N69311 was clean and presentable. The cabin didn't look factory fresh but it did look well cared for
Unfortunately I got stuck in the tail three seats from the back...middle seat. And the gate agent had a pile of tickets ahead of me requesting a seat change so I didnt bother.
Takeoff was eastbound out over the ocean. Our turn north and back over the coast started to get choppy and would stay choppy until the final 15 minutes of the flight as we had to skirt and eventually penetrate the huge cold front that moved across the entire eastern seaboard Friday.
Flight observations: Is it me or are my fellow Americans losing their awe of air travel. Of course the worst case scenario happened...the lanky teenager at the window next to me dropped the shade as did the young girl across the aisle. Indeed most people slid their shades down in the back half of the aircraft. So here I am, all of a sudden flying in a United Parcel Service or FedEx windowless jet. Got some reading done.
-Food: A Chicken Caesar sandwich or Ham, apple and cube of chocolate. Served a tad too cold. The typical midday fare on most US airlines. Not bad. Not mouth watering. Just filling enough.
-Continental service personnel from phone agents to gate agents to the lady who instructed me through my first CO "E Ticket" terminal were friendly and professional. I have only one complaint to CO. My knees travelled the whole trip in the seat pocket. Thankfully the lady in front of me never reclined. Tell Gordon to take a hint from the gang in Dallas and pull a few seats out. Seat pitch needs to be improved.
-The fasten seat belt sign has become an almost useless feature on modern US jetliners. As I said the chop went from about an hour of light to barely moderate, then easily moderate as we penetrated the cold front. There's always someone who doesnt get seated next to their travel companion so decides to mosey on up and perch at the seat for a few minutes. Indeed one of the FAs insisted a heavy set man take his seat as she squeezed by him with a trash bag. He ignored her. I thought to myself "I probably wouldn't enjoy it but it would be some poetic justice to have N69311 amble across an errant thunderhead and watch this lout go sailing into the ceiling."
Our landing was in clear skies as the sun began to sink. The pavement at CLE was wet, indicating that the tail end of the cold front had just gone through.
SEGMENT TWO CLE-MBS...MY FIRST BE1900 TRIP!
Because of 20 extra minutes on the FLL-CLE leg due to weather related course deviations, I had 10 minutes to catch my Continental Express plane to Saginaw.
The new Concourse D is bright and comfortable. The underground walkway is fast. I made the trip from C14 to D21 in about 6 minutes. I arrived to see my chariot northward to Michigan, a Beech 1900.
Except the maintenence truck in front of us told us we were going nowhere in that one. After an hour delay, another Beech inbound from DTW was assigned to us. Then we got an announcement that nobody boarding one of the smallest airliners going really wants to here. The gate agent reported that there was 'tornadic activity' over Lake Erie. Yuck. After another 20 minutes I started thinking maybe a rental car and a leisurely trip across Ohio and up into Michigan might not be a bad idea. But right as I was about to make a decision the flight crew reported everything was set.
The Beech 1900 is the kind of plane the typical US air traveller despises. It's very small, very narrow and frankly looks like a schoolbus on the inside. The wing spar features prominently in the floor. I was first aboard, taking my seat overwing in 5A. I chatted with the pilots as there is no cockpit door in the Beech 1900! "Rough ride tonite guys?" I asked. "Getting out of here could be bumpy but once we get out over the lake we should be fine." No less than three of the women who boarded started talking about renting a car. They looked terrified. Considering the weather even I was preparing for a few choice stomach dropping plummets as we climbed out of CLE.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. We took off in a light rain but the air was smooth. Indeed ten minutes into the flight as the lights of my former hometown faded aft, a brilliant nearly full moon lit up the shiny white wing tops and revealed a thin layer of harmless scattered clouds below us. It was obvious the bad weather had all but gone east. We flew northwest into smooth air.
What a flight! Loud obviously. Weird too because the cheap lighting really did remind me of a school bus, one of the many trips I used to take as a high school football player! On that note, one glance across southern Michigan at 930 on a Friday revealed something that I'm sure has started conversations in many a dark cockpit....the blazing "Friday Night Lights" of high school football games. Every small farm town lives for their football team. The unique bright white of lights covering bigger stadiums or small fields dotted the darkness of rural southeastern Michigan. It brought back to me, sailing 14000 feet up at nearly 300 mph, great memories.
