Westjet Boeing 737 Executes a LOW Rejected Landing in St. Maarten

As most aviation followers know, the "almost crashes" is an over exaggeration in general, but I will admit that this Westjet 737 from Toronto did get pretty low. Most are attributing it to windshear but there is never a definitive story, in my mind, unless it's from either pilots at the helm. Till then, watch their perfectly executed missed approach. 

Avoiding Turbulence

Stronger computing power, improved satellite and radar technology and more sophisticated scientific models have all given airlines a more detailed understanding of flying conditions. This means they can better plan their operations before flights — for instance by canceling flights early and avoiding stranding passengers at airports. During flights, they can better navigate around storms and avoid turbulence.

Just so you know, we definitely try our best to analyze and determine the best flight path for our guests. You're welcome and thanks for flying with us. 

NPR's David Gilkey on the Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan

Devastation all around.

NPR photographer David Gilkey has photographed in extreme situations — from the surge in Afghanistan, to bombings in Gaza, to the tsunami in Japan, but he says nothing could have prepared him for what he saw in the village of Barangay 68 in Tacloban City, Philippines.

At first glance, there were no signs of life. You know many have died here and that their bodies are somewhere close. There is a heavy, unmistakable smell of death.

There are multiple ways to help out and donate to a relief fund as I mentioned in a previous post. Have you donated yet?

Three Flights Down to One Long Extended Flight

Something things go right sometimes they don't.  Yesterday wasn't something out of the ordinary but I guess some of you never experience the frequency of weather or maintenance that we encounter working at an airline.  Looking at the weather prior to our departure from Dallas-Ft. Worth, we knew that we could expect some thunderstorms during our approach into Charleston, West Virginia. Blocked to just a little over two hours, and looking at the terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF), we took off with confidence that we could "beat" the storm.  Whether or not to jet east and then up and around the front or penetrate earlier in the flight and fly behind it, we chose the former.  Usually you chose the latter, but once we were in the air, the weather didn't look that bad.

Almost an hour after our scheduled arrival, we made a safe approach and landing safely getting all our passengers to the terminal.  It wasn't without bumps and initially the weather at CRW wasn't calling for landing conditions, but after 45 minutes, the initial thunderstorm cleared and calm winds presided.

Acey 2502 DFW-CRW

Arriving at the gate, the plan was to leave as soon as we could board up, refuel and clean the aircraft but things changed. The plane gave us a flashing light notifying us of a maintenance item which after two hours of coordinating with dispatch, maintenance control and crew scheduling, ultimately led to the cancellation of the flight. Repositioning the aircraft to another portion of the airport, coordinating a shuttle and hotel stay our day came to an end with nine hours of sleep.  We also had the opportunity of riding the hotel shuttle back to with some passengers who were taking the cancellation well.

So back to present time, scheduling had us report at 5:15am this morning and to no surprise without a phone call or notification from anyone back at company, we came down for the scheduled shuttle back to the airport only to find out that the aircraft wasn't ready. I'm now back in the hotel room killing another two hours before our next scheduled van ride. At least I can now grab some coffee.

update: I just got a call a couple of minutes ago notifying us again for a change to 6:45am which as I spoke to her was actually six minutes in the past.

A 10K before a 10K

Waking up albeit late in the morning, I thought to myself, "Why not go running outside on a nice San Diego Winter's Day?"  Of course, after eating a great breakfast of pancakes, eggs & rice + fruit, and an hour of digesting, we went out around noon for the usual Miramar Lake Loop.  I wanted to make it an easy 10K so I did an out and back here and there rounding it off to 6.5 miles.

It's always a pleasure to have my wife Adelle run with me and truthfully, I was only expecting her to run 1-3 miles but after jogging two solid 11 min/ mile, she decided to keep on trucking. I ran ahead of her and then turned back in order to catch up with her then went ahead again. This was my way of reaching my 10K goal prior to this Sunday's Cardiff Kook 10K and I did it. It was hot, I felt okay, but for the first time in a long time, my ankles were feeling loose. I'm taking a breather today, mostly stretching but I'm excited and can't wait for this season's first 10K. As always, I'm going for under 60 minutes. If I get near 55, I'll be in heaven!

