Just one pilot's attempt at taking an interesting picture every trip, often with a story to go with it. Come along for the ride.

For more recent posts, go to my site www.kentwien.com

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Video clips from the cockpit window

I've collected a few video clips from the past few months and I thought I'd share them with you. If I can't make any trip reports right now, I may as well catch up on some of the things I've wanted to post here.  This one minute clip is a collection of 17 clips taken either above 10,000 feet or on the taxiway when the parking brake was set.  It gives a sense of some of the sights you see when flying.

Cloud Skimming

This was taken a few weeks ago, but I only now noticed it in iMovie '08. I am really enjoying this program after having some big reservations about it initially. It's perfect for throwing these types of clips up here in a matter of minutes. In two weeks I'll have a Panasonic HDC-SD5 video camera which might improve the quality of these shots.

1994 R/C heli crash

This video transferring is kind of fun. Here's a 1994 video of me flying a 4-stroke radio controlled helicopter. After practicing some autorotations (simulated engine failures), I went up for a stall turn and wouldn't you know it, the tail rotor failed at the worst possible moment. If I had been level, I could have easily removed power from the heli and simply glided down (another autorotation) which straightens the helicopter by removing the torque. But the heli wasn't exactly level. Here's the outcome:

I'm on reserve for September, and if I don't get called for a trip in the next few days, I'll be subjecting you to some more home movies. So you'd better hope I fly soon!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hard at work - at home.

I'm busy digitizing some videos that are mostly family home movies, my solo flight, some ultralight stuff, and waterskiing videos.  But the most interesting item is from my grandpa's flight from Fairbanks to a stranded ship in Siberia that became stuck in the ice in 1929.  This became the first round trip flight from North America to Asia. Since my grandpa, Noel was an amateur photographer and film maker as well as a pilot, he did a good job documenting some of this early Alaskan flying.  If I can get permission from my family, I'll post this silent film here soon.  -->update:  No such luck.  Unfortunately I can't post a small web version of this film.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bartek 'lands' a job!

I've been emailing with Bartek for a year and a half now. He told me about competing in precision flying contests in Poland and his training there toward his ATP license. Well, he just let me know that he has just been hired by EuroLot as a co-pilot on the ATR 42 and 72. Congratulations Bartek! Now let's see how many others who are reading this blog land similar jobs. It does seem like the whole industry is finally picking up steam. Good luck to anyone who is now learning to fly. You may have timed it just right.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Jose has a plan...

Jose from Venezuela is a frequent reader to this blog and I think he represents a bunch of you guys who are working to become commercial pilots.  He even made this very inspirational video, with an important message at the end:

Way to go, Jose! 

Friday, August 17, 2007

SDQ 2 day

The last time I flew with CA Bob was last year when we were still doing the Shannon trip. Bob and I had a great time at this pub, where the bartender put us to work. Ahh, those were the days. Everyone misses the Shannon trips.

This was another one of those two day Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic trips that pass through San Juan. It's not a Paris or Manchester trip, but sometimes its nice to stay on the same time zone. We have a morning and afternoon version of this 'Dingo' trip right now. I prefer the afternoon departure, which leaves at 3 p.m., but due to some thunderstorms over the Western Atlantic, our airplane was late arriving into Boston. Those storms moved out to the east and we had a nice flight to San Juan, although we were running a half hour late.

I snapped a few shots of the sun going down on my side of the airplane to add to my
flickr site. I'll share the best two here:

There were few if any buildups that we had to go around, and we made it in to SDQ sometime after 10 p.m. The hotel is about a half hour from the airport, and upon arrival, the staff there presents you with a small, cold Presidente beer. How nice. If you arrive in the afternoon, it's usually a fruity drink. It's a great tradition. Barbados also has this thoughtful perk.

Since the air conditioning in my room was set by a polar bear, I sat out on the balcony and finished my drink. The next morning, I took this picture of the view from the patio. It looks really nice, but one of the reasons that there weren't any people down there is because it was about 91 degrees (33C) and it was a bit humid. But it looked nice.

Passing through San Juan, I snapped this shot of a DC-3 that is still flying freight commercially. It's hard to imagine that after more than 70 years these airplanes are still working so hard. Will they make it commercially 10 more years? 20?

Effective August 2nd, they closed the runway in Santo Domingo and repainted the taxiway and changed the lights.  So now we're landing on the taxiway down there.  It's not much different, except for the long delay in getting out of there.  We had to wait for numerous arriving aircraft before we could 'back taxi' on the runway and turn around to take off.  But this presented a chance to take pictures of landing airplanes while we sat with just the left engine running to save fuel.  Here's an A300 landing there.

