Monday, July 17, 2006

FROM 39,000 FEET

For a change, I don’t have to sit up front in the cockpit and fly. For a change I am sitting in the passenger cabin of a mid sized corporate jet. The airplane we are flying is a Raytheon Hawker 800XP, taking off early from Van Nuys near LA across the USA to Little Rock, Arkansas. My seat is a plush lateral and side tracking (means that the seat can swivel around in all directions), work table, phone, electrical outlet for my laptop, remote control audio and video. I get to eat fresh strawberries, cookies, muffins etc while someone else flies the plane. The airshow monitor shows that we are doing 499 MPH at 39,000 feet and the outside air temperature is -58 degrees. Why am I doing this trip? We are going to Little Rock (home of President Clinton-no we are not visiting him) where Raytheon Hawker has their new Aircraft completion center. We are half way there already, time remaining 1 Hour and 10 minutes. Total flying time is 3 Hours and 15 minutes with some headwinds coming our way. That’s not too shabby for an airplane this size.
Chuck, Boss and me in the back of the executive jet

We are flying in a 2002 model and going to see some new ones with options, all at the manufacturers cost. It does feel funny to be sitting back here instead of the familiar environment of the cockpit, wearing a full shirt, corporate style trousers, feeling like a millions bucks. But, I’ll take it! I did visit the cockpit, chatted with Capt. Errol, who is flying the airplane and talked about India. He thinks India is a growing economy and is surprised at the number of airplanes that Indian companies are buying. I agreed with him, of course. I am a part of that acquisition action at the moment anyway. I look behind me and three guys including Chuck Smith, Doug (from hawker) and my boss in an animated conversation about airplanes.

Me writing this blog from 39,000 feet

The boss does not profess to be computer literate, although he has a very sharp mind and can do basic stuff like e-mail. He is a smart operator, excellent with marketing the product and is averaging nearly double the hourly utilization in the World charter market and that’s not shabby either. Nice guy to work with, we take turns calling each other as “boss”, confusing everyone around us as to who is actually the boss. We are more like colleagues but he writes the checks and that’s good! That’s the way it is supposed to work, I fly the plane and he pays the checks, how much more fun can it get? I do lots of other interesting stuff on the side and that’s OK by him and the company and hey, I got nothing to complain.

I did not start this way, though. I have gone through trials and tribulations on and off, getting experience as I went from place to place flying around 22 different types of airplanes of all types, working for peanuts and trying hard not to turn into a monkey. Seems to me that I have indeed arrived, sitting in plush comfort with a bunch of people worth millions sitting around me. At the end of the day, I’d still like to get back to my familiar environment and take the controls.

We are coming up on Norman, Oklahoma as I write. That’s the same place where about 17 years back, I trained and obtained a Flight Instructor license that allowed me to teach people to fly airplanes and get their commercial pilot licenses. That was a fun gig too, didn’t pay much, but fun anyway. My wife always told me that I was a good instructor, probably because I talked so much, constantly. Norman also has the National tornado research center. Anyone who has seen the movie “twister”, this is where the storm chasers are based at and this is in the heart of the tornado belt in the United States.

Boss and me, notice Indian flag flying high in Little Rock, Arkansas

We are turning towards Little Rock now and time to close my computer, we will be descending soon. We are flying back the same afternoon, after enjoying some lunch at their facility and looking at various Aircraft at different levels of completion. We taxi into the Raytheon Hawker facility, a large complex with a private terminal and get off the airplane. There’s some of the top brass waiting to receive us and the best part is that they are flying the Indian flag on their flag pole as a sign of welcome! We have arrived indeed. My Birthday gift came early, a day early actually, I’ll still take it.


Athul said...

ha ha i fooled GOI in getting to captains blog,,
ok first this tip for all well wishers of captain.

all can access most of the blocked pages like this by giving another site as the proxy , and i have used as the proxy and enterd into this blog , cos couldnt miss any of captains blog which r a virtual trip itself .

First open
and type the link which u want to see in the space given in the

Using proxy is like getting a thing done through someone else , the provider think we r accesing the webwarper alone , and we r seeing the blog through the webwarper which is accessing the blog .. and the server of that site is outside india so its a + point for all the users .

Actualy i dint know that all blog was blocked by GOI till capt said , and so now all can use the mentioned site to access most of the blocked site , only -ve point in this is that only text can b seen .

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks athul, try all the other methods given in the link earlier. The pictures that I have posted arevery nice ones of the airplane, the characters I have mentioned in the article, including myself and there's a picture of the Indian flag that was unfurled in our honour that I have mentioned.

Just goes to show how stupid GOI is and how they cannot dampen the spirit of bloggers not suppress free speach. I love my country, its the preachy, uneducated ruling class that we actually elect that I despice and so does every one else. How do we manage to elect the same buch of jokers, I always wondered.

Nikhil Joshi said...

