I woke up a 6:00 a.m., showered and shaved. Double checked my trusty Samsonite suitcase and said goodbye to my parents. I made the quick 2-3 minutes drive to my friends house and arrived exactly 7:00. I parked my truck and got out my carry on and suitcase. I placed them in the driveway and headed inside. As I did, the limo that would take us to the airport arrived, and the driver started packing all of our bags. About a half an hour later, after waiting for my friends sister to dry her hair, we were making out way to Newark airport via Rt. 287.
We arrived at the airport around 8:00 and were quickly checked in by our friendly sky cap (It pays to arrive in a limo). After a little confusion with our tickets, we were heading through security and to our departure gate. We had plenty of time as the flight was scheduled to leave at 9:05 a.m. When we got to our gate (C 109), some of my friend’s family (Father, Mother, Sister and sisters friend) decided to go get something to eat and use the facilities. I decided to get some spotting in and my friend came along. Continental’s terminal was in full swing and it looked like it was going to be a busy morning. The first aircraft I saw was a Continental 737-900 (N38403), which happened to be my first view of the 900 series model. Sitting at gate 109, was our ride for the morning, Continental’s 737-800 (N37252). Other aircraft that were seen were Continental’s 737-700 (N14704), 737-300 (N17306), 737-300 (N14324) and a 737-500 (N23661). I also happened to see the 737-700 (N17719) which I had flown on a little less than 2 weeks earlier on my PHX-EWR flight. Also seen was another Continental 737-500 (N11656), and a CO Express ERJ-145 (N14943). Being towed from overnight parking to the terminal was one of Continentals 777-200ERs (N78009).
Around 8:40 the call to board came and before I knew it, I was heading down the jetway towards our 737-800 and a date with Miami and the Caribbean.
Date: June 30th
Flight: 238 EWR-MIA
Equipment: 737-800 (N37252)
Scheduled Dep: 9:05 a.m.
Actual Dep: 9:11 a.m.
Scheduled Arriv: 12:10 p.m.
Actual Arriv: 12:25 p.m.
Photo © Gregg Stansbery
When I boarded, I asked if I could see the cockpit. I was allowed to and I talked with the crew for quite a while. Our flight would be full today, but they let me know that we shouldn’t have any delays or setbacks. Flight time would be a brisk and we would arrive in Miami at 12:25 p.m. I talked to the crew about my future aspirations of becoming a Naval Aviator and this most definitely increased their interest in me! After talking about the military and the lifestyle that it offers, I made my way back to my seat 16F. I climbed over my friend and looked out the window. I was able to view several different Continental aircraft also awaiting pushback. Continental’s 737-800 (N38269), 737-800 (N35271) and –800 (N73270). At 9:00 a.m. we began our pushback into the alley between the two concourses. At the other Concourse sat Continental’s 737-800 (N37277), 737-800 (N37253) and a Continental Express (N12922). We began our taxi out towards the runways. 22R and 22L were in use on this fine morning. A Continental 777-200ER (N78003) taxied past towards the terminal as we made our way through the maze that is Newark Airport. Continental’s 737-800 (N24211) sat next to the above mentioned ERJ while U.S. Airways 737-400 (N432US) joined us on our short taxi to the runway. We were #3 for take off and after the U.S. Airways 737 and Continental’s ERJ-145 (N11548) were done, we taxied into position and held for our departure.
At exactly 9:11 a.m., the brakes were released and N37252 made its way down Newark’s Runway 22R. Our departure was smooth despite the full load and we continued on the runway heading for a little while before making a left hand turn south towards Miami. The cabin crew began to mill about and people unbuckled their seatbelts and made their way back to the bathrooms. My friend and I chatted for a while and discussed how we would definitely enjoy the upcoming week on Carnival’s newest cruise ship “Victory”. We reached our cruising altitude of 35,000ft while breakfast was being served. A banana, carton of milk and a new style of Wheaties was all that we got. Fortunately drink service was done at the same time, so I had a wonderful Coca-Cola to wash all of it down with!
Our seatmate in 16D was quite talkative and after learning of my upcoming entrance into the Navy, talked to us for quite a while as he was in the Army. After a while I hoped that the conversation would die out, but it lasted for a good 45 minutes until he went to the bathroom. To bad he wasn’t a computer guy because then I could have turned him over to my friend! We were making great time to Miami, when the Captain announced that due to thunderstorms and current traffic conditions at MIA, we would have to fly south of the airport and then turn North so we would be in the proper landing sequence. Oh well, just more time to enjoy Continental’s 737-800! I must say, that I have really grown attached to the 737-800 after 2 trips on them. The seats are comfortable and the legroom isn’t too shabby. Obviously they are new, but the cabins were both quite clean and in good working order. The cockpits of both were also nicely kept and not beat up, as is the case with some other aircraft I have been in. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what 15 years and thousands of flights do to them!
