Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Jolly Petrolly

What's a "Jolly Petrolly" you say? That's British slang for a happy little flying excursion, usually performed on a Saturday afternoon and including a stopover at another airport for lunch. Actually a South African friend told me that.
The big news in aviation this past week was the NTSB hearings on the Buffalo NY crash last winter of Colgan Air flight 3407. You’re all familiar with that.

The news media is demanding why Colgan didn’t pay the pilots more, train them better and monitor their rest patterns. There’s also some talk about the captain being inept with a history of checkride failures, somehow having slipped through Colgan’s hiring screen. If history indeed repeats, this is all plausible.

Every few years (on the average, I’d say 10 years, or so) we get a similar crash of a small air carrier plane. The captain has a history of failure, the first officer is too young and inexperienced to be of any value, and they are both fatigued due to a heavy work schedule. Oh yeah, and they are both paid peanuts. And every time it happens the news commentators go up in arms.

Then we all forget and nothing gets done. Sound familiar? Remember the national resolve after 9/11? It dissolved.

Let me say this, though. I commute every week to Washington on a 50 seat regional jet and, for the most part, I’m satisfied that the guys in front are competent. You can be too. But they need to be paid better for their level of responsibility. Jeez, so do I.
The last trip was a jolly good petrolly to London. It was my first visit there since my C-141 days in the early 90s. I thoroughly enjoyed it, partially because I was with two fine lads who kept me out of trouble. We went to a below street level pub called Cads where the food was excellent and the ale was tasty and reasonably priced. (Every thing in London is pricey.) Cads was a hangout for construction workers but they liked us, apparently being used to U.S. pilots coming in nightly. Next day I had a jolly good stroll through Hyde Park.

I got a video of the Airbus A-380, the world’s biggest
passenger jet, landing while we were waiting to takeoff
at Heathrow. 

This is a beautiful pic taken over the north Atlantic
at about 50N30W. What is it?

Here’s the view of the London
skyline from my hotel room.

Approaching Newfoundland, westbound.