飛機駕駛艙的故事

After reading 天空情緣 by Ms. Lam (林燕妮) , it got me thinking of writing my own cockpit stories. Over the years, I have flown many long flights and I asked and often was allowed to go in the cockpit to chat with the pilots and co-pilots. They were all nice experiences and the cockpits were tight as Ms. Lam described.

Anyway, one time I had an experience of a life time. That cockpit visit was during my time working in the air traffic control (ATC) system project. The flight attendant was nice and got me a visit to the cockpit. And the pilot and co-pilot were exceptionally nice to me. How nice? Well, we chatted for a long time about these and that (including the ATC project) and questions I have. And when we were approaching the airport and I thought it was my cue to leave, they asked me if I would like to stay for the landing? I said yes faster than they could reconsider! :)

So they helped me buckle-up on the jump-seat, I think it was one of those five (?) belts and buckle/lock in the middle seat belt, very cool. Because it was a night time flight, the view outside was just spectacularly beautiful. Imagine a city of lights and tiny cars on the highways. Beautiful.

As we approached the runway, the landing lights on both sides of the runway slowly rise up, and then the plane slowly touched down to meet the runway. And the the full force of the brakes applied to stopped the plane on the runway. That was an exciting experience that I won’t forget for a long long time. (Of course, my wonderful cockpit experience was long before 9/11, those were the simple and happier days.)

Incidentally, do you know why is that when a plane lands it is ALWAYS in full speed and then using the brakes to stop the plane? Well, it is because the pilot has to always be prepared to execute a “missed approach“. Interesting I still remember these ATC stuff years later (like ACCseparation, etc).

Here is an excerpt from 天空情緣 – 林燕妮 – 2010年04月08日,

“乘搭飛機,當你年輕貌美時,機長會差人請你到 cockpit駕駛艙;當你中年而臉目仍然姣好時,在機場碰上剛下機的正副機長和機艙服務長時,仍有問必答;當你開始步入老年時,不管你保養多好,他們已不屑一顧了。這是女人搭飛機的三部曲。

第一次讓請進駕駛艙,真的十分青春,忘了是空中小姐還是空中少爺把我帶到駕駛艙,坐下了,正副機長跟我搭訕,我沒什麼可跟他們聊的,他們並不老,但比起我的十八二十歲,他們可是阿叔了。在喝了杯飲品之後,我便走了。

駕駛艙並不舒服的,在飛機頭,面積不大,也許因此而叫 cockpit,雞籠穴吧。駕駛艙的窗是環迴的,前面左面右面都曬得要命,所以機師都戴上墨鏡,跟我說話時會摘下來露個全相。記憶中我大概被請進過機艙三次吧,第一次又熱又曬,第二次機師曬得受不了,用報紙在窗上黏上幾個特曬的部分。不能全封的,他們需要看得見天空。第三次機師則用些深色的遮光塑膠在窗上黏了幾片,應是空姐幫他們做的吧。幾百人的安危在他們手上,機師不能隨便四處走。”

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