Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Daughter

Just found out today I will be the proud father of a baby girl in August. Now to think of a name. My wife and I are very far apart on names. I jokingly stated I'm going to pick the name off one used on the Maury show. She didn't laugh. Ha!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fun with numbers.....I made $124 per flight hour last month!

First. Pilots do not need to be perfect, or even really good , in math. I was so horrible in math, that in college I took a zero credit remedial algebra class. I then took "real" college algebra. Never missed a class. Did all the homework. Still failed. The professor took me aside toward the end of class and said, "You are a communications major, this is the only math class you need. You tried. I will give you a C." And so it was.

I said that to say this....I made about $124 a flight hour last month. How? Well funny math.

Each month as a reserve pilot I get paid for 75 hours of flight time as long as I am available for work each day. The company adds up the number of work days in a month and divides by 75 to get how much each day is worth. For easy math each day is worth 4 hours. If I call in sick then 4 hours of my sick time are used to cover my reserve day. If I just request a day off without pay, I lose 4 hours of pay. Simple.

Now I can fly zero hours and still get paid for 75 hours. For March I flew 28 hours.  Twelve of those hours (two 6 hour turns) were on my days off. Any flying I do on a day off is paid seperately.  So I will be paid for 87 hours of flight.

Taking my hourly wage of $40 an hour X 87 hours of flight = $3480. Take that $3480 and divide by 28 (actual hours flown) and I get $124.29 per hour. Not too shabby. Of course there is something else to consider.

I sat airport reserve in March. So I was on duty sitting at the airport....a lot. If I took that same $3480 and divided it by the hours I sat airport reserve (approx 128 hours!), I get $27.19 per hour. Ouch. I'm not including my per diem in these numbers as that get's really complicated.

If I was more senior and could have sat at home while on reserve then the first set of numbers ($124.29) would have worked. I hope to be senior one day. I was going to be more senior during the summer. No longer. My company changed their plans on moving pilots around. So for the foreseeable future I will be the bottom guy.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New look...same geek

For a while now I have been avoiding my own blog. I hated the design. I finally took the steps today to redo it.

I use Wordpress...a popular blogging/website engine. Wordpress is somewhat flexible. I have thought about moving to for a while. Maybe next redo.

There are a ton of badly designed blogs with lots of flash/colors/fonts that confuse more than inform. I've always tried to keep my blogs simple, clean and fast loading. The previous design with the big photos on top slowed things down just a bit. Additionally they didn't look great on a phone. The new one is much more "mobile" friendly and looks nice.

For the first time ever I have ad's on my site. Not a big annoying ad...just a slim line...waaaay down at the bottom. Maybe you'll click...maybe you won't. I have never tried to make money on my blogs. I spend about $90 a year or so between paying for my domain and hosting. Sure I could find cheaper hosting...but cheap isn't always good. Maybe the ads will help.

I am thinking of adding a gallery section filled with photos from my job. Right now 3 random photos will show on the right side.

That's it for now. The good thing is I was able to do all of this while sitting airport it's almost like I was paid to work on my blog...almost.

Weekend away with my wife

Spent a nice weekend away with my wife to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary. Most people would just go out for a a nice dinner. We aren't most people.

We spent the week looking over the flight loads and keeping mind of which cities were “doable”. We both have Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Cards....which means we rarely pay for hotel rooms. Very rarely.

Wednesday night we made our final choice, listed on the flight, booked the rental car (nice travel industry discount) and booked our pet sitter. My wife has spent a lot of money on pet sitters....which is why I don't have dogs.

Most of the time we fly the first flight out as there are fewer connecting passengers (so more often light flight loads) and it's the most often missed flight (people sleep in/get stuck in traffic). Friday was no different. The plane was wide open. Could have had first, got our own row in coach.

One odd thing about my wife and I....we are so used too last minute flights/day trips, we never plan much to do. This trip was no different.

With the power of our Android phones (my nifty Nexus One, her T-Mobile G1) we found lots too well as free built in turn by turn navigation. If someone told me 6 years ago that in 2010 I would have a phone with built in GPS turn by turn navigation WITH spoken street names, full Internet Access, Instant Email and more....I would have laughed. Even as a geek I am amazed.

