Archive for cartoons

Airline Cartoons LIVE

Posted in air travel, air travel humor, air traveler, aircraft maintenance, airline, airline cartoon, airline cartoon book, airline industry, airline passenger, airline pilot, airlines, cartoon, fear of flying, flight, flight attendant, flight crew, pilot, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2019 by Chris Manno

The best airline cartoons just got better: now you can watch them come to life. Just tap on the image.

Of course, you can still enjoy the static version,

air family seats 001 H

the best of which are in the cartoon collection, available in paperback or Kindle format from Amazon here,

crew book cover pic

but meanwhile, here’s a sampling from the “live” cartoon channel on YouTube, which you can subscribe to free for updates.

There are plenty more cartoons on my YouTube playlist, which you can access and subscribe to here.

Just one more way for you to enjoy the best, frontline airline cartoons.

cartoon guy cartoon dept live H



Airline Crew Confidential

Posted in air travel humor, air traveler, airline, airline cartoon, airline cartoon book, airline delays, airline industry, airline passenger, airline pilot, airline pilot blog, airlines, airport, airport security, flight attendant, flight crew, pilot with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2017 by Chris Manno

It was inevitable: 80 pages of wicked, insider crew-view airline cartoons:


Passengers, impress your crew–share the cartoons with them. It’s secret insider stuff, like:


And many more. Get yours from for $7.99. Just click here.

If you’re  flightcrew: you NEED this. If you’re a newhire flight attendant on my crew, I’m giving you one as my way of saying welcome, and thanks for all you do.





Air Travel Illustrated: The Holiday Flights.

Posted in air travel, airline, airline cartoon, airline cartoon book, airline delays, airline industry, airline passenger, airline pilot, airline pilot blog, airliner, airlines, airport, airport security, cartoon, fear of flying, flight attendant, flight crew, flight delays, jet, passenger, pilot, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2014 by Chris Manno

Some times words won’t do, or maybe illustrations can do better. Regardless, if you’re flying somewhere for the holiday, this is your life enroute. If you’re home already, here’s what you’re missing.

First, my best advice either way:

holiday 20001

With that in mind, make sensible reservations based upon experience, rather than an idealized hope:

seats apart0001

Flights are packed, so plan your inflight strategy:

safe word0001

Getting a last minute seat can be nearly impossible due to holiday load factors, unless you’re willing to compromise:


Keep in mind that you’ll have to handle your own baggage:


Prepare mentally for the challenges of airport security:

privacy tsa0001


Please board only when your sedative is called:

board prozac 10001

Ignore the pompous guys impressing each other in First Class:

class warfare

Or maybe share your admiration for them as you pass by:



Realize that children are on-board, so you’ll need to deal with them:

biz traveller0001

And parents, remember it’s your responsibility to discipline your kids on board:


Pay attention to the flight attendants when they speak to you:

tray table0001

And they may be talking to you even indirectly:


So pay attention:

connecting gate info

And when I turn on the seatbelt sign, it does mean you:


Realize that weather can complicate our flight:

scat vomit

So be prepared.

barf bag

Anticipate the post-holiday letdown:

leftover resentment0001

Enjoy your leftovers properly:

reheat turkey0001

And congratulate yourself for traveling and thereby avoiding a worse fate. Bon voyage!

fly 2 fam0001

More cartoons? Get the book:

cover promo

Get your copy now–just click the button below:


cartoon guy lg

Vuelo Loco: Tennyson, Dead Fish and Mexico City.

Posted in air travel, airliner, airlines, airport, faith, fart, flight, flight attendant, flight crew, food, jet, lavatory, layover, life, pilot with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 9, 2011 by Chris Manno

Listen, I’m a fan of Mexico. Really, I am.

What’s not to like about Mexico City? Always looked forward to those downtown layovers–it was part of my job–but they’re scary dangerous. Probably not for the reason you think though.

I mean, sure, there’s plenty of drug violence. And yes, I did have to dodge through four lanes of traffic to evade a scroungy-looking cop trying to shake me down once, but he was either too lazy or too smart to chase me through the insane downtown traffic.

And yes, plenty of people with questionable intent in a city of 20 million, where you could simply disappear, kind of like the city itself  is doing, slowly sinking into its own aquifer. And okay, maybe I did roll the dice in a sense, as an instructor-evaluator taking pilots down to Mexico City every month, showing them the safe way to fly in and out of the mountain bowl.

Well, it’s not even really this “thread-the-needle-through-mountains” approach and usually, through thunderstorm alley that was like playing craps weekly. And it’s not really that I minded the always slick (memo to Mexico City Airport: the rest of the world cleans the reverted rubber off of their runways every year or two, so get a clue) runway with the puddle in the middle that you hit doing about 150 and exit two thousand feet later at about 149.

More, actually, was requiring the qualifying pilot have a beverage and a Cuban at an outdoor cafe on the traffic circle outside the Presidente Hotel. The bar–Karishma–is where a whole crew got mugged one night. They noticed that suddenly the place was empty save the two airline crews enjoying tapas and the generously poured (“Tell me when to stop pouring, Senor”) refreshments there. Then suddenly, watches, rings, wallets–buh-BYE, as we like to say.

So to be on the “safe” side, we sat outside on the traffic circle–maybe more witnesses?–and since it was my idea, I made sure my back was to the building, so the new guy got to sit with his back to the insane traffic, puffing a Cuban (relaxing–but mandatory) and enjoying a refreshment, maybe getting a shoeshine from the roving vendors who’d magically appear, ignoring the demolition derby mere feet away.

