Blogger Template by Blogcrowds

Houston, We Have a Problem...

The babies are doing fine. I just had to post about an interesting flight I had today.

It was the end of a four day trip and I had one more turn to New Orleans. The weather was, well for lack of a better word, crappy. There was a line of thunderstorms stretching from the Gulf coast to well north of Oklahoma sitting right between Houston and New Orleans. I had just flown over it on the way from New York and so I knew that it was going to be bumpy.

The take off and climb out was uneventful. Bumpy, just like I knew it was going to be, but not horrible. We deviated south over the Gulf to avoid the worst of the storms, but had to penetrate some weather to get to the New Orleans airport. No problem, we do it all the time. You can't avoid everything, but we try to make it as smooth as possible.

Houston center handed us off to New Orleans approach control for the decent and approach. Approach gave us a vector toward the final approach course and gave us a clearance to descend to five thousand feet. The controller then advised us that he was showing moderate to heavy precipitation between us and the final approach course and cleared us to deviate as necessary and join the localizer. I told him that we were painting yellow everywhere and could not distinguish anything worse.

Yellow on our weather radar is moderate precipitation. We generally try to avoid yellow. However, sometimes the only way to get there is to pick the least yellow and tighten your seatbelt. At any rate we were already in it and once you are in the weather the radar is much less helpful so we took the controllers advice and turned a little more to the left.

At just about that time I started hearing some static on the radio. That usually means that you are in fairly close proximity to an electrical storm. That happens all the time and I was not concerned. We were in the weather and the ride was not to terrible, you might have spilled your coffee, but you would not have smacked your head on the ceiling. At about that moment I saw a flash of light. A bolt of lightening started in the distance and stretched out toward us. It happened very very fast, but I watched it come, dip down below us and then rise up to meet the nose of the airplane. There was a flash, a shudder. and as you might imagine a loud bang. I about hit my head on the overhead panel, it really startled me.

It all happened in about 3/4 of a second. After scanning all the instruments, and determining that we were still flying, I reflected on something that Jim Lovell said in his book, "From the Earth to the Moon." (A fascinating read by the way.) He was complaining about being hooked up to all kinds of monitors so everyone knew his slightest elevation in heart rate or first drop of sweat. He explains perfectly the pilot mentality. We remain cool at all times. We have things under control, no matter the situation. We are unflappable. This image is necessary for us, to project calm to our passengers, maybe for our egos too. I am glad that I didn't have a heart rate monitor hooked up to me. I am sure that I was calm on the outside, but that sure spiked my heart rate for a few seconds.

The captain and I looked at each other for a moment, he was trying to look calm too. He said, nonchalantly, "Maybe we should start the APU." The APU (auxiliary power unit) provides electrical power and compressed air to all the aircraft systems. With a lightening strike we thought that there might be some electrical problems and so having an extra generator sounded like a good idea.

We didn't end up needing the APU. The rest of the flight was uneventful. I gave New Orleans Operations a heads up that we would need maintenance to come have a look at the plane and we continued on. The captain wasn't completely sure that we even got struck, he thought that it may have just been close. I on the other hand knew we got hit, because it struck about three feet in front of my face on my side of the plane. Sure enough, the mechanic found the "exit wound" on the left wing tip.

It is kind of amazing that you can send that much electricity through an airplane and not have anything to show for it but a few pin holes in one wing tip.

On the home front: Not too much new to report. Jordan rolled over for the first time tonight and I am sure that Madison will not be too far behind. I am thrilled with how well the kids are doing.

Four days away from my munchkins seemed like an eternity and I had about an hour of quality time on the couch with the girls when I got home today. Reagan was sitting on the arm of the couch to my left, Rylee was snuggled up on my right, and Jordan was in my lap giving me smiles while we sat through a couple of episodes of "Dora The Explorer."

I have been wondering how Dora and Deigo finance their adventures. They must be government funded, right? Do you think that if they lost their funding that they would be trying to sell me "Chicklettes" on the beach in Mexico?

Sorry, side track.

I took Rylee and Reagan to the local park for swinging and sliding. It was a very good time. I wish that I had brought the camera, the light was perfect. I love that golden glow you get on a cloudless day, just when the sun is starting to go down.

That is all for now.

Merry Christmas! (Not Happy Holidays... that drives me nuts. Remember the reason for the season.)


Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home