Sunday, December 10, 2017

From latest tech....to the dinosaur

Quick update.

I'm in my 2nd week at American Airlines. Amazing experience. I was very lucky and scored the last DFW MD 80 spot. No commuting! It's funny that I'm going from the latest technology aircraft ERJ-175 to the oldest in the fleet the McDonnell Douglas Super 80. It will be VERY interesting as I've had only glass cockpits for 10 years. There's limited glass in the MD-80.

If I didn't score the MD-80 I was going to have to pick between LAX 737 and PHL 190. Tough choice as I'm typed on the 190 as it's the same type rating as the 175.

More to come.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Final Descent

I am sitting in the crew room of another domicile. I have a 3 hour sit. I don't like coming down here as it looks like a homeless shelter. This is a very heavy commuter base so lots of people sleeping...sitting around....laying around.

I am on my last ever 4 day trip at my airline. I took the first leg today. My First Officer is a new hire. Nice guy. Former military.

Normally in my downtime between flights I check out open trips for extra money or look for trips to trade. Right now my schedule is empty. There's nothing. Being the middle of the month I could alternatively look at trips for next month. But....I won't be here. It's a surreal feeling.

My last flight is a 5 AM departure from KICT on Saturday. Really early. Once I park my aircraft for the last time I will join my family for a trip to see extended family over Thanksgiving.

My first day at American is November 28th. My next trip at my current airline is supposed to be on the 24th. I put in my notice for my last day to be the 24th so I can enjoy Thanksgiving with my family. Because of this I had to do something I almost never do. I had to BUY AN AIRLINE TICKET to get back home.

It was a painful experience. I did get my employee discount though...so there's that.

I have just 8 legs left. I will fly 5 of them as the last leg is mine.

Ten years. A little more than 6400 hours of airline flight time. It's been a very interesting experience.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Two more trips

I have just two more trips at my airline.

Last week I passed my 10th anniversary. Crazy how fast the time has gone by. I've flown roughly 6200 hours at my airline. I thought I'd flying closer to 9000. 

It's funny when I was just starting out I figured I'd fly as much as possible. I then learned it's fun to get paid for more than I actually fly. I get paid for 72 hours a month (75 for when I'm on reserve). Over 10 years I've been paid for roughly 8800 hours (73ish average hours a month over 10 years). Not bad eh?

I'm excited and nervous about taking the leap to American.

Right now I'm senior and have job security. Going to American will put me on the BOTTOM of the seniority list . It just takes one hiccup in the economy or security of the world to disrupt the travel industry. Worry not....I'm going.

My last trip at my current airline will be a 5 AM departure from ICT on the 18th of November. I will then land in base and join my family for a flight to visit family for Thanksgiving. My last "day" here will be the 24th. I delay my quitting to have my benefits as long as possible.

I will try and kick myself to blog during the training at American. I've already been very impressed by the onboarding process at American. Everyone has been over the top accommodating and forthcoming with information. I truly feel welcomed and I haven't even started.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Interview and the phone call

Back in June I was invited to interview for a pilot position at American Airlines.

I live just a few miles from the American Airlines headquarters. There were 10 in my group and I was the only "local".

I was told to arrive at noon. I was there at 11:30 AM.

In the recruiting office were 9 other pilots. Six military and 3 civilians.

The recruiting team does everything possible to get the applicants to relax.

Day one was spent on a computer. There was a battery of skill and math test. Some tested your paitience...like one that lasted 20 minutes watching a dot move around a circle...each time it jumped I had to click a button. I assume it was designed to test attention span. There were others that tested memory and pattern recognition.

The hardest test for me were the math questions. The computer showed various numbers like 2 10 4 5. I then had to put math symbols in between to make the numbers make sense...like 2 X 10 ÷ 4 = 5. They were much harder than that.

All the applicants left the first day feeling like they didn't do well. The test were designed to challenge you. The better you did the harder the questions got.

Day 2 was the real interview. Face to Face with American Airlines pilots.

A 787 Captain and a 767 Captain interviewed me. Prior to this day I paid $400 for interview prep...and it really helped.

I was able to keep the interview going and had them laughing all until the last question. It was "Explain a situation where you didn't get along with a co-worker". After my answer they didn't like how I handled it. They felt I should have escalated the issue to a Chief Pilot.

The interview ended abruptly after that. I was handed off to a Human Resources employee who asked a few follow up questions...then that was it. I was free to go.

