Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Monday, February 20, 2006
Ever seen the big airliners get de iced? Well we get it too. Weather its clearing off ice that has developed while the aircraft has been sitting, or clearing off the ice that built up on the way in, the aircraft cannot take off with any ice on the critical surfaces. This is an aircraft getting ready to depart..notice the visibility. We can take off with as little as 1/4 mile. After deicing, we may only have a couple minutes to get out before more ice builds up.
Weather out here can be rough at times. Though most of the flying I do is VFR (Visual), We are still an airline, and like I said before, Im at the mercy of my coustomers. If the weather is crappy, and they want to go...then we go. Besides, all they really want is that all important picture of themselves at the rim to show their friends back home.
Fortunately, the Otter is made to haul weight...meaning it can haul the weight of all the passengers, baggage and ice it picks up along the way. This is about an inch of ice build up, but Ive seen at least twice that amount, and ice can get heavy. Durring the winter the canyon can get blizzards with very low visibility, and durring the summer the whole southwest is a breeding ground for thunderstorms and turbulence. The spring time can see wind speeds up around 50 knots at times (about 55 mph)...the fall is the best time to fly out here. In my time flying here, Ive been struck by lightning 3 times, spent long days in continuous moderate turbulence, and clipped the edge of a microburst, pulling out at 500 feet above the ground. Welcome to the beautiful sunny American Southwest.
Grand Canyon Runway
Landing at Monument
The Places I Go
Though the majority of my days are spent going to the Grand Canyon, I also fly to other places that are just as spectacular. Bryce Canyon in southern Utah, Monument Valley in the 4 corners region, Grand Canyon West, which is on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, and a few more remote locations...places where you look down and say "why would there be an airport here", and "is that really a runway"? These are actually amazing places that most people never get to see except in the movies.
This Is Me.
Well this is me with my airplane. Ive been flying it for two years, and have over 1700 hours logged in the aircraft. My official title Is Captain/ IOE Check Airman which means not only do I act as Captain, but I also train new First Officers just comming on line, and upgrading Captains on routes and procedures.
This is my airplane. The de Havilland Twin Otter, a.k.a. DHC-6 300 a.k.a. Dash-6. O.K. its no 747 full of cheerleaders but for what is is, its a pretty cool little machine. Two twin turbine engines each generating 620 shaft horse power..That's a total of 1240 h.p. Max gross weight of 12500 pounds, it holds 19 passengers, 2 crew. Canadian built in the 60's the plane was originally built for bush style operations...able to haul heavy loads in and out of small areas in high mountainous terrain. Its been used all over the world for weather research, military, skydiving, bush and seaplane opperations. People ask what its like to fly, I say its a lot like driving a truck. Its slow and bumpy, but it can take a beating and keep on going.
It all starts here
I live in Las Vegas Nevada. Battle Born! By day I fly for a small airline that mostly flies Japanese tourists to the worlds biggest hole in the ground....The Grand Canyon. The thing of it is, these guys are crazy. Most of them spend 14 hours on a plane to get here, then they hop right on my plane so they can go get their picture taken at the ditch and go back to Vegas to party. It doesnt matter if its raining, snowing, or 115 degrees outside, these people will do whatever it takes to get that picture of themselves standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon, and they will puke themselves to death the whole way, and that, in a way, puts me at their mercy. I have to say though, I admire these guys. To put yourself through all that, it must be important to them. Many of them save their money for a long time to get to do this. I on the other hand get paid for it.