04 October 2010

ZeRo G!!! WHEEEEE!!!!

A few lucky individuals had the thrill of a lifetime when a charted Amerijet  "ZERO G" B727-200 took about 10 people up for a few hours of weightlessness! The ZERO G plane, tail number N794AJ, was up for about an hour to give its guest the experience what it's like to be in space. This same aircraft took Hawaii math and science teachers up for an hour the next day as part of of an ongoing program with the Northrup Grumman Foundation.
According to their website, aboard their specially modified Boeing 727, G-FORCE ONE, weightlessness is achieved by doing aerobatic maneuvers known as parabolas. Specially trained pilots perform these aerobatic maneuvers which are not simulated in any way. ZERO-G’s passengers experience true weightlessness. 

Before starting a parabola, G-FORCE ONE flies level to the horizon at an altitude of 24,000 feet. The pilots then begins to pull up, gradually increasing the angle of the aircraft to about 45° to the horizon reaching an altitude of 34,000 feet. During this pull-up, passengers will feel the pull of 1.8 Gs. Next the plane is “pushed over” to create the zero gravity segment of the parabola. For the next 20-30 seconds everything in the plane is weightless. Next a gentle pull-out is started which allows the flyers to stabilize on the aircraft floor. This maneuver is repeated 12-15 times, each taking about ten miles of airspace to perform.
After the plane landed and taxied to parking, I walked over an saw each individual come off the aft airstairs and celebrate their flight. Both the captain and another crewmember greeted them at the bottom and took a photo and turned their flight name tags right side up indicating they completed their 15 parabolas. Most looked like they were fine. On person, looked a little worn about the experienced, but beamed a big smile when cheered by his fellow teammates. One person even kissed the ground upon deplaning!


Looking Back

So I'm sitting here in the dispatch office on day 1 of a 5 day work week. Been here since 1315Z and between our crews reporting for duty and briefings, I started thinking about my 20+ years here in the commercial aviation industry. I can't believe that starting off as a ramper, I'd end up as an aircraft dispatcher. I mean, I was happy just being next to these "beast" on the ramp rather than looking at the aircraft thru a window like some "animal in a zoo".

Growing up, flying interisland in Hawaii was a way of life. Everyone has family on the neighbor islands and you gotta fly to visit. I had no inclination that this is what I'd end up doing as a career. But what the hell, I'm glad that I'm in it. Once you work in aviation, they say, it's in your blood. You always want to return to it.

One of the things that I love about this industry is, and "NO!", it's not about the flying benefits, but the camaraderie that you develop with your co-workers. The other is all the interesting stories that you collect either thru personal experiences or that of your co-workers. I can think of numerous times that I have had something funny, sad, heart touching or any one of a dozen emotions that effect a human. I know, all of us in this industry could write a book on these topics.

There's a blog site called http://www.airlinenightmare.com/ . If you get a chance, check them out. The stories and experiences that they have on their blog are just downright hilarious. Other's just get you pissed! Either way, these are either the personal experiences or opinions by the blogs moderators and contributors. It's a great site if you want to read about the everyday going on's within the aviation industry.

Heavy Check!

Growing up I thought that that an aircraft lasted "forever". As a member of the traveling public, some of us think that a plane is like the family car. Check the oil, the tires and change/add fluid as necessary. On occasion, we do a monthly check on the car and get our inspections done yearly. But with an aircraft, maintenance on these winged beauties are an on going process. Currently, one of our Dash-8-100's, N805WP, is in ourhanger for a "C" Check or a heavy inspection.

N805WP "Holomua"  in the hanger

The check is very extensive. Every portion of the aircraft is scrutinized. From Nose to tail. Nothing is overlooked. Rivets that hold the skin flaps are inspected. Aircraft interiors are taken out. Items needing repair or replacement are addressed. Avionics inspects and test all the instruments

#1 engine removed. Leading edge boots removed. Her seats on the hanger floor, 805's heavy check in progress

In a rarely seen area are the control cables that are linked to the control column in the cockpit. When a pilot turns the the controls one direction or another or pushes or pulls back, these cables respond by moving the control surfaces of the aircraft in relation to the input

 The cables run the length of the aircraft. Most aircraft have this type of configuration. The exception would be those aircraft that are "fly-by-wire" where electronic signals control the movements of the control surfaces

Looking thru the #1 engine mounting

Panels to the aircraft's rudder actuators are open and the elevator boots are missing

Looking thru the open cargo door, we can see the exposed pressure bulkhead and ducts.
The black marks on the wall to the left are from the constant scrapes of bags being placed in the hold

looking forward from the cargo door we see the cabin side panels removed for cleaning and inspection
Overhead cargo bins are still in place with the rest of the cabin covered and taped. Side panel installation is clearly visible as is the ceiling. The large opening is the under wing emergency exit

Here's another view of the cabin looking from the front to the rear cargo door area. Still alot of work to be done

 Main cabin door area with the galley covered. This aircraft is st to come out of the hanger on 01 Nov. Still alot more to be done. I look forward to dispatching this aircraft again when she is done with the check. 805 is one of my favorite aircraft's