Monday, September 27, 2010

The City of Light

This is a fairly long post but if you have the time, buckle up and join Dave and me as we fly a five day trip with layovers in Philadelphia, Paris and Salt Lake City before returning to Detroit to commute home. The first day was fairly long as we departed DTW for ATL before arriving late at night at PHL in a B-757. I hadn't been to either ATL or PHL since my 727 days and looked forward to a Philly Cheese Steak near Independence Hall.

The next morning Dave and I met in the lobby and walked over to visit the Liberty Bell with Independence Hall in the background. The Liberty Bell, probably the second most iconic symbol of American freedom behind New York's Statue of Liberty, was cast in London in 1752, migrating to Philadelphia shortly thereafter. It weighs 2,080 pounds and first hung in the Philadelphia Statehouse, now called Independence Hall behind us here. It rang loudly on 8 July 1776 as the newly drafted Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, was read for the first time to the citizens of Philadelphia where we stand. The bell has tolled commemorating the deaths of Washington, Franklin, Madison, Adams, Jefferson and other notable founders of our Republic. When the British occupied Philadelphia in 1777, citizens removed her from the bell tower and hid the bell so British troops wouldn't melt it down for shot and cannon. Removed from her perch in 1852, the Liberty Bell spent the next 63 years traveling the U.S. visiting Boston, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco and other cities to mark significant events.

Independence Hall, behind us, was built over a period of time spanning from 1732 until 1756 and was home to the Second Continental Congress. Congress at that time enjoyed a favorable rating of greater than today's 111th. congress of 19%. George Washington received his appointment as Commander in Chief here in 1775, the Declaration of Independence was adopted from this building in 1776 and our Constitution (a document many of our present day politicians seem to know little about) was drafted here in 1787. Our framework was developed here, our constitutional history begins here and men of integrity toiled here to form our great Republic.

Later in the afternoon Dave and I arrived at PHL, met Scott (in the right seat) pushed back and we were underway to Paris in a 757. Our takeoff weight is 231,000 pounds with 61,600 pounds of fuel and two arrival alternates; Paris Orly and Brussels, Belgium.


We'd depart on 27L on the far side of the field. Ground Control made it easy for us, "follow the USAirways Airbus." We can do that.


Air France Concorde F-BVFF on permanent display at CDG north of the terminal buildings. A few facts: First flight, 12/26/78. Last flight 6/14/00. Total hours, 12,421. She's displayed in a takeoff configuration pointed towards JFK.

After takeoff we flew over JFK, Long Island and Boston before reaching KOBEV our oceanic entry point northwest of Halifax and joining the X-Ray track. So far we'd flown very close to the route followed by Charles Lindbergh in 1927. After an uneventful six and a half hour flight that covered 3,289 miles across the North Atlantic, we've landed at Charles DeGaulle (CDG) and during our taxi in see this Concorde landing on... oh, it's not landing it's on stanchions. It's on static display as we contact south ground on 121.8. Not knowing of this display, I was pleasantly surprised as I approached it from the north... reaching for my camera.

From the north runways, it's a very long taxi to terminal two and the signage here at CDG is minimal. All three of us had our taxi charts out and followed along as we navigated our way to the hardstand. One nice feature though about the hardstand, the bus picks us up at the airplane and takes us directly to the hotel avoiding the terminal buildings. The ride downtown takes approximately 50 minutes, but we're in France and the sightseeing is great.

The crew followed its usual pattern of behavior as we dispersed for our customary four hour nap before reuniting downstairs for a day in Paris. Many don't understand the four hour nap, let me explain. By the time we arrive at a European city between 0900 to 1100 we've been up nearly 24 hours and are fairly tired. If we slept a full eight hours we'd lose the day and then be unable to sleep that night and be rested for the return trip. After fours hours of sleep, you DRAG yourself out of bed and force yourself to enjoy the local flavor. It's hard, but the alternative of tossing and turning all night during normal sleeping hours is worse. Besides, you're in Paris, or Rome, or London, or Frankfurt and there's too much to miss. Anyway, Dave and I are off for a day of exploration in one of the worlds most beautiful cities.

It's a short walk from our hotel to the Eiffel Tower. What a sight! Ready for a few facts?