Hey, might as well get the full flavor: massive city (did I mention 20 MILLION people?), exotic neighborhoods of jumbled steel and glass elbowing in between with castellated stone architecture, snarled in the clogged highways like the arteries of a fat man. You watch the traffic and muse over your beverage, how the hell do they do this five way intersection without a traffic light?

And then on the side streets of The Polanco, maybe a quieter sidewalk cafe where I actually did much of my doctoral exam study: outside, books piled, good coffee, usually a thunderstorm in the afternoon that made me glad I wasn’t trying to fly a jet in or out at that moment. Out of nowhere, it seemed, in the afternoon towering big-shouldered thunderheads would roll through the mountain pass with raggedy sheets of torrential rain and thunder that echoed through canyons of concrete and steel, the reverberations so fitting to Tennyson’s “Ulysses” marching across the page before me toward the inexorable doom awaiting us all.

Harder to relax at dinner, though, when you were concentrating on the guard dog staring at your plate and whatever you were having for dinner. The armed guard restraining the dog had his eye on you and the plate alternately, and you had to wonder if either or both of them might figure that the dinner and your wallet might tip the scale in favor of mutiny. It was a stand-off in Mexico: the guard and dog making sure banditos didn’t mug you while you ate–but then the silently menacing pair themselves having to resist the hunger and temptation to rebid the transaction in more favorable terms.

And it’s not even the “one-eye-open” sleep in the airport high rise hotel with the un-level floors from the tipped buildings patiently waiting to tremble and topple in the next big quake they know is coming soon.

You wake up the next morning with the feeling of relief: ahh, The Big One they’ve been expecting didn’t happen while you slept, crushing you in tons of rubble that will take about ten years–if ever–to remove.

No, I’m talking about this:

That’ll eat you alive. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I was heading down to Mexico City for the umpteenth time and my favorite cousin was there with her husband who worked for the U.S. Department of State. “Hey, want to meet for dinner?”

Okay, I already know why not–I’ve been in the airline crew biz a looooong time: relatives don’t get it, you’re not on vacation; time does matter, sleep too.

“Sure, why not?” Because I’m an idiot–and here’s why. We’re going out for Mexican, traditional, right? I mean, we’re in Mexico-friggin-City, right? Enchiladas? Queso? Fajitas?


We’re doing Mexican-Asian fusion, which means I’m eating raw fish in Mexico: salmon carpaccio, pictured above. Delicious. Amazing! Immodium, amen. That didn’t take long.

The fever lasted about a week. The shower nozzle effect (any chance of scheduling a colonoscopy? I’m prepped, just for the hell of it) lasted a couple weeks. Thanks cuz.

Forget banditos. Who cares about high altitude aircraft performance, up-sloping mountainous terrain and treacherous rolling thunderstorms. The real danger’s on the plate.

Yes, I love Mexico City. Just don’t go there unarmed, okay?

The Flight of The Fatass.

Posted in air travel, airline cartoon, airliner, airlines, airport, cartoon, flight, flight attendant, flight crew, food, jet, jet flight, passenger with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2011 by Chris Manno

Couldn’t come at a worse time, when each cent spent on fuel strains the budget of every major airline. The fact is, a direct operating cost airlines cannot avoid is fuel usage, which is directly linked to the aircraft’s gross weight. Suddenly, there’s this:

That’s right: double-fudge brownie sundaes–in flight. Which brings us back to the jet’s take-off and climb gross weight. Seriously gross, in some cases.

Back in my Diesel-10 days, I flew with a giant of a captain who shall remain nameless but his initials are Big John. He must have tipped the scales close to three hundred pounds, and I admit, as a First Officer doing the flight control check, I’d purposely pull the yoke back far enough to jiggle his big gut (he’d say, “Whatcha tryin’ to do, boy, loop it?”) hanging over his lap belt.

The big mystery early in the month we flew together was why did Big John excuse himself from the cockpit at the top of descent point, for at least fifteen minutes? That’s right before we get really busy with descent and approach.

Mystery solved on our first layover: the “galley wench” (that’s the flight attendant who served below decks in the DC-10 lower lobe galley) said he was downstairs with her, hoovering any uneaten food from passenger meals that were left over.

Maybe that comes from the grand tradition of fat sea captains who had to keep themselves well-marbled to survive months bobbing around on a hostile ocean. You never know when you’re going to have to spend two seasons and an eternity of reruns on an uncharted desert isle.

You never know just how long a three hour tour is going to be, right? We were doing a lot of trans-oceanic stuff in the ten, so maybe John was planning to be the only guy surviving in a life raft.

Regardless, Big John was just one of a growing number–literally growing–pilots who over the span of a career, drove up the fuel burn of the airline as his career dragged on.

Why? Go back to the top of the page and face the brownie sundae–my weakness. Okay, I’ll come clean: I’m six feet tall and weight 182 pounds (today anyway), have finished nine of the 26.2 mile marathons, blah, blah, blah.  Point is, I do take part in the aerial hog call pretty regularly. A tour, you say? You’d like a tour? Prepare yourself.

First, there’s the big guns that announce themselves with a “ding” on the flight interphone: “Hey, we’ve got [insert uber-caloric dessert here] in back if you all want some.” Or, it just comes already on your crew meal. Either way, there’s this:

A dense chocolate cake-like pie. Sure, just eat a bite or two, right? You’ll run it off on the layover, right (in Toronto in January? YOU’RE LYING)? You missed lunch too, see, and this is okay therefore, mangia, right?.

Then there’s this:

Coming out of several Florida airline catering kitchens–it’s really decent Key Lime pie. Somebody actually recognized that Key Lime’s are just like any other limes–added for the citrus flavor for the pie, not the color–and it looks and tastes authentic. Probably about 800 calories, too.

