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I swear I saw a white light - near incident ATL-TLH

I swear I saw a white light - near incident ATL-TLH

Old Apr 24, 15, 2:18 pm
  #1  
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I swear I saw a white light - near incident ATL-TLH

I apologize that i'm posting this late as this happened last Friday, April 17th on a Delta 737 in the evening from Atlanta to Tallahassee, FL. As you may recall, there were many intense thunderstorms in the southeast.

I've had many intense landings in my 20 plus years on the road - but this will win the prize as the most intense - and closest to being involved in a serious mishap.

We had a relatively uneventful trip down Georgia until we started approach into TLH. The captain came on the overhead and explained that an intense thunderstorm cell had settled right above the field and that we would have to go into a holding pattern. It happens, no big deal.

About 45 minutes later (and many circles around Tallahassee at a very low altitude), he announced that there was an "opening" at the north end of the storm and he was going to attempt a landing. We started a very low approach and eventually could see we were over the field. (Note: it's ironic you dont notice all the underground gas tank facilities in TLH until a moment like this). As we passed over the lines (sorry don't know the jargon) and were over the runway (at about 200-300 feet) there was a violent shaking and you could feel the wind pushing the plane down HARD. I've never felt it before, but this had to have been wind shear, right?

The captain immediately went back to full throttle and we went straight up. There was a lot of screaming and panic in the passenger cabin. Once he got us level and outside the storm again he came back on and explained that the winds were too unpredictable he had to go back up. He was concerned that we were approaching "Bingo" on fuel (at a level we would have to divert) if there wasn't an opening soon. We circled for another 30 minutes, and eventually found a break to land. All in all, the captain did a nice job communicating and did a very nice job flying that aircraft. He actually came out of the cockpit as we all exited to apologize, etc.

A couple questions I wanted to pose to the group:

Where would we have diverted to? Jacksonville? Pensacola?
Was I right that this was wind shear?
RVBOOS is offline  
Old Apr 24, 15, 2:24 pm
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Originally Posted by RVBOOS View Post
I apologize that i'm posting this late as this happened last Friday, April 17th on a Delta 737 in the evening from Atlanta to Tallahassee, FL. As you may recall, there were many intense thunderstorms in the southeast.

I've had many intense landings in my 20 plus years on the road - but this will win the prize as the most intense - and closest to being involved in a serious mishap.

We had a relatively uneventful trip down Georgia until we started approach into TLH. The captain came on the overhead and explained that an intense thunderstorm cell had settled right above the field and that we would have to go into a holding pattern. It happens, no big deal.

About 45 minutes later (and many circles around Tallahassee at a very low altitude), he announced that there was an "opening" at the north end of the storm and he was going to attempt a landing. We started a very low approach and eventually could see we were over the field. (Note: it's ironic you dont notice all the underground gas tank facilities in TLH until a moment like this). As we passed over the lines (sorry don't know the jargon) and were over the runway (at about 200-300 feet) there was a violent shaking and you could feel the wind pushing the plane down HARD. I've never felt it before, but this had to have been wind shear, right?

The captain immediately went back to full throttle and we went straight up. There was a lot of screaming and panic in the passenger cabin. Once he got us level and outside the storm again he came back on and explained that the winds were too unpredictable he had to go back up. He was concerned that we were approaching "Bingo" on fuel (at a level we would have to divert) if there wasn't an opening soon. We circled for another 30 minutes, and eventually found a break to land. All in all, the captain did a nice job communicating and did a very nice job flying that aircraft. He actually came out of the cockpit as we all exited to apologize, etc.

A couple questions I wanted to pose to the group:

Where would we have diverted to? Jacksonville? Pensacola?
Was I right that this was wind shear?
depends on what alternate dispatch gave them. no way to know if it was wind shear without seeing the indications in the cockpit but it very well could have been.
apolloms is offline  
Old Apr 24, 15, 2:47 pm
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Originally Posted by RVBOOS View Post
I've had many intense landings in my 20 plus years on the road - but this will win the prize as the most intense - and closest to being involved in a serious mishap.
Sorry the landing shook you up...it can be very uncomfortable when there is a missed approach in weather. That line there might be taking some creative liberty about the proximity to a "serious mishap" .

Wind shear is defined as a change in wind velocity or direction. All wind shear is not of the sort (or intensity) that brought down DL 191 in DFW. Often it just de-stablizes the approach enough to the point the pilot didn't feel comfortable and wanted to go around for another try.

