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Specialist

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Everything posted by Specialist

  1. A while back, I described the process by which I wound up in the 737 sim in the first place, pointed out the various things that had to happen to make it happen, some of them over ten years ago, and said "Now let's see you write the career planning sheet for this process." I didn't find out about the Thai Airways program until I was in the 737 sim, and writing up the sessions on Facebook, whereupon someone mentioned the Thai Airways program to me. I have to add the part about the Level D sim, and now I have to add "And, by the way, a guy I really didn't know, except he was part of the ex-pats group, told his boss to fuck off, and organized the get-together that I attended, on near-zero sleep, and went into the loo, and found the brochures."
  2. They open I think at 10 AM and I'm not sure about closing time. On your first day in town, be on their front door as close after opening time as you can manage, and discuss what you want to do. Schedule then, if you can. They'll be able to tell you how busy they are. The initial "Flying Club" package includes their training manual (which has a lot of good stuff in it for a non-pilot) and a few other spiffs, and can be purchased with one or four hours of sim time. It also carries a membership that lets you buy four-hour blocks at some discount. Block time hours stay on the books for a year. They CAN get busy. They recently signed a deal with Lion Air, one of the low-cost carriers, out of Indonesia I think, to let Lion Air evaluate pilot candidates on their simulator. They will be booked SOLID for a week or more before Lion Air comes in, and they will be booked SOLID for the week or however long that Lion Air is actually testing. Two of their instructors have already passed Lion Air's first-round test. Both of them are GOOD instructors and will be GOOD airline pilots.
  3. And, since the topic has been raised... I'm going to be talking with the FAA Designated Airman's Medical Examiners when I get back home. I'm out of excuses.
  4. PRECISELY! It gets worse. If I had not stumbled across you guys ten or more years ago, I would not have joined you for that Sunday Brunch. I only stumbled over you guys because, a year or two earlier, I came to Bangkok to attend a basic hypnosis seminar. And, for that matter, if I hadn't had to go to the loo in the course of the brunch, I would not have found the stack of brochures in the loo! Or, if I'd had three brain cells to rub together that day, and had stayed in bed all day, recovering from the 8 AM arrival instead of the planned midnight arrival... I use this as my example of the folly of career planning. You CAN'T plan for the weird events that wind up resulting in major changes to your life, ten or more years later.
  5. Well, I figure it this way: I'm going to be in Bangkok ANYWAY, and it is not currently possible to do in the US what I've already done, so...
  6. These are the kinds of memories that make a rich life.
  7. As somebody once said, "Expensive compared to what?"
  8. Coss, surprisingly enough, it isn't all that hard.
  9. It wasn't free. Thai Airways (like all airlines) keeps their simulators BUSY. For those odd hours when none of their pilots are doing recurrent training, and no other airline has bought time, they offer them to the public at 20,000 baht/hour. (Note: WORTH EVERY SATANG!!!) You are at the mercy of their scheduling, obviously, and the program is not widely advertised. I heard about it almost by accident, did some digging, and found the contact information. I inquired, telling them when I would be in town. I did not hear back, and just about gave up. When I checked my email after arriving in Bangkok, I found their email, that they'd sent while I was in transit. They offered me three possible timeslots, and a choice of 747 or 777. I suggested a slight preference for 777, having logged 28 hours in a 737-800 fixed-base sim, so I was very familiar with the 777 avionics. Either airplane would have been acceptable (and FUN!!!). They scheduled me for Friday, in the 777, brief at 9:30, fly at 10:00-11:00. I got there at 8:00 AM, since I had no idea what the morning traffic might be like on that end of town. They're up near Chatuchak. I showed up in a business suit, looking absolutely professional and ready to work, and that's exactly how they seemed to treat me, as a visiting professional, a pilot from another airline in for training. At first, they put me in the pilots library, then moved me to the briefing room. A bit after 9:30, the instructor pilot showed up. Quick video about safety procedures in the simulator, quick brief about where we're going to be flying (Hong Kong, familiar airspace to me), and we're all set! As I said earlier, it didn't become completely real to me until we walked across the drawbridge and entered the simulator cabin. I looked at the instructor station, the observer seat, and then I saw the empty left front seat, waiting for me, and I realized: This was REALLY HAPPENING, I was really going to do this. Sit down, adjust the seat, discuss a few things, I look around, electronic pre-flight checklist, and then I started a slightly-modified version