My wife and I got back yesterday from doing a quick turn around trip from Long Beach to Las Vegas, We flew Jet Blue Flight 286 there on Friday 8/8/08, and came back yesterday the 9th on what was designated Flight 285A. (I guess the “A” part had something to do with what should have been another nonstop JFK to Long Beach flight that stopped in Las Vegas, although we never heard why. Some of their passengers got on our plane.) Other than being a bumpy flight pretty much most of the way there, especially as we got closer to KLAS, Flight 286 was nothing too much out of the ordinary. I put it that way because I one reason I habituate this site (mostly lurking) is I am always trying to find out as much as I can about flying because me and flying don’t mesh too well most times.
Anyway, what really prompts this post is our experience on takeoff yesterday out of Las Vegas. We had to wait our turn as several other similar sized aircraft to our Airbus 320 took off in succession, mostly Southwest planes. We were sitting in the next to the last row in the back of the plane. As we gained speed down the runway, we started to shimmy and fishtail. Those of us in the back (don’t know about further up as we couldn’t see them) got tossed from left to right in our seats three to four times as we went on down the runway. Once we lifted off, we stopped getting tossed but the plane still had a rather bumpy ascent, which while normal for KLAS because of the mountains, still moved the plane side to side a little for the next bit of time. Once we cleared the mountains, the plane calmed down somewhat.
So the inevitable question I have is was the fishtailing normal? I’ve never experienced that before. Did we notice it more because we were in the back of the plane? As I said, it wasn’t just a little shimmy but enough to toss us back and forth a few times. Shouldn’t the pilot notice it? Was it because they weren’t properly controlling the back tail (or rudder, sorry for bad terminology)?