I really like this meringue-ish type lemon pie too:

It’s kind of densely creamy with just the right amount of tartness. And another 900 calories, probably. Sometimes the dessert just looks so innocent sitting there on your tray, small and innocuous, looking up, suggesting hey–eat me.

But word gets out when the inflight menu changes: hey–the cheese cake’s back. Burp. And sure, the salad’s always a sensible choice . . .

. . . as long as you don’t chase down it with another fat bomb:

I’m less vulnerable to the cake, which often is dry enough to suck all of the moisture out of your already parched (from the 2% cabin humidity) body.

That and the hermetically sealed bread item could absorb a fuel spill of considerable magnitude. So I find those non-confectionary things easy to avoid. But then there’s the catering out of Mexico:

Always some type of pastry dessert that face it–you’re going to try some of it. And when you do, you’re stuffing all 900 calories into your pie hole.

So, you might well ask, why not just bring your own food? Right? Yeah, like that’s any better, like anyone could be trusted to manage that. Here’s just a couple of bad choices in that regard.

This is The World’s Most Dangerous Pastrami, slapped together lovingly (“Ey–we don’t got all day here, whaddya want?“) in the employee deli in La Garbage Airport, Flushing (is it just me or are these terms all appropriately suggestive?) New York.

Or The Long Haul Meathead Sandwich, good for at least two thousand miles:

But tofu’s healthy, right? Shut up:

Here’s the Blow Your Head Off spicy tofu, an O’Hare exclusive I can’t resist. The heartburn alone will keep you awake for at least a thousand miles, which is kind of the point.

Regardless of whether you bring your own food, the galley ovens are just on the other side of the cockpit door. When the aroma of freshly baked cookies finds it’s way forward, who are you kidding?

You’re eating them. yes, you can defend yourself from any smells . . .

But you’re not gonna avoid cookies, are you? And never mind in flight, what about the junk you bump into hanging out before the flight? Like the old faves stationed around the nation, waiting:

It’s the best breakfast burrito in the nation, waiting for you at a little shop in the Albuquerque airport. Perfect salsa, will light your hair on fire. And in the Portland Airport, “Good Dog Bad Dog,” with sausages you are going to eat no matter what.

Need a closer look? There’s a video look at “Good Dog-Bad Dog” on the bottom of this page. Go there, try one–you’ll be hooked, too. And speaking of dogs, back to basics in the Oklahoma City Airport–Sonic, headquartered in OKC, offers you the essential foot-long chili-cheese-onion dog right across from the gate for your convenience:

This is all leading to a very scary conclusion, fellow fliers: we are destroying the ozone needlessly because of the bulk–literally, the bulk–of those who must be hefted off the ground and into the stratosphere with the fossil fuel burn increase required to haul their fat asses airborne.

Don’t get too smug, either, if you’re not a big butt pilot–we’re only two of 165 butts on my airplane. Yeah, we notice–

The suitcase will fit under the seat–but what about fitting in the seat? Anyway, that’s what’s driving up fuel costs, along with the constant mayhem in the middle east, hurricane rumors near the Gulf, a flu outbreak at a refinery in Jersey–whatever. Those are things Al Gore says we can’t control. Eating in flight is quite another thing.

But actually, it doesn’t look like Big Al’s skipping any meals either. So let’s just forget it–this is The Land of Plenty, to fly across it is going to take plenty of fuel because of all of the plentious butts on board.

Flying is a tough business, in my experience. You deserve a trip to “Good Dog–Bad Dog” in order for fortify yourself for the journey. So click on the video below and enjoy an up close and personal visit to the place.

Me, I’m heading out for yet another long run. I’m personally too cowardly to follow in Big John’s gigantic footsteps–his heart exploded on a layover and he keeled over dead, face down in his angel hair Carabonara.

Bon appetit!


Fearful Flyers: What Not To Worry About.

Posted in air travel, airline cartoon, airliner, airlines, cartoon, flight, flight crew, flight training, jet, passenger, pilot, weather with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2010 by Chris Manno

Didn’t help much when you were a kid, at night, scared, and your mom said, “There’s no monster–go to sleep,” did it? Because fear doesn’t respond well to “shut up.”

So rather than dismissing the fears of white-knuckle flyers by saying, “There’s nothing to worry about,” I’ve taken to asking those fearful passengers, “What is it that worries you about flying?” That way we can actually examine their area of concern and shed a little light in their darkness, maybe helping them relax. It’ll be a long night otherwise, plus a lot of wasted fear that could have been vanquished with the flip of a light switch.

Here’s some of what I’ve been told by fearful flyers, plus what I’ve been able to pass along to them to help worry less, or even not at all. If you know someone who is afraid to fly, share this with them–it might help. If you have concerns about flying, share them with me. I want to be able to help you and the countless others who’d like to fly–or have partners or family who wish they’d fly–to understand what not to worry about when it comes to flying.

Welcome aboard!

From what I’ve gathered from nervous folks before or after a flight, several key worries seem to recur among the group. Most of these concerns center around a particular phase of flight (for example, take-off) or a flight sensation (say, turbulence, or a rapid descent) but the common denominator in them all is this: the unknown. Like the darkness in that scared kid’s bedroom. So let me shed some light on these areas to fill in the blanks for you, to unveil the unknown so you can relax. Because what you don’t know can help you.

First, of course, is The Take-Off. Seems like you just rocket down the runway in a thunderous roar, tilt back and climb off the runway, right?

If you only knew.

First, you should know that every parameter involved in the take-off, from aircraft weight to fuel weight to wind factors to runway slope to outside air temperature to aircraft center of gravity are all computed to the nearest hundredth–and then recomputed one more time before we reach the end of the runway.

