Weather conditions, Aerodynamics, Antecedents, favorite plane, Captain vs. First Officer
S: Hi puppies
T: It was nice today, I guess the twins, uh Adam and David are not coming to skiin’
S: Uh, that sucks, doyouthinklibety will be open, next…Saturday.
S: -Okay- because Adam & I still have these passes to use up.
T: Yep- Well. what do you want to talk about tonight?
S: Umm I wanted to ask you if you can describe best and worst weather conditions for flying.
T: Ohh my…ah the worse weather, would be thunderstorms. Microbursts.
S: Ah microburst what is that? (not supposed to ask that)
T: That is a concentrated column of air that would uh, if an airplane and gets itself in a microburst you could slam it to the ground. Big airplane too.
S: Okay, do those, happen only during thunderstorms, is that a, meteorologist term?
T: Yes, Microburst.
S: Are there any other kind of weather situations that you really wouldn’t want to find yourself in?
T: Uh..well any kind of, the thunderstorm would be, you don’t want fly into a thunderstorm, or anything related to a thunderstorm. Uh, that’s just you don’t want to fly into it. We’re actually required to fly around thunderstorms by twenty miles, that kind of stuff. But other weather, that you have to deal with…snow, you know you get into the right precautions you can fly into snow, land and take-off, as long as you de-ice the airplane properly. You don’t want fly into —-shuffling incomphrensible-feedback– thunderstorms, uh oh course with thunderstorms there’s tornados in thunderstorms. Another terms would be a squall line which is a meteorology term which is, a line of bad weather of which multiple thunderstorms in the line, and uh, all kinds of bad stuff.
T: Good weather would be…uh…clear, light winds…uh, for passengers would be, little lifting of the air which would make it smooth.
T: Good, good weather day…you can see miles and miles and …mumbles…
S: When is the air unsmooth? (not an ethnographic question)
T: Ah, well, uh…when the air warms, it, it lift, it rises, warm air rises. There are a lot of things that make the air unstable. Uhm warming of the air, makes the air rise. Ah, geographical things that make the air bouncy, mountains, you know the air comes up over the mountains and that can make air bouncy…uh, close thunderstorms, clear air, can still get bouncy around from a thunderstorm that’s why you want to stay 15-20 miles away from a thunderstorm. Hm what else makes the air bounce? …uh, those are the major things.
S: Do you need a pencil or something (to Adam)
S: Hold on a second (to Tim)
S I think one of these is yours anyway (To Adam)
A: Thank you
S: Okay… uhm, what are prevailing winds? (Not an ethnographic question)
T: Those are uhh…United States prevailing winds are usually west to east. It’s the flow of winds that usually the winds flow west to east, prevailing winds, usually when you fly, an example, you fly from Dulles to Paris, Dulles to Paris, is usually like an 8 hour flight. Paris to Dulles, going the other way, going west, its longer. Most of the time. Its usually 8 and a half 8:45 and its because of the prevailing winds.
T: Rotation of the Earth, you know winds usually flow west to east.
S: Does that have anything to do with currents like currents in the ocean there are currents. (Way, way off topic)
T: Yeah. The wind is an air current. There is a lot of things that would change that, uh, jet stream changes that- uh,
S: Change the prevailing winds? Ah- uh-
T: Well…it can change the velocity of them. How fast they are. Like when you get closer to the equator you don’t usually have prevailing winds, remember when you get close to the equator, you get into doldrums, there’s no prevailing winds down there, because of the rotation of the earth.
S: I thought Jet Stream was the same as Prevailing Winds but…they’re different.
T: Yeah, jet stream, jet stream goes the same direction as prevailing wind but it is a core, it is like a tunnel of a core of very fast moving air.
S: Okay, so you could have prevailing winds and then you could have the jet stream in the prevailing winds. (me trying to understand weather regardless that I took an atmosphere class and this is irrelevant.) I mean, there’s always prevailing winds, is there always a jet stream? (Really I have no direction with this)
T: is a , is a what. (He’s like what the hell.)