The weekend was fun. We took as risk by taking the last direct flight home. My wife found a backup flight with a stop just in case.

The last flight of the night is always iffy. If the flights are full all day and the last flight is full, then the last flights are a bad idea.

However if the flights during the day are only slightly full, then the last flight of the night is quite doable as many passengers go standby on earlier flights.

When we looked on Wednesday, the last flight of the night had 21 open seats. This afternoon it went as high as 35 open seats.

We listed for first, got coach....somehow another row to ourselves. The flight ended up going out with 6 open seats due to passengers being rerouted. Still glad to go home.

My wife is pregnant and due to deliver in August. The days of her flying non-rev at the drop of a hat are going to be limited soon. She mentioned how hard it's going too be as she has flown somewhere almost every month since I started at my airline back in October 2007. Right now we think her last flight will be next month. Maybe May.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

No crew line at airports makes us look like asses

For the first time in at least 6 months...maybe longer....I flew to a new airport.

Sunday was my birthday....sat airport reserve that afternoon. Around 6PM I was called for 7:30PM departure for a long 17 hour overnight.

The inbound plane was already running 30 minutes late. The original crew was running 2 hours late. My Captain and I were both airport reserve.

I met the Captain at the plane. We were waiting on a flight attendant. Due to weather there were no reserve flight attendants available. Crew scheduling tried junior manning 3 flight attendants before they finally "hooked" one.

This particular flight attendant and I had flown together before. She is somewhat senior, been here about 7 years, and very sassy. She doesn't take crap from anyone, but is very nice and humorous.

She had just come in from her fourth leg, 6th hour of flying. We were told she would be taking a meal break. Totally understandable as she hasn't had a break since starting at 7AM that morning.

Yadda, yadda, yadda we didn't push out until 9:26PM.

Captain's leg. The airplane had one FMS wasn't working. Not a major deal as this plane had dual FMS units installed. There were a few things we had too do to comply. The most visual item was my "needles" were yellow instead of white. Normally the needles are white when using on-side FMS data.

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Normal flight out. Due to headwinds we made up zero minutes.

The hotel van was waiting for us. Another flight crew was inside.

Things started nicely when the van driver passed back our hotel keys. Nice. This saves a few minutes.

When we arrived at the hotel the van driver told the other crew too stay put, but for us too get out. Hmmm. We soon figured out why.

We were in building "5". The other crew was in building "4" where the crew room was also located. Some hotels have crew rooms with of snacks, coffee, microwaves, a TV and a computer.

My first hotel room was VERY stuffy when I walked in. I made a B-line for the "A/C'" unit. The "A/C" unit was just a fan speed temp control....I hit the "high" fan speed button. Hmm. When I turned around I saw a "thermostat". It was set on 70 but it showed 78 in the room. After 10 minutes I had enough.

When I made it back to the front desk the Captain was there. We both got new building 4. Building 4 has individual A/C units. Building 5 has one A/C unit for the entire floor, thus the hot room! The next day I learned every other flight crew was in building 4. No idea why we were being screwed.

After 15 hours....back in the hotel van.The van was full with 4 other airline crews!

When we got to the airport I was sad too see no dedicated crew line for security. This was no small town airport, but a major international airport and a hub for another airline. Yet no dedicated crew lines.

I hate it when I have to cut in line for screening. The line was so long I (along with 3 other airline crews) had no choice. It makes us all look like asses.

After clearing I made my way to the same plane we brought in the night prior. The flight attendant from the night before deadheaded home that morning, our "new" flight attendant deadheaded up on the inbound and was already on board. She had been going since 6 AM and this would be leg 7!!!!

It's standard to use a "flex" or reduced power takeoff at my airline when able. Some conditions require max thrust such as rain, contaminated runways, high winds or MEL requirements.

While setting up the plane I used the performance charts and put in a "flex" power setting that was mid-range between min and max for our takeoff weight. I know people much smarter than I designed the computer program that takes into a account every runway at every airport my plane flies too and plots power settings that comply with all FAA safety and performance requirements. Using the max number should be fine.....but eh....mid-range works for me.

We blocked out one minute late. Eh.