Little Rock? You came a stone's throw away from where I live - Louisiana. And the Indian Flag flying higher than the US flag and that too in the US? Now that's something.
Is that Raytheon supposed to be flown to an Indian company? Swank aircraft. To the inexperienced eye, it looks pretty similar to the citation.

Nikhil Joshi said...

About the Mustang...
We just changed our college mascot to "Warhawks" which is a nickname for the Mustang P40. We (as in the Aviation department) are bringing in a p40 from TX (I am not sure if it is from Camarillo)during the first football home game. will be interestng!

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

I'm back in Sing this morning Nikhil but yep, the Hawker 800XP is a mid sized corporate jet. Citations don't have the stand up head room in the cabon except when you go for the higher end, above mid-jet models. I didn't know that you were that close to us! Yes, they had the Indian flag flying high, thats what they do to all foreign customers to make them feel nice, real company, Raytheon.

A small correction for you. The Mustang is a P51D. Thats the one I am standing on in my previous blog and will be flying August first week, for fun. Two of the best examples of the P51 in the World are in Camarillo. Lots of warbirds are available at Chino, Northern California. I am making a visit up there in august because of another project that I will write about soon. Thats an exciting, not for profit project involving old airliners! back to the subject, the P40 is the "warhawk" as you have mentioned. Two different planes the P40 and the P51. Keep reading and writing, gives me an incentive to do new things. Thanks.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

PS: Nikhil, much obliged if you can take pictures and send it to me when your warhawk arrives. Would be a treat for aviation buffs.Thanks mate.

ER Ramachandran said...

Dear Capt. Anup Murthy,

Thanks for your comments on my recent blogs. I was unable to open Our pages in mymysore blog, thanks for Govt.'s foolish ban , and hence I got your email Id from the directory and sending the email, which also did not go!

Apart from flying ,more or less, nonstop, You write great blogs on planes, travel and some times on food too! Indeed very versatile.

I have a friend in Adelaide, Australia, Dr. Lynn Jarvis, who is an Engineer,Entrapreneur,Computer hack , a pilot and finally a builder of an aeroplane. Lynn has done it all. Being an ImAge Analysis Expert , he was in to making a replica of vintage planes which were used in world war II. We worked together in applications of Image Analysis in the area of Food Technolgy, Material Technolgy for NAL Bangalore etc. He quit everything and went to fulfill his first ambition in life - to build a plane all by himself and fly it! He did that and in a flying contest won a prize for that! I will send the details of that later.

The details of reproducing great pictures of past flying machine can be got in which opens to hundreds of flying machines which were popular in WWI and WWII.

Since I am a bumbling novice, not knowing the front from the back of a plane, I should just keep quiet. I am sure either you are already aware of all this or would find it interesting. Please let me know. In a subsequent mail, I will send details wrt the plane built by Lynn Jarvis.

Once Again sorry to write an email without as much as an intro.

With Regards ,

E.R. Ramachandran

Tel. 2500596
Mobile :98861 40691

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thank you M. Ramachandran, no need for a formal e-mail for an intro, your comments are encouraging and interesting. Thanks for the webslink. I did not know about this particular website. I don't know everything about aviation and indeed no one can claim to know everything. It is a learning process throughout one's life as an aviator. There's always new things to learn. Thats why we pilot re-train all the time, re-learn new things, procedures and so on.

Regarding e-mail to me, I am able to get others from everywhereincluding Mysore. Are you mailing me on thats the one I use normally but failing this, you could try

I am looking forward to more information from Lynn Jarvis' airplane. Home builds are very popular in the US also. GVK had sent me mail about a home builder by e-mail as well. Please do write and in case they bounce back, the blog is open again for comments.

Nikhil Joshi said...

You got it, Capt. Murthy! the pics will be sent to you without fail.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Another question I missed, from your comments Nikhil. Whether the Hawker 800XP was for an Indian company. Yes, there's one going to Jaypee Industries in September and there's one going to us early next year. The bookings are now full till end of next year. The airplane is solid, stand up headroom cabin, long range, glass cockpit with paperless IFIS (integrated flight information system) it is like having a computer with a keyboard and a mouse that loads in all the maps, charts, approaches and even satellite real time colcor weather downloads. No need for paperwork/reading physical maps and so on.

Erythrocyte said...

Hello, Captain Murthy. Found your blog extremely interesting and informative. Wonderful pictures as well. Loved the trip to Iceland.
I wrote a story about aircraft a while back, didn't then know about your blog, or would have asked you if mobile phones really have the effect I describe in the story. Could you, if you have a free moment, read it and tell me if i've messed up?
I would be most grateful and pleased.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Read the story Erythrocyte and liked it a lot. Nice style of writing you've got there, you must be a pro.

I have a longish answer to your question actually. Regarding the cell phone problem, we do sometimes get that funny sound you mention, in our headset. It sounds just like when you are on a land-line phone and your cell phone rings, the same interference. But, it does not happen all the time, I am not sure whether it is distance related. People sitting closer to the cockpit Vs people sitting back, I mean.