of my standard pre-takeoff checklist for the 737: MCP knobs set, autothrottle armed, flight directors switches on, speed brakes off, trim in the green range, parking brake set, fuel levers at idle, takeoff flaps set and verified against the indicator, autobrakes RTO (apply full wheel brakes on Rejected TakeOff) (he had them OFF, I set them to RTO, force of habit), gear lever verified down, landing lights on, parking brake release, checklist complete. I called 40% N1 power (standard on 737), and he corrected me to 60%. OK, 60% N1. We are rolling, engines stabilized at 60% N1, TO/GA (TakeOff/GoAround power button), she accelerates FAST, airspeed indicator is alive, 80 knots, I'm at V1 (commit to fly), Vr (rotate) and I start my pull, V2 (flying speed), and we're airborne and climbing like a homesick angel. Life is good! The 777 is a SWEETHEART to fly. She is also, in her way, very different from the 737. If the 737 is a Ford Mustang, then the 777 is a Maybach: much bigger, much heavier, much more refined, much more luxury... and she has enough added power and acceleration to surprise the bleep out of a Mustang driver! Takeoff, cruise, and approach speeds were about the same as for the 737. Takeoff acceleration was noticeably higher. After landing, the braking action was BRUTALLY strong, and perfectly controllable. Control forces were noticeably higher. The controls felt tighter, no play AT ALL. The 737 frequently feels like there's a little play in the controls. I found myself using the trim a lot more than I do on the 737, because of the higher control forces. Handling qualities were different, not better, not worse, just different. I was smart: I turned on the flightpath marker before we first took off, and I used it, and it helped. Just the same, I had my hands full. She seemed easier to hold on attitude than the 737: that's fly-by-wire as opposed to power-aided mechanical control. One VERY noticeable difference: the 737 is designed to fly and especially land nose up: flare angle is 6-8 degrees. The 777 flies almost nose-level: flare angle on landing is 1-2 degrees maximum. This did give me some trouble; the instructor pilot had to cue me on it. Some of the fonts in the displays seemed a little bit different, and, as I observed to a Cathay Pacific captain a few months ago, visiting in his cockpit after the BKK-HKG hop, while waiting for my wheelchair, I could fall in LOVE with the 777's electronic checklists! I had an absolute great time! Yes, I was working, the entire time, and that is how it should be. We started out with Pilot Flying/Pilot Monitoring protocol, which was good. I'd initially asked him to yell at me if I made one of my standard mistakes while setting the autothrottle controls, and he explained that, under Pilot Flying/Pilot Monitoring, I'd be flying, and I'd call the settings as needed, and he'd make those settings, as well has handle flaps and landing gear. This is straight-up airline protocol, a Very Good Thing, and good experience for me. As we flew, the instructor noticed I had my hands full, and very smoothly transitioned more to instructor. It worked well. We flew with autothrottle the entire time, but never touched the autopilot. Hand-flying is more fun, and I was definitely NOT ready to fly her on manual throttle just yet. We flew two complete circuits around Hong Kong International, and two short final approach exercises. He had to coach me a bit on power and flare angle during final. With a little help on the controls from him, I nailed all four landings. Four for four in an unfamiliar airplane with different handling qualities and flight envelope is not bad. After we finished, and climbed out, he showed me the Airbus A380 simulator, in the next bay over. That thing is HUGE! We walked in, I looked around, he pointed out the side stick controller, and I mentioned that I'd flown the F-16 simulator at General Dynamics / Fort Worth 30 years ago, so I'd flown a side stick before. As much as I am a Boeing fan, it is quite likely that they'll talk me into doing a hop in an Airbus, just to see how the other half lives... :-) Last part was sit and relax for a bit over refreshments. I had Japanese green tea. I believe this part of their drill is to help the customer relax, come down from the euphoria, and reorient to being on the ground and let the experience sink in. I did have to apologize at the end for not having any personal cards with me, and I still have to write a final thank-you note. It was made clear that I was welcome back, just please give them as much notice as possible. I plan to take them up on this, but not until after I've done considerably more preparation work.
  10. It is worse than that, Flash. I spent Friday morning at Thai Airways HQ. I got to fly their Boeing 777-300ER Level D Full Flight Simulator. Not very many things say "You have crossed a threshold in your life" like walking across the drawbridge into a CAE 7000-series Level D simulator, with everything alive, and seeing the left front seat waiting for YOU. I never in my life dreamed that I would get to do something like that. It didn't really become real for me until about the time I stepped through the simulator doorway, and saw the instructor's station and the front seats, and it hit me that it was really happening.
