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777 Emergency: A novice pilot's tale

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Hello everyone! My name is Jordan and I'm fairly new to the forums. I really enjoy reading the posts on this site and am just AMAZED by the level of detail of PMDG's 777. I thought it would be fun to share a novice pilots story of his first flight as a 777 driver. ^_^ Since this is my first post, I apologize in advance if I break any of the rules and will adapt if needed. This might be a long read but I tried to make it as interesting as possible. Here goes.



1100z, Sept 9, PHNL, Gate 11.  After spending hours tweaking what SEEMED at the time like a smooth running sim, it was time to gas up the jet and haul some pax around the Pacific ocean. I chose PHNL-PGUM as my first flight from a vast amount of ideas I pondered while at work earlier in the day. I'm a C-5 Galaxy Loadmaster by trade, and LOVE flying around the Pacific, so it seemed like a good "first flight". I'm also from Hawaii so the Pacific is in my heart  :P


1115z. I head over to some website to help me find a flight route. I keep reading about this magical PFPX software, but feel like I wouldn't have a clue how to use it, even though I've watched my pilots flight plan and engineers do Takeoff and Landing Data plenty of times. After finding the perfect (only) route, I save the information on my tablet and plug in all the info into the CDU. "Bingo!" I yelled, a little too loud, as the CDU took down the route without any problems. I had run into trouble with the NGX occasionally with plugging in certain airways, but I guess that's what happens when you don't update your nav database.   


1120z. To this day, I have NO idea how to plan out fuel in a plane. I always wind up with too much...better than too little, I suppose. With this plane, I estimated 20,000lbs of burn per hour since that's what we burn with the C-5 more or less. I also added an extra 20k of fuel juuuuust in case I got it wrong. Not too many places to divert to in the Pacific, which actually comes to hit home later in the story. 


1125z. GSX is loading the pax and baggage and I'm going through this new fancy checklist, blown away how intuitive it is. I watched Froogle Pete on YouTube go through his pre-flight, and more or less (less), mimicked what he showed. Pax finished loading but the baggage was still coming. So I fired up the APU, got rid of all my ground equipment, told the jetway to scram, and waited to start push-back.


1130ish z. Bags done, lets push back. GSX handled everything well, as usual. Was very thankful FSDreamTeam put out an update today. Cranked up engine #2 first. That sound....that beautiful sound. I listen to a lot of co-workers argue over what music is better, what radio station to listen to, artist to hear. Music is great, but the moment I hear a jet engine start up, I'm in heaven. Even the obnoxious scream of the TF-39's on the C-5 are music to my ear. So, when I hear a GE90 crank up, its a symphony of the best that mechanical engineering has to offer the world.


1135z. Taxiing to RWY 8R. Now, if you have never been to Hawaii, specifically, Oahu, Honolulu Intl. is one of the most beautiful and interesting airports in the world, and that beauty and interest extends beyond the walls of the airport itself, and out to the airfield. 8R-26L is commonly referred to as the "Reef Runway". A man made island that was built to give the airport a very needed extra runway for heavy operations (and as a bonus, an emergency landing site for the space shuttle), this runway give you a perfect view of the island's famous volcano, Diamond Head, as well as the beautiful turquoise colored water and other amazing scenery. For the passengers, the view is a real treat, and is usually looked back at with fond memories of all the amazing things they got to see and do during their vacation.


1142z. Cleared for takeoff. Advanced throttles to 99.1 N1 and started to roll down the runway. As VR quickly approached, I reminded myself to not get too carried away with the yoke as to avoid a tail strike. This isn't the NGX after all! As we begin our climb, I bring up the gear and realize I need to bring up the flaps before I over speed them! Climbing out at 15 degrees on the NGX seemed like quite a bit for her, especially at a full load. However, 15 degrees in the 777 seemed like a I was driving a Bougatti in 1st gear the entire time. So I cranked back a little more on the yoke and brought her up another 5 degrees. I have no idea what the normal climb angle is for the 777 or any commercial plane. I can only go by the experience I have on the C-5, and I always assumed 15-20 was the norm, anyway. Everything was smooth sailing up to cruise, but was about to take a turn for the worse in just a little while...


