Monday, March 25, 2013

Blog Fodder

It's time to land so I tune the ATIS, and then tell Centre its identifying letter, the code proving I have listened to the recorded information. I know from it that the wind is as strong as when I left, still straight down the runway. The ATIS gave me an altimeter setting, too, but Centre gives me a new one, and tower may give me a different one again. I dutifully dial in each, so that when I level off at each stepdown altitude I'll be safely above or below whatever traffic I've been stopped there to avoid.

Straight down the runway as it is, the high wind makes my job landing the airplane easier, not harder. It's not a problem today that ATC leaves me high in the sky staring four white PAPI lights in the eyes less than three miles back. I don't need to chop the power more than normal nor slow to final approach speed in order to extend full flaps. I can use normal approach power and speed, and half flaps, giving me my usual descent rate, but because my approach speed is a fixed airspeed, and my descent rate is in feet per minute, the headwind decreases my groundspeed but not my descent rate. Measured in feet per nautical mile, however, the descent rate is greater than usual, so crossing the fence I see two red and two white, and then all four red by the time my focus narrows to exclude them, in the flare. Yes, four red is "too low" but they lead me to a touchdown point at the end of an IFR approach, well into the runway. I want to get down and get off at the first available taxiway.

I do, and tune ground. They're talking to another airplane, so I wait, doing my after-landing checks, for the conversation to finish. The controller is telling a pilot, "We sent a truck out and found that FOD you reported. It was a diaper. That's a first."

The pilot chuckles and makes some remark, but I regret that he didn't--and neither did I--ask, "Clean or dirty." Or maybe we don't want to know. I can imagine an experienced parent doing a quick at-seat diaper change after the seat belt signs came on at top of descent. They're considerate enough not to leave the the dirty diaper at the seat, nor to hand it to a flight attendant on exit. (I imagine aircraft groomers and FAs will tell me that plenty of people do one or the other), but once outside the aircraft, masked by people trundling rollerbags and crowded around the gate check cart, mom or dad gently sets the offending package on the tarmac, collects the stroller, and hauls family and baggage indoors to baggage claim. Or maybe a clean diaper slipped out of a diaper bag as parent juggled luggage and offspring en route to the terminal.

Later on the departure frequency I hear a controller telling a US airliner, "They just finished the runway check and nothing was found." I wonder if they saw a diaper or were afraid something had fallen off their aircraft.


hawk205 said...

Long ago, I was making a cross country with my wife and child when the need to change a diaper arose. Naturally Center took this time is issue a clearance change. I said 'stand by one we're changing a diaper." Center, after a few chuckles, said "roger let us know when ready to copy.'

D.B. said...

I can imaging Hawk205's new clearance change: "After POOPY, direct CLEAN, direct BOTTL and hold. Expect further clearance in 2 hours."

Sarah said...

Pretty good DB. You forgot 'and hold upright, right hand back pats".

Kroviniu Gabenimas said...

Hmm, interesting post. But good. Thanks