Awesome Channel 9 Experience - Flying Talk Show with Captain Ed

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by Infinite1K, Apr 18, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Infinite1K
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    Infinite1K Silver Member

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    I was recently on a United flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco. I've taken this flight a number of times and thought it was going to be another routine flight.

    But boy was I in for a treat. Not only was Channel 9 turned on, but we had the pleasure of having Captain Ed Contreras on board (some others have mentioned him on another website).

    I suspected something might be different when during his I'm going to turn off the seatbelt announcement he injected a few bits of humor. He said that since it was going to be a quick flight, the fasten seatbelt sign would be off for only a short time at which point you heard the chime and the sign went off, but then a few seconds later it wast turned on again. OK, so that was subtle humor. But then he also added a funny comment during the weather at San Francisco part where he said there were scattered clouds for aesthetics.

    But before ending his routine announcement, he went on to say how Channel 9 was a unique feature offered only on United which allowed passengers to listen to communications between the cockpit and Air Traffic Controllers. But then he also mentioned that if anyone was interested he would be going on Channel 9 and do a Flying Talk Show, providing more information about our flight.

    Sure enough, a few minutes later, he came on Channel 9 and spent about 15 minutes talking about some fun facts about the flight:

    • The cabin was pressurized to be equivalent of what it is like at 6,000 feet. The reason it is 6,000 feet is that Boeing had done extensive research and discovered that if the cabin were to be pressurized for sea level, the plane would nee to be built like a Sherman tank.
    • Pressurizing the cabin at this level is the equivalent of being at Lake Tahoe. This is pretty comfortable for most people, unless they are doing aerobic activities. That is why he asks passengers to refrain from performing any aerobic activities while on board.
    • Many people who travel are concerned about their environmental footprint. But a passenger on this flight has a smaller carbon footprint than one that drives a car. He gave us the amount of fuel that they had loaded (which I now forget) but doing the math, each passenger was only using 8 gallons. Driving would not only use more, but would take longer.
    • Since we were flying into San Francisco and it's famous weather and fog delays, he talked about visibility and that the real reason why visibility is needed is not because they need to "see" when they are landing the plane, but rather so that they can see their way off the runway.
    • He described the route that we were taking (heading north-west-ish) and said that you might be wondering why we don't fly north straight up. The reason for the western deviation is that Los Angeles is actually quite a bit to the east of San Francisco. In fact Reno is actually further west than Los Angeles.

    It was clear that Captain Contreras was passionate about his job and still had the air of excitement that a 5 year old might have when they first fly. And the time and effort he took to do the Flying Talk show made the flight so much more enjoyable.

    Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to have Captain Contreras on future flights.
     
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  2. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    That's awesome. Would love to have that experience!
     
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  3. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    I love channel 9. It sure would be nice if other airlines had a similar feature.
     
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  4. Tor Viking
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    Tor Viking Silver Member

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    Thanks for the great read!! :)
     
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  5. TravelerRob
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    TravelerRob Silver Member

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    Indeed. A very common trivia question most people get wrong.

    I'm hoping Channel 9 is on for international flights (my first ever UA intl is coming up shortly). I'm looking forward to listening to it.

    -RM
     
  6. goalie
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    goalie Gold Member

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    I've had the pleasure of flying with Captain Contreras on more than one occasion* and he is one foe the books!

    *3 thank you business cards
     
  7. ducster
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    ducster Gold Member

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    Great experience- thanks for sharing!

    I've had many, many United flights and only once have I had a captain do something like this. It was probably over 10 years ago or so, and was on a transcon. At the time, I had no idea it was so unusual, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Only wish I had remembered the captain's name.
     
