B-787 In Yuma For Testing

(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

I read in the local newspaper that Boeing brought a B-787 into Yuma for the next nine days to do some hot temperature testing here in Yuma.  So I jumped into my car and drove to the airport and maneuvered over to the ramp area where the B-787 was parked.

The tail number of this airplane is N787EX. This is the airframe that Boeing will be doing most all of the testing on.  The EX part of the tail number signifies that this airplane is still in the “experimental” stage and not completely certified by the FAA yet.

I got out of my car, took my camera, and walked closer to the fence trying to get some good photos of this new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  It is a long range, mid-sized, wide body, with twin engines ( this one has two Rolls Royce engines), and seats between 210-330 people depending on the configuration.

I talked to a couple of the Boeing crewmembers that were heading out onto the ramp, their nine day visit to Yuma is for the purpose of  gathering data for the flight manual regarding hot temperature and the performance of the B-787.  Additionally the engineers are here to data on single engine performance, go around performance, as well.

There are three models in the production line so far, B-787-8, B-787-3, and B-787-9. Here is some interesting information regarding this new airplane for Boeing.

B-787-8

The 787-8 is the base model of the 787 family with a length of 186 feet (57 m) and a wingspan of 197 feet (60 m) and a range of 7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles (14,200 to 15,200 km) depending on seating configuration. The 787-8 seats 210 passengers in a three class configuration. The variant will be the first of the 787 line to enter service in 2010. Boeing is targeting the 787-8 to replace the 767-200ER and 767-300ER, as well as expand into new non-stop markets where larger planes would not be economically viable. The bulk of 787 orders are for the 787-8.

B-787-3

This variant, the B-787-3, was designed to be a 290-seat (two-class) short-range version of the 787 targeted at high-density flights, with a range of 2,500 to 3,050 nautical miles (4,650 to 5,650 km) when fully loaded. It was designed to replace the Airbus A300/Airbus A310 and Boeing 757-300/Boeing 767-200 on regional routes from airports with restricted gate spacing. It would have used the same fuselage as the 787-8, though with some areas of the fuselage strengthened for higher cycles. The wing would have been derived from the 787-8, with blended winglets replacing raked wingtips. The change would have decreased the wingspan by roughly 25 feet (7.6 m), allowing the 787-3 to fit into more domestic gates, particularly in Japan.

This model would have been limited in its range by a reduced maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 364,000 lb (163,290 kg). (Actual range is calculated by the remaining available weight for fuel after the aircraft empty weight and payload are subtracted from the MTOW). A full load of passengers and cargo would limit the amount of fuel it could take on board, as with the 747-400D. This is only viable on shorter, high-density routes, such as Tokyo to Shanghai, Osaka to Seoul, or London to Berlin. Many airports charge landing fees based on aircraft weight; thus, an airliner rated at a lower MTOW, though otherwise identical to its sibling, would pay lower fees.

Boeing has projected that the future of aviation between very large (but close) cities of five million or more may stabilize around the capacity level of the 787-3. Regions such as India and East Asia, where large population centers are in close proximity, offer many examples. Approximately 3.1 billion people live within the range of the 787-3 if used in India or China. Boeing has also claimed that the 787-3’s efficiency could offset the higher landing fees and acquisition costs (compared to a single-aisle plane) and make it useful on such routes.

Boeing also believed legacy carriers could have used this variant to compete with low-cost airlines by running twice the capacity of a single-aisle craft for less than twice its operating cost (fuel, landing fees, maintenance, number of flight crew, airspace fees, parking fees, gate fees, etc.).

Beyond Asia, a range of 3,050 nm (5,600 km), or flight time of roughly six hours is sufficient to connect many major cities. The gate spacing constraint that the 787-3 was intended to overcome is really only a problem in Japan. In Europe, the -3 would still have been too wide for most short-haul gates and in the Middle East, India and China new airports are being built with wider gate spacing. Boeing had not planned to certify the 787-3 in Europe because of lack of interest in the model from potential European customers.

Forty-three 787-3s were ordered by the two Japanese airlines that operate the 747-400D, but production problems on the base 787-8 model led Boeing to postpone the introduction of the 787-3 in April 2008, following the 787-9 but without a firm delivery date. Japan Airlines canceled all of its 787-3 orders, and All Nippon Airways reduced its order to 28 in May 2009 (canceled two from its original 30). All of these canceled 787-3 orders were transferred to 787-8 orders. In December 2009, All Nippon Airways converted their remaining 787-3 orders to the 787-8, leaving no orders for this type.  It is likely the 787-3 variant will be shelved entirely following the lack of interest by potential customers caused by it being designed specifically for the Japanese market.

