A special Friday Photo this week, as longtime contributor Tony Vallillo shares three of his favorite shots from his 31 years as an airline pilot. The list includes a beautiful picture of New York, an Airbus A340 from underneath, and a Boeing 767 in loose formation over the North Atlantic.
When I was a new-hire at American, back in 1977, I occupied a position very close to the bottom of the seniority list. Having Christmas off was of no real importance to me, since I was single, unattached, and living in Manhattan, where there is surprisingly little to do on December 25th. So instead I conceived of a plan to surprise my folks with an unannounced Christmas visit.
The lady from crew sked (as always, courteous to a fault; unlike a few of the brethren who react, when called, like bears rousted from hibernation!) proceeds to acquaint me with the latest offerings from the New York catalog of 757/767 flying. Interestingly enough, the main offering for tomorrow is a 757 ferry flight from EWR to JFK. This brings back some long forgotten memories.
Let’s cut right to the chase – Sully is a movie that any pilot, and especially an airline pilot, can watch without being mortified by technical and artistic errors on the part of the filmmakers. The portions of the movie that depict the flight and the water landing are done to near perfection. Tom Hanks and Aaron Eckhart not only play the role of airline pilots superbly, but they even manage to look a good deal like the originals.
A flight from LGA to JFK was normally nowhere near as short as you might think. Although the direct distance between the two airports is less than 10 miles, the flight itself often involved a tour of Long Island nearly out to Montauk to fit into the arrival pattern at JFK. It was not uncommon for the off-to-on time of this ferry flight to exceed 30 minutes.
There are a number of places in the world where, for one operational reason or another, the standard mold just doesn’t fit. The river visual approach to 18 at DCA comes to mind, as does the Expressway visual to 31 at LGA. But the approach most people are at least mildly familiar with is the famous Canarsie approach at JFK.