Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Desert Southwest

I love flying over the desert southwest because the weather is almost always good and the geology is magnificent. I know I bore people who I fly with talking about it but most of them express great interest.

We were turning left and right over the Canyon and I was explaining the geology of the Canyon to my first officer, Chris. He was loving it. He said, "What a job we have! Days like this make me think I'd do this for free!" I cautioned him not to say that to the company management.

An hour later we lined up on final for Orange County/Santa Anna-John Wayne Airport and started to slow down. Chris was flying. We noticed we had a 49 knot tail wind but the tower said the wind was calm on the surface. We worked like madmen to get the 757 configured for landing and slowed. The gear goes down at a relatively high speed but the flaps have airspeed limitations and we must go through six incremental positions before getting them to the landing setting, and each position has a progressively restrictive airspeed. That's why the slowdown takes time.

And the Santa Anna runway is only 5700 feet long. You've got to be on airspeed there or you go off the end. That'll get you a trip to the kick butt room, if you survive it.

Passing through 500 feet we were still 20 knots too fast. I said, "Chris, take her around."

He powered up and hauled the nose up. I raised the gear and started the flaps back up. LAX approach control took us out over the Pacific. We re-ran the landing checklist, made the necessary announcements (the passengers get nervous when you abort a landing), notified company dispatch, and recalculated our landing speed, based on the new gross weight after the missed approach burn-out. I looked over at Chris. He was sweating bullets. I asked, "You still want to do this for nothing?" He shook his head vigorously.

We made it in the second time.
Today is inauguration day. I didn't vote for Barak O'Bama but I hope and pray that he succeeds in taking our country down the right paths in these scary times.

Click to enlarge:


Arizon'a Kaibab Plateau, heading west. Altitude 38,000'


Monument Valley, Arizona, where they filmed Stage Coach,
Fort Apache, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and the greatest of
them all, The Searchers


East (nearer) and West Spanish Peak, Colorado (elev. 13,700).
I have been to the top of the west peak 5 times.
The indians called them Ahoyatoya ("Breasts of the
World")


The Colorado River flowing toward the Grand Canyon


A caldera in southern Colorado. This is a collapsed
volcano.

Sunset at Denver airport seen from United Flight
Operations

video
Sailing over Colorado's Sangre de Cristo Mountains