The Captain turned the plane onto the runway (which was about 7200 feet long) and said, "your aircraft". I responded, "my aircraft", and smoothly advanced the thrust levers. At VR there seemed to be very little runway left.  We were on the edge of the touchdown zone for the opposite direction runway. Wow. Glad I didn't use the highest (meaning further reduced) "flex" power setting. It was totally safe but my "sight picture' was off as I normally take off from 9000+ foot runways.

Right behind us was a mainline flight, from another airline, also heading to my base. It was a much more powerful plane and by F310 it was higher and slightly faster than we were.

Flying a Mach .79, the headwinds were lighter than predicted. The FMS estimated we would be 30 minutes early. Score!

As it turned out we indeed landed 30 minutes early. That mainline flight from the other airline landed right next too us.

It turned out they pulled into their gate way before us as their gate was way closer than ours. We blocked in 16 minutes early. Not bad at all.

Being so late at night, I was released.

Tuesday was a day of airport reserve again. Didn't get used.

Today I am on reserve at home. Hope to not get used. Need to work on our taxes.

Monday, March 22, 2010

To jump or not.....

A friend of mine from ATP hit me up for a little advice recently.

Right now he has a nice gig as a Dispatcher instructor at a Flight Simulation company. He works 8-5 Monday thru Friday and has a very nice paycheck.

A few weeks ago he interviewed at an airline and was offered a job. At first he was happy about it, then had second thoughts.

He's married and is planning on buying a house and starting a family. Going to an airline would mean a big cut in pay and quality of life (no more 8-5 Monday thru Friday). The financial hit would mean no house for a while.

When his employer found out they offered him a huge carrot. Stay and they will GIVE him a 737 type rating and allow him to instruct the 737 ground school.

He hit up several former ATP pilots for advice. Most of them were house. They all said go to the airline.

I was a bit different. I am married...kiddo on the way and have had a house for several years. My advice was wishy washy, "depends on what your long term goals are."

Getting on with an airline would start his seniority, but getting a house would be next to impossible. He stated his pay would be cut by 2/3rds. Also he could kiss his weekends goodbye for a while. Having the 737 type rating could come in handy in the future and at least he knows he can pass an airline interview.

On the other hand, the travel benefits are amazing. My wife and I love sitting on the couch Friday night discussing what to do for the weekend. Being able to say, "How about eating BBQ Memphis" or "Hey lets go to Vancouver for the night and visit Niagara Falls" or our favorite, "Flights to Vegas look doable" ,is awesome.

In the end he had already decided to stay put. Makes the most sense. Going from a good paying "8-5 Monday thru Friday" job to a regional is rough. I know....been there, done that have the small bank account to prove it.

He is in a good spot. Having the 737 type rating will be a nice asset. In a few years he can get on with a regional or corporate, build up some hours and be able to apply to just about any airline as the 737 is the most popular airliner in the world.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's as though I didn't bid

Got my bid results for next month. I got the one line I didn't want....the result of everyone senior to me (I am the most junior) bidding everything else. Kinda bummed. Going to be a rough month. A buddy of mine in another base got a hard line....and he's junior to me. He commutes though. Eh. April is going to suck.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Once again....thanks for nothing

Assigned reserve at home yesterday. Standard call out. Called at 10:05AM for a 1:45PM sign in. Simple assignment. Ferry a plane to a maintenance base for scheduled maintenance. Sit around for 2 hours and then deadhead home arriving back in base by 6:40PM.

Since it was such a short time I decided to princess park, AKA park at the terminal in short term parking versus employee parking. I parked at 1:35PM and signed in at 1:40PM.

I then check too see who I was flying with. No one assigned. I checked the reserve Captain list. No one available until the 2PM standby Captain signs in. Nice.

After chit chatting with the gate agent, he thought it was a revenue flight and was happy to learn it was a ferry, I headed down to the plane.

The rampers thankfully applied GPU power. I powered up the plane then did my preflight duties. After done I grabbed a bottle of water from the galley and took my seat and played around on my phone waiting for the Captain.

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At 2:10PM I decided to head up to the gate to see if the Captain was there. Nope. I ask the gate agent if he knows if a Captain had been assigned. He stated, "Oh they didn't tell you, it's a revenue flight now, your flight has been pushed to 9:30PM." one told me. Nice.

