Flying at night has its own rewards and challenges. On a clear winter night the view can be spectacular. At other times darkness and restricted visibility can increase pilot workload or cause disorientation. On this night we were treated to a spectacular view of Nashville Tennessee. Unfortunately video doesn’t capture the beauty that many pilots are treated to in the thin cold air at flight levels or flying over city lights on a clear winter night. This night we approached Nashville from the west just as the first bands of pink broke on the horizon. While on a wide downwind on the north side of the field Nashville approach cleared for the visual approach to runway 31. This route takes you over a large unlighted area to the east of the field which in the dark appears as a large void. The void is actually the J Percy Priest Reservoir. During night flights especially in poor visibility it’s easy to get disoriented or lose track of how high you are above the ground. In order to ensure adequate ground clearance the aircraft is flown at a minimum safe altitude(MSA) till its flight path intersects with a Visual approach slope indicator (VASI) or electronic glide path. This ensures that the airplane maintains a safe obstacle free flight all the way to the surface of the runway. On this flight there wasn’t a VASI so the ILS was used to back up the visual approach for terrain clearance. An ILS provides an electronic vertical path to the runway which displays on the pilots attitude indicator. Unfortunately, Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) accidents while avoidable have been happening since the dawn of powered flight. The FAA places great importance in CFIT training for pilots which is reflected in the training at pilot training centers Like FlightSafety. The best way to avoid CFIT is training, standard procedures, and good situational awareness.
Flying a private jet doesn’t mean you’re totally isolated from the airline world. At larger airports General aviation service providers, called FBO’s or Fixed Based Operators provide a variety of services to arriving and departing private aircraft. FBOs may occupy one side of the field and the airline terminal the other. At smaller airports these FBOs are often the only business selling services such as fuel, maintenance, or hanger space. Even though they may be operating on the same airport, for security reasons, private aircraft are not allowed to pick up or drop off passengers at the airline terminal. But, you may see an airliner like a Boeing 737 or an Airbus 320 in airline colors parked on the general aviation ramp. This often happens when extra space is needed for parking or the airline may be doing a special charter like flying a sports team. Often FBOs will drive passengers from private flights to the terminal or back. If an aircraft is going to be on the ground for an extended period or needs to be picked up from a service center, pilots need to be repositioned. In these cases the company will buy airline tickets for the repositioning crew. All of the video from inside 737s was taken during crew repositioning flights. Many of the airline takeoffs and landings in this video were taken from general aviation ramps. Takeoff and landing by various airliners.
One of the best places in the world to watch planes land is on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean. St. Martin is a 35 square mile area island with mountains in the center and beautiful white sand beaches at the water’s edge. The northern half of the island is owned by France and called Saint Martin. The south side is part of the kingdom of the Netherlands. The Dutch call it Sint Maarten. This beautiful island is served by Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) on the Dutch side. Princess Juliana is without a doubt the best place in the world to watch airplanes land and the best place to set up for fantastic pictures of the world’s largest airliners landing is the sunset Beach Bar and Grill on Maho Beach.
Boeing 747’s and the Airbus 380 cross Maho Beach at approximately 50 feet over sunbathers and swimmers for some fantastic aviation photo opportunities. The landing runway, runway 10, is only 7,150 feet long and the touchdown area is only a short distance from the ocean waves. On the departure end of the runway is Pic Paradis, a 1,390 feet high mountain that departing aircraft must avoid with a sharp right turn after takeoff. Water on one end and mountains on the other end of this short runway is what places Princess Juliana airport on the list of the world’s most dangerous or extreme airports. Pictures and video from this spot often surprise viewers with how close people are to these flying behemoths crossing the beach. These pictures are recognizable across the world. The other shocking images are of tourist and sunbathers hanging on the airport fence just behind departing jets as pilots hold the brakes and throttle up the engines for the short run down the runway. Tourists hold on for dear life while being pounded by hot blast from jet engines. With the larger airliners this can or will lift them off the ground as they cling to the fence. Unfortunately this can be a very dangerous sport. A few misfortunate fence riders have been severely injured by jet blast. If you make it to St. Martin make sure you spend some time on Maho Beach and don’t forget your camera.