0245z Now, flying any of the PMDG planes I have, I LOVE to set up random failures. I have no idea whats coming, if anything is coming at all, and that's the fun. I always leave service based failures on, and usually set random failures to ON and limited to 3 or so in a 10 hr period. I knew this flight had the possibility of going south on me, and since I'm new to the 777, I was going to be extra observant so if anything DID go wrong, I'd get to use those awesome "Non-Normal" checklists.

The problem started out, as most of them do, very insidiously. #1 engine, developed a small, slow oil leak. I know oil leaks are bad, but like I said, this one started off slow. So my first thought was to just monitor it and see what happens. All of the sudden, I get a warning and caution light but nothing to alert me to any specific problem. I hit the button to silence the alarms and do a quick glance around the cockpit to see if anything is illuminated that shouldn't be or vise versa. Nothing stuck out and as soon as I pan back over to the main panel, both lights go out and its as if nothing ever happened. "Weird" I thought, as we were chugging along at FL340. "PMDG glitch perhaps? Did I miss something? Is something else going on?" were going through my head, but another scan revealed nothing. So I went back to monitoring my oil leak. Moments later, an electrical bus fails, TCAS fail, autoland fail, then a hydraulic valve failure of some sort, I believe. "She's falling apart on me!" I say to myself as I start worrying that I might not make it to my destination. Maybe it would be a good idea to start looking for divert options JUST in case... As soon as that thought became real, my small oil leak turned into a fast oil leak, and the oil temperature of my engine started to raise with a quickness. At this point, I knew I had to shut down the engine or risk a fire. I've been on a few missions on a C-5 where we've had to shut down an engine in flight. With 4 engines though, its not too much of a worry, more of an inconvenience. But once you hear that engine shut down at 30000ft+, no matter what you know, you FEEL like you just cut off an arm. Its a weird feeling and everyone, crew, pax, animals, can tell something's not right almost immediately.


The engine shut down without a hitch, and now I start planning my divert. As if the 777 knows it needs to get on the ground, PWAK pops up on the map and an arrow points saying 450nm away. Perfect! Now I just need to get there before this plane loses her gear or something... "Flat Tire" pops up on the display. "She's trying to play hard to get..." I say to myself with a smile. I look at my displays one more time to make sure nothing else has come to join the failures party, then move to planning my arrival into Wake Island.


0315ish z. With all the info I need for this tiny, TINY island (atoll) out in the middle of nowhere, I start my decent. With checklists completed, I decide to take full control of the aircraft around 10000ft or so. After all, the autopilot shouldn't have all the fun.  B)  So, I get to land at an airport I've never landed at before, with 7 or so failures following me, asymmetrical thrust....oh, and its going to be a night landing. "Well, at least the weather is good!" I thought to myself as a small comfort. As rwy 10 came into view, the small things started to pop into my head. "Will maintenance be able to fix the plane? How will they get the pax off the jet? Do they have rooms available for everyone to stay at?" Then, it hit me that this was just a sim.  :lol:  


04 something z. Less than a mile from the rwy and I was as lined up on the glidepath as I was going to be. I was aiming for the center line, but with the wind and single engine thrust, I was getting kicked around a little bit. Getting aggressive with the rudder seemed like it was the logical choice and helped get me back to the center line.     50....30.....20......10......touchdown! I made it. With no Thrust Reverse available, and autobrakes out of the question due to the flat tire, I had to get on the brakes myself and wound up NOT burning up the brakes in the process. With a successful landing on what could be "Gilligan's Island" I wave off the imaginary firetrucks and taxi to what little parking they had. Shut down the plane, grab my suitcase, and head off toward the beach. My job was done. 




I hope you guys enjoyed the story of my first flight. If not, delete the post. :-) 



-Jordan L 

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I love how you write your flight, like I was able to see it thru my eyes all the time I was reading! You have talent! Love it!



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add a screen shot to this story and submit it for a chance to win a prize in the 777 screenshot contest.



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