Designed by Gustave Eiffel and built for the 1889 Worlds Fair, marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution, this is the tallest structure in Paris at 1,063 feet and the worlds most visited "paid" monument. Criticised in its day by citizens and artists as an ugly metal eye-sore, today it's Paris' most iconic structure. 

An eye-sore, what were they thinking? 

It was built however with a 20 year permit, with the understanding that it would be dismantled eventually. It's still here and I suspect not going anywhere soon. As Allied Armies approached Paris in 1944, Hitler ordered the destruction of the tower and a general burning of the city. Fortunately his orders were disregarded as German forces fled Paris, retreating behind the Rhine River.

From the Eiffel Tower, Dave and I walked towards the Champs Elysees crossing the Seine River at Pont de Invalides. The river traffic with tour boats is heavy and on one of these trips I plan to indulge and see the city from this perspective. Here we're standing at Place Charles DeGaulle in front of the Arc de Triomphe where the Champ Elysees and the Avenue of the Grand Armee meet. For a fee you can purchase tickets and visit the military museum inside the arc and step outside onto the roof for a spectacular vista of the city. It's well worth the cost and is a great way to orient yourself with all the city's landmarks.

Just a note, I took a million pictures but have limited myself here for brevity.

We're standing beneath the arch now looking down the Champs Elysees. Let me tell you a little about this monument. Built in 1833, but commissioned in 1806 by Emperor Napoleon to celebrate his victory at Austerlitz, it as well commemorates soldiers who'd fought in the Napoleonic wars. It stands 162 feet high and shelters the tomb of the unknown soldier from WWI. In this picture you're looking at the eternal flame for that grave. It's a magnificent structure and has seen many victorious armies march through it. On 29 August 1944 the US Army's 28th Infantry and 2nd Armored Divisions led the parade by the Arch down the Champs Elysees celebrating Paris' liberation from German control as WWII entered its final days. And as a point of interest to pilots, Charles Godefroy flew his biplane THROUGH the arch in 1919, a feat that was captured on newsreel. Some 25 million tourists visit the arch annually.

We've left the arch and have started our trek down the Champs Elysees towards Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. Avenue de Champs-Elysees, also known as La plus belle avenue de monde (the most beautiful avenue in the world) is 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) long and commands some of the highest rents in the world. Lined with chestnut trees, gardens, parks, historical monuments, restaurants and outdoor cafes, this is the ultimate "strolling and watching the world go by" promenades that I've yet visited.

I knew when we sat down that this would cost me dearly, but I wanted Dave to experience a refreshment at an outdoor cafe along the Champs Elysees and its associated ambiance. No ones in a rush here as citizens and tourists enjoy conversation as the "floor show" parades past. I used to think that you haven't lived until you've been upside down in an open cockpit biplane. As I age however, I realize that you haven't lived until you've spent a summer afternoon on the Champs Elysees watching the world go by. The history that's unfolded on this broad boulevard and surrounding environs is impressive. So was the bill for two beers.... 35 euro! 

We're still on the Boulevard with the Grand Palais to our back. Built in 1897 for the Universal Exposition of 1900, this glass enclosed national museum is spectacularly beautiful. The Petit Palace directly across the street and Pont Alexander that crosses the Seine nearby were all constructed at the same time. Talk about urban planning! The statue of General  de Gaulle, erected here in 2000, is called The Lonely Walk, referring to a walk the General took through the city on 22 August 1944, unarmed to prove to the citizens that WWII was over. 

de Gaulle, 1890-1970, much like his WWII counterparts Roosevelt and Churchill was a fascinating man, an ardent nationalist who was in the right place at the right time. Interestingly, when he retired as French president he accepted only the pension of an army colonel and refused that of a general and president that he was due, even though he was nearly broke. Would any modern-day politician ever think of such a thing?

Dave is resting here in one of the most beautiful spots in Paris, the Tuileries Garden, located between Place de la Concorde and the Louvre. Catherine de Medicis commissioned its construction in 1564 when she moved from her palace near the Bastille to this location along the Seine River. Of Italian Renaissance design, it was 500 meters by 300 meters and is considerably larger today. Filled with fountains, pools, statues, trees, shrubs and flowers, Catherine's garden became public after the French Revolution in 1799 and is where Parisians go to enjoy the outdoors. It's delightful, but I've got to get Dave going because we're loosing light and there's more to see.

