The overnight was indeed short. I got a good 5 hours of sleep. My alarm went off at 4:40AM. I showered the night before so by 4:50AM I was walking out the door.
The breakfast at this hotel leaves MUCH to be desired. The "fresh" fruit hasn't been fresh in a while. The oranges were shriveled up, the apples has spots and the bananas were bruised. I tried to warm up a biscuit and poured gravy on top....the biscuit was still stale and hard to get through. I grabbed a cup of coffee and an orange juice.
The Flight Attendants were already down eating. I greeted them and they asked if I was done when I got back to base. I told them I the last time I checked I was done. They were both assigned the same flight up to the northeast once we got back. Due to the reduced rest overnight any flight assignment given today must included "compensatory rest" or at least 10 hours tomorrow night. Their overnight tonight would be 16 hours.
The van time came and we all piled into the van. Surprisingly the airport was busy at 5:05AM when we arrived. The security line was somewhat long. For the first time ever the TSA opened up a lane just for my crew when they saw us waiting in line. Nice.
The plane we brought in last night had been moved off the gate. We were taking another CRJ. We all went through our first flight of the day checks and inspections. I have said before I prefer flying with more senior flight attendants. There are many reasons for this. Senior Flight Attendants tend to be able to make even the most upset passenger happy, they know how to quickly board a cabin and most importantly.....they make coffee right away for the pilots!
This morning the Flight Attendants were both pretty junior. I knew they wouldn't make coffee. I snagged a diet coke before heading to the cockpit to get the plane set up.
Since this was the first flight of the day, the Captain and I both have to check and test various systems to make sure they are operational. For the remainder of the day these checks aren't required. The Captain has at least 6 items to test. I only have to check the ice detector, TCAS and my oxygen mask.
We boarded up and pushed out 5 minutes early at 5:35AM. Most of the world is still sleep. Nice.
I wish I could describe the rush I feel when lining up for takeoff especially a night. Looking down the runway at all the lights is a beautiful sight. The only feeling better are the moments right before landing.
With my left hand I advance the thrust levers and bring to life over 24,000 pounds of thrust. We used a reduced power setting called Flex Thrust this morning to save fuel and wear on the engines thus it's a setting less than the maximum power over 25,000 pound of thrust.
The rows of lights begin quickly passing under the plane. My eyes are starring at the end of the runway as I make small corrections with the rudder pedals to keep the plane on center-line. The silence of the cockpit is broken when the Captain called out "80 knots". I momentarily looked down at my PFD and call out "80 knots" to confirm the speed tape is working (it's also a check to make sure the other guy in the cockpit is "in the cockpit" as well). At 124 knots the Captain called out, "V1, rotate". I smoothly rotated the 68,000 pound aircraft into the dark sky.
We were given an initial heading of 240. At 400 feet I called for heading mode to be engaged and began the turn. I noticed a slight yawing in the plane and looked down to see the "brick" out of alignment. The "brick" serves the same function as a turn coordinator in planes with steam gauges. I reached down with my left hand and gave a quick turn to the rudder trim. All good.
Being somewhat light weight we were climbing at just over 3000 feet per minute. Our initial altitude was 4000 feet. With these low level offs if the non flying pilot is slow to check in on the radio, the pilot flying has to quickly pull of power to avoid overshooting the altitude.
As we passed 1500 feet the speed was passing 175 knots. I called for flaps 1. The Captain raised the flaps and checked in with departure. We were then assigned to climb and maintain 15,000 feet. After he set the altitude, I confirmed it and called for "flaps up, speed 250". I used the trim to lower the nose and gain speed. As we passed 220 knots I pulled the thrust levers out of the takeoff detent and into the climb detent. Most of the time reducing power to climb in the 220 knot range makes for an almost imprecetible change for the passengers. If power is reduced before that speed the passengers can feel a jolt as the power is reduced.
I hand flew up to around my normal 16,000 feet and clicked on the autopilot. I then cleaned off the diet coke can (they are REALLY dirty sometimes) and watched the sunrise as we climbed up to FL320.
The weather in base today wasn't bad, but the clouds were hanging a little low at 1500 feet AGL. This required in ILS approach. I haven't done an ILS in a while. After being assigned runway 18 ILS I setup and briefed the approach for the Captain.
The approach was standard. I left the autopilot on until the runway came into view about 1300 feet AGL. Once I saw the runway I called out "runway in sight, going visual". I clicked off the autopilot and continued following the glideslope. Just under 200 feet AGL I went below the glideslope a bit in order to land right on the 1000 foot markings. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the Captain sit up straight as the move might have caught him off guard.
Just like always I began reducing power at 50 feet and had the throttles closed at 10 feet. The winds were 150/18 so I had a slight crosswind. I kicked the nose over and touched down right on the far edge of the 1000 foot markings. Better than last time....but still not my best.
We pulled into the gate 5 minutes early. After my walk around I grabbed my bags and called crew scheduling. Released for the day. Nice. I will get my nearly 4 hours of pay today even though I only flew for one hour and ten minutes. Sometimes I come out ahead.