If you're a passenger in a Beech 1900, you have a window seat. It's 1-1 across seating! You also have an excellent view of the cockpit instrument panel! I could see the collision avoidance radar, the altimeter, the autopilot set to 14000. I recognized some of the VORs from my Flight Sim travels through the same area. And of course you get a view straight ahead!
As I said, nature gave us a wonderful ride. Not a bump. I mean NOT ONE. Our captain chimed in over the droning turboprops that we were 65 miles from the airport, beginning our descent. He said there may be a couple of bumps going through a cloud layer but that the weather was fine. It's a smart thing for a small airliner pilot to say. He's got to know he has some white knucklers aboard. Letting them know the jolts are normal and expected probably calms them a little.
But the most wonderous thing was his announcement that he was turning all the cabin lights out for better visibilty in the cockpit. Suddenly I was experiencing another airliner travel first....a pitch black cabin! It was awesome. And there were no shades down on this flight..(there were no shades but still!) ...my fellow passengers seemed to be enjoying this ride. Everyone was looking out the windows...a few were commenting on where we were, recognizing features as we roared across the southern suburbs of Saginaw. Most of the guys were looking forward watching the pilots and where we were going.
Looking ahead at about thirty miles out I could see the beacon at MBS beckoning us like a lighthouse guarding a safe port for ships. Then the light faded as we approached a cloud. I watched the cloud roll up on us through the cockpit windows. Even our cloud was being friendly tonight as we bounded through it with a ripple no worse than a bump on a taxiway.
And there ahead it was! The lighted rectangle that was the runway at MBS. Our co-pilot, a young man born long after I started getting interested in aviation, we had been told was flying tonight. The motors lowering the gear and the servos dropping the flaps could easily be heard. It was great watching the final approach. No one was looking sideays. All eyes were forward as the big bright red and yellow lighted box got bigger and bigger. Suddenly we flared and thunk! With the filling rattling smack that seems unavoidable on commuter prop planes we had arrived safe and sound at MBS.
Another funny thing about the Beech 1900 is how fast you go from noisy roar to complete silence after the engines were off. The guy in the seat next to me and I agreed we wished all flights could be as smooth as that one.
I recommend every airliner nut schedule some time in a Beech 1900! It sure brings the thrill of flying home!
In twenty minutes I was seated in a seat that terrified me far more than any Beech 1900 could! ...next to my mother who was driving me north on the Interstate in heavy Labor Day traffic with one contact lense missing!
I return the same route on Tuesday. I'll post at the end of the week! For those of you in the States, Happy Labor Day!
Heavymetal From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 2513 times:
THE RETURN TRIP
Thanks for the compliment, Desert....well I'm 6'3'',230 so its tough for me anywhere...
Today was my trip home. The weather pattern was almost an exact copy of the one Friday night...a powerful cold front running from northeast to southwest roared across the Midwest and into the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states. Which was fine with me, because today I was carrying a special 'carry-on' package, my four year old Maine Coon cat named India!
The weather in Saginaw was glorious for my 10:30am departure. The BE1900 was N87554, which I believe was the same ship that brought me in. One thing was the same...the captain! Same guy who commanded the flight Fridat night. Different FO.
I was assigned 2C, much better seat than Friday night...DesertJet, a WARNING ON SEATING IN A BEECH 1900...Seat 1A (port side) and 1C(starboard) have no windows. They are forward of the first passenger window. That having been said I can tell you there is an awesome view of the open flight deck from those seats, though it's just as good from the second row, so why go without...book 2A or 2C if you can (not sure where the B went!???)
I got a repeat of everything from Friday night, only this time with glorious sunshine and soft cottony clouds at only about 1500 feet. One thing about the Beech...it joins it's big BIG brother the 757 as being labelled a 'rocket ship' . The acceleration down the concrete was impressive. We lifted off smoothly and I looked forward to see the landing gear lever get toggled 'up'. Off went CO Express flight 3242 to Hopkins!
