As a career airline pilot and aviation enthusiast, I would like to share some of the splendors of flight in this column, “The Blue Side Up”. The blue side up came from an old aviation saying, “keep the blue side up”, which means keep the airplane right-side up so that the blue is above you not below you.
The takeoff is a gravity defying and exhilarating moment where the human spirit rises high above and horizons expand. Every care in the world is left behind and one feels closer to the creator. Flying is truly a gift, one that most take for granted, but yet, something unattainable for many before us who could only dream of slipping the surly bonds of this planet. Can you imagine the look on someone’s face from the 19th century after telling him or her that you made the transcontinental trek from Seattle to New York in just six hours?
I currently fly the Airbus 319 and 320, a mid-sized passenger jet seating up to 150 passengers. The top cruise speed is 550mph at an altitude of 39,000ft. The A320 weighs in at 170,000 pounds fully loaded and can accelerate to 160mph in just a few seconds from a dead stop. My crew is highly trained for all types of emergencies and operates around the clock in any weather on any given day. We can land in zero visibility conditions, fly on one engine and even land on snow-covered runways in gusting winds and come to a safe stop with runway to spare. The fuel tank holds 43,100 pounds of fuel or 6,433 gallons of fuel. In comparison, my car holds 98 pounds or 14 gallons of fuel. The airplane has over 200 computers which constantly compare, analyze and warn of system failures and loss of redundancies.
Next upcoming article – A Typical Day at Work