Glad all was well.
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Old Apr 24, 15, 2:48 pm
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Microburst?
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Old Apr 24, 15, 2:58 pm
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Could have been a mild case of wind shear. A strong downburst that close to the ground doesn't end well; Delta 191 is a prime example. I doubt the captain would have tried/continued the approach if the cockpit had alerted him to any serious activity.
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Old Apr 24, 15, 4:48 pm
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Originally Posted by RVBOOS View Post
Where would we have diverted to? Jacksonville? Pensacola?
Was I right that this was wind shear?
ECP is probably the closest airport. DHN and VPS arent too far also. Ultimately it depends on where dispatch sends them. Factors include fuel left, weather, and ground service availability. I expect they'd rather divert to a location with a Delta station.
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Old Apr 24, 15, 8:03 pm
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Originally Posted by bubbashow View Post
Sorry the landing shook you up...it can be very uncomfortable when there is a missed approach in weather. That line there might be taking some creative liberty about the proximity to a "serious mishap" .

Wind shear is defined as a change in wind velocity or direction. All wind shear is not of the sort (or intensity) that brought down DL 191 in DFW. Often it just de-stablizes the approach enough to the point the pilot didn't feel comfortable and wanted to go around for another try.

Glad all was well.
I've been through enough bad weather, turbulence and such to know this was a bit different. I am certainly not a pilot, but he went close to full throttle and up at a much higher angle than normal take off than I have ever seen.
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Old Apr 24, 15, 8:27 pm
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Originally Posted by RVBOOS View Post
I've been through enough bad weather, turbulence and such to know this was a bit different. I am certainly not a pilot, but he went close to full throttle and up at a much higher angle than normal take off than I have ever seen.
Take off/Go around (TO/GA) is a ready mode of the throttles on approach. Its not that much different in power to what you feel taking off. Pilots train on go-arounds and this sounds pretty much as it should - though no fun for the pax.

I was on a DL L1011 that did two go-arounds in a row trying to land in heavy storms at ATL, back in about 1991 en route from London. We got down on the third try, but I was mindful of DL 191 at the time and feeling plenty skittish.

Even then they'd done a lot to educate and train on wind shear, as well as detection, its not a zero risk now but far better than in '85.
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Old Apr 24, 15, 8:31 pm
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Originally Posted by RVBOOS View Post
I've been through enough bad weather, turbulence and such to know this was a bit different. I am certainly not a pilot, but he went close to full throttle and up at a much higher angle than normal take off than I have ever seen.
If you were over the piano keys, there isn't much room for error at that point. All of my go-arounds have occurred due to lack of visibility (when weather is present), but not because of turbulence. This is a whole different ball game since it's unexpected. The pilots could've very well gone close to full throttle in this case. Afternoon TS's in Florida are no joke.
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Old Apr 24, 15, 8:32 pm
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For your listening pleasure:

http://archive-server.liveatc.net/kt...2015-0330Z.mp3

You can hear one of your pilots announcing the go-around at 13:30 into this recording. The tower was closed so the flight-crew was self announcing on the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency.
He doesn't give a reason for a go-around but there was a very good chance that it was a wind-shear warning from the on-board instrumentation or another indicator of wind-shear.
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Old Apr 24, 15, 8:37 pm
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Originally Posted by RaflW View Post
Take off/Go around (TO/GA) is a ready mode of the throttles on approach. Its not that much different in power to what you feel taking off.
It can be. Pilots typically only use 60-70% thrust on take-off to reduce engine wear and potential compressor stalls. TO/GA (the go-around portion) basically has two options:

Advance throttles to maintain a 1-2,000 fpm climb or full throttle. The second option is used if terrain is present or the pilots are so low that they need to gain altitude, quick.
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Old Apr 24, 15, 9:23 pm
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Originally Posted by RVBOOS View Post
I've been through enough bad weather, turbulence and such to know this was a bit different. I am certainly not a pilot, but he went close to full throttle and up at a much higher angle than normal take off than I have ever seen.
Just so you're aware the pilots aren't up there flying by the seat of their pants. The flight director will give them immediate instructions should they need to abandon the approach. All they have to do is follow the purple bars. It's unnerving for passengers but no danger.
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Old Apr 24, 15, 11:33 pm
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Originally Posted by realjd View Post
ECP is probably the closest airport. DHN and VPS arent too far also. Ultimately it depends on where dispatch sends them. Factors include fuel left, weather, and ground service availability. I expect they'd rather divert to a location with a Delta station.
Albany, Georgia has limited scheduled Delta service and is pretty close to Tally, though I'm not sure about runway length.

Tyndall AFB (Panama City) is also an option if they need to get you safely on the ground ASAP and ECP wasn't going to be great idea for some reason.
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Old Apr 25, 15, 7:01 am
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Sounds like wind shear.
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Old Apr 25, 15, 7:04 am
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Originally Posted by readywhenyouare View Post
Just so you're aware the pilots aren't up there flying by the seat of their pants. The flight director will give them immediate instructions should they need to abandon the approach. All they have to do is follow the purple bars. It's unnerving for passengers but no danger.
I would agree with this in most "go around" circumstances, but if there was an audible windshear warning, this most certainly could've been a very dangerous situation. Even so, you are right, pilots are trained for these events. Definitely ups the pucker effect for the passengers though!
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