The flight was great. We flew south-southeast and, after a check on the dashboard autopilot, I noticed we had been assigned 17,000 feet. My puddy tat below my seat quietly dozed in her container, helped by some 'kitty valium' prescribed by the vet as well as the confident roar of the turboshafts. The first indication we had reached the northern suburbs of Detroit was the white roof of the mighty Pontiac Silverdome stadium below. Only a minute later, DTW was visible, then downtown Detroit. We turned further southeast towards CLE.
Okay, here's a question.....are flight crews allowed to pipe in music on their headphones? Our Captain was doing some bobbing and finger snapping for the few minutes we had left prior to our initial descent!
Finally I got to feel the Beech in some choppy air. We had a beautiful run over the Lake to CLE, but ATC wasn't being friendly and sent us back west to line up with the rest of the traffic. The remnants of the cold front sat in big choppy scattered clouds over the western Cleveland suburbs as we bounced through them while picking up the beam. The Captain turned us onto final with Cleveland's side by side runways ahead about ten miles, visible through the cockpit. The Beech has a deliciously loud motor system for flaps and gear. I looked over towards the lake and saw the high rise apartment building India and I used to live in. A moment later we arrived in Hopkins, or as it should be called "the domain of the Embraer regional jet!"
I have to ask somebody how in the hell to book good seats. I SWEAR when I made the reservations I was assigned an aisle seat so I could have easy access to my kitty carrier. I arrive to find I've got 17B. Do you get s*it on if someone else makes a bigger stink?
The connection from CLE's commuter terminal D to C was smooth. I even had time to pop another chill pill into India's mouth. She had behaved wonderfully so far.
You can tell it's after Labor Day! The average age of the passengers on the noontime flight to Fort Lauderdale was, as they say in Texas, "older than dirt". It was comical. A trillion year old woman wandered back to her trillion year old friend in the aft during the middle of boarding to announce that she'd "found cheese!" The fossil wasn't hungry so back she went.
Our 737-300 was packed but made an on time departure into smooth skies. I badly miscalculated my weather predictions, or else we just had an on the ball Boeing driver who was getting his way with ATC. Our flight South was delightfully smooth, unlike my experience northbound Friday. And one glace of today's nationwide Nexrad, along with frequent glances out the windows, told me Continental did some well planned dodging around a VERY wet and thundery southern US.
India finally decided she had enough of the carrier with about an hour left and started kicking and scratching. I pulled the case up enough to unzip the pouch and her head popped out long enough for me to bomb her with another puddy tat valium. The drone of the engines and a spirited cabin conversation..(Note: The cabin crew looked like a senior, older group. They were excellent with the passengers, stopping to chit chat and fast and friendly with the carts. The Texas twangs made me believe they were Houston based. Even the 'high maintenance' lady on my aisle seat got her requested vegetarian meal!)
Some rain squalls in south Florida were inevitable and, as is common on summer afternoon flights into the Sunshine State, our pilot instructed the F/As to take a seat a good twenty five minutes before landing. The little old lady in the window seat just thought it was wonderful being up there (another pleasant change from the bored unimpressed teens sitting around me Friday). She got a chuckle out of me about twenty miles out as we looked over the wing and heard the whir of motors..."hear come the flappers!" she said!
We zigzagged through the towering rain squalls and storms over the Everglades with a couple of good shakes and landed in a blazing late afternoon sun at FLL.
A ton of thanks to the professionals at CO and CO Express for an enjoyable flight to and from a wonderful weekend. Gotta go now and spend quality time with India, who's a bit doped up after a long day at being a 500 mile an hour pussy!
DeltaOwnsAll From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 1173 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (12 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 2483 times:
Great trip reports. I've always wondered what it was like to fly on the smaller planes like that. I hate when you lose a contact and you have to use just one lol...so annoying! As for the 500 mile an hour pussy...ok I won't go there...but that got a lol out of me.
Che From United States of America, joined Feb 2000, 537 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (12 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 2416 times:
Great Report. I was actually at my high schools football game during this "tornatic activity". It was actually a waterspout over the lake and it came right over Lakewood Stadium where the game was, though it was a funnel in the sky.