The Louvre... what more is there to say?
I'm sure I'll think of something!

"Musee de Louvre" housed in the Louvre Palace and opened in 1793 is the most visited art museum in the world. It's most famous exhibition of course is Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. The building, constructed late in the 12th century, as you can see here is grand and started life as a fortress. Later when Louis XIV moved to Versailles in 1682 it housed artists and became a public museum at the end of the French Revolution when Louis XVI was executed. He fell from favor and heads rolled! More than 380,00 objects are on display here in eight curatorial departments. Our time was limited, we saw fewer than five of them!

The Louvre Pyramid

Opened in 1989, the pyramid solved problems concerning huge crowds entering the facility and leads to an underground lobby or reception area. Designed by noted architect I.M. Pei who created The John Hancock Tower in Boston, The Baltimore World Trade Center and Bank of America Tower in Miami among many of his projects, was not without controversy. Detractors condemned its futuristic facade as ugly and incongruent with the Palace but it has survived to become a Paris icon... rather like the Eiffel Tower I suspect.

Another, more pertinent controversy of epic proportions raged in 2009 though.

 Sacre Blue... MacDonald's opened! 

Louvre aficionados were prepared for a new French Revolution when Starbucks opened, I can only imagine their ire when McCafe debuted. 

Here's a view of the pyramid from down in the lobby area looking up. It's spectacular! How many panes of glass are there?

We've reemerged from the Louvre and are heading to the Seine River to find Notre Dame Cathedral. But before we leave the museum grounds this picture will do much to describe our walk from the Arc de Triomphe.

Our back is to the Louvre and we're looking through the Petit Arc de Triomphe, over the Tulleries Garden, past the Obelisk at the Place de la Concorde up the Champs Elysees and finally the Arc de Triomphe de lEtoile. 

Do you see the Obelisk through the arch? That's Place de la Concorde and the obelisk is called Cleopatra's Needle. Weighing in at 230 tons, this granite structure, covered with hieroglyphics was a gift from Egypt and installed here in 1836. In 1792 another monument stood here, The Guillotine! The area was known then as Place de la Revolution during the French Revolution and some 1,100 heads were lopped off, including those of King Louis XIV, Marie-Antionette of "let them eat cake" fame and Robespierre. 

We've finally reached Notre Dame... you know, where Quasimodo lived and rescued Esmerelda from the executioner, right here on this very square. 

Construction started here in 1163 and was completed in 1345 and the cathedral has seen several restorations since. Notre Dame is located on Ile de la Citi (an island) in the Seine River that separates the famous left and right banks. This picture barely scratches the surface of the visual delight that this edifice offers. We were loosing light, but a walk down the Seine to see her flanks reveals huge flying buttresses, gargoyles and magnificent stained glass windows.

Quasimodo and Esmerelda, depriving the executioner of another head.
From Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Dave and I are entering the Latin Quarter to seek out a restaurant that he enjoyed on a previous layover. Dinner here in Paris is a thing to enjoy, slowly, with conversation and wine. 

After dinner I splurged and for 10 euros we took a taxi back to our hotel near the Eiffel Tower. In fact here it is at 11:00 pm (2300) as the flickering lights go on. On the hour from 2100 to 0100, for five minutes, these flashing or flickering lights illuminate the tower. It's quite a sight. Watch this You Tube video to see what I mean. 

The next morning we met our new crew in the hotel lobby and shoved off for the airport to fly DAL 171 from CDG to SLC. (Salt Lake City). We're holding short of runway 27L behind Qatar Airways, but before we go a few words about Paris. My photography doesn't even begin to do it justice and for the sake of brevity displayed only a few. This is a beautiful, historically significant city that one could spend years exploring. 

And those stories you've heard about French rudeness... I've never experienced it. I do however make an attempt to learn how to say "please," "thank-you," "hello" and "good-bye" in the language of the country I'm visiting. I'm not unique in this, most crew members seem to do the same and it goes a long way towards a pleasant experience. I've been here many times, hope to layover many more and have enjoyed each visit.