I left feeling VERY uneasy. Like I just blew my chance to be an American Airlines pilot.

The tension was high. I kept rethinking everything I had done. Things I could have done differently. Better answers. Better math.

I completed one more trip then took off 6 weeks for bonding time with my new daughter.

About 12 days after the interview the military pilots in my group sent out messages to our group text that they had all been hired. The civilians were all quiet.

I checked my email multiple times per day. An email was bad...meaning I didn't get the job. A phone call was preferable.....I did get the job.

A month went by and nothing. I did get a copy of my PRIA paperwork...but that's it.

August started. All the airline pilots in the interview group were still in the dark.

I started back at work and was stress free. I figured there was nothing I could do. They would get back to me when they did.

On August 17th I was at the airport waiting on a jump seat to Oregon when my phone rang. No name on the caller id...just a local phone number.

"Hello this is David Tatum calling from the American Airlines recruiting office...." is how the phone call started. The next three minutes are a blur but I did hear "sorry for taking so long to get back to you but the decision to hire you has been made...and it was unanimous...welcome to American Airlines."

I thanked him several times and told him he has the best job in the world as he gets to change lives with the news he gives.

The next day the emails flooded in from American Airlines. Good ones. Great ones. I had a conditional job offer contingent on passing a background and drug test. I am excited beyond belief.

So how did I get the interview? Volunteering, Networking and Persistence.

I'm passionate about flying. I truly enjoy teaching. I went to college initially to be a teacher. I took a side road into technology and then flying.

I loved being a CFI. Once I started at my regional I continued instructing the RJ transition course at ATP. Aside from that I volunteered for youth camps and at job fairs. I spent 2 years being a volunteer for my union. In short...I went above and beyond.

I'm 40 and will have 24 1/2  years of flying left once I start at AA.

It feels great knowing I have completed the last job interview of my life.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Getting the call

Today was kinda crazy.

I started in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Last day of a 4 day trip. One leg in.

The van time was a ridiculous 4:50 AM. We get to the airport....to the plane...and that's when the craziness started.

I was going through the flight paperwork and aircraft logbook...and things weren't matching up. I called up operations and they asked what tail number I was sitting in....I said "027"....they replied..."you're supposed to be in 048". I look up and see the other aircraft in front of me. The station pulled the wrong plane to the gate....and boarding had just completed.

Thankfully dispatch fixed the issue...but then weather caused a ground stop. We were supposed to arrive at 8 AM and I had an interview for a Fleet Manager position at 9 AM.

We finally left at 6:55 AM. Landed at 8:55 AM and I texted the person interviewing me (long time friend from flight school) and let him know I was running late.

I rushed over to the interview.

In the parking lot another pilot I knew whom was also a Fleet Manager flagged me down. He said I was the front runner for the job. Nice.

The interview went well. They let me know it would be a pretty hefty pay cut. Odd.

I then went home and began packing for as my wife has her 20 year High School reunion this weekend...in Albany, Oregon...right in the path of the eclipse.

Thankfully my family all has real tickets...except me. Flights are crazy full. My family flies up tomorrow, but I am a cautious non-rever and decided to go tonight. As I was waiting for my flight...the most amazing phone call came though.

I was walking through the terminal and almost didn't answer as the phone number wasn't familiar. When I picked up the voice said , "Hello I'm calling from the Pilot Recruitment Office at American Airlines," The minutes after that are somewhat of a blur.....but I remember one part, "You got the job. Welcome to American Airlines."

Yeah that happened. I interviewed more than 2 months ago.

More to come. I will update more frequently now that things are happening again.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Almost 3 months in

Shelbi is almost three months old. She looks very close to Natali at this age.

Kelli started back at work on Monday. I am taking a month and a half off for FMLA to spend with Shelbi.

So far she's been pretty easy...but it's still harder than Natali. The reason being...I'm 40. I was a spry 33 with Natali. .

Over the last two months Shelbi took her first airline flight. No issues. Then as a family we all took a crazy long 1400 mile adventure to Orlando....we drove. It was interesting driving that far with an electric car...and an infant. It worked.

A few differences I've noticed with Shelbi over Natali.

Shelbi had great head control almost right away.

Shelbi didn't mind putting pressure on her legs (being held while standing her up)

Shelbi can take 6 ounces at 3 months old. Natali NEVER took 6 ounces!