We were able to view lighting though and it was definitely a great experience. Flying along looking through monstrous clouds and watching the bolts of electricity shoot here and there Everyone was interested on how far south we would fly, and it seems to me that we flew about 20-25 minutes South East of Miami over the Atlantic and then made our initial turn towards the airport. Tray tables were stored in the upright and locked position, and the flight attendant collected my second can of Coke. We were now “in the clear” of bad weather and the sun was coming out for us. We flew past MIA and I was able to view it out the my starboard side window. A right turn a few minutes later put us on base, and another right hand turn shortly thereafter had us on final for what I believe was Miami’s Runway 12. It was definitely an interesting approach because I could follow along after seeing the airport and its runways. Also flying over swamps and bogs is much more interesting than the steel jungle of Newark! We made our landing at a soggy and wet Miami International Airport and quickly taxied to stand G-8, which was our flight designated gate. On the way to the gate, I was able to see an Airbahamis 737-200 (C6-BGL) along with a Delta 767-300ER (N172DZ). Sitting further down at the terminal was an ATA 737-800 (N311TZ). We came to a stop at our assigned gate. The parking brake was set and the engines began their slow wind down. Sitting next to us was another Continental 737-800 in the form of (N16642). For a full flight, the plane emptied quickly. Unfortunately though, we had to wait at least a half-hour at the luggage carousel for our bags. It seemed that 95% of the flights bags didn’t get on the carousel for quite some time. In that regard, Continental’s MIA baggage handling service is extremely negligent.
Thankfully though, our luggage did appear and we were soon on our way to the Port of Miami and Carnival’s “Victory” which would be our floating home for the next week!
To say the least, the next week was outstanding. The boat made stops in Puerto Rico, St. Thomas and St. Martin. While we were at the island of St. Martin, my friend and I decided that spotting at SXM would be a better use of our timer than going snorkeling for the second straight day. What an approach the airport has! There we were, sitting on a beach with aircraft flying right over our heads! During our 2 ½ hour spotting visit, the majority of traffic was Otters, Dash 8s and ATRs. Fortunately though, we were able to see a Continental 737NG and American 757 arrive. What a rush to see the AA 757 come barreling down on you! If you are ever in St. Martin, make sure that you go to the beach at the end of the runway!
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and on July 7th, two taxi cabs deposited us at the curb of Miami International Airport. Delta Airlines would be our airline of choice that evening and we headed inside to check our luggage. All six of us were soon checked in for Delta’s flight 271 MIA-ATL with 1514 ATL-EWR being our last leg of the day. We were scheduled to depart out of Gate H-17 and our “herd” soon began moving down the H concourse. After getting situated at our gate at 1:00 p.m., I still had almost 3 hours worth of spotting ahead of me until our 4:00 flight departed. I headed back down to the beginning of the Terminal and watched as an Air Tran 717-200 (N989AT) was pushed back from its gate at the G concourse and prepared for departure. In front of me at Gate H-5 sat ATA’s 737-800 (N301TZ) which was winglet equipped and looked splendid in the companies new livery. Sitting across from me at the G concourse were two Continental 737 brothers. (N26210) a 737-800 and (N15659) a 737-500 sat side by side preparing for their own flights. Further down the G concourse sat a lone Air Canada A319-100 G-GBIJ, which I assume was preparing for a flight back to Toronto.