I headed back down the ramp, ran the terminate checklist and packed up. Heading up the jet bridge I called scheduling and asked why I wasn't called, "oh we forgot," was the answer. I then asked to be released.

"Why don't you call back at 3PM and ask the night scheduler." said the scheduler.

"Because that's not legal (per the contract), you have to either give me an assignment or release me." I replied.

"Are you already signed in at the airport?" she questioned.

"Yes, it's 2:15PM. I was assigned a 1:45PM sign in." I answered.

"Oh I didn't know, then yes you are released." she replied.

Glad I princess parked. Three bucks for parking and 14 minutes later I was on my couch.

It didn't stop there.

I checked my schedule as I should have been paid per diem for the time I was on duty, from 1:45PM until 2:15PM. At less than $2 an hour it's not a lot of money, but it's the principal of the issue.

My schedule was cleared, as though I was never there. No bueno.

I spent 20 minutes on the phone explaining how they screwed up and that I wanted my duty time in my schedule. Yadda, yadda, yadda they fixed it.

Off for three days. Pondering flying to see my dad. With Spring Break this month, flights are VERY full.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

There is no runway 5L??

Had a nice week of flying. Flew 11 hours over two days....just 4 legs.

Thursday I was on reserve call out. I was called at 6:58AM for a 11:55AM sign in. A pilot called in sick (a buddy of mine from ATP no less) and I was called in to cover part of his trip. I had Friday off, so I would just be flying a turn. Another pilot was assigned the overnight.

The Captain was a guy I enjoy flying with. He recently gave me a practically new super fancy baby seat for my upcoming second officer.

He gave me the leg out. Adding up the 10,000 pounds of fuel, 33 pax (weighing approx 6,200 pounds), 1500 pounds of cargo and the roughly 45,000 pound empty weight gave a takeoff weight of 62,700 pounds. Fairly light. Being so light we discussed flying at FL410 to save fuel and have a chance of a more direct routing.

Even with a flex thrust rating of 48 degrees (flex thrust reduces takeoff power/engine wear/fuel use while meeting all required performance requirements) the plane climbed at 3500 feet per minute all the way to the initial 11,000 foot  altitude.

Passing through FL320 we had already burned more than 2000 pounds of fuel. Enough to get us to FL410.

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Up we went. Smooth ride up there so I gave a simple PA and turned off the seatbelt sign. Turning off the seatbelt sign (when it's smooth) is a huge pet peeve of mine.  I fly with some guys who never turn it off thinking that passengers ignore it anyway (which is true for some). When I fly as a passenger I mind the seatbelt sign unless it's 100% clear that the sign will never be turned off.

The outstation has two parallel runways 5L/23R and 5R/23L. I had only flown there once before....about 2 years prior and landed on 23L.  We chatted about life/flying/crap until about 30 minutes out.

After getting the ATIS is stated ILS 5L was in use. Runway 5L is a good distance from the terminal. Runway 5R is closer. A study of the charts shows only a GPS approach for 5R due to topography making an ILS impossible. No biggie.

I briefed the approach for 5L. The Captain came back and said, "Nice brief, but there is no runway 5L." I had a moment of pause. Did I brief the wrong airport? Were my charts out of date? A quick review showed my charts were up to date and that I briefed the correct airport. He then said, "You never land on 5L unless it's hard IFR (meaning down to mins). The visibility was 9SM broken 2800, scattered 1800. Hmm k.

I then re-briefed ILS 5L with  visual to 5R if it's clearly visible. I included the MSA and the towers/structures/hazards on the approach.

For whatever reason the approach controller gave us a crossing restriction to cross 75 miles out at FL240. At the time we were at FL290. After a quick check it was apparent that was impossible at we were 85 miles out. No way to drop 5000 feet in 10 miles at 310 knots! Did the best I could while keeping passenger comfort in mind. Didn't make it. From there we were given more somewhat extreme crossing restrictions that were not posted on an arrival or NOTAM. It was a small workout balancing lift/drag/speed.

After being vectored just outside the FAF we were cleared for the ILS 5L. The Captain saw the runway ahead, I could not. Descending through 3000 feet I could finally see the runway. Once on tower frequency the tower offered up 5R. With the runway clearly visible I told the Captain that was fine and clicked off the autopilot.