  11. I talked with my contact last night. It turns out that it was the Arab who bought Suzie Wong last year. For the first several months, everything was good. He did the right things, and was going in the right direction. Then something happened, and the bad changes started, and it became an "Arab bar".
  12. Although I did not ask, it seems very likely that this is a second change of hands. My source was VERY happy with the first new owner. Whoever he was (I think I know but am not at liberty to say more), he made some changes that were needed, and she fully approved. Installing front bait and putting a hydraulic floor jack under the prices were not part of it. Nor was killing off Happy Hour.
  13. The Arab bought Suzie Wong (on Soi Cowboy). I don't know when the transaction went down, but it appears to have been recent. I stopped in last night. The vibe was different. There were Arab-style front porch girls out front, doing the "Hello welcome!" thing. The waitresses were HEAVILY hustling for lady drinks. An old friend of mine was not working. A couple of people told me she went to Bar 10 or 10 Bar. I received other intel (source not identified for good reason). I left, and went to her new digs. She was there. We talked. She didn't say, at first, who the new owner was, but, when I said something about it looked and felt like the Arab bars, she nodded. I said "Please tell me you're kidding." She confirmed it, point-blank. The Arab now owns Suzie Wong. I told her that, if I had not already made the decision never to go back into Suzie Wong, just based on the vibe (which decision I had already in fact made), that information would have been enough to do it. The good news, such as it is, is that, when she left Suzie Wong, 15 of the dancers followed her. (She also mentioned that one went to Tilac Bar.) Apparently, the Arab is not universally popular... I hate to see it. I have many good memories from Suzie Wong, including, among others, the sweetheart several years ago who came closer than any other girl on the planet, before or since, to making an honest man out of me. No more...
  14. Don't forget Deep Vein Thrombosis / Pulmonary Embolism. Hugh Hoy and I are both full-patch members of the Bangkok Chapter of the DVT/PE Survivor's League: There are no meetings, there is no newsletter, there are no T-shirts, and we've already paid our dues. I think we have a third member around here somewhere, but I don't recall for certain. And I'll tell you: this is NOT a club you want to prospect for. To be a hangaround, you have to fly a lot of long hops. To prospect, you have to sustain a DVT that throws a PE. To get your top rocker, you have to live through the prospect test. Most prospects don't. (Hugh and I were LUCKY.)
  15. What everyone else said. Congratulations, Dr. Ice.
  16. OK, I watched the English dub all the way through, and it was interesting, but it somehow didn't FEEL right. I went through holy BLEEP figuring out how to get the DVD player to give me the Japanese version with English subtitles. I'm going to watch that hopefully this weekend, and see how the two versions compare. The first few minutes, with the audio in Japanese (which I don't speak but do know the sound of), sounded and felt a lot better.
  17. Really sorry I'm gonna miss this one.
  18. I just started watching the original anime version of "Ghost in the Shell", this time the English dub. I'd seen it once before, in Japanese with subtitles, on a JAL flight. I recently saw the live-action version, with Scarlett Johansson. She NAILED the role, mind AND body.
  19. I just got an email from Cactus John the other day. He's working on bringing back the NNB, in a new incarnation, probably in a different location. Apparently, he was having too much fun to just retire gracefully.
  20. I remember that party. I was dead exhausted, as I'd landed at Swampy around 7 AM and only gotten a few hours of sleep. Interestingly enough, that was when I first found out about Flight Experience Bangkok. They were in a building around the corner, and they had a stack of brochures in the men's loo.
  21. I wish I could. Unfortunately, I don't hit town until very late 1 Sep. I'm just glad to hear that Hugh is OK.
  22. Someone check the 777 Pilot's Operating Handbook. It would be interesting to see how many steps there are in the dump procedure.
  23. Specialist

    Death Island

    There is an interesting anecdote in Stickman's column this week.
  24. It was still there in May. I'll be back in town in September, and will probably check again.
  25. ASR33 Don't remind me. I actually had one for a while. I intended to get it working and set it up as a "Community Memory" kind of terminal at a previous apartment complex. Never got around to it, and I later learned that the ASR33 was not intended for that kind of duty cycle.
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