Saturday, July 21, 2007

Perfect Landing MY A@@!

Before, when I was talking about the things that Cockpit Voice says, I left out one important thing, which is the landing countdown. If you're in the forward jumpseat, just before the plane touches down, you can hear him say, "Fifty... forty... thirty... twenty... ten," referring to feet before impact. Of course, that's what he says when a pilot who knows what he's doing lands. When a pilot fresh outta boot puts one down, you often hear him say, "FiftyfortythirtytwentyBAM!" During one landing in Jackson Hole, the crosswind was so strong that I swear I heard him say all five numbers simultaneously.
And after a landing like that, the pilots will often smile while the dazed passengers deplane, and then ask you, "So how bad was it?" My personal method of rating landings is to count how many heads pop up in terror when we hit. So I reply, "A three-header, boss. No biggie." That Jackson Hole landing was a six-header.
Pilots have a whole different method. They rate them one through five, though only one through four can be assigned by the crew. You can only score a five if a passenger says, "Nice landing!" The score is based on the absolute value of the statement, so if some tousled lady indignantly mutters, "Nice landing," it's a five. And there is almost always some chowderhead who slept through the so-called landing and says, "Nice landing," just to have something to say, having no idea if the landing was nice or not.
The second-to-last passenger off that Jackson Hole flight was just this type of chowderhead, and gave the pilots a five.


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