Landing speeds set for 57,000 pounds. Light winds. Normally a bad combo for a smooth landing. With 10,000 feet of pavement all mine I wasn't too worried about it having to force it down as only 3500 feet were required according to our performance charts. I cut the power at 20 feet and made a fairly nice landing.

This airport has changed little if any over the last 2 years. We were 10 minutes early. Tried to find food in the airport. Nothing. Lucky for me I brought snacks.

Left 8 minutes early with 24 passengers. Back up at FL400. Smooth ride and quiet up there. Decided to go topless as it was fairly quiet. Topless of course referring to taking off our headsets.

Attached to each yoke is a hand mike. On each side of the cockpit is also an overhead speaker. Most of the time on my side is a simple hand mike. On the Captain's side is a fancier model that allows them to dial a specific dispatcher/station no matter where we are. Every now and then they run out of basic models and put a "fancy" one on my side. An advantage of this is the "fancy" models have a hanger on them allowing them to be hung up for easier access. After slipping a pen into the pen holder, the mike was hung and life was good.

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The flight was normal. Arrived....8 minutes early. Funny how that works.

Friday was a day off and I was lucky enough to pick up overtime.

Overtime is very hard for me too pick up. It's all bid for by seniority. Since I am the most junior pilot at a small base...there is very little overtime to be had and very hard too get.

The overtime was a turn...long turn....blocked for 6.1 hours. Just two legs. Great overtime as it's very little work. Of course it can be boring.

For this flight the Captain was a guy who shares my passion for Android cell phones. We discuss them often. I saw him yesterday and he is getting a Nexus One. My birthday is coming up....still debating Nexus One or Apple I-Pad 32GB. Same price.

We blocked our one minute early. His leg. Gusty winds in base. Thankfully smooth enroute but wicked gusty winds at the outstation. He worked the feather light plane down to a nice landing.

Spring break is here. There were 10 unaccompanied minors on board! After the post flight I surveyed the crew if they wanted food. The inbound leg was 2 hours 40 minutes. Only the flight attendant wanted something. The only place to eat warm food that we knew of was at the far end of the concourse.

During a 30 minute turn I have to really haul both ways and hope for a short line to get there and back in time. We were 5 minutes early. I briskly walked down to the bagel shop and ordered a chicken breast sandwhich for me and a plain bagel for him. Done.

Once back in the cockpit a ramper came up and commented on the aroma from the sandwhich. I mentioned it was all there was too eat there. She then clued us in on the plethora of choices just to the right of the gate.....outside security. We never knew. Suddenly my sandwhich was not so great. There was a Burger King, BBQ and more....just feet away.

My turn to battle the gusty crosswind on takeoff. In the middle of most runways are lights/reflectors or "turtles" as I call them. The reflectors are used of course to visually see the center of the runway. Of course they also serve as a tactile clue that the plane is tracking the centerline. If you ever hear a bunch of thumping on takeoff or could simply be the tires hitting the lights/reflectors.

During my takeoff rolling I hit every light/reflector in the center of that runway. Annoying....but at least it was another clue that I was holding centerline.

The winds at base were now very high. So high that the airport was down to 3 runways for takeoff and landing due to the high winds exceeding many demonstrated crosswind components. This was causing flow problems.

Descending into the area we heard holding instructions being dished out. We were assigned to hold as published on the arrival at FL240. It was clear the controllers work load was very high as every now and then another voice would come on and give a different instruction. Many controllers work with another controller watching over their shoulder as a backup. Sometimes it takes a second set of eyes too see an issue/conflict.

The Captain entered the hold into the FMS. After agreeing it was correct, the command was executed. I remember teaching holding to my students as a CFI. Seems like a waste now with all the automation in regional jets. There were planes stacked every 1000 feet from FL220 to 290. Being overtime I was hoping to make extra money by going over block time.

Thankfully just one lap around and we were given exit instructions. Restricted to 250 knots...we slowly made our way in.

The winds were 260@25G34. Landing runway 24. No biggie. The high winds reduced our ground speed during approach to 101 knots. That's Cessna slow.