That’s important for me–and for you–because we need to have the correct speed and thrust setting for the exact conditions. And think for a minute about both thrust settings and speeds.

Here’s the big boy engine–one of two, of course–on my jet, the 737-800. It can put out up to 27,000 pounds of thrust, but we seldom use more than 22,000 pounds per take-off.

So what? The “so what” is that means we have five tons of thrust to spare if we need it. We are actually over-powered if we need the extra kick. And consider this when you think of that: the design of the jet is that if we achieve a certain minimum speed (yes, that’s calculated and recalculated before flight) I can continue the take-off on just one big boy engine–easily. Or, if I’m below the maximum stopping speed (ditto the “recalculated” comment above) I can safely abort on the runway.

And in case you’re reading for detail, yes, the maximum stopping speed will ALWAYS be above the minimum single-engine take-off speed, so ultimately, the deck is stacked in our favor: we can take-off or stop under all conditions. Feeling more secure on take-off yet? Well wait–we’re not done rigging things our way.

There’s a safety margin built into the safety margin: we know what the stopping capability of the jet is–but we’ll knock 20% off of the performance, adding an additional safety margin to our stopping capability. In other words, if we know it takes 4,000 feet to stop at our precisely recalculated weight–we’ll require 5,000 feet of runway to do it.

But wait–we’re still not done stacking the deck in our favor.

Although we have thrust reversers that will throw out a 22 ton anchor to stop us–we won’t even count their effect and will calculate the stopping distance without them.

So let’s recap: on take-off, we have tons of extra thrust available if we need it. The aircraft is designed to fly–and fly well–on just one engine, once we reach the minimum take-off speed. And that speed is always below the maximum stopping speed based on factors biased toward a safe stop as I explained.

So we can stop or go, safely, no matter what. That’s all part of the design of your jet.

Everyone say "thanks" to the geek who designed our jet.

Those design limits  affect another in-flight boogie-man, turbulence. The engineers designed a load factor limit way above anything a rational person would ever expect.

That is, they took a G-limit that would probably give a horse an aneurysm, then again, added 50% to it. That’s the limit for operating the aircraft in turbulence. Wait for it . . .

. . . then they added another 20% to that for good measure. Your jet is designed to endure a shaking like Charro on crack and still go about its business. Although I’ve never asked a nervous flyer because I’m trying to calm them, not piss them off, if you are a white knuckle flyer, do you worry about your car falling apart whenever you cross railroad tracks? Probably not–even though your car is NOT designed with the stress tolerances of our jet. Just something to think about.

Now, let’s turn to the third big bagaboo: landing. There’s probably a lot about landing that you don’t know that would most likely make you feel more confident if you did.

First, once again, safety margins: the landing stopping distances are biased in our favor with 20% additional distance tacked on, plus our thrust reversers and their enormous power not even counted. Put that in your hip pocket and now let’s talk about weather.

It looks like pea soup from the cabin windows, doesn’t it? But not from where I sit.

It’s like x-ray vision: see the runway outline? It’s exactly overlaying the real runway, computed by a half dozen computers reading a handful of GPS systems reading a couple dozen satellites and figuring our position accurately to within a matter of feet. So, whether there’s pea soup from our cruise altitude to the ground, no matter: I can see accurately and we will land safely.

Or, if I’m not satisfied that the byzantine range of safe landing requirements are met, we have the fuel to go elsewhere. And the entire enroute portion of our flight, I’m constantly checking the destination weather, as well as the weather at potential divert options.

That’s one of the many things I’m doing on the flight deck so you can relax in back and enjoy the inflight entertainment (they were showing “The Office” last week). I have an eye on our “special clock”–fuel flow–which is our most meaningful measurement of how long we can fly. If things turn bad weatherwise at our destination, no problem: we’ll land at a safe and suitable alternate with lots of extra gas for unforeseen contingencies. That’s kind of the way I’m designed, after 25 years in this airline’s cockpits. And they back me 110% on that.

So let’s review the landing edge we’ve claimed for ourselves: we will have fuel to fly to our destination, shoot an approach and if it’s not satisfactory for any one of a hundred good reasons I can and do think of–we’re out of town, safely to an alternate with better conditions. Our stopping distance is biased in our favor. And I have been graciously granted x-ray vision by my airline (you should know that my airline, American Airlines, and Alaska are the only two using this “Heads Up Display” system) for all critical phases of flight.

Finally, there’s the big catch-all nervous flyer concern, and that is, not being in control. Right?

Wrong. You are in control just by choosing your flight. If it is on a major carrier–not a “regional” or “commuter” air carrier, you get me. Not just “me” as in me, but all of us and I’m typical of the major airline pilot: seven years as an Air Force pilot flying worldwide, twenty-five plus years in our cockpits, captain since 1991, and many, many thousands of pilot-in-command hours with the commensurate number of take-off and landings to match. Like all of our cockpit crews, “this ain’t my first rodeo.” You’ve chosen your crew well–by choosing a major U.S. airline.

You also chose well in your aircraft options by choosing a major airline with a huge maintenance and engineering department keeping the state-of-the-art jets healthy. And the airline has thousands of highly experienced and rigorously qualified pilots operating their fleet safely. Add to that your new-found insight into take-offs, turbulence and landing and you are in control as soon as you wisely book your flight.

That’s all it takes, and everything in regard to your flight safety is biased in your favor. Does that help shed a little more light on your darkest thoughts about flying?

If you are a fearful flyer, or if you know one, share this blog. Hopefully it makes one major point that helps folks relax in the air: there’s a lot of stuff to not worry about. If only your mom had explained when she told you that so many years ago.