US Airways Boeing 757 landing St martin
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four engine bomber with a crew of 10 that the Army Air force flew during the Second World War. Used primarily during the European air war, the B-17 could carry up to 8,000 lbs of bombs and with a reduced bomb load had a maximum range of 2,000 miles. Its four Wright R-1820-97 Cyclone turbo supercharged radial engines produced 1,200 horsepower each. Its max speed is 287 mph and it has a service ceiling of 35,600 ft. Named the flying fortress it was heavily armed with 13 .50 cal M2 machine guns. The top instrument panel is from N390TH “liberty Belle” a B-17G which was lost on June 13,2011 just outside Aurora Illinois. “Liberty Belle had just departed Aurora when a fire broke out in the number 2 engine. Unable to extinguish the fire the crew made a forced landing in a farmer’s field and the ensuing fire destroyed the aircraft. Fortunately, all aboard made it out safely and no one was injured. The second instrument panel is from N3509G a B-17G named “Miss Angela”. The Palm Springs Air Museum is home for “Miss Angela”. Both aircraft are g models which have the twin .50 cal. chin turrets built into the lower nose. Boeing built over 8,600 B-17G’s and only twelve of these are still flyable.
The falcon 50 is a 3 engine long range corporate jet built by the French company Dassault. The falcon 50 can carry 8 to 9 passengers comfortably and has an enclosed lavatory and a galley. It’s powered by three Garrett TFE731-3-1C engines capable of 3,700 lbs of thrust each. It has a maximum speed of Mach 0.86, cruises at 475 kts and has a range of 3,500 nm. This aircraft has been retrofitted with a Universal Electronic Flight Instrument (EFI) 890 Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Navigation Display (ND) system.
Today’s air traveler has three options, buy an airline ticket, buy a private jet or charter a jet. The charter option gives you all the benefits of owning a jet without the downside of ownership. You get the convenience owners have without any of the ownership expenses or headaches. Thousands of air travelers have given up the frustration and inconvenience of flying the airlines for the hassle free experience of flying on a charter jet. FAA Certified Air Carriers or Air Taxi Operators provide a wide range of jet aircraft ready to satisfy the needs of today’s busy air travelers. Flying with a charter company comes with all the conveniences of owning a jet bu none of the downside.
Many charter operators have a variety of aircraft to fit varying missions and provide the aircraft and crew that best fit your needs. This type of flying gives you control over your travel schedule, privacy and access to thousands more airports than the scheduled airlines serve. Your jet departs on your schedule, there’s no frustrating check in process, and it takes you closer to where you want to go. Every seat is first class and many charter aircraft have ac outlets for portable electronics. On the day you’ve scheduled your trip, drive up to the aircraft. The crew will take your bags and you step from your car to your private jet. No waiting. Running behind; no problem. We’re leaving on your schedule not ours.
To set up your first charter flight, call your local airport and ask for the names and phone numbers of local Air Taxi Operators. They’re also referred to as 135 operators. When you call they’ll want to know where you want to go, time of departure, when you want to return, any intermediate stops you want to make, how many people are going, how much baggage you’re taking, catering requests if any, and if you need ground transportation arranged at your destination. Each operator call back with a quote and you select the company that best meets your needs. Be sure to ask about any additional fees like airport landing fees, overnight fees, pilot wait time, or hanger. Most operators charge by the mile or by the hour. You can expect to be quoted for the round trip whether you’re going one way or not and a minimum of two hours a day when the aircraft sits.
Three Army MH-47G Special Operations Chinooks do a hover check and then depart. during the first hover check the rotor wash almost knocked me over so I had to move back.
St Martin landings. An assortment of airliners landing at Princess Juliana International Airport in St Maarten. Airlines, corporate, and charter jets cross Maho Beach as low as 50 feet. This is a must see if you ever go to St Maarten which is also called Saint martin or Sint Maarten.
A Friend of mine takes a ride in a very nice North American T-6 Texan. The Texan was used by the US Army Air Force as an advanced trainer during the second world war. It was built by North American Aviation and powered by a 600 hp Pratt and Whitney R-1340 radial engine. Its normal cruise speed is 145 mph.
N941NA Aero Spacelines 377 SGT (Super Guppy Turbine) is currently owned by NASA and based at El Paso international Airport. NASA used it primarily to transport parts for the International Space Station. The super guppy was built from the cockpit, wings, and tail of a Boeing C-97. Unlike the previous guppies that used the C-97 fuselage, this version was built with a completely redesigned fuselage. It’s powered by four Allison 501-D22C turboprop engines that can produce 4,680 horsepower each and has a swing nose to facilitate cargo loading. This was the largest and last guppy built and is an important part of aviation history.