I wandered to the other side of the H concourse and viewed an U.S. Airways 737-400 (N784AU) in the companies old colors sitting at the gate H-6 being loaded with luggage. Behind the 737 and parked in the remote area sat one of Varig’s MD-11’s (PP-VOK)! I had seen what looked to be a 777 of theirs earlier in the week and was delighted to see another one of their aircraft. There was no activity around the MD-11 and it seemed to be resting up in the mid-day sun for a long haul flight back home. At gate H-8 sat another U.S. Airways 737-400 (N780AU) preparing for its flight. It too was in the carriers old metal color scheme. A U.S. Airways Express Dash 8 was also on the ramp in the form of (N942HA). Its engines were cooling down as it had recently arrived. Two Delta 767s sat next to one another. A 767-300 (N119DL) and a brand new 767-400ER (N833MH). Both flights were also headed to Atlanta, but the 767-300 wasn’t departing till later. I watched ramp workers prepare the Delta 767-400ER (N833MH) for its departure and had to chuckle when 5-7 guys stood underneath the starboard main gear all shaking their heads at some difficulty. Luckily, they seemed to fix the problem and the flight got under way. The Air Canada A319 pushed back and in its place taxied in a company A320-200 C-FTJS. Nice use of gate time AC! Following immediately after the Air Canada Airbus were two McDonnell Douglas products. Like two ducklings in a row, Continental’s MD-80 (Sorry messed up the reg), and an Air Tran DC-9-32s (N833AT). Good to still see America’s other brand still kicking. Next to our gate (H-17) was H-19 and being loaded with luggage for its flight was a BahamasAir 737-200! Unfortunately I was unable to see the registration. Around 3:00, our aircraft arrived and docked with Gate H-17. Standing before me was an immaculate 767-400ER (N831MH). I doubted that they could turn around the aircraft in 40 minutes, but sat watching them go to work unloading the luggage and passengers who had arrived from Atlanta. At 3:30, a call to board Delta Flt 271 MIA-ATL continuing on to Salt Lake City was made.
Date: July 7th
Flight: 271 MIA-ATL
Aircraft: 767-400ER (N831MH)
Scheduled Dep: 4:00 p.m.
Actual Dep: 4:05 p.m.
Scheduled Arrival: 6:20 p.m.
Actual Arrival: 5:50 p.m.
Photo © William Jenkins
I handed over my boarding pass which read seat 23E and headed down the jetway. Once aboard, I asked if I could see the cockpit. After a few minutes wait, I was escorted to the cockpit and got to see the inner workings of Boeing’s newest widebody. I talked with the crew for quite a while. Along with the Captain and First Officer, there was another Captain flying jumpseat. This was the first day of a 3 day trip for them and by nightfall, the crew that was flying would be chocked and chained in Salt Lake City, Utah. They said that the weather was good and that flight time would be a brisk 1:20 odd minutes. I took a photo of the new cockpit and headed back to my seat. I sat down in seat 23C as my friend’s mom had taken 23E and I wasn’t going to argue! The interior was sparkling clean and the seats were extremely comfortable. Winged headrests that were movable and a nicely cushioned seat. There was a controller unit for seat back T.V.’s that was shaped like a Nintendo unit, but Deltas 767s don’t come with seatback T.V.s, so it only changed music stations . At 4:05 p.m. and only 5 minutes behind schedule, the 767-400 began its slow whine to life as the pushback mule did its laborious work. We began our taxi to Miami’s active and at 4:16 both engines were singing there sweat song as the fully loaded 767-400ER blasted it’s way down the runway. Shortly thereafter I fell asleep. (Partying till early in the morning as it was our last night on the cruise ship can make one tired.) I must say that the seats were probably the most comfortable I have EVER sat in and the aircraft was extremely quiet. It’s a shame that more airlines don’t operate the fine 767-400.
After a brief 20-30 minute snooze, I awoke and was promptly served a can of Coke and a bag of pretzels. I talked with my friend and his Mom as we winged our way through our great countries southern States. The flight attendants were extremely friendly and made several passes through the cabin on the short flight. The in flight entertainment was a bunch of short T.V. shows, but I didn’t pay much attention. I drifted in and out of sleep. Much to my chagrin though, we were soon preparing for arrival at Atlanta’s Hartfield Airport and my ride on Delta’s magnificent 767-400ER would be over. The flaps and gear went into action and I could see the rolling green hills of Georgia out the window. Touchdown at 5:40 p.m. was very smooth and quiet, but I was unable to find out which runway we had used. I was also quiet impressed to hear two other passengers talking about our aircraft and remarking how much they liked the new 767s. What a relief to have people that 1. Care 2. Know that they are on anything but a 747. A short jog to gate A12 followed and at 5:50 p.m. the GE engines were winding down and the baggage for those of us who were not going to Salt Lake City was being unloaded.
Our next flight was Delta’s flt 1514 which would take us to Newark. It was scheduled to depart at 6:45 from gate B-8, so we made our way to the underground train so we could make our connection. A few minutes later we were at our assigned gate, and boy did this flight look like it was going to be full. We got in line and were issued our boarding passes after a wait of 10 minutes. Our aircraft for the evening’s flight would be Delta’s 757-200 N652DL. It was painted in the previous Delta scheme before they went to the bland white style. The gate agent was announcing over the intercom that the flight was indeed full and that boarding would begin in about a half-hour. I left my group as they went to get something to eat and got some good spotting in. During this time I was able to see several Delta aircraft. Delta’s 757-200 (N675DL), Air Tran’s DC-9-32 (N821AT), Delta’s 727-200 (N805EA), 757-200 (N625DL), 757-200 (N6715C), and 757-200 (N649DL). It was good to see the 727 again and it looked magnificent sitting there at their terminal. It definitely is a shame that you don’t get to see many “Three Holers” anymore in major airline service. Our call to boarding came, and I got in line with the rest of my group. Passed the security check and down the jetway. Yet another Boeing 757 would carry me home.
