Flying During Tornado Season

oldman

Well-known member
Location
PA
Original Poster
I've got to say Oldman, your experiences are very interesting to read about!
I think everyone has interesting stories to tell about their on the job experiences. I know a tool and die maker that worked for Caterpillar Tractor in my hometown. He had some really good stories to tell.

I flew for all but 38 years, met a lot of pro athletes and TV & movie personalities and stars and of course, when you put 250-300 people in a round tube for hours, things will happen. Flying across country, I ran into many different weather patterns and if I was unlucky enough to have a mechanical problem with my plane, then there’s more experiences to talk about.

I just like talking about flying and maybe educate people a little. We all agree that the worse part of flying is our airport experiences. That’s the pits.
 

johndoe

Active member
Hey oldman. Have any stories about battling a side-wind during landing? I saw a B52 having to do it. They called it "crabbing."
 

oldman

Well-known member
Location
PA
Original Poster
I think you’re talking about crosswinds, or horizontal winds. Pilots get a METAR weather update every half hour or sometimes every hour. It depends what part of the world you are in.

For example; as the pilot is preparing to land, the ATC will alert the pilots to the winds and weather condition by saying something like: “Winds are 20 mph, gusting to 30 mph at 1-8-0.” The first part, which is the wind speed is pretty understandable. The 1-8-0 is the compass direction, which is south.

So, we’re landing in Las Vegas. The ATC tells us that the wind is 18 mph, gusting to 25, at 180, which is getting close to aborting the landing. Any crosswinds above 35 starts to make a landing risky. In this situation, we were in (what pilots call) our short final. (Short final means that the runway is in sight.) Just as we get the call-out from the plane’s audible altitude reader that we were 100 feet above the runway, the wind shifts from a headwind to a crosswind. Next thing we knew, we were kind of being pushed left, then right, then left to right while trying to set the plane on the runway. It was definitely an experience, but my F/O and myself had experienced this in the simulator, so we were able to handle it.
 

johndoe

Active member
I think you’re talking about crosswinds, or horizontal winds. Pilots get a METAR weather update every half hour or sometimes every hour. It depends what part of the world you are in.

For example; as the pilot is preparing to land, the ATC will alert the pilots to the winds and weather condition by saying something like: “Winds are 20 mph, gusting to 30 mph at 1-8-0.” The first part, which is the wind speed is pretty understandable. The 1-8-0 is the compass direction, which is south.

So, we’re landing in Las Vegas. The ATC tells us that the wind is 18 mph, gusting to 25, at 180, which is getting close to aborting the landing. Any crosswinds above 35 starts to make a landing risky. In this situation, we were in (what pilots call) our short final. (Short final means that the runway is in sight.) Just as we get the call-out from the plane’s audible altitude reader that we were 100 feet above the runway, the wind shifts from a headwind to a crosswind. Next thing we knew, we were kind of being pushed left, then right, then left to right while trying to set the plane on the runway. It was definitely an experience, but my F/O and myself had experienced this in the simulator, so we were able to handle it.
Cool oldman. Our detachment in the Air Force was under the Air Weather Service, and we maintained and calibrated the weather equipment on the airfield., so I am interested in weather from a pilot's perspective. How about temperature and humidity and how it relates to lift, and the amount of runway needed for takeoff. Tankers carrying jet fuel in the Air Force got pretty heavy, and everything weather-wise mattered.
 

oldman

Well-known member
Location
PA
Original Poster
WOW! You have been doing a lot of thinking about how weather affects flight. Most people do not realize what effect heat and humidity have with flying.

With today’s advanced technology that has been incorporated into avionics, pilots have very few calculations that they need to make. All critical numbers are typed into the FMS (Flight Management System), which is the computer located on the console between the two pilots. There are generally two FMS’s on the console, one for each pilot. Weight of passengers, luggage, freight, fuel are all calculated into the FMS, along with the flight plan, using GPS.

Sensors are used to gather weather information and are then factored in by the computer. We didn’t have to type the percentage of humidity. The sensor did that work. If you’re thinking that a lot of automation is being used to fly, you are correct.

As for your question re: humidity, the higher humidity, the heavier the air, which means that more trust is required to climb. Most pilots use max thrust anyway to begin their climb and most pilots have their own preference of how they will climb. Generally, I did what is referred to as a “step climb.”

If my cruising altitude was going to be 38,000 feet, I may climb to 7500 feet and level off by reducing thrust and allowing the engines to relax a bit. From there, I would go to my next step of 15,000 feet (using about 75% of max thrust), then 25,000 feet and then up to 38,000 feet. It may take somewhere between 20-25 minutes to reach cruising altitude. Of course, my rate of climb has to be approved by the traffic controllers.

Thanks for the question.
 

oldman

Well-known member
Location
PA
Original Poster
One thing to keep in mind is that the higher we fly, the lighter or thinner the air, so less thrust is required as we climb. Although on takeoff, we may use 90% of thrust, a few pilots may go right to max thrust, we can cut back as we gain altitude. During the last step of my climb from 25,000 ft. to 38,000 ft., I may only need to use 50% of the thrust available by the engines.

The higher we climb and the thinner the air, we will burn less fuel, yet be able to increase our speed. At 35,000-38,000 feet, we can fly in a B-767 at about 480-500 mph. Normal cruising speed would be about 450 mph avg. You also have to realize that the air temperature outside at 38,000 feet will be about -60F degrees.
 


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