Qik Videos + Swamis Pics

After two weeks of Atlanta weather, northeast weather, and flying to other cities around midwest plus Canada, I finally made it back home to San Diego. With all the snow, freezing temperatures, rain, sleet and ice, I knew that I was missing something in my life! I've been Qik-ing from my iPhone for a little while now if you haven't noticed and today's video was just so awesome that it needed a separate entry. It captures the beauty of San Diego (actually taken at Swamis) and the gorgeous weather that we have.  If you need the direct links to my Posterous or my Qik Profiles, they are to the right in the Personal Links.  Those profiles are usually easier to update as you can tell.  But I'm still here...still alive on elijahnicolas.com Check out the pictures and Qik Video!

Flying part 2: 4th Week in July

Of all the randomness in flying for the Delta Connection Carrier, Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) based solely out of Atlanta, my four day schedule had an assignment that was to operate a Cincinnati to Miami roundtrip.  New to me and apparently pretty new to the system I might add.  Last summer, I got to fly the Miami system through Tallahassee, Florida and that was a blast, so I was really looking forward to this trip.  I would have loved an overnight in MIA but I guess we won't be doing any of those in the near future. Flying towards Miami, we noticed that the normal summer cloud build-ups were in every quadrant.  It was going to be all about the quick turn.  Looking at our schedule, we also noticed that we had more than ample time to grab some Cuban Coffee and a sandwich.  Coffee was a success but the sandwich place closed I guess.  Massive fail as I was left to eat a Meat Stromboli from Sbarros.  Definitely not the Cuban Sandwich I was hoping for.

I did my walk around and of course it stated to sprinkle a bit.  Just enough to get me a little damp but not dripping.  Flying out of Miami was a lot of fun though.  Departing 8R we made a turn to the north and was vectored toward the northwest in order to get around and through some cloud build-up.  Fun stuff!  Check out the radar and the cloud picture of the cavern we flew through!


straight ahead through that canyon...smooth sailing indeed

An of course after we landed in Cincinnati Airport which many of you might not know is 1) a ghost town since Delta has slowly changed all of its routing and deleted many flights from the CVG system 2) is actually located in Northern Kentucky. Check it out on this map:

View Larger Map

We made our way to one of the nicer hotels we stay at, Hilton Airport, and then we headed out to celebrate my birthday. Happy hour at Applebees has become the common theme with overnights lately just because the deals are too good to pass up and there's nothing else nearby! We had a couple of drinks, great appetizers but I chose the liquid diet last night. Fun times! On the walk back to the hotel, we hit up Rafferty's for some of there fine honey butter croissants the called it a night. Good times guys and thanks for the great night! Terrylyn, Captain My Captain, Lynn (dang dootie), myself and our hostess

Flying part 1: 4th Week in July

Flying the CRJ700 has been definitely more exciting than the CRJ200 and this week was just another example.  I guess it might be the mere fact that 1 more flight attendant / stewardess adds to the mix during dinner or that I'm just getting lucky being paired up with great crews.  With that, this was a rather enjoyable week. The first night was an overnight in Quad Cities, Illinois which I have already blogged about... great food!  Check it out here. (http://www.elijahnicolas.com/wp/2009/07/26/overnight-in-quad-cities/)

The next night exposed me to the true horrors that Newark, New Jersey is.  Rudeness was in the air but friends were around to pick me up and create a lightened atmosphere.  We headed to the Shorthills Mall which was pretty high society status.  Too bad it was an indoor mall but shopping around is always fun when the weather outside is humid, muggy with a chance of thunderstorms.  We ate at a great place called All American Joe's Bar (something like that) and concluded the night with a drive through a ritzy neighborhood w/ average home sales of $2-4M, stroll through it's local town full of boutique shops that had tennis outfits in the windows.  I can't remember the name of the town but there was an theater playing Public Enemies and that was what we were watching.  For a two and half hour movie, it kept me going.  I enjoyed it thoroughly but I have to admit that 500 Days of Summer (trailer) was more entertaining.  Johnny Depp had a great roll, Christian Bale looks a little skinny and didn't convince me so much, but overall it was a great biography on John Dillinger.    Albeit more appealing I guess in it's very unique story telling.  Go watch it already if you have not!  It's playing in select theaters so make you scope out the local area for show times.