The TRUTH About Flight Attendants.

Posted in air travel, airline cartoon, airliner, airlines, airport, cartoon, fart, flight, flight attendant, flight crew, flight training, jet, lavatory, passenger, pilot, travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2010 by Chris Manno

You sure you’re ready for the truth?

Still watching “Happy Days” reruns? Or maybe even “Leave it to Beaver” (okay I do, but I already have seen behind the curtain when it comes to Flight Attendants) where June Cleaver vacuums in pearls and heels? If this is you, please click here. Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

First, let’s start with the basics: who IS this person we call Flight Attendant? Where do they come from? Actually, they’re parents and spouses and significant others and sons and daughters. And they come from, well, everywhere.

My friend Melissa and her crew.

The common denominator seems to be the ability to get along with nearly anyone. That, plus the ability to handle children. No, it’s not that they handle children on board in their role as Flight Attendant. Rather, they must deal with a lot of childishness in flight on both sides of the cockpit door. So anyway, many, it seems, have a background in Education: either  as a college degree or as a teacher–or both.

My friend Nanci dealing with one of the children on board.

But that’s just what constitutes a significant number, but by no means, the majority. I once dated a Flight Attendant who had previously been a USDA meat inspector (I got rejected as “Not Prime,” although I’d like to consider myself at least “Average Chuck”), I know several with PhDs, I know one guy who flies for my airline who is an M.D.; the bass player in my band (shoutout to Angela!) is a flight attendant; My Darling Bride (MDB) before she became a “stewardess” was an engineer.

Okay, WARNING: don’t EVER call them “stew;” they hate it–even though my own mother, even after 25 years of non-rev travel on my passes still calls me to say, “The stews were so nice.”

Thanks, Mom.

But I can use the term myself because MDB doesn’t listen to me any more and in fact, with Flight Attendants you could say anything you want on the aircraft P.A. and they’ll NEVER KNOW. Seriously–the P.A. is a frequency that they can’t hear–kind of like a reverse dog hearing–so I could announce “I slept with your sister!” on the P.A. and she would simply ask, “what time are we landing?” Because she didn’t hear that P.A. either. But I digress.

Let’s just cut to the chase: here’s what you really want to know. In fact, let’s just go over important facts you NEED to know if you’re going to deal with flight attendants (of course you are, in flight), or date a flight attendant (you THINK you are, but that’s in YOUR dream, not theirs and they don’t get much sleep these days anyway), or maybe even you want to BE one (What, you’re finally off suicide watch, now this? Break the Prozac in half). Anyway, learn THIS:

1. Flight attendants will kick your ass. Seriously, they can and they will if they have to–and trust me, I’ll explain later–you want them to.

Okay, Carolyn's actually one of my Facebook friends and she's very nice. Mostly.

I’m not kidding. If you piss them off, you will pay. It might be be something simple like overfilling your coffee cup purposely so you’ll have to spill it (that was one of MDB’s specialties) or even the patented Flight Attendant “eff you” that is given so subtly and sweetly that you don’t even realize till the cart and flight attendant are three rows back before you think it through and realize, “Hmmmm . . . I think I just got told to go eff myself.”

Not that you don’t deserve it: they’ve asked one hundred people before you the same simple question–“What would you like to drink?” And they’ve answered the what do you have question at least as many times, plus they made a P.A. giving you the answers ahead of time. So, when you in row 32 ask again anyway, they have a soothing, pleasant proximate answer that after a few minutes your brain finally deciphers correctly as, you stupid idiot, YOU SHALL HAVE NOTHING. To which I would add, “you douchebag” but Flight Attendants are more skilled and less vulgar than I am. Bottom line: don’t be an idiot.

2. Flight attendants will share their ass–and they are crafty. We’re all crammed into a long, sealed tube, right?

Let’s face it–you’re in a sardine can for hours on end. In the cockpit, I actually have separate zone-controlled (by me) air conditioning and recirculation. Yes, it is good to be captain. And sure, you have some weird ideas about what goes on beyond that cockpit door, don’t you?

Suffice it to say that we pilots get “the royal treatment.” Now let’s move on.

Back to the long metal tube you’re paying a few bucks to be trapped in rather than face the freeway for days on end getting to whatever destination you’ve coughed up your vacation savings for.

The air in the jet is fine, it’s just the people like you who muck it up with your coughing, sneezing and personal exhaust if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Well, the cabin is their workplace, too.  As long as they’re trapped and required to endure assorted emissions from both of your ends (sometimes you’d have to think that the ones from your south end are more tolerable than the “what do you have?” stuff coming out topside), they deserve a chance to defend themselves. And when you travel, especially as much as we do on a flightcrew, diet is at best a catch as catch can thing. That end result is bad, eventually.

Wet cleanup on aisle six.

And the best defense in this case as in most others is a good offense.

Hence, “crop dusting.” That’s the diabolical plan by which they spray front to back on board so that by the time you get smacked in the face

"My god--air, please . . . !

. . . they’re already halfway to the aft galley and out of sight. You all will blame each other, but there was, you should know, a secret plan:

From the Flight Attendant Manual: "Always cropdust front to back."

There’s nothing you can do about this, by the way, except take small breaths. Deal with it.

Finally, here’s the last and probably most important thing you should know:

3. Flight attendants will save your ass. And that’s what they’re on board for–not just to tell you what beverages are available, not to entertain you, but actually to save your ass in the worst possible moment of your life.

Notice who isn’t walking away from this crashed aircraft alive and well? It’s the Flight Attendants who helped them off and are still on board helping others. That’s what they do. And that’s why you want them to be able to do item #1 above: they need to be able to throw your ass down an escape slide if you can get out of a burning passenger cabin yourself.

