Frequently Asked Questions

We expect you to have questions and encourage you to ask them. Here are some questions about flying that have been asked by previous customers. Please feel free to contact Captain Mark with any other questions.

I’m really meticulous about driving. Are the guys up there flying the plane as careful as I am when I drive? Are they paying attention all the time? -Brandon, South Carolina
Yes. And not only the pilots. Air traffic controllers are watching, as well as several on-board computers. - Captain Mark
What’s that dog barking sound under the wing before we leave the gate? -Mac, Colorado
Your question sounds like you were on an Airbus 319,320 or 321. There is a hydraulic pump located close to the wing that maintains hydraulic pressure when an engine or engines are not running. The “barking" sound is the pump engaging to maintain that pressure. -Captain Mark
Right after takeoff, why does it feel and sound like we are slowing down and even dropping? -Mary, New York
Imagine you are in an elevator on your way up to the 28th floor. You watch the floors whiz by and as you zip past the 23rd floor, it starts to slow down. As the elevator slows, you start to feel lighter……almost floating. The elevator never descended… just slowed its upward travel. A jet on takeoff is constantly accelerating until it reaches its climb or cruise speed. Because we use maximum thrust to get airborne, we will often pull the thrust back to save wear on the engines and to not overspeed in the lower altitudes. We have a speed limit of 250 knots under 10,000 feet, but we are still climbing, and accelerating, but at a slower rate, like the elevator. -Captain Mark
Right after we leave the gate the air stops and the aircraft gets warm. Why? -Susan, Texas
The unit that blows the air into the cabin is also used to start the engine. Once we are cleared to start the aircraft, the air you are enjoying in the cabin is diverted to the engine. Like a windmill, it starts turning and once it reaches enough rpms to run on its own, the valve switches back to push the air back into the cabin. -Captain Mark
Do the pilots know ahead of time that it’s going to get bumpy? -Rachel, California
The best answer is “sometimes”. We often get other pilots advising of rough air ahead. Weather radar can also alert us to turbulence associated with weather which we steer around. In addition there is “clear air turbulence” which of course, we can’t see. So now it’s our turn to report the bumpiness to other aircraft following in our path. -Captain Mark
Does turbulence hurt the airplane? -Grayson, Florida
No. Airplanes are tested and certified to withstand tremendous forces. Your best chance of getting hurt in rough air would be if you decide to ignore the seat belt sign and wander back to get more ice in your water cup. -Captain Mark
How come when I’m on a Canada Regional Jet I always hear a loud “ Bang” right before landing? -Joanne, Arizona
This is due to aircraft design. Throughout the flight, the landing gear is “locked” in the up position. When the pilots put the gear down, the up lock is released creating a noticeable “clunk”. -Captain Mark
Can an airplane take off or land in a thunderstorm? -Carole, South Carolina
The simple answer is not if the storm is directly over the airport. -Captain Mark
What happens when the plane gets hit by lightning? -Robert, Virginia
You will see the flash and hear a simultaneous boom. You may also smell ozone, since the cabin air comes from outside the aircraft. The lightning will typically strike the plane at one point and exit at another on its way to the ground or other suitable grounding items, such as clouds. It is not a common occurrence. I have been struck twice in 20 years of flying and the only way to tell was when a visual inspection of the aircraft took place after we landed. -Captain Mark
After we land, and we are trying to slow down, why are they revving the engines? -Lynn, Connecticut
After touchdown the crew will select what is called the thrust reverser. This does nothing more that divert the thrust vector from directly behind us for normal flight, to a more forward angle. This pushes the thrust of the engines forward, so the more thrust applied allows us to stop quicker. -Captain Mark
What happens if we loose an engine on take-off? -Ann, Washington
First off….an airplane can takeoff and climb on one engine. Your next question may be …why would you takeoff if you can stop? Good question. If we have enough runway to safely stop then we do. This data is calculated prior to every flight. So if we can stop, we do. -Captain Mark
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