Friday, February 3, 2012

Rule Number One....Always come home

There's a simple list of rules in my house;

Rule #1 Always Come Home

Rule #2 See rule #1

Picked up a day trip on overtime yesterday. Simple 4 hour 40 minute turn.

I debated picking it up....then I saw the weatherman said the weather would be horrible ALL DAY...that sealed the deal.

I was hoping horrible weather would mean the flight would cancel....I'd stay home with pay.

I drove to work under partly cloudy skies. So much for horrible weather.

Blocked out 4 minutes early Captain flew it up.

The weather was starting to turn for the worse. Lots of turbulence.

Two hours later he greased it on. Quick 20 minute turn. Blocked out 10 minutes early.

Normal first hour of flight. Then we got a reroute. Now going on the backside of the weather. Fuel looked good.

Twenty minutes later we got another reroute. Further out. Fuel looked decent.

Another twenty minutes later a third reroute. Way out. Computer showed landing with 5 minutes of fuel to spare. Problem.

Pulled the power way back. Captain began typing messages to the dispatcher. We happened to be directly over an airport we serve....easy diversion.

ATC was very busy assigning reroutes. Lots of chuckles reading them back....none of us had the fuel to do it. I'm glad I brought my suitcase. Some pilots on day trips just bring a kit bag.

Thankfully they worked out a way into the hub....via direct to a VOR and RADAR vectors. RADAR vectors......into a major hub.

The closer we got the busier the controllers. at 15,000 feet we were cleared to 5,000. I tried to shallow out my descent to avoid the weather. Unavoidable.

Out went the spoilers and flaps. Dive! Dive! Dive!

It was a rough 5 minutes. Told to keep a speed of 220 knots. Moderate turbulence and updrafts the entire descent. I haven't been pulled and pushed against my seat belts so much in a while. The autopilot was on, but I had one hand firmly on the yoke and one hand on the thrust levers. There were moments of turbulence where the trend vectors shot way up and then way down. Every now and then it was so rough I couldn't read a single gauge or number.

Remember....don't break Rule #1.

Further descent to 2500. Right at the bottom of the scud.

Picked up the airport 10 miles ahead. Cleared for the visual. Gusty crosswind 50 degrees to the right of centerline. Somehow greased it on. Done.

Went 40 minutes over block. Five hours twenty minutes total. Cha Ching!

As the passengers exited the plane several stopped to thank us for the safe flight a long with more than a few "good jobs".

Start my 4 day trip tomorrow worth 20 hours thirty minutes.

When I walked in the door my wife knew about the bad weather but she wasn't the least bit worried......the reason? Rule #1.


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