Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas in Oz

December 25 2012.

It's 30 degrees outside.

There are no carols playing, and the airports are bustling with people travelling.

I don't know why.

It's Christmas, for goodness' sake.  Who travels on Christmas day?

Who writes a blog with a new paragraph for every sentence?  Wait.  That's not strictly correct, as the last paragraph contained two sentences, and this one - well this one just goes on and on...

This year, Christmas isn't really Christmas.

Christmas is cold.  Christmas is sitting around a warm fire, all wrapped up, with mince pies and mulled wine.  Although, I don't really like mulled wine, and I don't particularly like cold either, but at Christmas, it's okay.  Christmas is family, and lights, and candles, and ham, and turkey, and gorging oneself until you can't gorge yourself any more, so you just snack on satsumas and Celebrations and random nuts that you don't actually like, but you eat because they are There.  Christmas is listening to stupid Christmas songs and watching movies that you have watched a million trillion times before, like It's A Wonderful Life and Oliver Twist.

December 25, 2012.  I had a mince pie today.  That's probably the most notable part of the day, from my point of view, and it was a very nice mince pie, mostly.  The not so mostly nice part about it was the fact that it was eaten at FL200 in the flight deck of an ATR, while being bounced around through the middle of a million several thunderstorms.

Enough of Christmas.  (The mince pie really was particularly nice.)

I'm back in Brisbane now after 3 days away, as everyone who read my last blog will know.  It has been crazily stormy the last 2 days, with seriously big tropical storms, which made the flying pretty busy!  I took some photos of the radar to show you, in case you care.  The radar on the ATR is particularly shabby, because once it gets wet, it starts to lie, and the thing is, thunderstorms are usually the wettest, but when everywhere is equally wet, the radar thinks that it's not actually wet at all, so it tells you that it's not.  So we had quite an interesting experience in the middle of the thunderstorms and lightning and the radios stopping working, because it's difficult to find out where you're supposed to go when you can't actually hear anything but static.

Had quite a funny conversation as we walked through the terminal after the last flight.  Mingled, of course, with all of the normal peeps from the flight.  It went like this:

Captain:  So, I guess I'm flying with you again on the 30th, right?
Me:  Yep!  You get to spend Christmas and the New Year with me!  How exciting!
CCM1 (very loudly): Well at least you both drink and have fun!!!
Very loud silence, followed by nervous laughter.
CCM1 (even louder, while glancing around at various passengers who may or may not have been listening): Um... well not while they're flying, of course.



1.  A TCU (towering cumulus) on the way to Albury.  Behind it is a large cell, which you can't see all of in the photo, because it was just too big, and we were too close.

2.  Weather radar return of a large cell on the way to Albury.

3. The same cell as 2. just the picture taken out of the window, not the radar!


4. Radar returns on the same leg to Albury.  We had to track about 40 miles south of Albury, and then due north to the airport, due to the solid wall of cells.

What the weather radar (on the internet) looked like while we were flight planning for the Sydney-Canberra leg.  You can see Canberra at the bottom left hand corner of the picture, and Sydney is the red dot mid right.  We ended up flying approximately Sydney-Bankstown-Oberon-Cowra-Yass-Canberra.  Cowra is at the very left hand side, half way down.  We lost comms just after passing Oberon, for obvious reasons, but it was impossible to see exactly what was going on from the air, as the useless radar was totally overwhelmed.

Below is an example (excuse my finger top right) of the radar getting overwhelmed.  The bright blue is where it can't see what is on the picture, due to the heavy returns its getting.  This picture was taken on the way from Canberra to Sydney, and shows a solid wall of water on the left, and 2 large cells on the right - behind which the radar is unable to pick up anything.  At some stages, the entire radar was a sea of blue (when selecting this setting) so it was really no good to us at all.

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