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Author Topic: Member Interesting, Hair Raising, Humorous or Otherwise Unusual Experiences  (Read 2346 times)

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AGelbert

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    • Agelbert Truth AND Consequences
Weren't the Krishnas those folks that hung around airports and sold pencils in guru outfits or something? As an air taxi pilot I had the experience of running in to them often. I do admit they were always polite and friendly.     I kind of felt sorry for them because they always looked like they hadn't had enough to eat.   :(

Given the time period you were doing that job, yes those were likely Hare Krishnas.

RE


Yeah, they must have been the ones.  8) I think they would have one shoulder bared in those outfits. That worked okay in the tropics...  ;)

I was kind of hungry in the days of being an air taxi rat myself. I had a mail run to two small islands for a while (Vieques and Culebra). I tried to make ends meet by importing goat cheese from Culebra but I couldn't get connected with the supermarket personnel that purchased quantities of food items.  So, I ended up eating the samples I bought. That was GREAT cheese!  ;D

When I flew from Vieques to Culebra I had to traverse a Navy fun and games blow stuff up area of the ocean. I got to see depth charges shot and large guns firing in real time. They were polluting the crap out of the Caribbean especially after the bomb, you know. They towed vessels that had been exposed to the nuke tests in the Pacific ALL THE WAY to Vieques and sank them off shore. Vieques has one of the highest cancer rates in the WORLD. Of course I'm sure the U.S. Navy had nuttin' to do wid dat....


Sorry for the ramblin' I'm getting old.



Great story AG.

Harry's fresh chum for the shark tank. Since JeRM slithered back under his rock,
I've adopted Harry as my new squeak toy.... 


Sorry for the ramblin' I'm getting old.

Don't sweat ramblin' on about your life history.  I love hearing anecdotes about people's lives.

I'm hitting the big 6-OH this year, and I wrote an autobiography to celebrate this momentous occassion.  ::) :icon_sunny:  lol.  It's so **** long even by my standards I'm going to spread out the publication in parts over the next few months.  Part 1 will go up in May.

RE

 


Great story AG.

Harry's fresh chum for the shark tank. Since JeRM slithered back under his rock,
I've adopted Harry as my new squeak toy.... 


lol :D

I needed a good laugh...thanks Azozeo 


 

WAR STORY TIME! 

There I was, flying my Piper Navajo in the year of our Lord 1970 through a hellacious thunder storm. I had a full load of adventurous bidness people (eight  ;D), I was young and I COULD FLY!   

 
Well, at least I thought so.  8)

Where were we? Right, the San Juan to Ponce run in the afternoon when the thunderheads on the south of Puerto Rico, which is usually about as wet as Arizona, were built up to really ugly dimensions.

Being a fearless flyer (most of the time), I was up to the task of delivering my paying passengers smoothly to the Ponce airport, of course. This was a bit challenging because the turbulence was a pain in the arse. Aircraft have seat belts for completely different reasons than cars, ya know.

The Captain's seat in the Navajoe (left seat in the cockpit) positions you so that you can reach the throttle quadrant with three pairs of handles on it. The red ones are the mixture control of avgas (130 octane green color) and oxygen. That Navajo had superchargers on it so you had to be careful with the mixture control or you would get power boosts that would unnerve the passengers. They don't like a twin engine aircraft sashaying this way and that, even for a few seconds. And it looks bad too. The whole idea of flying commercially is to convince those fine folks on board that you are a sort of limo in the sky so they will come back for another ride. Avoiding wiggles and bumps is a big deal.  :laugh:


The other pairs of handles on the throttle quadrant are for the propeller angle (blue color) and for the throttles( black color) for each 350 HP Lycoming gas hog. The blue ones are called pitch control handles. These are basically a variable gearshift for airplanes. They can also be used to "feather"  the prop if the engine quits to avoid drag.   I know. You are bored to tears so let's get on with the thunder bumper story.

I was at 5,000 feet on instruments (in the soup) heading southwest about 15 miles from the airport at around 220 knots. I was cleared for the "circling" VOR approach to runway 11. All that techno-babble means that I had to shoot a non-precision approach because Ponce was a two-by-nothing airport that didn't merit an instrument landing system (ILS - tells you how high you are until about 200 feet above the runway a mile or so away from the threshold).

A VOR is a Very High Frequency Omni-range device/building that looks like a 100 ft diameter sombrero. It puts out 360 radials that you can tune into with your VOR gizmo on the panel and tell if you are on the right or left side of the radial.