S: There’s always prevailing winds.
S: Is there always a Jet Stream?
T: Most of the time, sometimes there’s two jet streams in certain times of the year, north and south. And some, certain times of the jet stream is much stronger than other times.
S: What makes it stronger? (Could I get anymore off topic)
T: Uh, that’s a good question, I don’t know if I know that answer, I probably do I just can’t think of it.
S: That’s okay,
T: Its usually stronger in the winter time….must be something about the cold air. See like this winter, this winter we had extremely cold air, but everybody knows about the Arctic Vortex.
S: No What’s the Artic Vortex- (oh wait, yes I can)
T : -Because its been in the news, its this area of air up in the arctic circle area but it has moved down this winter a lot further south than it usually goes. And that’s why we’re having such cold air, now what is bringing that down, is the Jet Stream. The Jet Stream is for some reason taking a big dip down through the United States, just north of Florida, and coming back, that’s bringin’ all that cold air down.
T: And the Jet Stream is usually around…it can be anywhere from 30-30,000 to 50,000 feet up, it varies. So- when we fly to Europe, this is a practical explanation, when we fly to Europe the Jet Stream is part of the prevailing winds, you know we just talked about that, so we want to Use the Jet Stream when we are going from Dulles to Europe. We want to catch the ride. Cause its pushing us. Does that make sense?
T: It’s a prevailing wind its going west to east and so, when we’re coming back from Paris or England to Dulles, you want to stay out of the jet stream. Because it’s slowing us down.
S: The screen, I forget what its called, on the cockpit, that shows your route, will that show the jet stream as well? (Not Ethnographic)
T: No. It’ll show the winds, uh… and we can usually tell when we are in the jet stream. We have maps that show us where it is.
T: We have maps that show us the wind, over the ocean (phone ringing) oh that’s mom. We have- we just- what was the question- (phone stops) but to answer your question no we don’t have anything that shows us exactly, we, we can decipher where it is because of the wind speed but we don’t have anything that shows us exactly where it is on our ASI/(HIS?)
S: Okay, ….I ,I mean that makes sense to me, I’m picturing it coming up and saying, “You are now, in the Jet Stream” but I see, I see how it works with the wind speed, um.
T: Let’s see the fastest over the ground that I’ve gone I think it was 680 Knots. Okay so, you know, our, our airspeed when we get going up at cruise altitude is just under 5 uh, 450 and we were up to 680 so we were in the jet stream. And it was like 180 knots that, so it added that much speed, over the ground.
S: What, what do you mean over the ground- (What does this have to do with culture) That’s not landing is it- (Nothing)
T: You have uh, what you call, we call it mumble (true air speed?) Air speed the air plane is moving through the air then you have what’s ground speed, if the wind is pushing you the ground speed is gonna be high, higher than your true air speed, because its pushing you along- if you turn the airplane around and your facing going into the wind, your ground speed is going to be slower, than your u, true air speed. That’s why you want to stay out of head winds and get into tail winds.
S: When your going to land-
T: No when you are flying. When you’re going from point A to point B.
S: Why, why is called—okay… over the grounds, even when you are 50,000 feet up its still over the ground. (I don’t know why this threw me so bad, maybe because its nowhere near topic.)
T: Yeah its called ground speed.
S: Ground Speed.
T: It’s the speed that we are traveling over the ground.
T: You have to think of it, in a three dimensional realm. We’re in an airplane that’s moving, in the air. So..the airplane moves in the air at a certain speed and if you have wind, pushing the airplane the speed is going to be that much faster, over the ground. If you turn it around and you are going into the wind, the wind is going to prevent you from traveling as fast over the ground, if that makes sense. Somebody could explain it better hopefully I’m not confusing you.
S: -No that makes sense.