Date: July 7, 2002
Flight: 1514 ATL-EWR
Aircraft: 757-200 N652DL
Scheduled Departure: 6:45 p.m.
Actual Depature: 7:10 p.m.
Scheduled Arrival: ???
Actual Arrival: 9:10 p.m.
Photo © Mark Abbott
When I got onboard, I asked my customary question and was soon shown to the flight deck. The captain and first officer were very nice guys and I got to talking with them about the 757 and what it could do. They showed me several different displays along with their Data link. My future in the U.S. Navy was also brought up and I learned that the captain had flown A-7s and F/A-18s in the service and was also a reserve pilot for what I believe was a Texas based F/A-18 squadron. After a nice long chat with them I learned that they had spent most of the past 2 days flying up and down the East Coast between Boston, Miami, New York (LaGuardia) and Atlanta. Count me in! I can only hope that when I am captain of a 757 I show as much respect and interest to young men poking their heads in that I have been shown.
I made my way back to seat 30F and found a blood boiling sight. My friend’s sister was sitting in my window seat. I could feel the veins bulging in my neck. On most things, I am an even-tempered guy, especially with females. With a girlfriend, I don’t care what music is on, where we go to dinner or what we are doing. I’m just happy to be with her, but don’t mess with me at an airport. I stood there staring at his sister until she gave me a cute “What”. I commented that she must not be able to read the alphabet properly and then sat down in the aisle seat. To make matters worse, my friends sister propped up a pillow against the window and tried to get some shut eye. I sat in seat 30D ready to pound somebody. Not only had Holly taken my seat, but now she was sleeping. Well, I thought about how silly I was being and calmed down. She probably didn’t know what seat was her’s and just took the window. Pushback snapped me out of my thoughts and I glanced at my watch. It was 7:10 and we were 35 minutes late. Oh well, I guess it’s the best you can do with a fully loaded 757 and the nightly push at ATL.
We began our taxi out the active runways and passed several aircraft. Unfortunately, I did not have out my binoculars and couldn’t see the registrations. Holly was still trying to sleep and I could feel my heart beating faster. I decided to heck with what they thought and out came my binoculars and notepad. Staring right past my seat mates, I was able to see a beautiful Delta 777-200ER (N863DA) along with an United Express CRJ (N410AW). We were soon #1 in line for take off, and at 7:28 the brakes were released and the old workhorse gained speed as we headed down the runway. N652DL skyrocketed upward and you definitely couldn’t tell that the flight was full and that the 757 was not young. Gotta love the 757. I settled back in my seat and made the comment to myself that I was probably sitting in the original interior. Even though I love the 757, this particular aircraft’s interior was quite warn and was definitely 1980s. It served its purpose though and as drink service began, the T.V. came on and I watched the newscast. The lights were dimmed and most people began to catch some shut eye. I choose to watch the T.V. but without the headphones. They were showing comedy clips and audio was not necessary. After downing my Coke and forgoing my pretzels, I settled in for the flight and just laid my head back and watched the blinking lights.
Once again, some of America’s finest were making the descent into Newark. The two gentlemen up front were doing a great job and the lights of Northern New Jersey were soon visible. The flight attendants were told to prepare for landing and we made our final approach to a wet Runway 4R. Touch down was firm and the howl of the thrust reversers were heard as was the braking system. I really love this portion of the flight. When the beast of the aircraft can be “heard”. Two Rolls Royce RB 211s screaming their defiance, speed brakes raised and auto braking in full effect. It’s time like that that make me wonder why more people don’t want to be pilots. To be part of the “show”. To have thousands of pounds of thrust at your disposal. To no longer be a mortal man but a Pilot. To all those that understand, here is a rock of the wings to you.
We taxied off the active and across 4L. We began our taxi back to the terminals and passed the International Terminal were Virgin Atlantic 747-400 G-VHOT “Tubular Belle” sat awaiting her passengers for VS 2 EWR-LHR. At 9:10 p.m. we slid slowly into our Gate at Terminal A. The Rolls Royces died out and the struggle for overhead baggage commenced. After a short wait, the door to the aircraft was opened and the exodus began. I took a quick photo of the aircraft and headed off to the luggage carousel and then a limo ride home.