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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Blogging in Formation: Dealing with Passengers (Part I)

#blog #blogformation #avgeek #aviation

It's Blogging in Formation Week—Posts by your favorite Pilot-Bloggers!

This Month's theme: 
Dealing with Passengers
(original post 2/3/12)
But First . . .

Ladies and gentlemen, from the Flight Blog, Cap'n Aux is proud to present his new VIDEO VLOG!

Coming on the heals of his viral "Livin' the Dream" video, the question on everybody's mind is, CAN HE TOP IT? 

Well . . . I'd be lying if I said NO!
But don't just listen to me ramble about . . . here's a video trailer of me rambling about the awesomeness of my new vid!

And Now . . . 

Dealing with Passengers—Part I

   "This is an emergency announcement," the female voice calmly declared in prim 'n proper English accent over the PA of the British Airways’ 747—while cruising at 35,000 feet over the North Sea. "We may shortly need to make an emergency landing on water."

Minor detail:  this “emergency announcement” was an accidentally-triggered prerecorded message. . . accidentally triggering 330 passengers to panic.
   This embarrassing debacle reminds me of the old Airbus pilots’ joke:  “Ladies and gentlemen, we are flying a state-of-the-art,  fully automated Airbus and nothing can go wrong click! go wrong click! go wrong . . .”

   While I’ve have never had to deal with trying to calm down hundreds of panicked passengers inflight, there is definitely an acquired art to the making of a passenger PA.

 Typically, flight attendants must read their briefings verbatim, but the pilots up front have much freer reign.  Oh, sure we’re required to grovel a bit to you and say, “Thank you for flying Very Fast airways.  Buckle in, there is no need to panic,”* etc.  But how we say it is largely left to us.

  While I’m always tempted to simply say, “Welcome aboard, sit down, shut up, behave,” and be done with it, that particular PA only works to cut the tension on the annual simulator check ride.
   At least for me...

   Rule # 1:  the traveling public wants to be reassured.   They want their Captain to have a deep, gruff, authoritative but soothing fatherly voice, like George Clooney with a Texas drawl.  

   Unfortunately, my voice has been going through puberty for the past 35 years; I sound more like Cap'n Doogie Howser.  Once, during a particularly early morning departure when my vocal chords were at their most relaxed, I thought I’d made the most manly PA of my life.  But that fantasy was quickly shattered when two college kids poked their heads into the cockpit after the flight and said, “We just wanted to see who was flying, ‘cause you sounded like you were 18!”

Since then, I’ve been resigned to my fate.

   Rule #2:  Humor is allowed over the PA, but you’d damn well better be good at it.  If not, refer to Rule #1.  While my buddy Captain Tony can keep his cabin in stitches for hours,** I found out a long time ago I’m in the “Not funny” category.

   Once, on April Fool’s Day, I diligently kept our passengers informed of our imminent arrival into RNO . . . during our flight to LAX.  From the first announcement on, the flight attendants plagued the cockpit with pleas to correct the destination . . . the passengers were on the verge of mutiny!  It was then that I learned:  the Captain’s voice over the PA is the Voice of God.

Barney Fife's Cap'n voice?  EPIC FAIL!

The strength of the turbulence is directly
proportional to the temperature of your coffee.
Gunter's Second Law of Air Travel 

   The age old turbulence/seat belt sign bit is an art unto itself as well.  It boils down to this:  one man’s gentle rocking, nappy-time turbulence is another’s “my God, my God we’re all going to die!” . . . it’s simply a matter of opinion.  And the forecast of turbulence is just that: a prediction.  Personally, I use the SWAG method:  the “Scientific, Wild-A** Guess.”  Oh, sure, we can guesstimate by reading the clouds, listening to other aircraft’s reports, etc.  But in reality, there’s no telling just what Mommy Nature has up her sleeve.  In fact, it’s so random, that we call the Seat Belt switch the Turbulence button:  turn it off, get instant bumps.  Bottom Line, we err on the side of caution.  In the end, really, the seat belt sign is nothing more than a Liability Switch:  if it’s on, get up at your own peril.