S: Now you mentioned Great Circle Route in our first interview, uh, can explain what that is…and are their any other types of routes. (Not an Ethnography Question.)
T: Well the Earth is not flat, the earth is a globe, I don’t know if you remember, maybe they didn’t teach you this in Fairfield- If you put a point a pen ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-We call it a great circle route because the Earth is round. The distance between two points, on a globe, is actually shorter, in a circle, than it is straight across———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–
S: What’s the difference between a layover international and a layover regional?
T: Well usually an international layover is a lot longer. I don’t know exactly what you mean by that question.
S: Uhm, I mean, in the pilots’ free time.
T: Well one of the big differences is the time, you’re in a lot different time zone. You know you’ve been to Italy its 5/6 hours difference vs. Los Angeles its 4 hours ehh 3 hours, you body doesn’t have to adjust as must to a regional as it does to an international. Uh, those guys that fly to Australia and Japan-
S: What are some, what are some of the adjustments that their bodies have to go through?
T: Well, sleep patterns, they never really adjusted, outta wack, when you fly to Tokyo, or Soule in Korean you’re almost on. What they call, Backside of your Body Clock . You, over there they’re asleep when your body is awake and their up when you’re body is supposed to be sleepin’.
S: How do they handle that.
T: They just feel tired a lot, and when you come home you sleep —-(all day?)— to recover. You just get kinda used to it. Just deal with it.
S: The microphone here is giving feedback to the computer so I keep moving it around. Are there any other adjustments or I guess, reasons, uh that would make a trip like that hard on the body, physically.
T: What was the question again?
S: What are other hardships on your body from flying from New York to Japan.
T: Well just the…sleeping, uh, you have to like Japanese food that’s an adjustment.
S: m hm. So uh, a cultural adjustment maybe?
T: Uh huh its definitely a cultural adjustment. Uh let’s see what else, yeah it’s a big cultural adjustment. Its, its, more the sleep thing than anything. Because you aren’t staying there to get adjusted long enough. You’re getting right into the airplane and coming right back. So that really just really kind of screws your body up.
S: I know that when you said going to Europe on the layovers a lot of pilot’s have time to sight see, eat dinner, and of course they sleep, uhm, do pilots on these kinds of trips have time for that or are they sleeping until they have to go back?
T: No they have some time, they have about the same amount of time as Europe layover, its just that, they are, their body is trying to go to sleep when its daylight and when its daylight you know uh- does that make sense.
S: Um hm yeah.
T: Like right now, its 7o’clock in the evening here. In Japan its…like 7o’clock in the morning, the next day.
S: So I mean, they’re gonna wanna get there and go to sleep but its, it’s a, the daytime, or the morning. Don’t forget tonight is…daylight saving time! I…just remembered.
T: Yep..I changed some of the clocks, already.
S: Different sort of question, what does it mean (horrible beginning no) to be a Captain, how is this similar or different then being a first officer. And I think I’m asking, the different jobs, that they are responsible for. (Didn’t need to specify, should have let him answer first, could have done that later, didn’t know better.)
T: Well the one thing a Captain sits in the left side of the cockpit as your looking out the window, the first officer sits in the right seat, as your looking out the window. The captain is…the final authority of the airplane, so if anything happens. It’s the captain’s responsibility to deal with it. Tells the first officer what to do. The first officer can give choices…on what to do, but it is the final, decision, is on the captain. He is in command, of the airplane. So he’s you know, emergency or anything like that, or if it’s a medical emergency, he talks to dr.’s it’s the captain who decides we’re gonna land, we’re going to make a diversion or we are going to continue. All those decisions are ultimately the captain’s choice. The first officer can suggest things, but it’s the captain decision, ok. Like when the customer service agent comes up and asks, is it okay to close the doors…
S: The captain, is the one that’s responding. (I don’t know why I do this its such a bad habit but I’m always finishing other’s sentencing if I think I know the answer.)
T: Yeah the first officer does not because it’s not his place to say yes or no.
