Saturday, June 29, 2019

Never ignore the good

London City Airport, England, identified as EGLC in the aviation world, is an interesting place.The single runway is 4948 feet long with the ramp area on the south side being less than half that length paralleling the west end.  There is no parallel taxiway for the length to the east. Aircraft landing east pull into a loop at the end of the runway to turn around and back taxi to the ramp, nose to nose with the inbound traffic. Because it lies among the city’s buildings the approach is steep, 5.5 degrees as compared to the standard 3.0 degrees. Departure corridors are equally steep in order to accommodate both safety and noise concerns. They fly airliners into the place. It takes special training and authorization to operate there, specific to the type of equipment being used.

Photo credit: Ercan KarakaƟ

Innsbruck, Austria is another interesting place. The airport’s field elevation is 1907', nestled in a picturesque valley and noted for the world class skiing on the surrounding mountains; mountains that are just shy of 10,000 feet tall. Approaches into that airport start letting down into the valley as much as 27 miles away, then wind their way to the airport with mountains framing the inbound path. Landing to the east, the point of the final turn that lines one up with the landing runway (known on the chart as WI005) is just 2.6 miles from the approach end. The runway itself slips into view a few moments before reaching that point. It is also a place that requires specialized training in any airplane one wants to fly into the place while the weather is down on its face.

America has mountains, skiing, and its own interesting airports, with Aspen, CO being among the most notorious. The Aspen airport elevation is 7837 feet with the surrounding mountains touching 14,000 feet. The RNAV (GPS) - F approach boasts a descent angle of 6.49 degrees, which is easily topped by that of the VOR DME - C approach with its ear popping angle of 9.61. Being in the US of A, home of the rugged individualist and cowboy loner, there is no special training or authorization required to saddle up and head to Aspen. The prudent, however, heading that way in a $20 mil jet loaded with VIPs, like to take a peek before jumping into the deep end. (An attitude much approved by insurance companies.)

A flight instructor working in a full motion simulator bolted to the ground in St. Louis gets to fly into all three. (It is a bit of a jolt to climb out of the Sim after a few hours of "flying" around London, then climb into a car to take I70 east to St. Louis.) I’ve been to Aspen for real. The London “flight” happened a day or so ago and I’ll be “heading” to Innsbruck, again, in a week or so. This plane has a special system's mode for steep approaches, one that raises the approach speed while allowing full spoilers to be deployed along with full flaps; a configuration not available during more normal approaches and landings. The procedure isn’t overly complicated, but it's always more comfortable to not try something new while “on the fly” at 200 knots.

Seeing new places, even if through view-screen “windows” looking out at a synthetic world, helps with making the transition to living a land-bound life. Outside of the Sim life is traffic, bustle, the constant barrage of propaganda, advertisements, and the relentless noise of civilization. It is a frenzy now ramping up to insane levels with the incoming national political campaigns beginning to unfold. (Those living on the water and off these shores should rejoice at being well insulated from the madness.)

Photo Credit: Andrew Jacob Byrnes (@jakeofsaltlake)
We have found a nearby bar that has not a single TV anywhere to be seen, a rare find nowadays. (It would be no surprise if some future civilization categorizes our fascination with TV as an addiction; and a fatal one at that.) Walks in the nearby parks, having a bit more resilience to life-threatening weather, and the endless joy of having grand kids around are more than just balms for the stationary soul. They are treasures in their own right, things to be cherished and celebrated. I miss the open water life, but life is rarely all bad or all good. No matter where life leads, one should never ignore the good while emphasizing the bad. Something I am still learning to do.

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