(Note: A portion of the following paragraph was quoted by BBC online—Cap'n Aux's big claim to fame! See link, below)

   There is also an art to revealing just what’s going on without giving away TMI.  While I can’t exactly jump on the PA and say, “Folks, pay no attention to the burning wing,” I also must avoid describing ad nauseum exactly what the mechanics onboard are fixing.  For example, I can't launch into a five minute dissertation of just why our our IAE V-2533-A5 Engine Number 2‘s ECU (Engine Control Unit) on the FADEC (Full Authority Digital Electronic Control) is triggering spurious warnings from the SDAC (System Data Acquisition Concentrator) to the EWC (Engine/Warning Display) without sounding alarmist.  And I certainly can’t say, “The doohicky on the whatchamajig is causing quite a nasty ruckus with that gizmo thingy.”  But I can say, “Our ace mechanics are onboard resetting one of our black boxes.  We should be under way in a few minutes.”***

Bottom line:
Trust us.  It’s OUR butts in the plane, too, and we ain’t gonna risk it, PERIOD!

Cap'n Aux, in the middle of one of his exceptional—if rather non-humorous—PA's.

But he still sounds—and looks—like Cap'n Doogie!

For inspiration, look no further than this stellar pilot's PA, brought to you by the folks at Barely Air!

** Example of classic Tony PA:  “Attention K-Mart shoppers, we have a blue light special on aisle . . . oh, sorry, that’s my day job.  Ahem!  (deep, gruff George Clooney voice with a tinge of Texas drawl) This is your Captain speaking . . .”
Article links:

—  —  —  —  —  —

Catch ALL of our Formation Bloggers this month!

Mar. 1: iFLYblog - Brent Owens
           Aviation Author - Mark L. Berry

Mar 2: Smart Flight Training - Andrew Hartley
     - Rob Burgon

Mar 3: Flight to Success - Karlene Petitt
  - Chip Shanle

Mar 4: House of Rapp - Ron Rapp

—  —  —  —  —  —

Cap'n Aux Blogging in Formation Posts
Related Cap'n Aux Links
Related Links
—  —  —  —  —  —  —
                        POST-FLIGHT CHECKLIST
  1.  JOIN THIS SITE....................VERIFY.............................JOINED
  2.  COMMENT............................VERIFY.............................MADE
  3.  FACEBOOK...........................VERIFY.............................LIKED
  4.  TWITTER...............................VERIFY.............................TWEETED
  5.  EMAIL....................................VERIFY.............................MAILED
  6.  OTHER NETWORKS............VERIFY.............................SHARED 
          POST-FLIGHT CHECKLIST.......................COMPLETE!      
    — — — — — — —
    Departing March 13 @ 1100 KPHX!
    Capn's new Video Vlog!
    Can he top his viral "Livin' the Dream" video?
    Find out in
    "Cap'n Dillon's Ecstatic Adventure!"
    Departing March 13
    — — — — — — —
    Departing March 20
    Dealing with Passengers, Part II
    Cap'n Aux's "There I Wuz!"—Medical Emergency!
    — — — — — — —
    Departing March 27
    Dealing with Passengers, Part III
    — — — — — — —

    I invite you to COMMENTSHARETWEETLIKE, EMAIL +1 etc., below!
    vRight down below this line!v


    1. How convenient that you forgot your destination on April 1 - a built in excuse. "It was just a joke!"

      Seriously, though, excellent post, as always!

      I always look forward to your Blogging in Formation posts for their humor and insight!

      Sometimes one more than the other...

      1. LOL, thanks! Practical jokes on airplanes can be hilarious...but you gotta learn how to do 'em right!

        Thanks for the comment!

    2. I love this post. So much fun, and rule number three... Humor in Foreign countries doesn't often go over so well either. Good or not. Keep the great posts coming! And the videos.. they're spectacular.

      1. Thanks Karlene! I think you'll LOVE the vid I'm posting this week! :D

    3. Eric,
      You are the man! I nearly chocked to death from laughter watching the Barely Air video - loved the last line "stay golden pony boy!"

      1. Ya hysterical stuff! A bit crude, but I thought it was quite apropos for the post! Thanks for the comment, Brent!

    4. You know - you don't want me on one of your flights - I'd be in the back hauling out my Jeppeson copy - and - ready to give you the "Why did you cross that intersection higher than 2,500'" and "You really needed the speed brakes up that long".....just kidding...

      The wrong place for humor too is with the cabin crew - case in point - I was on a certain blue colored LCC from St Louis to Kansas City - captain welcomes us on the flight - then says "We have some of the best flight attendants in the business - they're just not on this flight - just kidding folks - they are the best".. Retribution came just over an hour later after a particularly bumpy crosswind landing - flight attendant "Pleas remain in your seats while Captain Kangaroo taxies what is left of the plane to the terminal - and - I'm not kidding" Huge laughter...think there were a few difficult moments a little later....

      Looking forward to part II - and - I'm not kidding and stop calling me Shirley...

      1. Hahaha great stuff! That's the hazard—in a PA war, flight attendants always get the last laugh!

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