B-787-9

The 787-9 will be the first variant of the 787 with a “stretched” (lengthened) fuselage, seating 250–290 in three classes with a range of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles (14,800 to 15,750 km). This variant differs from the 787-8 in several ways, including structural strengthening, a lengthened fuselage, a higher fuel capacity, a higher maximum take-off weight (MTOW), but with the same wingspan as the 787-8. The targeted date for entry into service (EIS), originally planned for 2010, was scheduled for early 2013 in December 2008. Boeing is targeting the 787-9 to compete with both passenger variants of the Airbus A330 and to replace their own 767-400ER. Like the 787-8, it will also open up new non-stop routes, flying more cargo and fewer passengers more efficiently than the 777-200ER or A340-300/500. The firm configuration was finalized on 1 July 2010.

When first launched, the 787-9 had the same fuel capacity as the other two variants. The design differences meant higher weight and resulted in a slightly shorter range than the 787-8. After further consultation with airlines, design changes were incorporated to add a forward tank to increase its fuel capacity. It will now have a longer range and a higher MTOW than the other two variants. The -9 will be able to fly non-stop from New York to Manila or from Moscow to São Paulo and will have the lowest seat-mile cost of the three 787 variants.

Air New Zealand is the launch customer for the 787-9 and the second customer ever for the 787 behind ANA. Qantas, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines have placed the largest orders for the 787-9.

This is a plane that I would love to be able to fly in the future!  Unfortunately, it looks like my flying career is about to come to a screeching halt!  I will know more later in the year when the FAA evaluates my medical condition.  Until then, my feet are firmly planted on the ground!

I won’t be seeing you in the friendly skies anytime soon, nevertheless, I will be seeing you at the race tracks shortly!

So always keep the shiny side up!

Checking Out And Heading Out, Part 5

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(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

Well Friday night,the night from hell”, ended and transitioned into Saturday morning, the day I hoped to be checking out of this facility!

As the Sun started coming up over the horizon, the room activity increased with every minute.  First up on the agenda was take my blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and of course whip those sheets back and check out the ol groin and pubic region for a bruising check!  Everything must have delighted the new morning nurse, ’cause she too busted out into some tee-hee-hee’s and giggles!  I didn’t know that looking a bruise could be so humorous.

Once the new nurse gathered up her composure, she left my room and returned with breakfast.  I had forgotten just how unappealing hospital food could be until my tray was presented to me for my edification.  I will attempt to adequately describe the culinary delight to the best of my ability.

First off, the centerpiece of this breakfast was a heaping mound of egg-like material.  It appeared that the eggs were just barely cooked enough to coagulate into this mound.  Now my family will attest that I don’t eat eggs unless they are cooked for a while, like well done…PERIOD! Looking at this yellowish globular mound almost turned my stomach!  The sidekicks to the eggs was a bowl of cream of rice, which was very tasty, toast, orange juice, and two sausage links that were the consistency of glue when eaten.  Those two little dudes stuck to the enamel of my teeth, and hugged the base of my tongue like criminals avoiding a police manhunt!  Yummy was not the words that came to my mind after attempting to eat my breakfast!

The next few hours were spent awaiting the doctor’s arrival for a last minute check over and a release to go home.  That waiting period took until approximately 1:30pm.  At that time my surgeon, the Electro-Physiologist, strolled into my room totally apologetic about not getting to my room much earlier in the morning.  He said that he was filling in for 53 doctors in Fresno that day!

Once he gave me the “once over”, he signed the release orders.  Now all that was left was to get to get the IV needle out of my left forearm, go over all the releasing documents, and oh yeah removing that pesky little catheter that is still up into my bladder!  I can only imagine how thrilling this procedure is going to be for me!!  Yippe yo ki yeah get along little doggy!!

Now my nurse was a very nice young women, about the age of my two sons.  I am thinking to myself, this is not going to be a huge ball of fun.  More importantly, I am not sure what the procedure for my catheter removal is going to include, but I am reasonably sure it involves “hands on” maneuvers here!!

Now I must digress.  Just as a side note here, the only women that have ever touched me where this nurse was about to grab on to, drunk or sober, were women with which I have had an intimate relationship.  However my friends, I have now entered into an area whereby I have become totally unnerved, and completely uncomfortable!  Can someone please help me!  Can I have an AMEN?

