View Full Version : 05.16.08 - Northwest Flight MCO to MSP flight 579

05-18-2008, 10:23 PM
I will start by saying I fly alot, so eventhough I am admittedly nervous about flying and turbulence, I can usually calm down by observing the others in the cabin. I figure if they are calm and sleeping then it is "just me" when I get nervous.
Coming out of MCO last Friday on our A-320, the flight was fully booked with vacationers that seemed to have no/light carry-ons with them. I fly mostly for business so I am used to seeing almost everyone with a carry on. I will get to why I bring this up in a bit.

So, upon take off everything was normal on the ground. We gained speed and then I noticed that it seemed like we could not get enough speed to get the nose up. I also recall thinking that it is not normal to get a glimpse of the roadway while will on the ground, and right when I thought "OMG, we are not going to pull up" the left side of the plane was shaking/vibrating so hard that I (in my window seat) ended up moving on top of the guy in the middle seat. I was really nervous since this had never happened in any of my other take offs and then it seemed like the pilot just went for it and got the nose up. But instead of gaining altitude, for a few seconds it was like we were 300-500 ft flying straight, and then we got enough speed to climb and the violent vibration stopped!
The rest of the flight was okay... The pilots said nothing about the shaking and only that we'd have some turbulence on the way to MSP. The turbulence wasn't anything I hadn't been through lately so I was okay with that, I just was perplexed about the take off and I did notice that when we did take off and I looked around, this time the entire plane was looking at each other, so I knew it wasn't just me. I chatted to the guy next to me and he said he'd never had a take off like that either.
My question is, does anyone know what may have caused that A-320 to vibrate like that while on the take off while still on the ground when it started? Could it have been the weight of all the checked luggage plus a fully fueled plane maybe was a little too much for it to handle? I did ask the pilot was the take off normal and he joiingly said, "Yeah, A little shake, rattle, and roll on that one eh?"
Oh, and I found it strange that the plane we used which was supposed to go onto Bozeman, MT after stopping in MSP was not going to be the same plane for that leg of the flight. The flight attendant came on after we landed at MSP and said, "For those going on to Bozeman, we are making an 'unscheduled' plane change in Minneapolis, so please take all of your belongings and see the gate agent for information on which gate your connecting plane will be at."
But, at the same time, people were at our gate and the departure board at the gate said the destination was Salt Lake City, so I am assuming they used the plane I was on for that flight? Just weird to have a take-off like that and then at the end of the flight say that there is going to be an "unscheduled" plane change. I didn't check the time of the SLC flight, so for all I know our plane was brought in to drop us off and then off to the hangar for inspection, and a different plane was used for the SLC flight.
My second question is, for you frequent fliers, is it just me or has then been a bad couple of years for turbulence?? It seems like I can never get a smooth flight and almost every other flight I am on the turbulence gets so bad that the captain has to ask the flight attendants to sit. I just remember maybe two years ago and earlier I had nothing but smooth flights and now I can barely stand flying! Since I had the time on one of my recent trips I avoided flying, and DROVE from Minneapolis to Boston!! I flew back on a 6:00am flight and that was the only smooth flight I have had this year.

Thanks and sorry for the length of the post!:tongue::cool::tongue:

05-18-2008, 11:17 PM
If I understand correctly, the plane was vibrating while you are on the ground only, but it was smooth as soon as the wheels got off the ground?

I've been to MCO a few times (and if I'm on NW, I try and take the 757 instead of the A319/A320), but I don't remember the runways being rough.

Perhaps the tires had dents in them from resting on the ground for a long time? Or maybe that particular runway was rough?

As for flights being rougher, I'm not sure there is any sort of discernible pattern. It's smooth some days, and rough other days. In winter its rough because of winds on the ground and the jet stream, and in the summer, the jet stream moves up north, just have to worry about thunderstorms, although, come to think of it, it is May and things still seem rough for this time of year...

05-18-2008, 11:19 PM
Also, you may have taken a long take off roll to save fuel. The plane is also designed to minimize 'g forces' on the flight controls to make a smoother ride in terms of maneuvers.

05-19-2008, 09:01 AM
Thanks for the replies!

Yeah, the wheels were still on the ground when that vibration occurred. Then, it just seemed like we didn't have the usual amount of speed when he finally did nose up. I have been to MCO many times too and usually I am on the 757, This was my first in and out of MCO on A320's. I have never had an issue with the A320-319's, so just weird that it was such a rough take off.

Hopefully it warms up here and we all have some smoother flights. I didn't factor in the jet stream/winter thing and most of my business travel is in the winter and fall. Lucky me I guess...

08-13-2008, 05:01 PM
Groundspeed (the speed of the plane in relation to the ground) doesn't really matter in regards to creating enough lift for the plane to take off. If you were taking off into 30mph head winds, you could take off 30mph slower relative to the ground. Likewise if had a tailwind you would have to take of 30mph faster relative to the ground.

I don't know if you would notice such variations from within the plane (170mph probably looks quite like 140mph from within the cabin) though but the vibrations could have been caused by the flap configuration, wind speed, engine or lots of other things.

The flying out level after takeoff probably had nothing to do with airspeed at that point as if you didn't have enough speed to gain altitude you would have other issues to deal with since you would have been flying pretty much at a stall. Probably control told them to maintain a certain altitude until within a certain range of the airport for whatever reason.

I remember taking off in a 747 once out of Vancouver and having the whole plane shuddering violently as we approach takeoff speed. It was kind of frightening, but none of the flight attendents or crew seemed to mind so I figured it was pretty much standard operating procedure for them.

08-13-2008, 08:30 PM
Thanks kingpenguin78... It does help to know someone else had a similar experience! I just need to get some anxiety medication or something and stop watching the news!!! Too many strange plane stories have been going on the past few weeks and I just keep thanking God that I am not on any of those flights!

08-17-2008, 07:58 PM
It's always possible that it could have been crosswinds (winds going perpendicular to the runway direction.) This is especially possible because all of the runways at MCO are parallel, meaning that pilots cannot choose a runway to minimize crosswinds if the winds are in certain directions.)