They can handle the 90 pound emergency exit door or the even heavier cabin doors. They know the route by feel and by heart to the nearest emergency exit in a smoke-filled cabin–and they’ll take you there. They are ready with first aid and CPR and a defibrillator and a fire extinguisher and oxygen and anything else you or I might need in flight. Not what we “want” in flight, although they take care of all they can–but most importantly, what you need to make it off the plane alive in any circumstance.

That’s the challenge they’ve undertaken on your behalf. That’s what they’ve trained to do, what they’re tested on and certified annually and rigorously through drills, classes and study.

They’re not leaving without you, even if they have to haul your ass out of a burning plane themselves. To me, that’s amazing.

This they do for minimal pay over long hours with little time for food or sleep and with complete disregard for time zones or body clock, because that’s just the nature of the job. I’ve never known a more selfless group, and there isn’t a more versatile group of professionals on the planet. They can hang with anyone, talk to anyone, and they’ll save the life of anyone, in the air or on the ground.

Do I have to spell this out for you? You should respect and appreciate the unique and giving individuals who are the flight attendants on your flight. Or in my case, I appreciate the one who is my partner for life. Or there’ll be an ass-whuppin’ in short order for you and me alike.

Got it? Good–remember it. Think about the big three flight attendant truths I just shared with you the next time you fly.

And be sure, if nothing else, that you know what you’d like to drink BEFORE the cart gets to you. When it does, “please” and “thank you” are mandatory–especially to the professionals who can both kick your ass and save it, and who will do both as necessary.

And THAT is the truth about Flight Attendants.


Actually never met the guy, but you gotta like the way he thinks.

Coming next:

You hear the name, you see the pilot, but who is this person, “the airline captain” in whom you place your trust?

The exclusive, only here. Subscribe.

From Sea Level to 737 Captain: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Posted in air travel, airline cartoon, airliner, airlines, flight crew, jet, pilot, travel with tags , , , , , , , on November 6, 2010 by Chris Manno

[Note: this is part of a continuing series describing what it’s like to become an airline captain on a brand new jet. Want to start at the beginning? Click here.]


Midway through the simulator phase and there’s plenty good, some bad and a lot of ugly.

But the latter stuff, that’s just your perspective as a pilot. What the hell do you know?

Overall, it’s good to be handling hardware rather than clicking a mouse and watching animation. But there are rough patches. You can’t find anything. Reflex guides your hands to the wrong place: need a wider Nav display range? That’s not where it is. Looking for a map light? Uh-uh, it’s over there, not here, and it can’t exactly reach anyway.

And the HUD: a thousand bits of information before your eyes. But it’s all displayed in lime green, largely negating the symbol sorting aide provided by colors (red, warning, yellow, caution, green okay, blue, advisory) on all other displays. Plus, what doesn’t fit on the display is converted into a number: the all important radio altimeter hides in among a cash crop of abstract digits rather than as a moving display. But half of what you need to call for is based on its countdown–or up.

Here’s you on the controls: take it easy . . . what is this with the power steering? You’re flying with hamfists and pork brains, or at least that’s how it will feel in the back of the plane.

From the movie Airplane:

Gunderson: “He’s all over the place! Nine hundred feet up to 1300 feet. What an asshole!”

Ever fly a plane before? Well, yeah–the last 19 years on the MD-80 which handles like a pig in both pitch–especially pitch, being a long tube, and with un-powered ailerons. The 737 is a Maseratti by comparison. So you feel like a klutz, wing-rocking down final because it’s so sensitive–and you’re not. Which brings out your inner teacher:

Maddog jocks, you know the drill: put some smash on the jet, aim it at the runway. Cross the  threshold at fifty feet with a plus-five knots (I always did; admit it, you do too) over V-Ref  speed then snatch off all the power. But not in the Boeing.

And you’re your own worst critic. The real teacher? The Simulator Instructor? She’s great; real laid back, very calming demeanor in the briefing and in The Box (which is what we call the simulator). You learn better that way, the way she is: confident, knowledgeable yet very easy-going.

Cleared for the approach, read the fine print.

Still, need a conversion course for MD-80 “steam jet” pilots. But you’re figuring it out: LNAV VNAV is smart box stuff–FMC driven.  Where’s the IAS and vertical speed? Ah, there’s the magic.

But practically speaking, the hours in The Box are beginning to add up. Here’s what week one of the sims reveals:

1. You’ve become lazy as a pilot because there was no challenge to the same old Flintstone (do I really need to spell this out? PREHISTORIC Douglas jet) flight deck for too many years. Time to update and rethink the concepts such as Category III approaches hand-flown to a 50′ decision height (YGTBSM), 600 RVR, vertical navigation, and how twenty-first century technology has changed flying.

Simulator instructor's station. Right behind us; pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain.

2. Boeing has made a stable hand-flying jet. That’s a good wing, a dependable airfoil. Feels substantial both in the flare and on rotation. Not so much lion taming with a whip and a chair like the MD-80. Plus power to spare, on the wing.

3. With the state-of-the art technology comes the challenge of lawyers and liability. Now procedures are driven by what just happened in court regarding some type of aircraft accident.

Anyone can fly like a pilot, but now you need to fly like an attorney. So many new restrictions and procedures that you can tell stem mostly from legal considerations and absolutely not from good flight practices. But that’s just the twenty-first century, right?

Still, so much to absorb, especially in the left seat: you’re going to sign for this jet and everyone on board in about ten days. You have to get this right, not just to pass a check, but for what you know is coming: that dark and stormy night when things start going to “the top of the pyramid:” options narrow, no way out, it’s up to you to out think and outdo whatever nasty situation that will–not might, will–test you in the air sooner or later.

