Add to Part II
that we pulled in for arrival at HPN
's Door A.
Monday, November 28, 2005
ExpressJet Airlines dba Continental Express
Flight 2983, HPN
Embraer ERJ-135, N16502
Scheduled Departure: 1035, actual 1036 (t/o 1041)
Scheduled Arrival: 1210, actual 1155 (t/d 1147)
Seat Assignment: 6B
(aisle seat, starboard side)
Departure Gate: Door A
I arrived at HPN
at about 0830 because I caught a ride with my mother on her way to work. There was nobody at the Continental Express counter (there's no mainline service to HPN
, so it actually does say "Continental Express") so I headed upstairs to check out the observation deck. I was disappointed to find it locked, but after I looked more closely I realized that it's pretty much exposed to the elements. The deck appears to be about 40 by 60 ft. with three picnic tables and a few bucket seats on a concrete floor. There is a greenhouse-type roof. It was probably "closed for the season." The interior observation lounge is set back from the exterior wall, sort of a balcony to the boarding hall, but there are wide windows both immediately in front of the seats and built into the exterior wall. You could easily see the midfield portion of both runways, and I watched several bizjets take off plus a United Express E170 and an American Eagle CRJ-700.
At 0845 there was heavy fog at the field and visibility was 1/4-1/2 mile at best. There were two CommutAir Beech 1900s sitting off of Doors E-H. One of them, assigned to an early BOS
trip, didn't go due to the fog. I could make out the silouhettes of bizjets sitting at a hangar directly across the field from the terminal. At about 0900 I decided to go back downstairs and try to check in. There were already several people in line for my flight.
, everyone's checked baggage gets swabbed and hand searched right there at check in, before you even get to the desk. The TSA
agent was a Polynesian-looking man who was very nice. I saw him looking through the baggage and made a comment to the person next to me that I hope he didn't have to search my suitcase, because I had practically had to sit on it to get it closed (thanks to a new robe I bought while on my visit.) He overheard me and when he started searching my bag, he said "If I have to, I'll have you sit on it again" with a smile on his face. The woman next to me said that it was sad that the agents had to go through our dirty laundry, and I laughed and said that was why I had done laundry the night before. The TSA
agent managed to get everything back in and to zip up the suitcase with relative ease. My baggage was returned to me and I went up to the desk.
I was initially assigned seat 12B but either someone had requested a change or the computer had reassigned me to 6B
. My request to change to a window seat was denied because the flight was full. "Oh well," I shrugged my shoulders and headed to get a snack for the flight. I went to the Cloud Cafe (one of HPN
's two food concessions) and picked up a bagel with cream cheese (already smeared and wrapped together) and a bottle of grape juice. Yummy.
I then engaged in about 1/2 hour of another one of my hobbies: collecting payphone numbers. In airports I have to be discreet because, just like spotting, collecting payphone numbers might arouse suspicion. My trophy was a list of roughly 30 numbers to add to El Jefe's Payphone Directory (available on-line, easily found by an Internet search.) Next, I headed through security - there are two lines at HPN
, with no regard for Frequent Flier, Business or First Class status - following an elderly man who could not go through the metal detector and required a wand/hand search.
Out in the boarding hall I checked out some interesting planes. We had an Air Alliance (Air Canada 3rd tier operator) Beech 1900 headed to YYZ
; another American Eagle CRJ-700 headed to ORD
; and another United Express E170 arriving from IAD
. Just before boarding, the young man who had been on my Thanksgiving day flight arrived with his iPod firmly implanted in the ears.
There were persistent problems with Door A's LED
sign. The previous arrival, Continental 2370 (deja vu), was displayed instead of our outbound flight number. When the gate attendants called the board service the flight number was changed to 2389 - still wrong. The lady on the other end of the radio transmissions finally got it right just as the last of us were heading through the door. The departures screen still showed an incorrect departure flight number and
time - 2370 departing at 1030. "Oh, well..."
