Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Fourteen Years

 At the end of the month I will mark 14 years as an Airline Pilot. This career has been interesting. I've lost count of how many hotel rooms I've stayed in....how many cups of airplane coffee I've slugged down....how "well crap" statements after a not so great landing. 

I still love what I do. 

Each time I pre-flight a plane I look up in amazement....."I get to fly this thing". 

That said it hasn't all been roses. 

Long time readers know I spent 10 years flying regional jets...8 1/2 of those years in the right seat...unable to upgrade. 

This blog used to be my main focus. As time has gone on I updated less and less....over the last year I've been making more updates...but just via video on TikTok. I'd like to say that will change...but I don't see it. 

I will be starting a YouTube channel. It will be updated more than this site but less than Tiktok. Just a different avenue. 

Beyond that...life is good. I haven't regretted changing careers for a moment...all the unknowns....all the stress...all worth it. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

I’m still here

 I’m still here. 

The last year has been interesting. Flights went from nearly empty to every seat being full. 

I was fortunate to survive furlough and have steady flying the entire time. During the fall I was the second most junior pilot in my status. This summer…I’m 50% in base meaning half the pilots in my status are below me. 

With the increase in flying I’ve scored a few 150% pay trips. These are the trips my wife and I would talk about while I was making $40 an hour as a RJ First Officer. One 150% pay overnight pays more than. I took home in a month my first year flying back in 2007. Even a regular pay 4 day pays more than I made in a month as a 8 year RJ First Officer. I am lucky to be where I am.

While planes are full, I am not doing to same flying I used to do. I miss Colombia and Ecuador. My Bogota flights from DFW are now flown by a 777. No flights to Ecuador have returned yet. 

This Thursday I fly to Honduras for the first time since 2019. Toncontín airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras is one of the most difficult airports to land at in the world. There’s a lot of prepartation prior to landing. I’m looking forward to a change of scenery.

Beyond that…life is good. Kids are healthy. Wife and I are vaccinated. Waiting for the world to recover. 

Almost daily updates ok TikTok

Friday, February 19, 2021

Back to the Line

 After surviving furlough by 27 numbers I'm back to being a line holder next month. I didn't want a line....I wanted reserve. Why ? Numbers.

I was awarded a week of vacation next month over my kids Spring Break. Normally great...but the whole pandemic thing going on. 

At my airline a week of vacation is worth slightly more than 25 hours. Due to the way reserve is calculated I can bid short call reserve and get almost 85 hours of pay while working 15 days. It's some convoluted math. 

I tried to bid reserve but I put in to many restrictions and not enough options thus I got a line. I will be paid 82 hours with 20 days off though...not bad. I have 2 4 day trips and 1 2 day trip. I'm still ahead. 

Of note my 2 day trip goes through Tegucigalpa Honduras....AKA one of the most difficult commercial airports to land at in the world. I haven't been there since...hmm....maybe last March. It's been a while. 

Beyond that life is good enough. I could complain because all pilots complain...but I won't. I'm happy to have job...be based where I live and have enough to support my family. 

Sorry for the inactivity here....I'm much more active over on the Tik that Toks. Link is here

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

From 52% to 98%

 With the furloughs and reduced flying I've gone from middle line holder to second from the bottom. Long time readers might recall when I was THE bottom back in 2008. I've been here before. Thankfully there's no more airport standby. I've been short call reserve for 3 months in a row. 

December I was in the right spot all month...I only worked 5 days...and just 2 overnights. 

I'm thankful to still have a job. I'm not complaining. 

January I have a week of vacation. January vacations go very junior as it's not a very desirable vacation month. I have no plans. 

I'm currently on a 4 day trip. This was a surprise trip as when I saw it go into open time the math showed I was barely legal for it. Turns out I was the ONLY pilot available. Thus I got it. I was legal by 13 minutes.

The trip isn't bad. It's a 1-2-2-1 trip. One leg to PHL on day one...then back to DFW then ATL on day two. Day three is ATL to DFW to LAX while day four is a deadhead home. 

There were a few pre-boarding delays and it wasn't looking good for me getting out before I timed out. While finishing the pre-flight stuff and ACARS message printed out. 

I was about to erupt before I saw it was from a friend of mine. He happened to be 
the Dispatcher for my flight.

I pushed up the thrust levers with 8 minutes to spare.

Long flight to Pittsburgh. Airport hotel. 

With this trip and my vacation  I should be done for the month. 

February has the return of many pilots below me. I might be able to bid a line. 

Hoping 2021 is going to be legen......wait for it....dary.  

Friday, December 4, 2020

I worked 3 days in November

 November began with a week vacation with my family at Disney World. This was our second trip there this year. We went in March the week before it shut down. Going back so soon was very interesting. Crowds were less but it was just different. My kids were happy. 

With the furloughs and reductions in flying I am very junior in base. I'm on short call reserve. Since I live 10 miles from the airport...it's no big deal.

Scheduling didn't call me until the last half of the month. I was called initially for a super easy 2 day trip. I was to dead head to Grand Rapids...fly to Phoenix...stay the night...and dead head home. Well once we landed in Grand Rapids they changed my schedule for me to fly right back home...as crew. Fine with me. 