I'll write up part two tomorrow starting off with some good MIA weather story and capping it off with a fun night in Cincinnati...er Kentucky...that one place that we stayed at last night.  Here's a picture of the morning sun rising over Manhattan skyline as seen from the Newark Airport.  You can see the Empire State Building too if you take a close look!  Check it out!

Rising Sun over Manhattan

Day In A Life of a Pilot During Irregular Operations

Lets start from the beginning; if you recall, yesterday was a day that originated with me traveling in on a red-eye from San Diego (3 hrs sleep in an upright position), 2 hours sleeping horizontally at the now "old" crashpad, picking up a uhaul, loading up and cleaning, unloading at the new place which happens to be on the 3rd story w/ no elevator, returning the truck, organizing a bit, going shopping at Ikea for a new bed and frame, stuffing it all in a VW Jetta, unloading that up three flights of stairs (again), assemblying and cleaning until 2AM. This is where the fun begins.  The only reason I stayed up till 2AM is because I received a phone call from scheduling telling me that I was to be on short call reserve, which means that if I were to get a call from operations, I would have to be at the airport and in my plane dutied in within 2 hours, at 7:30 with a mandatory duty in at 10:25 for an 11:25AM departure to Omaha, Nebraska.  Instead of 5 legs as originally planned, I was now scheduled to fly one leg to Omaha followed by one leg back tomorrow.  I thought to myself that it shouldn't be that bad, but little did I know.I arrive at the airport a little early (10:10AM) happen to meet up with Kurt, walked to another concourse to pick up my flight bag while grabbing a venti caramel machiatto w/ soy from Starbucks, went to the plane and got it ready to go.  All in all, it didn't seem like it was going to be too harsh, but the weather deteriorated quickly.

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I figured that I should read up on the de-icing procedures in ATL since I've never done it before along with the fact that we were going to be a while until our ticket was up.  We board up, release the parking break and great ready to go.  Once we're on the taxiway, we were told that deicing would take approximately 1 hour from our current spot in line, so we turned off both engines and hung out.  By the time we were number 1 and getting ready to enter the de-ice pad, the forecast and current weather conditions equated heavy snow.  "+SN" limits us by putting a stringent requirement of having to take off within 5 minutes of deicing and the current estimates were about 8-10 minutes.  So, all in all, it wasn't conducive to get deiced with a chance of having to do it all over again.  All the while, we pick up on the radio that the runway was shut down because of poor braking action.  Good thing we just turned back.

Snow AccumulationGetting a parking spot wasn't that much of an issue but since the rampers and gate agents were being overwhelmed with returned aircraft, it was about another 15-20 minutes of sitting waiting with the door open, snow piling up on the stairs and passenger entry way before we started the de-boarding process.  Outside my window, I see this: and record this:

Another two hours pass by, we finally get called back out to the aircraft to continue the flight to Omaha, Nebraska and prepare the aircraft once again. We are notified that it would be another hour till we hear what's going on since the de-ice line is nearing the 2 hour mark, and once again, we sit for about 2 hours in the plane just waiting. Mind you, I've been at work since 10:25AM and I've only been paid for about 1.5 hours and it's already 4:30PM. A ramp agent comes aboard and tell us that we've been Code Sixed - Cancelled and I get a call: Instead of 5 legs today which turned into 1 leg to Omaha, I will be operating a flight to Kileen, Texas departing at 6:55PM. So, I get to sit another 2 hours unitl we depart. To make the story short, I finish the day with a 15 hour duty day, 4.5 hours of block time (hours in the aircraft actually getting paid) and now I sit here blogging in Kileen, Texas and instead of getting back to Atlanta at 8:00AM, I'm not due in till 4:00PM extending my entire schedule! YEA for me!