For some reason, I can never keep my mind on task when I'm walking out across the ramp to my aircraft at HPN
. There are too many distractions - such as the red, white and blue Colgan Air Saab 340 at Door D:
View Large View Medium
Photo © Nathan Zalcman
I stopped to get the tail number and the person in front of me was about 20 feet away when I turned back towards my own aircraft.
View Large View Medium
Photo © Michael Licko
By this time the fog had cleared significantly and I expected that we would take off without a huge delay. Earlier, the first United E170 I saw had taxied out and then waited about 15 minutes before takeoff, behind three bizjets. That's about 5 minutes in trail - very good considering the poor visibility and proximity to LGA
I was settled into my seat at 1020 but the familiar man was having difficulty finding his seat - "It doesn't seem to exist." I asked him if it was 14A and when he nodded I said, "Last one on the left - there are no seats across the aisle." That wasn't convincing enough and in a moment F/A Sheila motioned him back with the explanation - "There's no Row 13 on Continental." His seat was directly behind 12A. I guess the airline industry still has a serious case of triskadekaphobia.
With everyone finally settled, F/A Sheila closed the door at 1025. It seemed that we were pushed back a little at 1027 - the plane jerked for some reason - but we didn't actually start taxiing until 1036. Once again we had two engine start at the gate area. On the way out I saw a number of bizjets parked at the FBO (N340EJ, N34CM, N726DC, N819AP, and N919RS) plus the following at the NetJets hangar (N28QS, N426QS, N383QS, and N624QS.) Prior to our takeoff, a private BBJ
took off, too quickly for me to get its reg. number.
View Large View Medium
Photo © Jason Whitebird
We taxied out Alpha to the full length of Rwy 16 and after a 30 second hold we roared out of there with a full load of passengers. We had a smooth climb through the clouds at 1000 ft with a gentle bank to the west, without apparent noise abatement procedures. At about 10000 ft we encountered mild bumpiness, but after climbing through 17000 ft everything smoothed out.
I sat in my aisle seat (with no view of the wing and a relatively poor view out the window) next to an elderly lady who was returning home to the Cleveland area as well. I had my snack, and declined F/A Sheila's offer (apparently HPN
's agreements with the airlines requires that passengers get a snack.) With absolutely no view except clouds below and blue sky above, I tried to doze but I kept jerking awake and I decided that this probably was making things uncomfortable for my neighbor. We had a discernable change in attitude at 1106 and I thought we might be starting our descent - but that came later, at 1133. There was a weird, vertical cloud next to us in the mean time, and I thought it might be a contrail from another aircraft ahead of us. Who knows?
At 1133 we went nose down and headed into the clouds soon after. We came through the clouds at 1142 approximately 10 miles south of a single runway airport - CGF. We continued straight and the bright orange Home Depot facade at Severance Town Center slid by about 5 miles north. We were coming in roughly along the Harvard/Denison corridor. Eventually we turned southeast, dropped the landing gear at FOORD and Dutch Rolled our way (again) down to Runway 24L with touchdown at 1147. Our turnoff was at Hotel and we took Kilo all the way in to the gap between Concourses C&D, where we turned in and stopped dead between gates D14 and C24.
Our pilot welcomed us to Cleveland at a temperature of 64 degrees with strong winds from the south "which is why it was a little bumpy coming in." It was 1151 and "we're here 20 minutes early so there's still a plane at our gate. They're going to try to give us another gate." That happened very quickly and we turned around, taxied back around the end of Concourse D, and parked at Gate C18 for an early arrival time of 1155. However, the ground crew was not ready for us - again - so we waited about five minutes until a jetway driver arrived.
All in all, this was a decent trip. Hey, I got there on Thanksgiving, saw nearly every cousin who lives in southeastern Pennsylvania, had a great visit with my grandmother, ate turkey, and got back in time. "Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing."
Thus ends the report.