Here's Bob climbing out while the sun goes down north of San Juan. Nothing beats hand flying on a nice smooth evening.

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Manchester 3 day with Tony

I hate to back trips right up against eachother, but if you want any significant amount of days off later in the month, you really need to compress all of your flying to do so. So right after the last Paris trip on the 6th to the 8th, I put in a Manchester trip from the 9th to the 11th. You have about 24 hours at home in between, so that's plenty of time to mow the lawn, say hi to the family and put critters to bed (my two daughters) and catch up.

Manchester leaves at 8 p.m. and takes about 6 1/2 hours to get there. I'm more of a night person anyway, so I don't mind the late night flying. Besides, it's about the only way I'm ever going to see the sunrise, as I surely won't be getting up that early at home.

I've been taking so many stills of the sunrise and sunsets, but I figured I'd whip up a video clip and send it to YouTube via this new iMovie '08. It's not a good program anymore for making movies like the Paris trip flick, but it does clips really well.

Here are a couple of pictures of Manchester. We're still a good 20 miles out when this was taken, on a very high downwind leg.

CA Tony is about as Italian as they come. He's fun to fly with and since he flies Manchester quite a bit, he's familiar with all the good restaurants, especially the Italian ones. But I was planning on spending my afternoon in Manchester working with iLife '08 that I picked up while heading out the door for my trip. I have a friend who's selling his house and paid me to make him up a
website and ad. So I didn't have any big plans for dinner, other than to meet up at least for a drink with Tony and 3 of the flight attendants. But, as is often the case, after a Guinness, you tend to lose motivation and I found myself trying out the fish and chips at the Bank restaurant in Manchester which is very popular among the crews.

For the flight home, Jamie (who posts here regularly) positioned himself at the 'spotters hill' in Manchester so he could get a few shots of us and the other airplanes departing. I've mentioned it before, but it looks like an ideal location to take some great pictures of a wide variety of airplanes.

I managed to snap this shot of the photographers on the hill. Jamie is in the middle I think. At least that's where the waving was coming from.

And these are pictures from Jamie's side of the fence. Thanks Jamie!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Paris 3 day - "Want some camembert with your whine?"

This was a trip I had been looking forward to for weeks. A Paris trip with my buddy Captain Dave. Dave is an opinionated, outspoken and intelligent guy. He'll throw out a statement that goes against all conventional wisdom and you'll tell him he's completely lost it, but 15 minutes later, you realize that he's spot on. He takes an active role in flight planning to save fuel, and he's helped create some flight plan routes for the company that save huge amounts of fuel. He's shown me that it's not really that hard to do.

The co-pilot was Mike, the same FO I flew with on last weeks Paris trip, and one of the pilots on
this video, although very briefly he reminded me. I was the FB on this trip (relief pilot) but CA Dave elected to give me his leg home, meaning I would fly the Paris to Boston leg. The only caveat was that if it were a good landing, he would get all the credit. Deal, I said.

So Mike flew us over and after a 4 hour nap, Dave and I went out to the grocery store for some bread, wine and strawberries. We ran into a few of the flight attendants at the store who were planning their own outing. Our plan was to take a bike tour of Paris with Fat Tire Bike Tours. Unfortunately, most of the flight attendants had just done the same thing the week prior.

So we jumped on the Metro to go up toward the Seine, which is north of our hotel. I wanted to take a few pictures from
Paris Plage, which is an annual thing in Paris where they actually build a sandy beach along part of the Seine for everyone to enjoy in August. I've missed this for the past few years, and I really thought it would make a good picture for this blog. Not to mention that there was a place near Pont Neuf where we could get a cold Kronenburgh and hang out, just as we did on this trip.

The Metro was a bit more crowded than usual and as I was leading the way north, Dave was whining about how much faster it would have been to just walk to the river. This picture expresses his true enjoyment over the train ride, which he claimed that the S.S. couldn't have packed more people into a train.

By the time we got to the bridge, it was 6 p.m. and we needed to be at the Eiffel Tower at 7, so after having a quick beer, it was time to go. No Paris Plage sighting for this year. Oh, well.

Now to get to the Eiffel Tower, we could either find a Metro station and take two more trains out to the Dupleix station, or we could just walk it. I really didn't think I could take listening to Dave whine about the crowded train, so 'we' decided to take the nearly 1 hour walk to the tower. Of course, once we got there, we would find ourselves on a bike for the next 4 hours at least, with a few breaks, but we could do it. I mean, it's not like it's the Tour de France or anything. And the seats of these bikes are very comfortable.