Now that the time has come for that catheter to be removed, I am very nervous and extremely uncomfortable.  I ask her a couple of questions and I am feeling like it is time to “fish or cut the bait.” So she soothes my anxiety with some small talk, she says to take a  big breath in and then exhale, she will remove the catheter on the exhalation.  So I follow her instructions and out comes the catheter with a burning sensation! Yoweee!

Following the catheter removal, my nurse departs my room and gives me some “privacy” to get dressed.  I am thinking that this is a very odd situation.  She just was in a position to not only see all of me, but to grab a “handful”, in my case that Saturday morning was a very little handful, and remove the catheter.  Now she gives me some privacy to get dressed.  I am thinking that there has to be some irony in that scene!!

I get dressed and the hop into my classic, low tech, hallway cruiser and transporter.  Some of you may know it by its name in the previous century, the wheelchair.  Down the halls, into the elevator and out the front door to my waiting transportation to my sister’s house for some badly need sleep and recuperation!

I am checking out and heading out of here!

As the Sun sets in the west, I am taking off to new destinations.  Happy trails to you, until we meet again!

Cardiac Ablation, Part 4

The Friday night from Hell!

In Part 3, I left you with this thought; “You can NEVER rest in the hospital.”

Let me explore and expound upon this thought.

From the moment that I arrived back into my room, there were nurses coming and going about every 20 minutes,  They would come in and take my temperature, take my pulse, check my left groin, monitor the bruising that occurred there, check my catheter, and dump the fluid out of it as needed.

Now most of those activities are ok.   However, when the nurses check your catheter tube and its connections, that is somewhat degrading.  More emphatically, when they pull down the sheets and check the bruising that is in you left groin and pubic region, embarrassment doesn’t really cover the feeling very well.  Moreover, when the nurse is trying very hard not “to bust a gut” and break out laughing, demoralized comes close to how you feel! I know it is only the hospital, it shouldn’t bother you.  Oh yeah, right I forgot!

Anyway, I digress.  After four hours in surgery and three hours in the recovery room, I get to my room and all I want to do is grab some much needed sleep.  My family leaves my room about 9 pm, I am thinking that now I can get some rest and sleep this long day off.  I am not prescribed any pain medication everything in my mind tells me that with the door closed I can really get some good sleep!

Oh contrare my friend!

From 9 pm Friday night  until 1:20 am Saturday morning the nurses were in my room every 20 minutes taking my blood pressure, temperature, and checking right left groin and pubic region, keeping a close watch on the spreading bruise that I have there!  From 1:20 am until 3 am I was able to sleep uninterrupted, one whole hour and forty minutes!

The calm and quietness of my room ended at 3 am when the phlebotomist comes into my room, flips on the light switch, and announces that she has to draw some blood.  At 3 am they have to draw some of my blood, you really got to be sh#%!ing me? “Why 3 am, couldn’t this wait for a more civilized time, like say 7 or 8 am”, I inquired?  “No doctor’s orders,” was the response!   Dude!!! So out comes the foot long needle and she drew out, what seemed to be, a gallon of my beloved blood!

Now that this ordeal is over, surely I can sleep the rest of the morning?  Yeah right!  As the “Dracula Nurse” was leaving, in came the morning nurse to take my blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and she pulls back the covers to get a better look at the old groin and pubic area to check the status of my bruising again.  Dude !!

It is now about 3:30 am and this old boy is getting very tired of my hospital care!  I hoping that this is the last interruption so that I can at least get a couple of hours sleep before the sun rises.  Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, I was oh so wrong!  At 5 am the nurse once again enters the room and turns on the high intensity lights for another round of……..blood pressure, pulse, temperature,  additionally she gave me a pneumonia shot, and of course checking out my groin and pubic region for bruising!!

I was starting to feel paranoid. I think that the word was out and all the nursing staff had to cop a view!!  For sure I knew something was up when the nurses started bringing a magnifying glass with them when they entered my room!  Dude!!

Well so much for sleeping at night in the hospital.  There was nonstop interruptions throughout the night in my room! The high intensity lights in my room felt like searchlights each and every time the light switch was turned on!

It was truly the “Night From Hell”!

Stay tuned for checking out and going to my sister’s house in Part 5.