Shelbi is very moody. She will go from happy to demon child in the blink of an eye.

Shelbi found her voice before Natali.

That's it for now. I wish Kelli would blog but she's just not interested.



Saturday, May 6, 2017

Bizzaro trip

I'm on day 3 of a 4 day.

I'm supposed to be a FL 360 headed to the hub. Instead I'm on my couch.

The unraveling of my trip started on day 1. It was supposed to be a quick 2 hour turn and a long flight to Canada.

Weather caused a huge reroute on the first leg. I flew this leg.  On final, about 700 feet AGL, to the out station I encountered a flock of birds. Several birds impacted the windshield. Crap. I glanced over at the engine gauges...all reading normal.

Landed uneventfully. This would normally have been a minimal delay. I called for a bird strike inspection to get the ball rolling. As time went on I could tell something was wrong. Sure enough the contract mechanics at the airport were no longer certified for the Embraer 175. The could take a computer based training course and be certified in 30 minutes. For whatever reason that didn't happen. My airline Maintenance Operations Control was not happy. Being late in the afternoon there wasn't time to fly mechanics down and get the flight out same day. Flight cancelled. 76 passengers would not be getting to where they wanted because of birds...and lack of the local mechanics to maintain their currency.

After about an hour we had hotel for the night.

Mechanics were flying down on the last flight of the night and the aircraft would be ready for the morning.

For reasons beyond me I was scheduled to ferry to plane back to base...without flight attendants or passengers. Bad choice in my opinion...but I don't run the airline.

The mechanics cleaned off the bird residue and the aircraft was ready at 9 AM. One of the two morning kick off flights cancelled. They are flown by a much less reliable feeder that is prone to cancellations. We should have flown the flight as an extra segment...but again I don't run the airline.

It was my First Officers leg. We decided to have fun and did a max power takeoff. The takeoff roll was under 1800 feet. From zero to 126 knots (145 MPH) in 1800 feet. Up, up and away we went. Sustained 5000 feet per minute through 15000 feet.

In and done. My First Officer picked up the first two days of my trip as overtime. It was scheduled for 10 hours but paid 20 (due to a shortage of pilots my airline is paying double for all extra flying!). Due to the cancellation all he did was one leg down and one leg up. He got home 8 hours earlier and only flew 2.4 hours...but paid for 20. He won that day.

I was scheduled to deadhead to my next overnight. I was originally supposed to fly to the overnight late that night on day 2. But the bird strike through everything off.

On the deadhead I caught up with a Flight Attendant I had not seen in two years. We were going to the same hotel.

Long overnight. The rest of my crew (original Flight Attendants and a new First Officer) flew in late on day 2 and were at a different hotel.

The morning of day 3 I woke up and, for reasons I can't explain, didn't check my schedule and just headed to the airport. The weather was nice all over.....why assume there would be an issue.

I was alone in the hotel van as the rest of the crew was at a different hotel. I got to the gate 50 minutes early. I relaxed and caught up on news. I saw my flight number on the departure board at the gate. All was well.

Out of the corner of my eye I see an aircraft approach my gate....but it's not a Embraer 175. Uh oh. I check my schedule. Equipment change. I assume I'm deadheading. Nope. I was reassigned to ferry another 175 to another hub later in the afternoon. Ugh.

I call and get a new hotel as the aircraft was down for maintenance and the flight was 7 hours away. I later learned the new First Officer did the same thing...arrived and saw the change.

At 1:45 PM the First Officer and I boarded the hotel van and headed back to the airport. Ferry was scheduled for 2:$5 PM.

At 2:30 PM we hopped in a rusty 1980s era Ford Van and rode to a hangar.

There was a major flight control computer issue after power up. Mechanics came on board....hit buttons...ran test...and cleared the error.

At 3:40 PM we taxi'd out. Ferry flights rarely go on time.

My leg. Another max power takeoff. Fun.

Landed and pulled into a gate at 5:37 PM. My First Officer (on overtime like the first one) ran to catch a commute flight at 6:10 PM . I had a deadhead back to base.

At the gate I met up with two recruiters for my airline. I got the skinny on just how bad the shortage is. The deadhead left over an hour late.

I walked into my backdoor at 10:45 PM. I have a, hope to be quick, 2 hour turn at noon. Should be home by 4 PM.

So far this is day 4 and I've flown ONE revenue flight...the first leg. If today goes well I will have flown 3.

Bizzaro trip indeed.