Fat Tire (formerly Mike's) is a tour of Paris that either leaves at 11 a.m. or 7 p.m. every day from the south pier of the Eiffel Tower. The guides are always English speakers, as most of them are UTA college students from Austin, Texas. I think I've done the tour 4 times. I even brought my sister on the tour. It's cheap fun, at about $30, which on the night tour includes a boat tour of the Seine while enjoying some wine provided by the guide.

We met up with Mike at the south pier and we sat around while waiting for the rest of the group to get together there. The line to get into the tower was amazingly long. At one point, the French military pulled up and we just figured it was part of their security around there. Pretty soon, we noticed that they had cleared out the line and sent everyone away. This HAD to be a huge inconvenience for those who had waited for hours and were just now reaching the front of the line. The military came over and told us to move out as well. So in very little time, the entire base of the Eiffel Tower was cleared out. Someone then mentioned that it had due to a baby stroller that had been left unattended. When we cleared out, the only thing left was that stroller. Notice the stroller in the bottom of these pictures. We were just a few feet from it, amazingly.

So from the Eiffel Tower, you walk with the guide for a few minutes back to the bike tour location. Just as we got there, a huge downpour started. I've done the tour in the rain, and it's surprisingly enjoyable. But Dave and Mike represented 2/3rd's of our democracy, and they voted to bag the bike tour and go to a restaurant nearby. Here are the bikers heading out on their wet journey.

Le Volant is a restaurant that was started by a famous Formula 1 race car driver. The food was great, but the best part was the open wifi network nearby. I was able to jump on with the iPhone and read the news that Apple had released new iMacs and iLife '08. (As you may have noticed, I bought iLife '08 right away and managed to really mess up my original iWeb blog, to the point that I have now switched over to this Blogger format.)

I also sent this picture of Dave enjoying his dinner to his wife using the phone:

Maybe the caption above should be "Whining and dining with Dave."

So we called it a night pretty early and I wrote up the previous Paris trip report and posted it before going to bed.

As promised, Dave gave me the leg home, which was awfully nice of him. Getting a landing is the icing on the cake for most pilots and in a two pilot crew we obviously swap legs. Three pilot crewed trips with two landings usually leaves the FB without a landing. Fortunately, I don't fly FB very often.

After my very nice landing in Boston, I knew it was time to get back at Dave for the incessant whining on this trip. As we approached the gate, I made the typical arrival PA, and then let my finger off the mic switch so nothing would transmit and I said, "Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating Captain Dave on what was the finest landing of his career today." Dave snapped me a look of horror and said, "Did you just say that?"

"But Dave, you wanted the credit for only the good landings, right?"

Mic button for the PA:

"Gotcha Dave!"

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Recovered the old posts...

Good news.  I 'rescued' the old posts!  But the bad news is, that for now, the comments are gone.  I'm sure I'll figure out a way to get it all back.  But in the meantime, if you want to go back to any of the previous 6 months worth of previous posts, they're here.  Even if I can get them back, I'm thinking of switching to this format.  (update:  the old comments are gone forever.)  It's quicker and easier for me to post to Blogger and it seems to work well enough.  Maybe I'll migrate the old posts over here slowly.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Moving yet again?

No, we're not leaving New Hampshire.  But I may have to give up using iWeb for these posts that I've been keeping since the first of the year.  I updated to the latest version and made a few experimental changes which have really messed up the look.  It's completely unreadable.  I went back to change everything to the way it was and now I can't get it to publish.  So I'm taking a look at Blogger to see if this could serve as a replacement.  Sorry you have to be guinea pigs in this.  I'll post two more trip reports soon here.  And hopefully I'll be able to link back to the older posts with their comments.  I'd hate to lose all that work. 

Update:  I still can't get the comments back on the old format.  But here are the posts for the first have of 2007.  I still prefer the old format, but I'll stick it out with Blogger for now.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Paris 3 day - Musée du quay Branley

August will likely be a month with little pattern or ‘cadence’ in flying. I love to fly a variety of trips, but many of our lines are either built with all Paris, all Manchester, or all Santo Domingo or San Juan. But I’ve managed to trade around and get a nicely varied schedule for July and August, flying one of each of the trips we have.

Mark is the kind of Captain I aspire to be. Sharp as a tack, great sense of humor and always enjoyable to fly with. I was the FB (relief co-pilot) for this Paris trip. I had flown with the co-pilot, Mike once before and it looked to be a really fun trip. We were all happy to see that Michelle would be one of our nine flight attendants. Many of the others were actually from the Dallas base, surprisingly.

Typically everyone sleeps on the bus ride from the airport to the hotel in the city. I’ve heard stories of the ride taking as much as 3 hours, but I usually fly Paris on the weekends or in August when everyone in the city is away on vacation, so, this being August, we were at the hotel in less than 45 minutes. So, while I listened to The Apple Phone Show podcast, (highly recommended, BTW) everyone else slept...