Recently I was flying a Beechcraft B200 turboprop in the US (Camarillo to Reno and back) with a friend of mine at the controls and me in the co-pilot seat (his airplane actually) and another colleague of ours was in the back. The colleague in the back was using the cell phone on the ground while we were taxiing and there was a bit of interference once or twice but we asked him to shut it off before we entered the runway to take off.

I haven't seen other navigational equipment go haywire but we don't want them to, especially during critical phases of flight, do we? I have heard that the GPS signal goes on the blink if a cellphone is used at close range and it is also known to have the same effect on DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) again, when used at close range, so I am now guessing that distance from cockpit and perhaps signal strength in some powerful mobiles does cause plenty of interference.

They are developing a system now for cellphone use in the cabin and I suppose they will insulate the cockpit or systems, so as to not effect anything up there. Let me know if this answers your question. Keep writing. Your blog is good.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Rimi, if you read this, just curious why you chose to mention a Beluga in your story. That's a special airplane designed by Airbus for transporting large assemblies of their production Aircraft. it is not used as a commercial airplane for passengers. Just curious, nothing wrong with mentioning it.

kris said...


While I was reading your blog my uncle saw your photo published in this blog. He works in the Centre Bureau of Investigation (CBI). He said that he has seen it somewhere, probably in a departmental circulation. He has passed on your photo to his colleagues.

Are you sure your are doing a legitimate business?

Good Luck!!!


Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Kris, good joke. You have no right to ask about my business, you and your uncle,have fun mate!

GVK said...

About that comment by Kris, smacking of coack-and-dagger, I see Capt.Murthy has taken it in the only sensible way a good sport would, as a joke. I didn't find it all that good, though, Capt.Murthy.
I suspect an imaginative legal mind would construe the offending comment as a case of actionable insinuation. Buth then those insinuate prefer anonymity.
Incidentally, I didn't know CBI uncles were so communicative with nephews on how they went about their investigative chores.

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

True, Mr.GVK. I deleted some of his comments on my other blogs wherehe goes on to make other derogatory remarks on me as well as inferences to my work as being a part of something illegal. He also mentions that his CBI uncle called up Interpol to nab me! Very dramatic and cinematic and perhaps I should have left the comments there because "B" movies these days lack that kind of story line!

As for taking legal action , I suppose one could, but this chap is anonymous and uses a fake identity.How to nab these fakesters?

He also wrote saying that I am a small time cargo pilot. as you and others know me, I don't fly cargo and I ended up as GM/CEO of a passenger Airline!

This guy's CBI Uncle must be working overtime to dig up such complete nonsense. I though they had better work to do than report to the nephew of the guy and tell him bull!

Athul said...

dear kris i hope u wanted to make a good joke in here ,
and if no i belieave that u know the seriousness of that statement u made ,
capt and we all feel very homely in here to know more about aviation and things related to it and we all share the common intrest in that , pls dont spoil the blog by such stupid pranks ...

Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Athul, this guy is not a prankster, just a nut. He says he will expose me and wants me to prove who I am. Thats easy as you and most know, but he will not shut up even if I do so. such nuts are cyber terrorists trying to spam others into blackmail while themselves proving useless in life.

Nataraj KR said...

Hi captain, Pl do not get bogged down by the worthless writings of fake personalities who are nothing but empty vessels. Request you to continue your high quality writings so that all rational humans would certainly want it for more enlightenment.

Madhukar - VU2MUD said...

Empty vessels make more empty noise. Keep up making your interesting noise which will certainly drain out the empty noise very soon. As the Kannada saying goes - translated to English "The barking dog does not hamper life in Heaven".


Blog-Capt. Anup Murthy said...

Thanks Mr. Nataraj and Mr. Madhukar. These spammers are squatting and bombarding mymysore website since they can't get their word in here. I am only flattered by their remarks that I am young, I was begining to feel age catching up but their reference to my alleged activities makes me feel a lot younger! They are not cyber smart either because there's a lot of information about me in the public domain but these idiots are unable to dig up anything and hence resort to fictitious stories. More amusing for most of my readers is that some of the incidents they claim must have happened more than two decades ago because I have been married for 19 years and been living out of India for more than 22 years now!

All of this information is also in the public domain, if only they knew where to look and I am not going to babysit them and give clues. I thought these guys are cyber smart, turns out they are cyber stupid. Thanks for your support, I will continue to blog.

I have been travelling a bit again between here in Singapore and the West so there may be gaps in writing. End of the month, I will be taking delivery of the fourth corporate executive jet for the new company that I an a consultant for. I mentioned about it in "fast jet from OZ" previously. With the new livery and cushy interior, it is bound to turn heads in India.

I still have to work at increasing the fleet to more than 20 Aircraft, so you will those coming along, with pictures and you will see them painted with the Indian flag and flying the Indian skies and that makes me feel good.

General Aviation is finding its feet in India finally, this is where we are ahead of China even.