OK Dave, tell them were ready for takeoff!

Dave got a 747 FO position on the last entitlement bid.

We're airborne and Dave enjoys lunch as we've passed our oceanic entry point of CYMON on the Charlie track west bound for North America. Would you like a few facts about flight 171? No... sorry, you'll get them anyway!

We're flying a B-767-300ER, ship 1605, N1605 with 221 passenger seats built in May 1999. Our takeoff weight today is 382,710 pounds with 139,000 pounds of fuel. We'll cruise at 32,000 feet for 11 hours and 16 minutes over a distance of 4,722 nautical miles. Our actual flight time, due to stronger winds aloft than forecast and the long Paris taxi turned out to be 11:46. Rain showers were forecast for our arrival so Hill AFB is our destination alternate.  

I'd planned to get out and visit Temple Square while in SLC. I'd been here once before, years ago while on a 727 layover and the architecture is quite spectacular, but the nearly 12 hour flight the day before restricted my energy level to dinner in the hotel with Dave and Thad and then off to bed. ZZZZ......

Anyway, the next day, this is what a mechanical problem looks like at ramp level. You'll notice that not only are the cowls open, but the leading edges are extended too. We had a hydraulic leak that line maintenance was unable to solve, but everyone reacted quickly, found us another 757 and though we departed a little late, we arrived in DTW right on time.

Taxiing out past the Delta hanger towards runway 16L at SLC.

We're off and this is what the Great Salt Lake looks like as we depart on the LEETZ TWO (RNAV) departure and climb to altitude.

After a short 3:10 flight, that felt like a hop, skip and a jump after yesterday, we've arrived back in DTW and taxi past a pair of 747-400's as we make our way to the gate. 

And finally back on J9 as we make our way to A8. This is how it appears these day's, not one red tail in sight any longer. As usual,thanks very much for following along, I hope that you enjoyed the quick Paris tour. It's off to the other side of the world in a few days with layovers in San Francisco, Narita, Guam and Beijing. 

Once again, thanks for your comments and sharing your enthusiasm with my latest bid award, hopefully I'll be able to document the training.


Friday, September 24, 2010

A new advanced entitlement bid just closed.

An advance entitlement bid closed a few days ago and the results were posted just a few hours ago....

and this is what I got.

Needless to say, I'm thrilled and can't wait to start school.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Off to Paris tomorrow with Dave...


Sorry that it's taking so long to get my Paris pics up but I've got this little building project that's taking up some of my time. Hopefully by Monday or Tuesday they'll be posted.  Thanks!

Dave and I enjoyed a great late summer day in Paris the day before yesterday as we walked the city with thousands of others enjoying the parks, museums and wide, historic boulevards. After an 11 hour 46 minute flight to Salt Lake City yesterday, we leave for Detroit today and finish this five day trip. Another great trip with outstanding crews, great restaurants and an historic city to explore. I'll post Paris pictures soon as we scoured the city in search of Jean Valjean and Cosette. 

I leave on a five day Paris trip tomorrow with Dave, shown here in a 767 on a recent FRA trip. I'll pass through ATL for the first time as a Delta pilot; I haven't been to there since my 727 days, I suppose I should bring my hat! As soon as I get home I'll work on a new post, until then, thanks very much for reading.

It's Dave's leg back to DTW. When it's the FO's leg I always go out and do the walk around. They think I'm being a nice guy... I have an ulterior motive though, it gives me an opportunity to take pictures!

Airborne approaching PIKIL our oceanic entry point. We'll be there at 1150Z with 83,400 pounds of fuel. We're exactly on fuel burn but running one minute early according to our flight plan. If we gain another minute, we'll need to notify ATC of a possible early arrival. There's much west bound, North American traffic that needs to be coordinated over this and other entry points. We gave them our PIKIL estimate 45 minutes ago, they're planning on that so may slow us down to keep us on estimate. 

Our paperwork for our westbound crossing.

I needed a good "through the windscreen" shot for this post but didn't have one, so borrowed one from another trip. Any ideas as to where we might be?

Part of our crew in FRA.

Thanks for reading