Michelle really wanted to go to the Musée du quay Branley, which displays ancient instruments of non western societies. Sign me up! And Captain Mark wanted to check out a restaurant that was a converted train station he’d heard about. So with our evening planned in advance, I could sit back and enjoy the ride, so to speak.

The last time I flew with Mark, Michelle was also on the trip. Due to a mechanical issue with the airplane, we were unable to fly home with passengers, so we ferried an empty 767 back to Boston from Paris. And prior to that, Michelle was part of the crew that went to a play in Manchester together. So we’ve always managed to have a good time. She’s extremely smart, funny, positive, and she teases relentlessly. But I like that, and it makes for some great layovers to have her come along. Or maybe it was us that was tagging along with her, really. We discovered that all three of us pilots had cell phones that could text message internationally. CA Mark figured this would be a great way to meet up in Paris if one of us wanted to go out early. We tested it out and it worked great.

When I got to my room, I realized that I forgot the charger for the iPhone. Oh, The horror! In good cheapskate pilot form, I asked at the front desk if they might have a USB iPod cable that was left at lost and found. No such luck. So just after arriving at the hotel, I found myself walking to a FNAC store to buy an iPod charger. 2 hours later and I was in business. But that really cut into my nap time. So I crashed for another 2 1/2 hours before meeting up with CA Mark and Michelle. We planned on meeting Mike at the museum later. After picking up a wee snack at the pastry, we jumped on the Metro to go over to the Eiffel Tower, close to where the Museum was located. I rarely get to that corner of the city, so I made sure to take a few pictures while there, even though the clouds weren’t helping with the shots. Here are a few:

So we hung around the outside of the museum waiting for FO Mike, but he was running late. It seems that the Metro station he planned on using was closed, so he texted us to tell us he’d be late. Ahh, you’ve got to love technology. We hung out at the Museum Cafe before finally giving up on Mike and going inside. We elected not to rent an audio device that would help us with a tour of the Museum. In hindsight, that would have been very helpful. I struggled a little bit with my limited french to understand what I was looking at. They had masks, costumes, violins, guitars, and weapons from ancient worlds. Cameras weren’t allowed inside, but I rebelled and snuck in one iPhone picture for you:

Now I’m a huge fan of museums. Let’s see, there’s the Boeing Museum, the Pensacola Naval Museum, Stephen Gray’s fighter collection in Duxford, and the Planes of Fame museum in Chino, California. So while this museum was really interesting, I think I would have preferred the Kalamazoo “Air Zoo” museum. But thanks Michelle for trying to open my eyes to new things. I’ll try out the audio tour next time.

FO Mike may have had the best idea. He met us at the museum cafe outside. I joined him and texted CA Mark when Michelle found us outside as well. It was really easy to get lost in there! Mark had secured reservations for 4 at the restaurant called Le Gare for 8 p.m. Imagine a train or subway station with the tables down where the train tracks used to be and the platform above and on both sides also featuring tables. I managed to get one picture inside that may help get the idea as well as an exterior shot of the restaurant:

Notice the ghostly blur in front of one of the tables? That was the only picture I got of the hostess who the 3 M’s (Mark, Mike and Michelle) found to be distractingly stunning. I hardly noticed her at first, as she really wasn’t my type, but they managed to point out one of the truly beautiful features of Paris. OK, she was hot. But if she had short blond hair, I would have flipped. (And taken pictures)

The dinner was great. As is somewhat common in Paris, you order a fixed price meal which runs about 36€ or $49. It comes with an appetizer, the main course, and the desert. (Shrimp, beef and half baked chocolate cake for me). Due to the language barrier, I ended up with well done beef, but it was still very good. And the dessert was to die for. (I’m convinced there are NO bad desserts in France)
So it was time to leave the restaurant and work our way back to the metro station before they shut down for the night. I think it was 11:30 or so. We passed the Eiffel Tower and stopped at a convenience store for some water and fruit for the morning.

We depart at 1:30 in the afternoon the next day. Since we got there a bit early, I wanted to take a picture of FO Mike with his window open. I got a shot of FO Mike waving from his window. 

Then CA Mark just had to share some of the limelight followed shortly after by Michelle. It quickly became a photo shoot!

I swear, it’s not always this fun. Sometimes we even have to work. But we’ll do our best to enjoy the next Paris trip, when we may go on a late night bike tour of the city with FO Mike and my good friend Captain Dave B. Will it be as much fun? Stay tuned.

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Exeter, New Hampshire, United States
Grew up in Alaska, went to high school and college in Washington State. Commercial pilot since 1990.

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