Thursday, June 22, 2006

Controller's Delight

Communication in the flying game is quick and to the point.  We are asked or told to do something, be it a radio frequency change, a turn to a heading, to climb or descend, clearances for a myriad of things, and so forth.  The skies are filled with airways that have thousands of jets flying 1000 feet apart in opposite directions, with close to 1000 miles an hour of speed differential.  It is one of those jobs that require you to pay attention.  Controlling this volume of traffic are the professional air traffic controllers.  We could not do this job without them.  There are pilots who fly the same airspace on a regular basis who talk to the same controller day after day. This can lead to both parties recognizing the voice of the other party.  I have heard pilots checking in to a new frequency, and upon hearing the controller’s voice asking how the new baby is. Fly Guy has never had this happen to him; however this past week climbing out of JFK into the high altitude structure, I overheard the following conversation between three male pilots and a female air traffic controller.  She was working New York Center when a US Airways flight checked in……………………….

US Airways “US Airways XXXX checking in 320”

NY Center “Roger US Airways XXX 320”

US Airways “You sound tired today”

NY Center “Just got back from a week of vacation”

Jet Blue “Sounds like you had a lot of fun”

NY Center “It was Las Vegas”

Fly Guy “Is it true that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?”

NY Center “Not telling”

What followed was 30 seconds of silence then “US Airways XXXX contact Washington Center on XXXX.

It was back to business but my copilot talked about all the possibilities for the next 2000 miles.  Be Safe, FlyGuy.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Viva Las Vegas

This story was told to me by another pilot.  He will remain anonymous and this is the story as told to me.  Several years ago I flew a leg from Orlando to Las Vegas on the Boeing 727.  This was well before in-flight entertainment systems that offer 20 channels of video and 20 channels of audio entertainment.  You were left to your own devices to stay entertained.  This particular flight was way oversold and the gate agents were busy offering lots of incentives to the passengers to give up their seats and wait for the next flight.  When our final paper work arrived, the agent had the last two passengers to board with her.  As they came on the airplane they went right by the flight deck.  They were a man and a woman who looked like characters out of a Miami Vice episode.  He was wearing a suit that looked like shark skin with a white shirt, the collar open down to his sternum with gold chains around his neck  She  had on a suit made of ultra suede, dressed to the nines, tons of makeup, and big, big hair.  He looked like a drug dealer and she looked like a Vegas showgirl.  They were seated in the last row of the coach cabin.

About an hour into the flight we got a call from the lead flight attendant informing us that the couple had been cut off from buying any more alcohol as they were drunk and disruptive but they did not need our assistance.  Another hour went by and we got another call telling us that they suspected the couple was now drinking alcohol they had brought on board.  The flight attendant said they were probably hiding it and drinking when they were working other parts of the cabin.

On final approach with only minutes before landing the phone in the flight deck rang several times(ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding) in a few seconds.  I answered the call and was told, “That flashy couple is going to blows, and there is blood all over the place on the ceiling and seats.  We need security to meet the plane.”  We landed and had the local authorities meet the aircraft.  The passengers were told to stay in their seats until the police could come aboard and escort two passengers off the aircraft.  The airport police came on board, went to the last row of the airplane and took them both off the airplane, the man in handcuffs.  The police later told us that they had been popping pills along with drinking their own alcohol.  The man told her he had enough and didn’t want anymore.  He caught her dropping pills into his drink and punched her in the face.  She did not appreciate the punch and slammed her fists into his nose and the fight was on.  Eventually the flight attendants were able to get them to stop and separated them.  

When we walked off the jet way we saw the woman in line for the next flight back to Orlando with a bag of ice on her nose.  The man was taken into custody.  To my amazement we were told by a flight attendant that they had come to Las Vegas to get married.  

That is the story as told to me. Shortest honeymoon I have ever heard about.  I have always said that if you want to see the greatest cross section of humanity anywhere on this planet, go hang out in baggage claim in the Las Vegas International Airport.  Be Safe, FlyGuy

You can hear this story on Joe Deons' podcasting site at,

Thursday, June 01, 2006

These pictures were taken on final approach to
Tampa International Airport. I was able to set a timer on my camera which automatically took several photos during our approach. The picture on the bottom shows us about 3 miles out.