The Elecrto-Physiologist and My Heart, Part 3

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(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

It was with Lynard Skynard’s “Free Bird” and this last thought that I ended the last article, Part 2:

The last thing that I remember were these words from the stereo system:

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now
‘Cause there’s too many places
I’ve got to see……….

Off to Happy Valley, USA I went……………………

“Mr. Hammack, wake up, wake up, the surgery is over!”

As rum-dumb and as groggy from all the anesthesia as I was, that was even better music to me ears than Lynard Skynard was to me some 4 1/2 hours previously!  The unknown was over.  None of the possible “side affects” seemed to have happened to me!  I can hear, I think that I can somehow slur an answer out.  So maybe no heart attack, looks like no stroke happened, and I am definitely alive!  YIPPEE!

As they rolled me out of that daunting surgery room, one of the surgical nurses told me that we will be rolling by my family and that they would stop briefly so I could say “hi” to them.  Yeah, right, like I could be coherent after being under the influence of  “the good stuff” for more than 4 hours!  However, I do remember stopping briefly at the waiting room, seeing adults that closely resembled my family, muttering brilliant verbiage that probably was totally undecipherable, but nevertheless undeniably brilliant!

Once in the recovery room, I could tell that there was some concern over my lack of recovery.  The recovery room nurse was hovering over my left leg, applying pressure to my groin area, and expressing concern that the bleeding will not stop there!  He was also making calls to the surgery room or the cardiac floor for assistance.  It was slow in coming, in fact I was in the recovery room for over three hours.  The normal recovery time is about an hour.

Needless to say, the stress that my family and friends were feeling was tremendous.  There were starting to be some frayed nerves precipitated from the lack of communication between the recovery room and the family waiting room.  Among my family and friends, there was this overwhelming felling that something was something definitely wrong, because I was so long in the recovery room.

On the other hand, I was horizontal in recovery kind of stuck in a holding pattern, like I was arriving at JFK, ATL, SFO, or ORD (Chicago)!  And on top of it all, I didn’t really didn’t give a dang!  After all, I was still rocking in my head to some goooood Lynard Skynard that led me down the path to Happy Valley, USA!  Surely nothing could be going wrong.  Nevertheless, there was concern in the recovery room over my left groin bleeding.

After more than three hours in the recovery room, the nurses were able to get the bleeding in my left groin stopped, and with that accomplished I got to go to my hospital room.  Now the time is about 8pm Friday evening, 12 hours after I first signed into the hospital!  To say that this has turned into a very long day is a gross understatement to say the least!

As my family and friends assembled one at a time into my room there was noticed a collective sigh of relief that this procedure was now over for them, as well. They could see for themselves that I had made it through a very long, arduous, and intricate surgery, in turn making their Friday a very long and anxious ordeal!

From my standpoint, it was a welcomed relief to be back in my hospital room, seeing my family and friends, knowing that all of the worst was behind me.  However, for those of you who have stays in the hospital for any length of time, arriving back in your room is only the beginning of what is in store for the patient!  You can NEVER rest in the hospital.

Stay tuned for the “Friday night from Hell”, and Part 4!

The Electro-Physiologist, Part 2

When I last left you at the end of “My Date With The Electro-Physiologist, Part 1”, I had thrown out the idea that I was having a “helmet fire” as they were rolling me out of my cubicle and down the L-O-N-G hallway to the elevator.

For those of you who are have a difficult time comprehending the concept of having a “helmet fire”, I will try to help you understand that concept of feeling.  A “helmet fire” has no conscience or internal clock, it can happen at any time, at any place!  But my “helmet fire” was occurring on the gurney, on the L-O-N-G hallway to the elevators.  It was happening as I was leaving my family and friends for, what I perceived, could be the very last time!  The fear of the unknown that lay ahead of me at the end of the gurney ride, the thought that something could happen during the four hour procedure of probing my heart, a heart attack, a stroke, and the worse side effect of this procedure……death, was causing my emotions and my intellectual thoughts to call each other out and begin an “old fashioned, blue collar, bar fight” inside my head!  It was  totally out of control!  That my friends, is just one example of what a “helmet fire” might be or feel like inside your brain!

However, by the time I had gotten into the surgery room, the “helmet fire police” had arrived inside my heard and arrested all those involved in the “helmet fire” and carted them off in the “paddywagon”!   But now the fear of the unknown had taken over and things got real serious.  The surgery nurses, both men, had arrived in the room.  Their first point of business was to gather up all the patches, probes, and the electrical connectors that was going to be used in this highly computerized and electrical exploration expedition into the sanctuary I call my heart.

