their product.

In the end, passengers will determine whether Spirit is doing the right thing in charging it's customers extra fees for carry on luggage.

Let the market decide not the politicians.