I kept the power in until 10 feet as I've been bit before by cutting the power early with gusty winds.

We blocked in 20 minutes early. So much for making money.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Got the overnight!

Sure enough we got the overnight. The entire crew was composed of reserves. Flight was scheduled to leave at 5:20PM. The inbound plane didn't arrive until 5:15PM.

As I setup my side of the plane I noticed something missing...the mike muff for my UFlyMike setup. Ugh. I thought I could get by without it. Nope. The intercom worked fine, but when I tried to talk to ATC my transmissions were garbled. The prices for mike muffs are ridiculous BTW....$5 for a piece of foam....really?

We blocked out at 6PM.

The departure line was long. Really long. We were number 15 for takeoff. Ouch. Tower advised to monitor clearance for a reroute for weather. I monitored and heard our flight number. I began copying down the clearance. Right away I realized it was the same clearance that came up on the PDC. I read it back and advised it was our filed route. The controller came back stating there had be an interim reroute but was changed back to the original. Hmmm ok.

By the time we reached the hold short line, the crew that was supposed to fly this flight touched down. It was good for them as the flight I was assigned was the end of their 4 day. They got to go home and get paid for the trip!

During climb out we contacted departure who cleared us to a fix NOT on our flight plan. After a few exchanges we were given a heading, fix and....tada....a reroute! Apparently in the last 5 minutes things changed. Copying down the clearance while getting bumped around wasn't easy for the Captain.

My leg. Already late. Overnight was scheduled for 9 hours. Leaving so late is was down to 8 hours 25 minutes. I cruised at Mach .80 at FL380.

During the 2 1/2 hours Paul, the Captain, and I caught up on what's going on in each others world.

Entering the terminal area we could see the airport 35 miles out. ATIS had arrivals on 28R. For the last few months every time I was assigned 28R we landed on 28L. Sure enough once I turned final they offered up 28L. We accepted.

Smooth turn to the left and I lined up. Paul setup the FMS and tuned in the ILS as a backup.

We blocked in at 9:33PM.....43 minutes late. Overnight down to 8 hours 22 minutes.

I slept well for such a short overnight. I woke up several times like I normally do on short overnights...I worry about over sleeping. Never happened...but I worry.

At 5:52AM I walked out the hotel room door. The flight attendant walked out of her door at the same time. She also mentioned how she didn't sleep well as she woke up several times too check the clock.

We both arrived in the lobby to see Paul waiting. We all loaded up in the hotel van at 6AM.

This airport, like many, doesn't have full crew line. We have a special entrance to bypass the line, but then have to wait in the same screening line as the public. We are all much faster than 99% of passengers. Paul was first and politely cut in line. I followed suite. Once clear we all scattered for breakfast. I bypassed Dunkin Donuts......which was a mistake. The line I took at the bagel shop was short, but the two passengers ahead of me didn't "get it". They took a while to order...fine. Then when told to move down...they just stood there. The employee behind the counter blared out, "Next!".  I placed my order over their shoulder.

When I arrived at the gate I saw a whole crew waiting there. Didn't think much of it. I greeted them then went down to the plane. As I sat down I realized it wasn't the same plane as we brought in last night. When I checked last night I was flying the same plane I flew in. Hmmm. The other crew was supposed to leave at 6AM. Due to weather they were delayed. The outstation and dispatch worked out for us to take their plane. Hmmm....

After the pre-flight I pulled out the company David Clark headset. I didn't feel like messing with my headset and the missing muff. After wiping the David Clark down with alcohol pads, I placed it on the hanger. I then noticed the MEL stickers. The plane we flew in was perfect. This one was not. Nothing major. One thing did bother Paul and I. A "Prox Sys 2 Fault" EICAS message.

All over the plane are proximity switches that are used to check the state of various doors and aircraft surfaces. If one is out of whack or "unknown", a "Prox Sys 2 Fault" might be displayed.

Now 99% of the time it's the nose strut switch that causes the Prox Sys 2 Fault. Once enough weight gets on the nose (through pax boarding) the message goes out. Sometimes though it's something else. Paul and I discussed it and bet on it going out. As the flight attendant closed the door the nose went down a tad.....and the message went away.