T: uh..now, of course, uh, the other thing I had mentioned before unlike the tv, movies, the first officer does fly the airplane, every other leg.
S: By leg do you mean a certain number of hours (was that wrong to ask probably, probably should have used folk term leg in question itself to figure out meaning)
T: No like, like uh, the first officer- if you fly to Paris and fly back …the captain usually fly over to Paris and First Officer usually flies back from Paris. To Dulles, that’s a leg ok, or if you have a leg for Dulles to Chicago, Chicago to La. One person flies from dulles to Chicago the other person flies from Chicago to La. The Captain doesn’t fly all the time.
T: Now there are certain checklists that you go through, the captain has certain responsibilities on this checklist and the first officer has certain responsibilities on this checklist. Uh, the captain always taxi’s the airplane.
S: No matter which leg it is?
T: yeah, the captain is always taxing the airplane.
S: Could you explain taxing real quick (Wrong)
T: Well, after you push back from the gate you know and the guy salutes you, the tug guy, so now you are on your own, when you get called to taxi you gotta taxi to the runway, you gotta move the one from the terminal to the runway that’s taxiing.
S: Okay, Taxiing is like, driving….but you really don’t say driving when you’re talking about airplanes.
T: Don’t say that. (he did laugh though)
T: We are moving to get the airplane to the runway to take off, taxiing, on the ground, so steering the airplane with the nerves wheel and the captain does that. So if the airplane runs into anything on the ground, it’s the captain’s fault. (laugh)
T: So if it’s the first officer’s leg to fly the captain taxis onto the run way and tells the first officer, you have the airplane.
S: Do you have to switch seats to do that?
T: No , no we don’t switch seats, no.
T: Uh… that’s about it for the captain first officer, the big thing is the responsibilities.
T: That’s about it.
S: ATC: Air Traffic Control: What is there job (so bad, so bad, this just keeps getting worse) uh ta uhm- that really- that really doesn’t have anything to do with pilots (really) I mean I know you guys are communicating back and forth between them- (also now I’m relying on things I “know already” bad. No.)
T: They keep thing safe in the air.
S: Make sure no planes are crashing into each other. (I know how off topic it is, yet- I go with it………………..)
T: Yeah, there’s a lot of different functions for the ATC. Lots.
S: See this is, this is, where I…I know this because I’ve flown a plane before, I knew this before going into it. I’m not really supposed to know that.
T: What air traffic control?
S: Yeah, what it is, and what it does.
T: There’s different, within the airport, air traffic control clears you to taxi to the runway. They are also controlling all the other airplanes so they want to keep everything moving in a safe manner to get everyone to the runway and getcha off in the air.
S: What is cruise altitude? (No.)
T: That is when we are climbing to a certain altitutude, usually its 35/33,000 feet somewhere in that area and that is the altitude that we stay, until we start descending. That altitude is our cruise. We stay there until we start coming down to our destination.
————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————T: Air traffic control is sequencing the airplanes and by sequencing I mean they are putting them all in a duck line about 5 miles apart.
Separation of Economy, First Class & business Class
S: Why the separation?
T: Seats actually, they take up a lot more space because the seats actually go down, into a horizontal position (first class) where people can sleep.
T: Business class, there wide seats, but you know, they look like a regular airplane where they don’t turn or they don’t, the seats are nice and comfortable and they almost go down horizontal but they don’t, and then you go economy. (laugh) —actually this was interview 3, 4 on my recorder—-
Mid Point Interview 4: “If an airplane is landing and it gets itself caught in a microburst- it could slam it to the ground” 1:57 “Big airplane, too”
T: So that allows an airplane to land, on a runway, clear the runway, and another airplane is landing.
S: Does Oceanic control sort of do the same thing?
T: Does what?
S: Does Oceanic control do the same thing?
