Thursday, April 2, 2009

Something different

Here was the weather when I headed to work today.

021753Z 30029G38KT 10SM BKN035 BKN100 BKN300 13/02 A2958 RMK AO2 PK WND 28042/1718

The high winds caused cancellations and delays. I was pretty sure I would be flying out tonight. I was right.

I had settled into my airport hideaway right before 2PM. I spent a good 2 hours browsing the Internet and watching movies on The whole time I was keeping an eye on the flights. Everything looked okay. There were some evening flights that looked iffy.

A pilot friend was at the airport at my other airport hideaway and sent me a text message. I let him know I was in my alternate spot. As he headed over my phone rang...."unknown". I know who "unknown" is....crew scheduling.

The time was 4:40PM. They assigned me a flight leaving at 5:20PM. Nice. My friend walked up to me just as I was leaving. We made our way to the crew room and I gathered my bags and put on all my uniform pieces. When I do airport standby I don't wear any uniform pieces. I look like any other business traveler. I like it that way.

By now it was 4:55PM. I checked my schedule. I assumed the flight was leaving from one of the gates nearby. Nope. Gate 24. I was at Gate 8. Nice.

I made it to the gate by 5:05PM. The gate agent said there was a maintenance issue and the flight was delayed by 10 minutes. Seems one of the overhead emergency lights in the cabin was burned out. Great, I had time to snag dinner.

With two McDonald's hamburgers in tow (only 250 calories each.....I count calories!) I made my way down the jet bridge. I had flown with the Captain many times. The crew was sitting in the main cabin. I threw my bags in the cockpit and went out for the pre-flight inspection.

Afterwards I sat in the cabin and enjoyed my burgers. As soon as I was done the light bulb had been replaced. The passengers boarded and we pushed out 20 minutes late. The winds were still gusting. The Captain worked pretty hard on take off with a gusting 25 knot crosswind.

The first part of the flight was okay. We were light (just 40 passengers...loving this economy!) so we were able to cruise at our maximum altitude of 41,000 feet.


A plane from my airline passed below at FL380. Click the picture for a full size image.

The last 30 minutes were very rough. There is weather all over the mid-west today. As we descended we hit moderate to heavy turbulence. It took me several seconds to reach for the Continuous Ignition button due to the turbulence. There are certain situations when we arm continuous ignition to guard against a flameout. Once the button was pressed I called back and advised the flight attendants that it would be a rough ride all the way in.

Lightening was flashing all around the plane. I tightened up my seat belt and shoulder harness. The bumps continued until we were below 7000 feet. Finally the air smoothed out.

After landing I went out to inspect the plane for lightening damage. None found. By the time I got back to the cockpit the rest of the crew was already in the jet bridge. This is one bad part of being a First Officer. While you are out doing the post flight, the rest of the crew is packing up.

I took my time gathering my stuff and headed out of the airport. On the way I called the hotel. I have just about every hotel we stay at stored in my phone.

This hotel is nice. The overnight is only 8 hours 45 minutes. We do the flight back to base tomorrow and one quick turn before being done.

I was glad to be called out tonight. I was supposed to do airport standby tomorrow. Since I have an overnight tonight I will just do the three legs tomorrow and be done by 1PM. Saturday is a regular reserve day so I will likely get reserve at home.


  1. I love your blog. I really enjoy both the quality of your writing and the subject matter.

    I do have one suggestion. I would love to know what cities you are flying to. It would fill out the picture of the trips, somehow, that being told you are flying to the "Northeast" somehow leaves blurry. I suspect there's a good reason you don't include those details, and if you can't I get it. Just thought I would put in the request in case you can.

  2. I used to have A LOT of detail about my job. Then I realized (with the help of my union), that I was being to open. In order to keep my job and not ruffle feathers with my employer, I have removed all identifying information from the blog. Sorry. Just the way it's gotta be.

  3. Thanks for that explanation because I've read other pilot blogs and magazines, (yours is my favorite by far btw) and always wondered why the pilots never seem to want to tell what airline they fly for and what routes. But this reason makes sense. I wanted to know too.

  4. I was flying with those cross winds the other day on FSX with VATSIM. After the ATC got me aligned wrong on my visual final with no ILS glide slope, I had to do this crazy realignment with the runway to stick a great landing (if I do say so myself). Anyways, I just wanted to commend you for having to deal with that sort of stuff on a regular basis and with very real consequences. It'll be a while before I can do that!


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