  8. Infinite1K
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    Infinite1K Silver Member

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    I'd settle if only one other airline added it: Continental ;)
     
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  9. hulagrrl210
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    hulagrrl210 Gold Member

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    Channel 9 internationally is always interesting, especially since it is almost always in English per ICAO rules. The only place I've heard ATC in a different language was Mexico. I had an interesting trip to Thailand where even though the controllers were speaking English, it was impossible to understand anything other than a few numbers. Another interesting trip was to Dubai. The controllers in Iraq were Americans, and the guy working the tower at DXB was a Canadian- it is weird to be that far away from home and hear a familiar accent.
     
  10. mrpickles
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    mrpickles Silver Member

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    I flew with Capt. Contreras from BOS to LAX last year and I think that he talked the whole way. Very interesting.
     
  11. Jslo
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    Jslo Gold Member

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    I have also had the privilege of flying with him, a really nice diversion and break from the mundane. I enjoyed his commentary on the flight.
     
  12. Kevincm
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    Kevincm Silver Member

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    Sounds like a great commentary.:D

    I make a point of saying thank you to any captain who puts Channel 9 on whilst flying - hoping that they'll spread the news to their colleagues so they also switch on Channel 9...
     
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  13. DeacFlyer1
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    Fantastic story, wish I could've heard it. Somewhat related, I was flying LAX-CLT on US Airways a couple weeks ago, and while of course they don't have Channel 9, the pilot literally came on the PA 20-25 times during our flight to point out various things. He started while we were on the ground, pointing out a Qantas A380 sitting on the tarmac, then came on over Palm Springs, some lake somewhere near Palm Springs, the Grand Canyon, the Arizona meteor crater, the airport for the Church of Scientology somewhere in New Mexico, something about the Texas panhandle, some stuff in Arkansas, more stuff in Tennessee, some things in North Carolina, etc. I loved every minute of it, although since it was broadcast plane wide, I have to imagine some folks weren't quite as excited!
     
  14. ducster
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    ducster Gold Member

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    More than 10 years ago, I was listening to Channel 9 on a JFK-LAX flight when the pilot asked ATC for permission to do a Canyon Tour. He then came on the PA to let everyone know what he was doing, then started making all of these S turns to show everyone the Grand Canyon. It was a really neat experience.
     
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  15. corster
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    corster Silver Member

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    In Quebec, it's not uncommon to hear ATC conversations in French.
     
  16. milepig
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    milepig Silver Member

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    Great report. This part:

    • Since we were flying into San Francisco and it's famous weather and fog delays, he talked about visibility and that the real reason why visibility is needed is not because they need to "see" when they are landing the plane, but rather so that they can see their way off the runway.

    Reminded me of a great story from a flight on NZ. Our middle of the night landing was delayed for some time due to fog, and the pilot eventually came on the PA an announced the fog situation and then said "but, we're just going to go down and take a little peek for ourselves, we think they might just not have their eyes fully open."
     
  17. BurBunny
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    BurBunny Silver Member

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    I always do the same if they're at the door when I deplane. Ch9 often gives me a chuckle when flying, but the best was when a cockpit had a Broncos game on in the background the entire flight. When I thanked the pilot on the way out, she didn't realize she had the secondary channel routed through Ch9!
     
  18. Gatorray
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    Gatorray Silver Member

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    I flew United this morning for the first time in a long while....@&$#%, channel 9 is a blast to listen to. Our captain was not very interesting, but listening to the others is neat, especially when you get that controller with a real heavy southern twang.
     
  19. genemk2

    genemk2 Gold Member

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    Sorry for reviving an old post, but I just got off a flight with Cpt Contreras and thoroughly enjoyed his Flying Talk Show -- he certainly adds a lot of humor to his announcements.

    As an example, we stopped short of the gate, and he says, "Folks, we had to stop right here because someone in Row 23 took their seatbelt off....just kidding, we have to wait for some planes to clear the way."

    DEN-LAX on UA 815. I'll be sure to send an email to WHQ.

    I think he is LAX based, judging by the other flights that others have seen/heard him on. I also wrote him a quick note and mentioned MP :D.
     
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