T: They are doing the same thing only, um.. they’re not really seeing us on radar they just, they know that we cross a certain point that’s a crossing of a latitude and longitudinal point and they know that if we’re there at a certain time the next point they know where we’re supposed to be and somebody, they know, who’s in back of us. So they are following everybody but they’re not really seeing us on radar.
T: If that makes sense hopefully it does
S: So complex
T: It’s a lot space-
S: So these are the guys that radio in and tell you that basically tell you okay your clear to land now and you can’t do- can’t –hello?
T: Say that again-
S: These are, the air traffic control, are the ones radioing in saying your clear to land now
T: Uh that’s the tow air traffic control
S: Okay so there’s the tower, but then there’s other sectors-
T: Yeag- theres towers, end route air traffic control, there’s oceanic, there’s ah-
S: Oh I see so there all part of one bigger thing-
T: They’re all part of air traffic control but they’re all different segments of it.
T: And they’re handing you off- you know, lets, -if we’re flying from Paris to Dulles and we’re over the ocean, we’re at Oceanic control when we get closer to land we get into Canadian Air Traffic Control Airspace and we’re there for a couple hours and then when we get closer to Maine we get into Boston, air traffic control, at uh, cruise altitude, and then we get into New York sector, then we get into the Washington sector, then we start descending then we get into Dulles tower, keeps on getting closer and closer.
T: You have that look of — I hope I didn’t confuse yah.
S: I’m picturing right now, every airport has one of these, and, just a tower—there must be tons of them.
T: Yes, yes. Every airport has one, then you get further out and kind of the immediate area, then you get further out, then you get into a bigger area- yeah its all controlled.
T: Like I’ll give you an example, I have to tell you this because I’m thinking about it. We were delayed – we’re going to Brussels, out of Dulles, we were delayed – and because of a maintence, so we finally got the airplane fixed- and we were taking off around 10 o’clock at night. So we were about 4 – 5 hours late. And we take off out of Dulles, Dulles tower hands us off- to the next controller, the Washington controller, and the Washington controller tells us- do not speed up, you have to slow down- the reason why , was because this other big airplane was coming out of the Baltimore airport, so the Baltimore Airtraffic Control Tower guy called Washington guy and said I got this big empty 11 coming up and they are going the same way- alright.
T: So we had to slow down so they could come up out of Baltimore and turn to go East and then we, we would get in back of them, so now we’re being sequenced and now, once that guy sped up, then we can speed up, Guess who that was. It was UNCLE MATT! Laugh, laugh, laugh
S: Really- laugh laugh
S: That’s so funny
S: How did you find that out.
T: Uncle Matt gets on the Washington control- so Baltimore tower just transferred him right, and it goes world- and he’s the one talking because the first officer is flying the airplane, so the other guy talks on the radion when the other- one guy is flying, one guy talks- amd I knew exactly who it was.
T: I said: MAATT!
Laugh laugh laugh
S: Did you get on the radio and tell him? Were you like- hey brother.
T: He was afraid to talk- but he knew, he knew who it was, I said: Brother Matt!
How yah Doin!!
T: so then we were sequenced all the way across the ocean. He was going into Frankfurt, and we were going over to Brussels.
S: What was that one time you ran into him, at a hotel or something, in Germany? Or maybe it wasn’t Germany.
T: Actually that was Brussels that we met.
T: Oh, you mean, the time that I did not know he was there?
S: Yeah, I mean the time you looked up and he was just standing there beside you.
T: Oh- that happened to be Atlanta Georgia.
T: I had a layover in Atlanta, that’s when I was flying the 737. So he was just coming in to the hotel and I was leaving, he was flying all night and we were at the front desk- and the guy said Mr. Myers.
T: And he was talking to me, and Matt looks up and I look at Matt and Matt looks and me and you’ve got to be kidding me, yep that’s, that was very unusual- we did not know we we’re gonna be there at the same time. Sometimes it can be a small world.
S; mh m
S: Um, this is going to be kind of a short interview.