It took them more than 30 minutes to put the required patches on my chest and back in the appropriate places, place the probes in the designated areas fore and aft, and then attach all the wires that would provide the vital information to the many computer screens that were above the surgery table.  During this “hook up” process  the nurses obviously noticed that I was shaking in my boots, even though the only thing that I had on was that “designer gown” I described in Part 1.

One of them asked me what kind of music that I like.  I replied that my music runs the gamut from Alabama, ZZ Top, Merle Haggard, The Beatles, The Eagles, Lynard Skynard, Brad Paisley, and many points in between!  “My music tastes might be called eclectic”, I added!  He replied that I would most likely enjoy what he was cranking up.  Well he was right, over the speakers came a little southern rock band from Jacksonville, FL that you all may have heard over the years…….Lynard Skynard singing “Sweet Home Alabama” followed up by “What’s Your Name, Little Girl”!

As this long, painstaking pre-surgery procedure was culminating and the team was ready to rock and roll, my doctor strolled in and greeted me with this phrase, “Good morning Captain how are you doing?  We are ready, how about you? ” I replied, obviously in a apprehensive sort of way, that I was indeed ready to get this over.  The anaesthetist had taken up his position next to my right arm, briefed me on what to expect, and set a mask on my face with the consoling words that this will start to relax you now, Captain.  He was right I could feel the soothing affects of the anesthesia, along with Lynard Skynard’s tune “Free Byrd” I was fading.

The last thing that I remember were these words from the stereo system:

If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on, now
‘Cause there’s too many places
I’ve got to see

Off to Happy Valley, USA I went!

Stay tuned there is more to come in Part 3!

My Date With The Electro-Physiologist, Part 1

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(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

July 9th, that was the day, and for many reasons a day that I will never forget!

What started out to be a typical summer Friday turned into anything but that.  I was told to report to the second floor, outpatient surgery, at 8am for pre-op and processing.

I make sure that I am at the hospital with about 15 minutes to spare so that I can find my designated place to register.  I got through the registration process reasonably quickly.  However, there were a few things that I found quite puzzling.  When I first get to the registration window and tell them who I am, they gave me a slip of paper. I look down at this piece of paper and I notice that I have been designated and relegated to be known as patient N.  That is a little unnerving to know that I have been reduced to just one letter, “N”, until I finish registering.  So there you have it, I am now patient “N”!

Really is there that much concern that my privacy would be compromised or stolen at a hospital?  After all, in just a few hours I am going to “Butt Naked and Spread Eagle” up on surgery table for the whole world to see!!  Additionally, I am going to have TV cameras, work tools, and wires threaded up and into places that have never been open to any one or anything!  Having myself “Butt Naked”up on the surgery table is the kind of privacy I am really much more concerned about, rather than exposing my identity to others around me!  To me that was an exercise in nonsense.

Anyway, off I go now into my little cubicle for the finer part of this pre-op adventure.  To start with, I am instructed to get out of clothing and slip into that fine hospital floral patterned, backless, knee length, and I might add, with ties and snaps, designer gown! Man did I look great in this hospital contraption!

Next in this process is the part where you get the IV  inserted into your arm for the impending surgical process.  Sometimes it can feel like she/he is inserting a telephone pole into your veins.  However my “needle girl” was obviously skilled at searching out and inserting that seemingly footlong IV into my left forearm.  It was almost pain free!

It is approximately 8:45 am and now all the pre-op items have been accomplished!  It appears that I only now I only have about 1:15 to wait for the procedure to actually start.  Which, in my head, I am thinking that in about 30-45 minutes they will be rolling me out of this location and heading me towards my destiny meeting with the Electro-physiologist, the surgery room, and the medical technicians that will be assisting him in this 4 hour, inter-artery invasion into my beloved heart.

Now the clock is ticking.  I am keeping a very close watch on the clock that I can barely see at the nurse’s station through the skinny slit in the curtain dividers.  Ten o’clock  comes and goes, no gurney coming for me. Odd, I am thinking, the procedure was scheduled to begin promptly at 10 am!  Oh well they will be rolling into my small confines shortly, so I just hang out with the family.

It was 11:15 am before the bell rung for me!  It wasn’t a sense of panic that I felt, but there was some sembelence of “this could be more serious than I originally thought” running through my brain.  The NASCAR boys might equate this thought to, “he’s having a helmet fire” right now!!

Stay tuned for Part 2!