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, December 27, 2007

Aruba Turn - "A Jolly Christmas Eve"

A Christmas Eve Aruba Turn - "What could go wrong?"

Aruba turns (one day trips) are a great way to get your time in for the month. At 9 and a half hours, they're about the best turn we have in the system. We're limited to 8 hours with two pilots or 10 scheduled hours with 3 pilots. I was the FB today, having traded a Christmas Barbados trip for this turn on the 24th.

Since the weather was great and the crew was exceptional, I figured, "Hey, what could go wrong?" Never be too confident.

After some issues with an inoperative APU (auxiliary power unit) we managed to get the right equipment at the gate to get out of town. Since an inop APU means we will need pre-conditioned air (heat essentially) at the gate as well as two high pressure air carts to start the airplane. Boston is usually on top of these things and, sure enough, we were just one minute late departing.

Captain Paul M. brought some amazing pastries that looked like they came straight from a Parisian patisserie. Everyone was in a good mood and we were all looking forward to getting home tonight. In fact, we were even looking into leaving Aruba earlier than scheduled since we didn't have many passengers flying with us on Christmas eve.

Maybe that was a bit optimistic. More on that in a moment.

As you may remember, having an FB on the flight means we usually get between one and two hours for a break, depending on the length of the flight. Today we had an hour and 10 minutes each for the breaks and I used most of mine researching a new gadget. I'm considering buying an Ooma, so I was reading all the reviews that I had loaded on the mac. Ooma is a company that sells a box that allows you to make VOIP (voice over internet phone) calls without any monthly fee. The only catch is the $399 purchase price (at least until the end of the year, after that they say it will be going to $599). I love the idea of cutting any ties to the phone company, although I'll still have to pay Comcast for my internet service, of course. I bring this up mostly to hear if anyone has any experience with Ooma. I have two VOIP phone lines right now and I'm happy with the quality for the most part. I'll let you know if I cut the cord and go with this exclusively. --Update: I ordered the box. It's on the way.

After we landed in Aruba, the airplane would not accept external power. This is a problem since, without an APU, if we shut the engines down without external power the airplane will go dark. The cargo doors won't open and it will get pretty warm in the cabin quickly. After trying three external power carts (ever one they could find on the field) we knew we had to shut down and hope that maintenance could fix the problem. If not, we were in for an Aruba layover, something I would normally have loved, but not on Christmas eve.

We shut down and the passengers got off the dark airplane. Since we had some time while we were waiting for the mechanic to look into the problem, I talked everyone into getting a Christmas Eve picture taken by the airplane on the ramp. Everyone joined in and we had a few laughs getting these pictures:

Crew pose picture in Aruba
Aruba Turn crew on Xmas eve

By the time FO Mike R. and I preflighted the outside of the airplane, the mechanic, John, found the problem. It was a tiny fuse that had burned out down below the cockpit that prevented the airplane from accepting external power. We were set!

Paul M. enroute from Aruba

Just as we began boarding, the 'pre-conditioned air' cart (AC) died. Wouldn't you know it ran out of gas. The temperature in Aruba was about 82 degrees F (28C) so we really needed to get some air for the passengers. I also went down to mention that we would need to 'huffer' carts (high pressure air) to start the engines as well. They managed to find only one huffer cart. That was enough air to pwer up the packs and get the passenger cabin cooled, but it wasn't enough to get the engine started. After a short delay, we had a second air cart hooked up and we were ready to go.

Holding in position
Paul M. enroute from Aruba

I really figured this trip would go smoothly. They usually do, really. As any frequent reader here knows, I've been on a roll this year, maintenance wise. But just when you least expect it, usually when you need to get home the most (remember the Superbowl trip 11 months ago?) you'll have one of these days. Amazingly, we made it home just 5 minutes later than our scheduled time. Just in time to get home and put some presents under the tree.

Love the lighting on this one
Arriving in Boston on Christmas eve

New Years should be interesting this year and I'll have a detailed post about that sometime next year. So check that out next week. I figured I'd give myself one year of blogging about each trip and then I'd decide whether or not I'd keep going. It's been a fun way to 'log' the flights and people i've come across along the way, so I intend to keep up the pictures and posts. Thanks for checking in here and posting the great comments. If you keep it up, I'll keep it up.

Talk to you next year, and have a great Christmas.


Neil said...

Great post Kent! At least you made it home for Christmas Day. Looking forward to what another year of blogging will bring!

Ethan said...

heh thats cool, glad ya made it, i was worried when nothing would start i was like oh great hows this gonna end! The guy fueling the plane got in the picture too he looks happy.. :P

pete in chicago said...

Another great report!

Please don't stop, I love reading these - learning to fly myself!

Anonymous said...

ahh , murphy´s law, when things can go wrong, they will go wrong,,, good deal the mechanic found out the circuit breaker,.

Eddie said...

Glad you made it home for xmas Kent.

Hope to see alot more in 2008, it's been a fun time reading all your trips!

Kent Wien said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. It's nice to have a record of every trip this year including pictures, and that's a big motivator for me. Much more interesting than just keeping a logbook. I'll keep it up!

Hey Pete, let us know how the training is coming along every now and then.


navy20907 said...

Just Awesome..I'm very happy that you will continue to take pictures and do the reports!! I just love them.

JP in Seattle said...

Kent, For every comment, there are dozens more readers like me who look forward to your posts every trip but never leave comments.

Please don't stop! You are a talented writer and photographer.

Anonymous said...

Love the blog Kent. As an ex corporate pilot I love seeing what the other side of aviation is like.

pete in chicago said...

Hey Kent.

Saw this today, figured you'd get a kick out of it.


As for my flying adventures, I'm at 38.4 hours, just several more and I think I can go for my test. woohoo!

Jonathan said...

Great blog as always...keep it coming!!

I'll be applying for a regional airline closely related to your own pretty soon here...I've heard rumors on the Eagle side that they'll be merging with the mother-ship instead of being sold...any rumors on the mainline side?

Jamie D said...

Hey Kent, dont stop! Its been great having an insight of a life of a pilot as most of us who read this blog will probably be living this life ourself sometime in the future.

Chris said...

Hi Kent! This is Christoph - the one you were blogging about some months ago ;) I wanna thank you for this year of fascinating trip reports and stories. Keep up the work! I'd really miss it! So long... Chris

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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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