Saturday, September 08, 2007

I Flew Under the Golden Gate Bridge!

A few days ago, I was in San Francisco, CA sitting in the cockpit of the 737 I fly. We were about to take off on runway 1R. It was my leg and I was excited to go flying! The tower controller cleared us for takeoff. As we started rolling down the runway, a huge smile came over me because I knew what we were about to do.

As soon as we lifted off the ground, we put the landing gear up, retracted the flaps, and I leveled off about 400 feet above the ground and accelerated to over 300 MPH. We flew over the San Francisco Bay for a while. After that we buzzed the downtown area, coming within 100 feet of the buildings going over 300 MPH! After we got back over the bay I dropped the plane to the deck and aimed for the Golden Gate Bridge.

As we approached the bridge I got the plane down to 30 feet above the water. I was being careful not to bank too much because I didn't want the wings to hit the water as that would mean a sure disaster. As we approached one of the most famous bridges in the world, we were now going over 350 MPH! As we passed under the bridge I can only imagine what the people watching this were thinking, "Did I just see a 737 fly under the Golden Gate Bridge?" After we flew under the bridge we had a lot of built up speed (which equals energy) so I pulled back and banked to the left. Now we were climbing at over 6000 feet per minute! What a thrill! Probably something I'll never get to do again!

You may be asking yourself, "Is this legal?" No, it's not legal and I would have been fired for that little stunt had I not been in the simulator for my annual recurrent training. As you can imagine, flying under the Golden Gate Bridge is not part of recurrent training. After we had finished all the training required for the day, we had some extra time and the instructor asked us if there was anything else we wanted to do. I said, "I've always wanted to fly under the Golden Gate Bridge." So, they repositioned the "airplane" to the runway in SFO and I got to live another one of my dreams!

Play the video below to see what flying under the Golden Gate Bridge looked like!

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