In a VOR approach, you first intercept the approach radial and follow it. If it's a "circling" approach, that means you are NOT lined up with the runway when you reach the minimum approach altitude at a specific time for the velocity you are traveling at.

If you see the runway, you circle (at Ponce I had to circle about 210 degrees!) to line up with the runway.

IF you do NOT break out of the soup or cannot see the runway at minimum altitude (it was about 1,500 above the runway here) and clocked time, you had to shoot a "Missed Approach" and climb back up to 6,000 feet and Hold (do 4 minute race track patters of one minute legs) at the PSE VOR on a specific radial and await another  approach clearance (or proceed to your alternate airport).

In this approach, after spotting the runway, I would be heading about 260 (west-south-westward) and have to spot the airport, fly south of, and then parallel to, the runway heading 290.

As soon as I was abeam the runway 11 threshold (it's runway 29 in the other direction but the wind is always coming from the east there so I couldn't just land on 29), I would circle to the right to 110 degrees (East-south-eastward) and land. Simple, RIGHT? 

I was traveling on a radial from another VOR station.

I had a second VOR gizmo (you have two on decent aircraft, sniff) set to the PSE (Ponce) VOR radial I wanted to intercept. So, as the needle began to center, I passed a fix from which I could start the approach.

I began a descent using a timed rate of descent along the approach radial.

You practice all this stuff a lot to get an instrument rating. BUT, when you are flying routinely, you RARELY need to shoot approaches on instruments in a DRY place like Ponce.

BUT, some days (it's mostly during the days, not nights) it just cain't be helped. THIS was one of those days.   

It was quite bumpy. as I went through 4,000 feet. I tightened my seat belt to make sure I would have no difficulty reaching the props and throttle while being bounced around.

No smoking sign: ON (in air taxis you always require the passengers to have their seat belts on).
Boost pumps: ON
Fuel: ON MAIN TANKS
Cowl flaps: OPEN
Flaps: 20 degrees
Gear: DOWN with three green lights (locked)
Mixture:  FULL RICH (handles full forward)
Prop Pitch control: FLAT PITCH (handles full forward)
Throttle: AS NEEDED to keep 500 feet per minute rate of descent (unlike a car, the throttle is used to control descent rate in an approach - you control velocity with the elevators).

CROSS CHECK: constant rescan of instruments and CLOCK to see how much time you have left to missed approach point. You want to make sure you reach the minimum altitude just before the time expires so you have the best chance of being low enough and near enough to spot the runway.

I checked my speed and the clock. More bumps and flashes of lightning.  :P The tower advises a heavy rain storm is in progress over the field with a visibility of less than a mile. That is VERY bad news for me because non-precision approaches CANNOT be executed completely when the visibility is less than a mile...
I say "roger" and prepare myself to have to do a Missed Approach.  :P

The tower informs me that the visibility SOUTH of the airport is above a mile and the storm is mostly on and north of the airport. 

I say "roger" and start to think fast.   I know this area like the back of my hand (famous last words  ;D) so there is NO WAY I'm gonna let that dumb rain storm GIT me. I KNOW all the high terrain is north of airport and I KNOW the land is flat as a pancake and near sea level SOUTH of the airport for the few miles to ocean.

SO, I figure I can cheat a little.  ;)

Descending through 3,000 feet,  I deliberately deviate about 8 degrees south of the approach radial. The soup continues as thick as ever and the lightning is more frequent, instead of less. I call the tower for a visibility update. They say the storm appears stationary with no sign of decreasing intensity except to the south.

I say, "roger" while my hand on the yoke is getting a bit on the sweaty side. I deviate another 5 degrees or so left of the approach radial.

I pass 2,000 feet and still nuttin'. I have 500 feet more I can legally descend and about 30 seconds left.

I keep descending past 1,500 ft (I was STILL in the soup at 1,500 ft) to 1,000 feet and begin to break out of the soup, but I can't see the runway.

The tower calls and reports the visibility is just above a mile!

I say, "Roger, please advise if you go below Special VFR (visual flight rules). Less than 3 miles but greater than one mile are known as "special" VFR rules that IFR (instrument flight rules) rated pilots like me CAN use to get around IFR rules and land in visual conditions legally.".  ;)

I reach the end of my time at 1,000 feet. I'm not in the soup (barely) but I can't see the airport (I am planning to head straight south over the ocean to stay away from the soup and regroup - I have no desire to go up in to that crapola at moment).