Funny thing: flashback.

Pilot survival, from so many years ago. Back then, a “double-bang:” fly two sorties, back-to-back; formation, aerobatics–you name it. In between, a Coke and a bag of peanuts for you. The Coke had both caffeine and sugar to pep you up. Same deal now, at midpoint in every simulator session, in the Iron Kitchen now, in the Squadron Snack Bar back then, face still showing the outline of an oxygen mask, hair matted from a helmet.

Now, the Iron Kitchen is just an alleyway between simulator building, filled with vending machines and a few tables. It’s the crossroads of airline pilots all somewhere in sim world, whether on the break between sim periods on a check or like you, between training sim sessions. It’s the company of pilots at once lost in their own reverie about their sim check or like you, the right steps into a new jet, shooting the breeze, hangar flying, griping, laughing but regardless, it’s the folks who fly.

Just like back in the Air Force, the peanuts good and salty to put something on your stomach quick, then back to the struggle with an unruly jet that wants to get the better of you.

It didn’t then, and won’t now either. That I promise; I promise me, promise you. Believe it.

Coming next–and in the next installment of this blog: final preparation, the the FAA rating checkride. Stay tuned . . .

From Sea Level to 737 Captain: Drinking From The Firehose.

Posted in air travel, airline cartoon, airliner, airlines, flight, flight crew, jet, pilot with tags , , , , , , , on October 25, 2010 by Chris Manno

Note: this is part of a series relating firsthand what it’s like to transition to a new jet as an airline captain. If you’d like to start from the beginning, click here.


It gets this way eventually in all aircraft ground school:

“In the beginning, there were two molecules. Then Boeing added a hydraulic system, plus five auto-switching electrical distribution buses, and transformer-rectifiers . . . .”

Huh? That’s what we call “drinking from the firehose.”

There’s always a balance in teaching theory in a one-size-fits-all syllabus: some people need to know the “whys,” some just the “whats.” You’re the latter category–just tell me what it does.

Really don’t need the why (“the Force-Fight Monitor closes this solenoid which allows pressure from the standby pump to blah blah blah. . .”) but simply the “what:” if the PACK TRIP light comes on, you can reset it and if the temperature goes down, it will come back on line.

Everyone learns differently. So at this phase of what’s become an information overload, you develop your information filters. Primarily, being practical, the sort criterion “will this be on the three hour systems exam?” organizes your thinking and listening.

Now it’s all about the exams on Friday: the 14 “Immediate Action Items” which have to be regurgitated verbatim–or the whole exam process stops. No references, besides your already overloaded brain.

Then if you get by that hurdle, there’s the 3 hour systems exam: the computer database generates 100 questions from thousands possible and creates a unique exam for you. For this, you can use your Operating Manual (unfortunately, not the systems manual) and Quick Response Handbook, because you’ll have them both in flight anyway.

Then finally, a one hour exam on an active Flight Management Computer: can you manually (the jet does this itself via data link) input the route of flight, nav data and then use it for intercepts, route changes, climbs, descents, restrictions and holding without ending up lost over  Bumfuk, Egypt?

That’s four days from now.

The good news? At least the cockpit is starting to make sense. You can find most of the stuff you need now and the beginnings of familiarity with systems actuation and procedures become stronger every day.

And this is a cool jet. So it’s worth the struggle.

The Flight Academy has every conceivable training gizmo you could think of to help you understand the function of the systems. Here’s the “Star Wars Trainer,” which has animated displays and touch screens, along with animated schematics to show you what’s going on system-wise when you activate components.

The navigation systems work as well, so it’s a completely integrated trainer–probably cost a bazillion dollars–but has room for chairs and books and active schematics to blend the cockpit and classroom.

That’s emblematic of the Flight Academy: all the best equipment, a thorough and advanced syllabus, even the schedule is engineered to account for travel time (Bill’s based in New York and lives in North Carolina) and even food requirements.

What choice did I have? Now I'm addicted--to both the crackers and the Captain's position.

Instruction has been thorough and very good, although it’s probably inevitable that the instructor would start to get in our hair after so many hours. You’ve even considered saying, “Look, I’ll let you use my name in exchange for you not poking or kicking me every time you want my attention.” Guess that’s just the way it goes–only a couple more days of ground school anyway.

So here’s your practical approach now:

1. With Bill, decide if the class stuff applies to The Bigass Exam this week. If not–ignore and study what is. We know as line pilots that trivia doesn’t really help in the air, or on an exam.

2. Take the practice test over and over. Still scoring in the upper 70’s (need 85%), but that’s without the flight manuals we’ll be allowed to consult and it included a few systems we haven’t covered. Looks like we’re on-track to hit the 90’s by the exam day.

3. Max the tome-length “Immediate Action Item” test–and you have been hitting 100% on that.

4. Don’t lose your marbles over the byzantine Flight Management Computer operation. That’s been going smoothly and will continue as long as you don’t over-think it.

A few more systems trainers and simulator sessions but mostly, ground school is all about getting out of ground school: the exams are dead ahead. Let’s get through them and move on.

Coming up next here: after the inquisition, on to full motion simulators. And in two weeks, into the air in the real jet. School’s fine, but get  back in the air where you belong.

Flightcrew Zoo: Stupid Layover Tricks

Posted in air travel, airline cartoon, airliner, airlines, airport, cartoon, cruise ship, flight attendant, flight crew, hotels, jet, layover, passenger, pilot, travel, travel tips with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2010 by Chris Manno

When you’re shipwrecked with fellow crewmembers, there forms a special bond. Over the years, I’ve shared a few exceptionally memorable times “shipwrecked” on layovers with pilots and flight attendants who have become lifelong friends. Here are a couple of the most memorable stories.