Blocked out on time. Slight frost on the wings required a deice. Just type 1.

Lots of turbulence over the US today. We didn't find smooth air even at FL 390. The ride didn't smooth out until we were 50 minutes out.

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Coming in we were assigned the runway furthest from our gate. Eh. Then approach called out a 777 at 1 o'clock and 12 miles. We saw it. We were then cleared to follow him and assigned the  runway closest to the gate. Score!

We blocked in 15 minutes early and the Captain and I were both released!

My wife is flying out for work today. Since I was released I GET to watch her dogs instead of her taking them to the kennel. She prefers a dog sitter, but because of my erratic schedule it's easier to use the kennel. She comes back late tomorrow night. I am off until 2PM tomorrow. Just me and the dogs. Yay!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hoping for an overnight

Sitting in the crew room. The Captain, Paul,  sitting ready with me is a guy I enjoy flying with.

When I first started I held a line for 2 months (my base was overstaffed so senior pilots bid reserve and sat at home with full pay!). One of those months was with Paul.

Paul is a great Captain. He treats me as an equal and lets me make the decisions until I make a mistake.

My first, and so far only go around out side of the sim, was with Paul. I was new and thought I could go down AND slow the same time. Yadda, yadda, yadda I had the plane at 1500 feet with the spoilers all the way out, Flaps 20, gear down and still blazing at 190 knots. Wasn't going to work. Around we went. He then hipped me to go down OR slow down. Handled nicely and I learned something.

Paul has been here a while. He used to be a steady line holder. Then my airline decided to move planes around and reduce our base. He has been reserve for a while.

Recently his family decided to move (he was out voted 3 to 1) to another state. He went from living 20 minutes from the airport to living a 2 1/2 hour plane ride from the airport. He is now a commuter who is just one number up from being the bottom guy.

Lately he's been buying a lot of hotel rooms as there haven't been many flights open. The cheapest hotel is a Motel 6 that charges crews $31.05 out the door. Not bad. But not free either.

I had already checked at crew connections and hipped him to one reduced rest overnight we could get. The crew to fly it is at an out station waiting on a plane to leave the base. Once the plane arrives the crew hops in, flies to base then out to the overnight. Right now the overnight is scheduled for 9 hours. The plane is running over an hour late.

As of right now the crew is estimated to arrive 17 minutes before they are supposed to leave. They are parking 23 gates away from the overnight flight. I am thinking we are going to get that flight. I wouldn't mind it. Haven't flow in a while. Getting an overnight tonight would allow me to be at home tomorrow night.

For now...we are both hoping for an overnight.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Is it July yet?

March starts with me going back to daily airport reserve as my line. I welcome this as I didn't like being on reserve as THE junior man.

Being the most junior I was up for any and all assignments. At first I welcomed a change from the monotony of airport reserve. That lasted until my 5th or so deadhead flight. I also didn't like the mix of morning airport reserve followed by afternoon airport reserve followed by morning call out reserve. No thanks.

For March I have partial weekends off (Thurs-Saturday). Not bad at all. I don't go in till 2PM on Sunday.

I only flew about 35 hours last month.

With my kiddo on the way my mind has turned to FMLA.

FMLA will allow me to be at home with the kiddo as much as I need....up to 12 weeks. Of course this is unpaid time off. Instead of burning all 12 weeks at once, I will use mine strategically.

I plan on using time off for the holidays for sure. One crappy thing about non-revving without permission of the Chief Pilot. Kinda crappy but whatever.

I will likely keep my afternoon airport reserve line thru June. In July I get 5-6 pilots under me as base swaps start. By the end of the year I will have at least 11 pilots under me thru base swaps. Not too shabby. I could possibly be.....a line holder. Who knows.

I turn a year older soon....the big 33. Thinking about heading to Vegas for my birthday. Just have to somehow get my wife to approve it.

The story about the kid in the control tower in New York is being overblown. As pilots we know what to expect for radio communications. With the dad standing right there, I don't see how anything bad could have happened. If the dad was out smoking a cigarette and left the kid in charge, then yes I would see a problem.

Ready for summer. Seeing snow all the time gets depressing. I've been using Google to search for make sure I don't forget what the sun looks like.