flight LH-456, FRA > LAX

by Stormfish March. 25, 2013 21715 views

i had the extra seat in the cockpit on my brother's flight from frankfurt to los angeles for 11 hours 35 minutes, plus 2 hours waiting time in frankfurt due to de-icing chaos…

it's incredible how crammed the cockpit of such a huge plane like the being 747-800 (total length: 250 ft 2 in, or 76.25 m). each long distance flight is executed by 3 pilots, who all are active and support each other during the “hot” phases of start, landing approach and landing, while the plane mostly is flown by the autopilot during the cruise phase, during which only 2 pilots guard the instruments and maintain radio contact, while one retires to rest/sleep in an attached bunk bed.

if the pilots on duty do not push any button or manipulate any of their instruments in a certain amount of minutes, a “pilot alarm” beeps off loudly; which happened once during our flight since i distracted both with some discussion… ;-)

the all around view in the cockpit, although world better than from a normal airplane window seat, is still very restricted - not only due to the small view angle out of the 747 front windows, but also since all windows must be heated constantly to not crack in the extreme temperature difference between outside (-50°C) and inside (+25°C); which “colorizes” the windows during flight a lot.

nevertheless, having experienced this flight from the tip of the plane, with a good ~400 passengers behind us and a total weight of 308 tons being jolted for 9312 km, i feel privileged to live in a time where all this is achievable on a routine basis. this flight is operated daily; as are thousand others of similar distance and capacity. just looking back 50 years into the past… and global life was a completely different story.

the flight line from frankfurt to los angeles

snow chaos on frankfurt airport; the boeing 747-800 is loaded on schedule, but then we have to wait for 2 hours until the plane can be de-iced :-(

waiting for de-icing in the cockpit

emergency oxygen mask on my cockpit seat

hardly any space wasted in the cockpit; this is the captain's seat adjustment ledge, his crammed in pilot suitcase and some extra flight information envelope; in between my feet had to be placed ;-)

flight panel display detail; still showing the layout of frankfurt airport while waiting for the de-icing

finally! in line on the rollway to our start position, with gooey wings from de-icing

3 more planes in front of us…

and lift off!

as soon as we're through the cloud cover, brightest sunshine greets us for the reminder of the flight

the work place of a 747 pilot… you can see where the focus lies - definitely not looking out of the window! ;-)

greenland's mountains sticking out of a thick cloud cover; while the heated front window glass shows some odd color changes (not to be alarmed about, says the captain)

more of greenland's stunning ice mountains and glaciers

cloud formations, often piled up almost to the height of our flight path (33000 feet on average), can look like mountain ridges

my aim for this trip - the north american deserts - this is somewhere in nevada

nevada deserts - with las vegas in the background

colorado river lakes

the early afternoocruise almost fades into the dark blackness of space, but no stars are visible

las vegas and it's airport, from 36'000 feet above

landed! rolling on los angeles international airport (LAX)

the 747-800's nose docked in los angeles. just to give you a measure of proportion, hob big this plane is!

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Howard. 6 years, 8 months ago

That is a super series! You are really lucky. Jump seats are few and far between these days.

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Felecia 6 years, 8 months ago

Super cool set! Thank you for taking us behind the scenes!

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Ewa 6 years, 8 months ago

A Pulitzer Prize from me :)

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Roxanne 6 years, 8 months ago

that last bulbous image of the plane is super cool too, great ending photo for the post!

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Roxanne 6 years, 8 months ago

the whole family enjoyed this post a lot. the kids loved seeing you & the pilots and the text with the photos makes flying seem more personal and intimate. very cool those pilots are! (and you of course for sharing it all with us!)

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Edyta 6 years, 8 months ago

great views from high above, a different perspective on our earthly existence

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Moira 6 years, 8 months ago

I wonder if they still let children see the cockpit on long flights as they did when I flew '
TFS brings back a memory of my first cockpit flight!!!

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Marilyn Grimble 6 years, 8 months ago

A thoroughly enjoyable post... I feel almost as privileged as you.

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Agnes Felber 6 years, 8 months ago

I was wondering all the way scrolling down how on earth could you get even a glimpse of the cockpit, let alone ride there all the way... until I got to the info about your brother... well, that is cool! Having a brother for a pilot is very nice, indeed! If I had a brother who flew intercontinentally, I would be on his case to take me at least once a month! You should come much more often then!

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Josy 6 years, 8 months ago

Magic of the landscapes seen from above and nice report in the cockpit... !

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
David Swatton 6 years, 8 months ago

That is a rare treat to be able to sit up there during the flight - lucky man :-)

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Abe Jackson 6 years, 8 months ago

Dang!!! 'U the Man'

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Lyency 6 years, 8 months ago

uplifting visual report

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Antonio Gil 6 years, 8 months ago

Great stuff. My father was a pilot but only of light airplanes and I flew with him a few times and it was great. Much better than flying inside a steel tank like that one. But, you had a very privilged point of view from up there. Loved the pictures of greenland mountains. What a view.

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
Alicja 6 years, 8 months ago

Wonderful post! I love pics from cockpit! :) Fantastic! :)

6 years, 8 months ago Edited
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