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SpiritFlyer

World's Highest and Fastest Rollercoaster - 757 out of SNA

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A screen shot by Ben Cap showing an NGX climb out at SNA reminds me of one rather exciting early nineties flight on a lightly loaded Delta 757 out of there. I was returning home to CYYC from a week long business trip. I don't remember if this flight was direct to the usual SLC hub or not, because it was a substitute for one I was booked to take earlier which was canceled or delayed. I had to pay extra so I wouldn't have to stay over another day.

 

Even though my memory may be a bit sketchy on the particulars, the takeoff itself sure isn't. I had flown out of SNA before and looked forward to the fun required for the local noise abatement procedures. On this particular flight I was sitting behind the right wing in a window seat. Someone warned over the PA about the high speed takeoff, the steep initial climb to a certain altitude and the engines being cut back to reduce the noise but there was nothing to worry about (or whatever).

 

With the engines screaming we took off like a rocket sled. At what had to be almost into the weeds the nose snapped up pressing us down into our seats and kept rotating into a far too vertical a climb out. Seconds later the yoke was obviously jammed forward at the same moment the power was cut to near idle, immediately followed by a hard bank to the left and moments afterward, to the right.

 

The engines remained near silent for a few seconds then somewhere between the turns spooled back up to what I guessed were low to mid range settings. However between the loss of thrust and what had to be a near stomach in the mouth negative G we felt a wee bit like Tom Hanks in the scene with the vomit comet in Apollo 13. A few improperly stowed items and loose articles went flying to the sound of startled gasps of surprise and fear.

 

My residual memory still contrasts that sensation from the moments waiting quietly at the threshold, to the screaming high speed run, hard rotation, extreme climb, the dramatic leveling off and the hard banking. It was far more like riding the world's fastest and highest roller coaster than being on an airliner. There were a few upset people who had likely never experienced anything quite so dramatic but I was delighted, although a bit unnerved. The flight attends quickly sprang into action going down the isle picking up stuff and handing it back to the passengers.

 

Almost immediately the Captain came on and (jokingly) congratulated his co-pilot on his successful qualifying test flight for the Blue Angels. He explained something to the effect that even though they had stayed inside Delta's safe operating procedures and that there was no danger at any time he was sorry for any discomfort that anyone may have felt. The rest of the flight was uneventful, but at the gate both the Captain and the Co-pilot were at the door with the officer asking if we enjoyed the air show. There could not have possibly been a better way of handling the episode that self-deprecating humor.

 

I often wondered who was the farthest out on a limb, the co-pilot for thinking he was alone in an F-16 or the pilot for half admitting it. How far beyond normal it was I don't know, but it would have certainly been a great deal more abrupt than was common, or at least comparable to anything I have experienced on a commercial flight before or after. I expect it was a combination of a light load, a hot plane, maybe a bit of inexperience and/or a streak of adventurism, or possibly even a mistake, but one thing for sure, it was fun and I would love to do it again!

 

Kind regards,

 

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It would have been nice to conclusively know what was going on in the cockpit. Something like that today would be reported in the news with more than a few passengers suing the airline.

 

Great story just the same which is ironic as I just (after years) figured out what was wrong with my AI at Shez's rendition of the airport. For years my AI would land at KSNA with wheels buried in the ground while taxing. AI already at the airport was fine. In troubleshooting the new Latin VFR KSAN scenery I changed the elevation of the AFCAD at KSNA which solved the problem. I could have figured this out years ago but I don't fly into KSNA much. Now after this story I'm going to look at some SID/STAR charts and do more flights out of KSNA to see how it is. Thanks for the great story...

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Reminds me of my takeoff from Corfu, with XL airways. We were at full power in a hard left hand bank for what seemed ages. When the pilot leveled the wings he also totally killed the power, whitch made it feel like we had stopped in mid air. Very strange feeling.Its was dark too.

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Here's one youtube, though the camera is not held level throughout

 

You can sort of hear when they power back over the residential area, then once over the golf they power up again.

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The 757 is well known for It's incredible power to weight ratio. In fact, I am pretty sure the RR powered aircraft had the highest ratio of all airliners in service. Combine that with a light load, TOGA thrust, and an interesting noise abatement procedure and you will get the same story as described above :) perfectly safe and legal.

 

I would only be speculating as to why they chose TOGA for that particular departure, however most sops dictate TOGA must be used if the runway is contaminated, windshear is expected and a number of other reasons. At the very least it makes a great ride & story :)

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