Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Out of My Nose

Six hours ago I was woken for work. Five hours ago I arrived at the airport. Four and a half hours ago I had completed a preflight inspection, towed an airplane out of the hangar, and was supervising fuelling. Three and a half hours ago I knew the weather forecasts everywhere in our purview, and was out of Candy Crush lives and unread Facebook entries. Forty-five minutes ago I was told I would be released from duty in thirty minutes. Half an hour ago I called friends to say I could be at their place in forty-five minutes. Twenty minutes ago I was given a destination to fly to. Nineteen minutes ago I filed an IFR flight plan according to the CFS-listed Preferred Routes, and cancelled with the friends. Thirteen minutes ago I started the engines. One minute ago I was at the hold-short line waiting for departure clearance. "Traffic ahead is in the circuit; turn right ten degrees as soon as safely able so as not to run him over; contact departure airborne; cleared take off." Now I'm airborne.

My clearance was to follow the filed route. I'm coming up on the waypoint at the end of the published departure from the airport. The plate says "expect radar vectors to assigned route" and sure enough the departure controller assigns me a heading. It's a left turn of about twenty-five degrees, keeping me clear of some traffic, I presume. He approves a climb right to en route altitude. I put the ice protection on before entering cloud, but the forecast was correct, and I picked up no ice at all. After about ten minutes, I'm cleared direct my next filed waypoint, to continue on the flight planned route. I come up through the cloud layers into the sun.

For two hours I fly on top of the clouds, enjoying brilliant bright sunshine. Clouds look so much nicer from the top. At top of descent the icing protection goes back on and I start down. Oxygen valve off below ten thousand, but I still have the nasal cannula on my face, because it's tangled up with my headset and I'm busy with charts and checklists and engine controls. The controller clears me to an altitude that is just above the clouds. We skim along, almost touching them. It's the only way you can see how fast an airplane goes, to be that close to clouds whipping by. I take off the cannula and set it aside. Ahh, nose freedom. I'm told to expect direct to the initial fix for the destination approach in five minutes, and I'm starting to slow down to configure for that. The airplane has microswitches in the throttles: retard either one below a certain point before the gear is locked down, and it will set off an alarm. The point at which the microswitch is tripped is a constant amount of throttle travel, but it's not marked on the throttle quadrant--and I don't look at the throttle quadrant markings while adjusting power anyway. I'm looking at the manifold pressure. The manifold pressure reading at which the gear horn will sound varies by an inch or so (I originally wrote "150 rpm or so" which is too confusing to leave, but too funny to just delete). I guess it depends on temperature and air pressure and who tuned the engine last. I sometimes want the power that low before I want to put the gear down, so I warn my crew that the alarm may sound. I do this today, and he replies with a question, "Why would that make the stall horn sound?"

I realize I have inadvertently said "stall horn" instead of "gear horn." I accept the correction and explain, "The wrong word came out of my nose."

At the end of the flight I admitted that I hadn't intended to say "nose" there either. Apparently my brain was busy processing altitude calculations and thought "nose" was close enough to the word I had asked for.


... said...

"Manifold pressure...150 rpm" ...I see what you did there!

Aviatrix said...

My nose just doesn't stop delivering today, does it?

(It's making me do the captcha on my own blog, too. Maybe I've been replaced by an inexact duplicate).

sean said...

A good story, but with three quick bursts of issues - I'd suggest checking that your cannula is flowing freely and clearly.

D.B. said...

I have the same problem when instructing - sometimes my nose says the wrong words. I also can't drive while talking on the phone - driving gets top priority and I often have no idea what I just said or it made sense. Bad idea for anything actually important, like a customer call or filing a flight plan.

RTD8450 said...

Wow, I LOVE flying, albeit in my mind, with you!!