He says, " Roger, report the runway in sight for visual approach to runway 11. Wind is 090 at 15 gusting to 25 knots. Altimeter 2998 (approximation - that was long arse time ago  8)).

As he says that I realize the tailwind pushed me further towards the airport than I thought with my timed approach. A look hard towards that black ugly soup to the right and THERE is the runway!

Ponce tower, San Juan Air 533 has the runway in sight.

PSE TWR: Roger, San Juan Air 533 is cleared for a visual approach to runway 11. Visibility continues to be above one mile (I think he was making that up but what the hell.  :laugh: I knew he just trying to help. I couldn't see the tower cab!  :o)

AND NOW is when the FUN began.   

I fly WELL (nearly over the ocean) south and parallel to the airport at about 800 feet. I then fly over the city and carefully pick my land marks.

You see, when it's raining real hard, you can NOT see forward, but you can see straight down.  This is a rather dangerous thing to do, but if you think your a hotshot pilot, you might be dumb enough to try it.  ;D

I knew there is this hill about 500 feet high on the approach path to runway 11 within a mile or so of the runway. I knew that there was a hospital on that hill. I planned to have that just to my left. After passing that hill, there are two rivers, then an expressway next to the threshold. On the left of the runway was located the Serralles Rum plant that made Don Q rum. It had some large stacks on it that I didn't want to run into that also served as good land marks.

So, as the hill got abeam of my position going west, I circled to the right, maintaining the fiction that I still had the runway in sight (I no longer did, but don't tell nobody  ;D). I could see the ground and somewhat forward.

As I turned, over the city, towards the airport, I lost forward visibility as the rain grew heavy. I applied full flaps for the landing and increased the power to keep at approach speed (about 130 knots)). I had to keep my eyes glued to the ground and didn't want the aircraft to get away from me.

In passing, I must tell you that there was a passenger in the co-pilot's seat. The owner of the air taxi normally allowed that to make more money.      You only needed (FAA regs) a co-pilot when you had to BEGIN the flight in IFR conditions (which rarely happened). I got fired for organizing a union to force that bastard to put co-pilots on all flights, but that's another story for another time.  8)

Back to the high pucker factor approach, the tower is calling the wind and there is Prinair 4 engine De Haviland Heron ready for take off but being held at the apron due to my imminent arrival.

The tower clears me to land. I say, "roger".

I'm watching the city go by and the terrain rapidly goes up. THERE's the hospital on the hill!

I slightly bank left, going through 300 feet and see the two rivers, now 100 feet.

WHERE is the expressway? It's really coming down HARD!

I start to apply more power to stop the descent while looking down desperately (although my outward appearance was the calm cool Captain Kirk of the Star Ship Enterprise LOL!).

THERE I see the Heron 4 engine job right underneath me! I pitch the nose down slightly. I still can't see forward at all. It's like a waterfall going UP my windshield.

I'm slightly right of course. I find the runway centerline and see the left runway lights (they were on despite it being during the day because of the low visibility) and just try to keep them the same distance from the aircraft wing. I'm at about 50 feet. I throttle back all the way.

Rather than bank and lose the visibility I have to stay straight along the centerline, I use the rudder pedals to move the nose left or right.

I touch down. The Prinair crew that watched the whole thing says, "BRAVO!" on the radio.  ;D

I still can't see forward. I apply foot breaks while watching the runway lights to stay straight.

The aircraft stops. It's still raining cats and dogs out there. The tower orders Prinair to taxi into position and hold and orders me to taxi to the ramp with instructions to NOT open the door because the ramp crew has personnel with an umbrella coming  :D (normally the pilot opens that door).

I say "roger" and push hard right rudder to do a circling left turn on the runway (there was no taxiway at the 29 end of the runway).

As I did that followed by hard left rudder and differential engine power to help the turn, the passenger blurted out that he couldn't figure out how I did that because he couldn't see a thing. I calmly explained that you could see down and use land marks in my best Captain Kirk voice (while I hoped the passenger wasn't noticing that wiggle that had developed in my two knees right after the aircraft finally stopped).

When I finally reached the terminal, I smoked the most enjoyable cigarette I have ever smoked in my LIFE! 

No, I never had to do that again. When I bragged about it to my Airline pilot brother, he chewed my arse for 20 minutes reminding me of all the ways I could have killed myself and a bunch of other people.  :-[
So, I made  sure I didn't repeat the risky maneuver.

But, to this day, I'm HAPPY that I got away with it!

Piper Navajoe
Leges         Sine    Moribus     Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

 

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