Thursday, July 27, 2017

Up early, Gin clear , GPS and making a movie

The sun comes up
Today was a good day.
The alarm going off at 4am wasn't, but nothing a hot shower and even hotter coffee couldn't sort out.
The uniform was ironed and hanging up, the bags were packed, the hotel bill was all sorted and as I got down to the hotel lobby the driver had been sent for us. (I had taken the uniform off of the hanger and put it on)
It was quite a ride into the airport from the hotel and the sun started to rear its little head as we were enroute.

I discussed with the Captain how we would get the jobs done prior to the owner arriving and as soon as we got there, passed through the terminal we got to work.
I was dealing with getting the plane powered up, then start working on the flight plans, data links etc. Captain was outside getting the fuel on, water on and checking the exterior of the plane.
I've started using the Jeppesson charts on the iPad now to reduce the paper around the cockpit
I got the power up and then the first snag was the flight plan hadn't got through to euro control so a hasty phone call to the United States to see where it had got stuck half way across the Atlantic. They managed to give it a nudge and I spoke with the departures and after some too-ing and fro-ing they found it and I started loading up the flight management system.
The curve of the earth at 47,000 ft

This worked really well this time around, the fuel was onboard, and as per usual the boss and his colleagues were early, so I was hastily asking for an earlier slot. But ummmmmm thats when they pushed our original one back by 15 minutes.
So we got the passengers settled in and took our time and then managed a really slow taxi down to the runway holding point.
Fortunately we were pushed up the order and it was only a 10 minute wait.
I had my new video camera set up in this flight so I took a video of the whole trip which I am pretty pleased with although its really not a pretty sight looking at me, the view outside the window is far more agreeable.
Before long we were hooting it along the runway and lift off, right turn, change frequency and get up into the big blue.
Parked up at the end of the day.......
Cleared after departure up to an initial 43,000ft, the further climb on up to 47,000ft over Poland.
We discussed our approach for the destination and we decided to be adventurous and try out the GPS approach that we don't do that much, but I did a lot of on my training, and had mentioned to the captain so he was game and we went about our business of loading it all up into the system.
Things started to move along pretty quickly, not even much of a chance for a cuppa in the cruise.

We managed to get the descent started, the idea being to have a continuous descent by pre planning and 'negotiating' with air traffic controllers, rather than descend a bit, level off a bit etc, I was really pleased on this occasion as we really managed to nail it and stay ahead of the game.
I received the requested approach into Germany on the RNP GPS Approach, we were cleared onto it and it worked a treat, as we monitored every stage, it was a really nice way to do things.
I set the video camera up as well before things got too busy. I am hoping it has worked and should appear at the bottom of the blog.
We had a bit of weather on the way but nothing serious, some misty rainy grey muck but we popped out of it with about 2000ft to go and there was the runway straight ahead of us.
Another 30 seconds and we were on the ground and taxiing to the private jet terminal.

For me this was only the start of my flying for the day but fortunately the rest is as a passenger as I had to make my way to Stuttgart airport by 3 different trains to then fly to Brussels to catch a flight to Alicante for a few days off.
Thoughts for the day:

  • I can't believe how efficient/clean/friendly the German train system is
  • All 3 trains in Germany were on time to the minute to cross the country 
  • Both flights on German wings airline were on time in peak holiday season
  • All easyJet flights from the same airports were delayed by at least 20 minutes
  • I miss Naomi with bells on its only been about 10 days but feels like months
  • I'm glad Naomi didn't have to do all of the travelling with me yesterday it was pretty mental playing European hopscotch
  • I really enjoyed the flight on the Global Express, it was the first time I felt up to speed throughout the whole flight and am chuffed to bits with the video I managed to do
  • This airplane still makes me smile

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Quite literally the curve of the earth.....and going bananas

The early morning sunrise

An early alarm call this morning and it was a quick shower.
The uniform was pressed last night and its looking good, got my new company tie which the captain and I both have.
The boss has sent one of his drivers to pick me up and we are off to the airport. Only it was a strange Middle Eastern drive this morning. 
The curve of the earth from 47,000 feet
It was like one of the apocalyptic movies where you wake up and there is no one around and no cars on the road. The usual traffic chaos has melted into the background of a sleepy Sunday morning and instead of the blasting of car horns and motorbikes laden with bags, sacks of potatoes and people we are having a quiet Sunday drive to the airport. Its nice and cool in the early morning so no need for air-conditioning in the car, the windows are down the steady warm breeze blowing.
Time to think about all of the things that need to be done this morning before we fly. 
Namely updating the data link system in the plane so that the flight plans load automatically, after we have filed them.
I like the reflection in my glasses, it kind of reminded me of the astronaut picture many years ago in his visor 
Upon arrival at the airport (slightly earlier than expected do to this morning's apocalypse) the captain was already there so we got the plane moved to where the owner will get onboard.
The fuel is ordered, the fresh drinking water organised, which is pumped into the plane's system so now the plane's auxiliary power unit can be started up to get it cooled down with the air-conditioning.
Once the electrical systems come online its time to get the data link set up and the flight planning into the computer boxes.
For once it was was relatively straight forward, these things are rarely completed at the first attempt but, bingo, todays the day.
The coast line of the Black Sea
It was then we were told the passengers had obviously had an apocalyptic morning as well as they were here and the luggage was being put on board.
It was time to call for engine start and taxi, we were off to runway 17. I was pilot monitoring on this flight which means that I control the radio, navigation etc on the flight and the captain was manipulating the control, which also means in the quiet periods I would have a chance to take a few pictures and maybe video a bit.
An enormous salt lake in Turkey
We climbed out and before we knew it I was requesting a further climb, and we were cleared straight up to 47,000ft, mind boggling in anyone's world. Any higher and I would be taking astronaut classes rather than commercial jet ones.
Cleared up to altitude and the skies were quite literally gin clear. I could see for miles, Turkey looked amazing, then I saw the Black Sea approaching, the curve of the earth bending away off into the distance with a rye smile on my face. 
At that moment I had a tap on the shoulder and it was the owner of the plane who had come for a chat. 
He was really pleasant and asked us if we had had enough food on the trip and we thanked him as his chef had brought us some food earlier. 
At that point he produced a banana for me, with a smile on his face and handed it to me telling me I have to keep my protein and potassium levels up.....
It was a lovely touch and a rare one really when you are flying VIP's. 
I seem to smile a lot whilst I am flying this plane.
Its time for potassium
The descent was started and I was finding it a touch tricky to understand the slightly Russian accented controllers on the way in. 
Once again we were given a fairly long final in with vectoring to the approach rather than have to fly the entire arrival procedure. I am getting the impression that this plane has a bit of aviation clout when it comes to getting priority routings. 
Once again I'm smiling.

I managed to make a video on the trip

Thoughts for the day:

  • I like early mornings on a Sunday with less traffic
  • I miss my wife 
  • I like that this plane seems to make me unexpectedly smile a lot 
  • Every day is a school day when flying and thats a good thing
  • Being at the top of the atmosphere is a pretty great place to call work

A pretty big week of flying with some centreline hopscotch.....

Hours flown this month(FEB): 33 Landings: 8 Countries visited: 5  Continents visited: 3  Quick iron of the shirt and in th...