Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spiraling down to the runway

Nice 3 day last week. You may have noticed I don't update as often. There's a reason for that.

When I finish a trip I'm tired. I work Wednesday thru Fridays this month. I finished late Friday nights. Saturday morning I rested with my family. I then spend the entire weekend with them.

Monday morning I am Mr. Mom as my wife goes to work and I stay home with my daughter. My daughter and I don't really stay home. We hit the town big. The Zoo, Toys R Us, The Mall, Target.....maybe a trip to Lowe's. We do it up big!

Tuesday is a little more tame.

Wednesday mornings I update my Jepps, pack my suitcase (really just the same clothes over and over again...I just wash everything), and prepare to go to work. Thus....not a lot of time eh?

Anyways back to my trip.

The Captain was new to me. Really sarcastic guy. He was a real smart ass right off the bat. I gave it right back.

I took the first leg. Somehow greased it on during a gusty approach. "So that's how it's going to be eh?" replied the Captain. I told him I got lucky.

After the second leg he appreciated my being a smart ass back to him. He stated most co-pilots he flies with don't get that he's kidding or just clam up.

We had a great trip. Lots of jokes and stories.

On day two...the long day of 7.5 hours scheduled flying...things got interesting.

I had the first two legs.

Arrived at the out station a little early. Plane arrived a little late. I walked down the jet bridge and saw everyone but the First Officer...he was out doing a post flight.

The rule at my airline is no post flight is REQUIRED if the next crew is there. Being an out station most crews are waiting.

His bags looked new. I went outside and met him as he walked around the left wing...yup he was a new hire. I let him know I'd take it from there and that he didn't have to do it if I was there.

First leg was normal. Made up all of the delay.

The second leg required some skill and planning. Weather.

The outstation had a thunderstorm overhead. It was expected to blow through while we were enroute. Alternate filed. Fuel loaded. Away we went.

Mostly smooth flight.

The weather at the outstation wasn't great. Heavy rain, wind....low vis....a thunderstorm.

I pulled the power back in anticipation of holding or diverting.

Thankfully the weather did move away from the airport....but not out of the area.

The weather was about 4 miles south of the airport. Currently landing runway 32....which meant an approach from the south.

Cleared to deviate left and right for weather.

Descended to 5000 and told we would be getting vectors for the ILS to runway 32. Hmmm.

While on downwind my Captain saw the airport on his side of the plane. Patchy clouds.

Ahead of me was the trailing end of storm....huge towering cumulonimbus clouds towering 15,000+ feet. If I got vectors for the ILS it would be through the crappy weather.

"You still have the airport?" I asked the Captain.

"Yes." he replied.

"If you can keep it in view, ask for a visual." I stated.

He could....and he did.

"Cleared for the visual to runway 32, manuever as needed." was the reply from approach.

Off went the autopilot. Out went the flight spoilers, first setting of flaps and the gear...I needed the drag.

I banked the plane to the right and made a spiraling descent to the airport. I had a small space to maneuver with weather all around.

As I passed through about 120 degrees I picked up the airport. I saw it would be a tight turn to final.

I kept the right turn and planned for about a mile final. Not terribly long.

Descending through 1000 feet I stowed the flight spoilers and called out for the remaining flap settings.

Descending through 800 feet I began a turn to the left to line up with the runway.

Lined up descending through 500 feet. Decent landing.

As passengers got off several stopped by to thank us for the great job. A few noticed the small hole in the weather we had found and how smooth the ride was. It felt good to smoothly navigate weather and fly a spiral into an airport.

I've been playing a lot of "Draw Something" on my Ipad....so I drew a little sketch of the weather and approach. It's supposed to be funny...so laughter is welcome.

The next two legs were the Captains. More weather. Arrived back at the same overnight about 40 minutes late.

I've had the same overnight all month. Not only the same overnight....but the same hotel room. Kinda spooky...but eh I never have to wonder what room I'm in.

Day 3 was long. My Captain commutes and wanted to be home that night as his daughters 18th birthday was the next day. We were scheduled to arrive at 8:10PM. The last flight home for him left at 8:30PM. I clued him in on day 1 that I haven't been on time on day 3 yet. An average of 40 minutes late.

The first two legs were mine. We swapped planes after the first leg.

I flew fast on the second leg. Right below MMO. Arrived 15 minutes early. Quick turn and we left 10 minutes early.

The Captain flew just as fast as I did. ETA was 7:43PM.

Then it happened. We were slowed and turned due to congestion.

Yadda, yadda, yadda we were sped up again.

He landed at 7:47PM. While taxiing in I let him know that if he wanted to cut and run, I would shut down the plane. He thanked me for the offer and took me up on it.

Parked at 7:51PM. He was gone shortly there after. I looked up his flight when I got home....he got the jump seat.

This week I have a different 3 day trip. First overnight is long at 16 hours. The second is very short at 8 hours 40 minutes. Yep a reduced rest overnight. On top of that I do 5 legs on day 3. Nice eh?

This weekend my wife and I are planning to hit Las Vegas to celebrate our 7 year wedding anniversary. Should be doable...as long as the flight loads stay light.


  1. Congrats on the anniversary man! Love following the regional life you have as well.... Its weird to think I have read this blog for so long!

  2. Thanks, it hasn't been easy being a husband, dad and pilot, but it's been fun. No regrets so far. Takes a lot of communication and patience.

  3. Hi there, may I add my congrats too - my wife and I have just celebrated our 7th anniversary in the Maldives - the symbol for the 7th is copper and she bought me a pair of propeller cufflinks made of - you've guessed it - copper!

    I hope you were lucky in Vegas - in more ways than one! :)

    As to the frequency of your blog - I would say you spoil us as you are more prolific than most and I for one enjoy the simple tales of your various legs (there's probably a pun here but I'm not going to make it!)

    Keep the balance right and, as always, thanks for a great blog!

    Dave from the UK


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