T: That’s alright.
(Adam coloring in the background).
S: Oh uh, I have a question, what’s the best plane to fly? Or whatever your favorite plane is-
T: Oh—one of my favorite ones is the Boeing 757, because it is a… it has, it is a sports car-
S: Yeag I remember you saying its long and slender, characteristics
T: But- the controls- when you turn it, it turns, quickly- and on a cold day, when, when it can, climb, quick. Where you point the nose- it goes. So yeah its, for a non-flying person its like a sports car. Versus the other plane that I flying right now, I can fly both of them because the FAA allows — 767, which is a lot bigger than the 757. The 767 flies like a truck. When you turn the airplane it kind of lumbers…takes long time to turn… not like th ’57 where boom, boom- so…its kinda…a like flying both of them… but then when I used to fly the 747 that was probably one of the easiest, its also one of the biggest airplanes… I think my overall favorite airplane would be the Boeing 757.
T: Very responsive, yeah, very responsive.
S: When you have to slow down and airplane what do you do?
T: Well the first thing you do is pull the throttle’s back, so you are taking power off the engine. Uh, when your coming in, so, then you can descend. Now, if you have to descend quicker- then you have to disrupt air flow over the wing- now we’re getting into air dynamics. The way the air is flowing over the wing, you know its always, its always lift on the wing- we have what they are called, they are called spoilers I don’t know if you remember when you fly-
S: The flaps that come up?
T: Those are called spoilers and all they are doing is disrupting the air flow over the wings.
S: And that slows down…
T: That makes you come down quicker yeah.
T: Now to slow the airplane down for a landing, to slow it down you actually change the shape of the wing, and that’s that’ s where the flaps come in, flaps coming down and it actually changes the curvature of the wing so aerodynamically, slow down without falling out of the air. So when we’re up in cruise altitude that, you want that wing to be nice, you want that air to flow over it without any obstructions, but when your down landing you want to slow down, you want to slow down with out falling out of the sky- the only reason, the only way you can do that is to change the curvature of the wing and that’s where the flaps and in the front of the wing they’re call “Flaps”
S: What if the—
T: Watch geese, someday, you and adam, when your watching geese, and you get a change to watch a goose land, you will see, that the wing, the wing actually changes on a goose, right before they are ready to touch down. It allows you to slow down with out falling out of the sky.
T: What was the question I kind of cut you off.
S: Im kind of trying to understand, the dynamics maybe, I mean I understand what you mean about the wing shape but what do you mean, you’d fall out of the sky if the wings didn’t change like that? What makes that happen
T: Uh, you see- we’re getting into air dynamics, on the airplane- and its, if I had a chalk board I could explain it to you- the airflow over the wing creates lift and if you uh, if you slow and airplane down, a jet like that, there’s a certain point where the air stops flowing over the wings. Unless you change the shape of the wing.
T: Uh, if the air stops flowing over the wings that ‘s called a stall. Areodynamically. A stall- and that’s very bad.
T: So we’re flying, 380-400 knots in the air, when we flow down and we start putting flaps out, when we’re landing, we’re landing at about 140- we can slow down that much. To land the airplane. Uh. Its gotta be hard to understand because you really haven’t gone over any aerodynamic-
S: No… but, I mean once an airplane stalls I mean, does it every happen does an airplane ever stall?
T: Yeah it can stall.
S: And once it does, would a pilot be able to turn it back on, if theres enough uh,,space.
T: Well this is not an aerodynamic stall this is not an engine stall.
S: Okay completely different.
T: Yeah. We actually practice that in the simulator. A big jet like that, it stalls, aerodynamics, you’re going to need a couple thousand feet to recover. So its almost unheard of. In a major airline, I mean its something that doesn’t happen. Professional pilots and they’re just not going to let that happen. Maybe at a smaller, uh, smaller airplane..guy, somebody not as experienced.
S: That’s all the question I have for you today. Thank you for making time.