The day before Thanksgiving I was given a very interesting trip. The morning flight from Lima, Peru to Miami had a mechanical. The plane was out of service. I was assigned to ferry a plane from DFW to Lima. There's no direct service between DFW and Lima. This would be a first. That flight was just over 2950 miles. That was my longest flight ever...just me and the Captain.

Being so long we divided up the flight. I took off and over Honduras he took over and landed. I had just 16 hours in Lima before dead heading to Miami...sitting 4 hours...and dead heading home on Thanksgiving day. It was a crazy long day but I technically made it home on Thanksgiving as I pulled in the drive way at 11:50 PM. 

I did make a Tiktok about the experience.... 

For December I'm short call again......there's rumor of a new bill from Congress that would allow furloughs to be recalled. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Return to Bogota

 Since March this only "international" overnight I have had has been Cancun...and that's not really international. 

I have mostly been flying turn to Cancun and overnight in Anchorage as far as non-continental US has gone. September did allow for one turn to St. Maarten (which was a bucket list airport for me!) but that's it.

September was supposed to have been my return to Bogota. COVID-19 killed those plans as the country was still struggling. This month I finally returned.

Normally the flight is a 5PM departure from DFW arriving just after 11 PM. I stay 23 hours then depart at 11PM and arrive at 5:00 AM. For reasons I don't know...things are different...but just for ME.

This week I was supposed to have a 48 hour overnight and the normal red eye home. Scheduling changed it to a 33 hour overnight and a day time flight home. In the 15 + Bogota trips I have done....only one has been daytime and it was a flight to Miami. Seeing the airport awake and me being 100% awake just isn't normal. I was happy to do it though.

The Captain I had flown with a few times. Things in Bogota are not normal of course. Their citizens do a much better job wearing mask, cleaning and distancing than Americans by a long shot. The hotel was just a nice but only one of the four restaurants was open. The normal expansive breakfast buffet was very small. I appreciated being able to escape the country for a bit....and the exchange rate is majorly in our favor right now. 

Returning home was so easy. The Captain and kept remarking how much easier it is to fly the nearly 6 hour trip during bankers hours. We had an 11 AM departure. There was a snag. 

One of the Flight Attendants called in sick while in Bogota. With reduced frequency it would be more than a day for the next scheduled in bound. The plane we were flying arrived the night before. My airline went above and beyond fixing things. They scheduled an Airbus 319 to leave Miami with just one Flight Attendant on board...with the 2 pilots of course. The non-scheduled flight arrived 1 hour before departure and right next to my gate. 

The Flight Attendant walked off that plane and onto mine. We left on time. The Airbus 319 from Miami then returned to Miami. No cargo...no passengers. That was a huge expense by the airline to keep things moving.

I'm off for a few days before doing a similar trip but only a 10 hour 45 minute overnight in Bogota next week...still a daytime return. There are only 2 day time flights between Bogota and DFW this month...and I do them both. Every other day it's a red-eye. Lucky me! 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Another trip in the box

 At my last airline I had a check ride every year. 

For the first 7 years or so it was a "bet your job" single pilot check ride events. There was another pilot in the simulator, but they could never help you. 

My last 3 years they finally were approved for AQP (Advanced Qualification Program). I was in the small group trials for AQP and was actually the first pilot to ever pass that training. Even with AQP at my previous airline there was a lot to do, written exams and an oral exam.

When I came to my current airline, things changed. I am training in the same building as my last airline....but now I am at the majors. 

My first week here they told me , "you're not at Eagle anymore, relax.....we are here to help you." While it was nice to here....I couldn't just relax.

I was then training for the MD-80 down the same hall where I used to get 3 hour orals over almost every button on the flight deck. I used to have to recite over 15 different memory items. Now they were telling me to relax?

While I did have about 7000 hours of flight time before I started at AA, I still felt inadequate. I studied harder than I did for my previous regional jet. For the MD-80 I had my initial check ride in January 2018 and a probationary check ride in October of 2018. Training at AA is every 9 months instead of every year. 

Both events were stressful, especially the probationary ride as that was a job in jeopardy event. Of course I passed....I over prepared. There were written exams and a kind of oral (computer based) for the MD-80.

When I went to the Airbus I again studied hard. The Airbus 320 program was a huge step from the MD-80 but similar to the ERJ-175 I flew. I missed one question on the written exam. My initial check ride I felt just adequate....but did well. That was March 2019. 

In December 2019 I had my R-9 check ride. I started studying 3 months in advance. I read EVERY manual cover to cover.......twice. I did very well.

This morning, September 2020 I had my R-18 check. With all the craziness going on I have been stressed. I didn't start studying until a month out. During the break today my instructor pulled me aside and asked if I was former Eagle. I said I was...he said he can spot us....all of us come more than prepared and don't accept mediocre. 

The ride went very well. I stressed myself out preparing for it.....but was relaxed during the event. I'm an average pilot. The 13 years, 5 fleet types and 8200 hours in the air help, but I think it's my over preparing and conscious effort to know everything I need daily that helps. 

Good till June 2021.