Monday, November 2, 2009

Back in the saddle...errr cockpit

Back from vacation. This month I have a straight reserve line. This means I have no idea what I am doing each day versus the last few months where I had airport standby.

My first day of reserve? Assigned airport standby! No biggie as I had to update my manuals anyway. That took a good hour. I then continued studying for my recurrent ground and simulator check coming up.

Around 5PM it was time for dinner. As soon as I took my first bite my phone rang. Assigned a flight leaving at 5:30PM.  I advised I just started eating dinner and would get there as soon as I finished. Long ago I learned it's not my stomach's fault that they need me right away. Once done eating I headed over to the plane.

The flight was supposed to leave at 3:50PM. Mechanical delays and a sick FO caused the new time to be 5:30PM. I arrived at 5:20PM to an empty plane. Hmmm.

When I stepped into the plane I noticed a slightly odd odor. Having not flown in a while, I assumed it was "normal".

The flight attendants arrived (also airport standby). They complained about the smell as well. Captain advised us all of where the smell was coming from.

Turns out there was still an issue. A passenger on the inbound flight had a medical emergency and urinated on the last row of seats which spread to the carpet. The seats are all leather, but the cushions were changed out anyway. The carpet was deodorized....but that's it.

We ended up refusing the aircraft. A few minutes later we were assigned a new aircraft....right next door.

At 6:45PM....almost 3 hours after scheduled departure...we pushed out of the gate. This was a great thing as another scheduled flight was scheduled to leave at the same time. We beat that flight out of the ramp by 2 minutes. They followed us the entire way. By being "in front" we would easily get parked at the outstation and taken care of first.

I was hoping the Captain would take the first leg so I could get my feet wet again. Nah he gave it too me.

Most of the flight was normal....right until the approach.

The assigned runway has an offset localizer. This is noted on the approach chart. Skies were clear and visibility unrestricted so I briefed a visual approach backed up with the localizer. I mistakenly forgot to brief the localizer offset.

The airport was surprisingly busy. There were 2 planes already on final. We were told to follow a Gulfstream who was number 2. Meanwhile a Cessna would be following us. Once the Captain and I agreed that we had the Gulfstream in view he called it. I then clicked off the autopilot and turned base. As soon as I turned I saw that I would be about 400 feet above the altitude at the FAF for the ILS for the runway. I began dirtying up the plane and slowing down. I crossed the FAF a little more than 200 feet high.

I lined up with the runway and before long was at flaps 45. The spacing between the Gulfstream and my plane appeared to be just over 2 1/2 miles. Decent. I then noticed the horizontal row of white lights to the left of the runway. I was still high!

I reduced the thrust levers and pushed the toke forward. By 800 feet AGL I was on glideslope and on approach speed.

Somehow the stars aligned and I managed a very nice landing touching down about 500 feet beyond the 1000 foot markings.

We were late. Pulling into the gate I noticed ZERO passengers in the waiting area. Due to being so late, all of the passengers were accommodated on other flights. A very quick 16 minutes later the plane was fueled, programmed and pushing back from the gate....with just 4 people on, the Captain and the flight attendants.

During climb out, being so light we hit 5000 feet per minute sustained. Nice.

We were hoping to go fast and be done. Negative. We were slowed due to slower traffic ahead.

Just after 9PM the Captain began his flare to land the plane. Then the plane floated. This has happened to me many times. It looked like he was going to have a soft landing. It wasn't meant to be. With a jolt the mains contacted the runway once....and then again. We laughed about it later.

Being just 9:15PM when we pulled into the gate, I had 45 minutes of standby to sit out. Eh...I was never used.

Today I had a two day trip starting at 5:55PM. I will be heading to my favorite hotel for 9 hours. If it all works out well I will be done tomorrow at 12:30PM.

I then have recurrent ground training Wednesday thru Friday, off for a 3 day weekend and then back on reserve a week from today.

It's good to be back.

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