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A Ramdom Dude With A Laptop Called Into The Cockpit to Help Pilots Plot New Course

August 20, 2009

https://i2.wp.com/images.publicradio.org/content/2007/11/21/20071121_airbus_pilot_73665861_18.jpgI’ve actually heard pilots ask if there’s a doctor on board in the event of a medical emergency on an airplane, but to ask if there’s a guy with a Wi-Fi-equipped laptop on board? That’s a new one to me.

Evan was stuck on the tarmac, his plane the 50th in line for takeoff with the chances of actually getting off the ground looking bleaker by the minute. That’s when the pilots asked if anyone had a laptop on hand.

There were two or three different lines of storms in the west and south that were effecting all Newark outbound air traffic. There is no mechanism on a 737-500 to look at weather. The radar they have only works in flight, and even then it can’t show what’s happening outside of about 50 miles. We were 50th-yes 50th-on line for takeoff and the captain said that at that point air traffic control really does not care anymore. Their number one priority is international flights, then they get to domestic. So he wanted to see if he could figure out a new route around the storms that he could propose to air traffic control. Neat.

So they used my laptop to go to this site: http://www.intellicast.com. The best part was that neither of them knew how to drive a Mac, let alone Safari, so I surfed for them. It was cool to listen to them talk about different flight plans. This went on for a few minutes and then they got on with air traffic control and someone found a new route. I’m not sure if it was us or air traffic control, but I’d like to think it was us.

I was really hoping for a pair of wings or an honorary junior captain’s badge or something but all I got was an extra cookie from the flight attendant.  That was pretty cool.

Oh, one more thing.  I’ll never be able to help when the “is there a doctor on board” announcement comes over the PA system.  But when the “is there someone with wi-fi who knows how to use the internet on board” announcement is made, I’m there.

AWESOME. It’s partly cool, partly scary. It’s cool that Evan got to go help out in the cockpit, but you’ve gotta wonder why these pilots (with hundreds of lives in their hands) didn’t have this sort of equipment on-hand. After all, all they needed was an iPhone or something. But hey, glad it worked out in the end.

Source: Evan’s Blog

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