Mile High-Jinks

Dave was a fairly senior 777 captain when he took early retirement a few years back. Before he did, when we’d pass in the terminal, besides saying “hi,” one of us would grab the other and say to our first officer, if they were nearby, “He can verify that galley story I told you is true.”

And the story was from twenty-plus years ago when Dave was a DC-10 First Officer and I was the Flight Engineer. We flew all month with the same flight attendants, enjoying long layovers in downtown Chicago. The core group of us–me, Dave, Jennifer, Marianne, Lynne and sometimes Lonnie (whom Marianne admonished for “wearing too much make-up for daytime”) went out every night in Chicago to some club or other night place. Everyone became fast friends and hated to see the end of the month come which would mean no more weekly Chicago long layovers.

To make our last trip memorable, the inherently devilish Marianne dreamed up a plan. During our last leg from Detroit to DFW late one night, I got a call on the flight deck. “There’s something wrong with the P-Lift,” Lonnie said. “Can you come back and have a look?” The “P-Lift” was one of the elevators from the mid-cabin galley to the lower deck galley. Typical that there would be a problem and being the engineer, typical that I’d have to go back and see about fixing it.

“They’re having trouble with the P-Lift,” I told Bob, the leisure suit-wearing captain who ditched us in Chicago every layover to go out with his boyfriend, we suspected, and also to let Dave know I’d be gone. “Be right back.” I grabbed my flashlight, turned on all the fuel boost pumps and headed for the main galley.

“Downstairs,” Lonnie deadpanned, pointing to the P-Lift. Okay, I thought the P-Lift was the problem, but let’s go downstairs. I hopped in, closed the door and pressed the down arrow. The lift lowered me into the darkness below. Hmmm, good thing I brought my flashlight.

Every ORD layover included a stop here after midnight.

The door opened to candlelight in the lower lobe galley. Blankets and pillows covered the floor, and Marianne, Jennifer and Lynne were sprawled out in their nightgowns. “Want to join our slumber party?” Marianne asked, the three of them totally ignoring the 250+ passengers upstairs.

About twenty minutes later, I re-entered the darkened cockpit acting as nonchalant as possible. “Uh, Dave,” I said, “I think you’d better go have a look.” Maybe he knew what was up, but he wasted no time unstrapping and heading back. At least twenty minutes later, Dave returned, grinning. As soon as he did, Bob started to unstrap, maybe thinking it was his turn but Dave very pointedly said “No!” All’s well, he said–no need for you to leave the cockpit. The ladies would have killed us if he’d shown up.

Before Dave retired, our First officers would shake their heads in disbelief at the story but with verification, they could only think back on “the good old days”–such a thing would never happen today.

I still see Marianne now and again, Lonnie too. Lynne quit flying in the 1990s, and Jennifer worked on all of her flight ratings and is no longer a flight attendant but rather, a fairly senior First Officer with us now.

Man The Lifeboats!

Back in the 1990s, we used to have long layovers in Long Beach on the Queen Mary, which had been converted into a floating hotel. We used to convene in the forward lounge which was an art-deco masterpiece. The fun trick was to recruit flight attendants who’d never been to The Queen to have a beverage on the forward veranda of the bar, outside overlooking Long Beach harbor.  The trick in that was the magic hour of 7pm, when they blew the ship’s horn which was located just above the veranda.  More than a few spilled drinks and near heart attacks resulted from the uninitiated experiencing that heart-stopping blast.

My First Officer and I had a good laugh at our flight attendants’ expense on one such trip. One in particular, Rhonda (I still see her now and then) vowed to get even, but we figured it was all in good fun and so thought nothing of it.

That particular layover, The Queen was full and so both he and I had been given adjoining suites instead of the regular crew cabins. Of course, the flight attendants didn’t believe us when we told them. “Here,” my First Officer said to Rhonda, handing her his room key, “see for yourself. I’ll get another key at the desk.” They left us to tour the ship–including his suite–while we opted to stay and watch the NBA playoffs in the lounge.

A couple hours later, the game ended and we headed below decks, me to my suite and my F/O to the front desk to get another key. We had fifteen hours before we had to fly again and so I was looking forward to at least ten hours of good sleep.

As soon as I unlocked my door, I heard water running. Not a good sign, especially on a ship, I decided. At the same moment–maybe I was a little slow from a couple cold beverages–I noticed that I was standing in an inch of water that was beginning to slosh. Again, the beverage-effect: WE’RE SINKING! I grabbed the phone and called the front desk . . . to the lifeboats! She’s going down! “Uh,” I stammered, “I need a plumber pretty quick here.”

A few minutes later, I had both a plumber and hotel security in my cabin. The plumber removed the towels stuffed in the sink and tub and had turned off the water. Hotel Security began to grill me. “Why did you flood your room?” Rhonda. “What?” I tried to act indignant. “Why would I douche out my own room?” The F/O’s key, the adjoining room. She’d gotten her revenge.

Eventually, the Security Agent decided that he couldn’t prove that I’d flooded my cabin, but as punishment, I was given a virtual broom closet of a cabin–the ship was booked full and I believe it actually had been a broom closet at one point–and so I slept with one eye open looking for the ghost that legend has it prowls the old ship’s quarters.

Even now when I cross paths with Rhonda in the airport or even on a flight she smiles slyly; I smile, too. Thankfully, she stopped saying “you deserved it” about ten years back, although she never actually admitted to the deed nonetheless.


%d bloggers like this: