Thursday, March 10, 2011

Deadheads, short runways and crappy trips

It's the 10th of the month and I have already flown 16 hours. Doesn't seem like much, but I only flew 23 hours total last month.

February was good though as I will get paid for about 92 hours even though I only flew 23. In addition I was home more than not. Living in base means everything.

Several regionals are suddenly finding themselves short staffed. Mine is no exception. I've had more deadheads than nonrev flights this year. Deadheading is being on duty but flying as a passenger.

Last week I was assigned a trip as soon as I clocked in for airport standby. The odd thing was the trip didn't leave until 9:30PM. Being 2PM...that was a long sit. I made the best of my time.

Right before the trip I saw a buddy who is based elsewhere and commutes from my base. I was covering his trip. His grandfather was likely going to pass away that night so the dropped the rest of his trip to nonrev out to see him. Knowing that I was happy to cover his flying.

The crew was pretty good. One leg to a short overnight on day one, two legs on day two with a long (18 hours!!!!) overnight, day three was one leg to another base and a deadhead home for me.

All flights were on time the first two days. On the third day the flight was supposed to leave at 5:35 PM, arrive at 8:05PM and I was to deadhead home at 9:15PM. The 9:15PM flight was the last flight of the night. If I missed it I would be staying the night and would be junior manned to dead head home the next day. Additionally the next day I was planning on taking my daughter on a flight to visit my dad.

The flight out was delayed until 6:40PM. Late inbound. With a 6:40PM departure we weren't expected to arrive until 9:05PM. That would give me just 10 minutes to make my deadhead. Very unlikely.

My flight attendant was hoping to make the same flight as she commutes. We were on a mission.

The inbound only had 24 passengers. Our outbound had 6. We were all very efficient and blocked out 14 minutes after the plane blocked in. That's getting the original crew and passengers off, original passengers bags off, new crew and passengers on, new bags on, fueled, FMS programmed and clearance. Not too shabby.

Captains leg. He flew fast. We blocked in 30 minutes less than scheduled. I had nearly an hour to make my deadhead. No problem.

The next day I took my family to visit my dad. My 6 month (almost 7 month) old daughter has now been on 12 flights...something around 17,000 miles in the air. She travels well.

Tuesday I signed in for airport standby again at 2PM. I saw an open trip (No First Officer assigned) leaving at 2:35PM. The Captain was nearby and I asked if he was flying solo? He laughed. He stated he wasn't going to call crew scheduling as it's not his job. I agreed and stated I would wait for them to call me. I was the only First Officer available.

Right at 2:35PM my phone rang. I was already up at the gate. The scheduler "didn't know why" I wasn't already contacted. Whatever.

It was a 2 day trip. Originally a 2 day back to back. Same trip that starts at 2:35PM Sunday, finishes at 7:35PM Monday, then starts again at 2:35PM on Tuesday and finishes at 7:35PM Wednesday. This was the Captains line. The rest of the crew was reserve....his original crew all dropped the trip.

The first day was a little rough at 7 hours of flying. I took the first leg. I'd been to this outstation at least 50 times. The airport has three long runways (9000 feet) and one short one (6000 foot). I had never landed on the short one.

Due to the weather we were routed to come in FROM the north instead of the south. The airport was landing north. We were assigned the short runway. Hmmm k.

The skies were cloudy but the ground was dry. With the weight of the airplane the performance charts indicated we needed 3800 feet to land and stop. That assumes maximum braking and reverse thrust. Thus I had 2200 feet to spare. Of course we don't land at the end of the runway, but rather 1000 foot down at me 1200 feet to spare. At a 140 knot approach speed the plane covers about 240 feet per second. If I floated just 4 seconds things could get very interesting. I'm a great pilot, but no Chuck Yeager.

Cleared for the visual. I clicked off the flight director and autopilot. No ILS for the runway thus no reason to use the flight director. It was kind of relaxing to be able to just fly the plane. I kept an eye on the VASI and flew the plane.

The runway was slightly bowed in the first 1500 foot. I made a firmish (but not jarring by any means) landing and quickly began braking and had maximum reverse thrust. Around 70 knots the plane passed the 2000 foot remaining marker. Done.

Quick turn. The third leg was mine. Low overcast skies at the outstation. Right at 250 feet the Captain stated , "runway in sight".  I still love the moments before landing in low clouds, wondering if we will see the runway/approach lights. It is a quick transition from looking inside at the instruments to looking outside and having just a few seconds to focus and land the plane. I floated a bit...nice landing though.

After another 18 hours (EIGHTEEN HOURS!) at the same overnight it was time to go. Just one leg home. What a waste of a day. Sit around all day for a single hour flight home. Eh. Crappy trip.

I'm assigned airport reserve thru Saturday. Sunday I have overtime. A week from tomorrow I turn 34. I have the day off....oh what to do....hmmmm.

1 comment:

If you are a spammer....your post will never show up. Move along.