Here is another video with actual pictures of the snow on the wings of the aircraft.

Movable Weather Radar for the iPhone and iPod Touch

Finally a solution for an animated weather radar.  (thanks Zaphu)  There currently two applications that can do just this, but it requires a nominal fee of $0.99.  With the current reviews nearing the low 2 stars, I'm a little hesitant.  The author of Radar-In-Motion has mentioned that he will accommodate the quirks that others have been complaining about which might make it worth it later on.  


iWeathr is the best radar app for the iPhone that I have found so far. Navigate to iweathr.com and locate your nearest radar location. Note that you won’t be entering the city where you live but rather the location of a radar installation. For help finding the nearest one to you go here. This implementation allows both rotation and zooming in - very nice!


Another nifty weather iPhone web application can be found at http://iphone.my-cast.com/ It's a basic forecasting web-app but all that more powerful and simple.

*Update: kurt mentioned below that he prefers i.wund.com for it's simplicity and the mass information that is displayed on the iPhone screen for that particular location. I have to say that it definitely does show great information, but the moving map on iweathr.com is the basic one that is hosted by the government's weather website: http://adds.aviationweather.gov/radar/ which is the one that prefer using when scoping out the weather prior to flying. Thanks for the comments!

The Good Feeling

Over the last few weeks, things have just been going a little too well.  It's definitely been a little bit since a major stretch of bliss, but I'm able to recognize that things are good again.  At least for the most part, the flying has been tremendous and the commuting hasn't really been all that bad.  I've been updating trelijah quite often as it's really easy to upload / email pictures to the site and the format is actually what I have been looking for in terms of quality.  The photos are almost full resolution!

I'm once again on the commute back to San Diego on AirTran enjoying the exit row eagerly awaiting the dry weather.  I'm about to head out tonight with one of my friends Joe who is back in town for a week vacation prior to starting up his last year at dental school in Boston.  Should make out for good times. 

I watched the Olympic Women's Beach Volleyball finals match last night which was amazing!  It's crazy to see that the two-some has won a total of over 100 matches in a row!  I haven't been on top of the olympics really this year as I've been preoccupied with some personal stuff including flying my butt off an going right to bed. 

Crazy Days in KPIA

The last roundtrip that I had was to Peoria, Illinois where my captain and I decided to walk around the afternoon that we got there.  It started snowing quite a bit and the walk turned into a rather long, cold and windy one.  We headed to the theater to watch National Treasure: Book of Secrets and we also got to watch Rambo.  They were both entertaining but I can't necessarily say that Rambo was for everyone.  It's for those who like 70s - 80s style shoot-em up no plot kind of thing.  I liked for what it was and that's how I usually enjoy things anyways.  Book of Treasures was interesting and just fun, as all Disney movies are. 

So, back to the walk, before we arrived at the theater, we hung a left to the Walmart where I bought a $4.00 beanie cap.  It saved me on my walk back to the hotel and I even slept with it because it was just that cold.  The temp dropped from 18F to 8F and it snowed about 6 inches that very night. 

We woke up that morning and got downstairs for a 5:00AM van time and was alerted that the van driver couldn't make it out of his home, a taxi was going to take 1.5 hours and that they were trying to find someone else to take us.  It all worked out about 45 minutes later so I can't say that it was that  bad.  I enjoy biscuits and gravy, an orange, and some frosted flakes for breakfast. 

I got to the airport and it looked fun.  Along the way in the van, the driver had a news radio station on and they said that the Department of Transportation of Illinois alerted that the roads were "treacherous" and that no one should be driving.  Look at what we go through to get our flights done!  The airport runways were great as the ground crews kept them clean throughout the night but the ramp area where the plane was parked over night was horrible.  Here's a picture of it.  I was basically doing my preflight in 6" of snow and having it leak into my shoes and up my pant legs.  It was fun for about 10 seconds then I got over it.  =) 

Check it out...Enjoy!