Saturday, July 21, 2012

Maybe he's not so bad

Grueling 3 day trip. Twenty hours of flying in 3 days.

My Captain has been a Captain at my airline since before I graduated high school. He was hired as a Captain. He's been around a while. He's 62 1/2 and hopes to retire with 32,000 hours. He currently has 29,800. He kept joking that he's building time for the "majors".

He took the first leg. Nothing exciting. He initially rubbed me the wrong way as he seemed overly..."picky".

Next two legs were mine.

Weather on the way to the overnight. Had to work around some storms. Fairly bumpy for a bit. ATC cleared us to deviate as needed and direct to a VOR when able.

I could see the build ups and holes to fly through. Rather than play the "twist the heading bug" game I clicked the autopilot off and hand flew around the cells. Clearing the last cell I turned toward the VOR and re-engaged the autopilot.

Eventually descended and cleared for a visual. I briefed to roll out long as I remembered there were at least two moms holding infants in their arms on board. Slamming on the brakes to make an exit is uncomfortable. Six hours twelve minutes of flying done.

Twelve hour overnight. I exercised and went to bed. I'm on an exercise kick. I've worked out at least an hour a day for more than a week. I can already tell I'm making progress as my collar's aren't as tight as they used too be.

Day 2 was long. Four legs with two plane swaps and one terminal swap. Swapping planes takes time and makes me grumpy. Swapping a plane + a terminal makes me really grumpy...especially when I have just 35 minutes to block in, deplane, post flight, pack up, find the new plane, preflight, load up the FMS, flows and block out.

The overnight leg was mine again. More storms to work around. Winds were 180@15G20.

The airport has two runways. Runway 13 and runway 18.

Runway 13 is 7500 feet long. Runway 18 is just 5000 feet long. The required landing distance was 4700 feet without correcting for wind. My rule is always take a decrament for a tailwind, but never benefit from a headwind. Why? Headwinds might go away and I could run out of runway. If a tailwind goes away...I land shorter. Runway 13 it was.

Gusty approach. Touchdown was nice and I smoothly brought the nose down. Gentle braking. The Captain turned off the runway with 1500 feet to spare.

Fifteen hour overnight on a different beach. Worked out, found dinner and went to bed early as day 3 would start with a 5 AM van.

Woke up at 4AM. Saw the horrible news about the shooting in Denver.

Out the door at 4:50AM. Rode on the van with a Southwest crew. Long quiet ride.

Five leg day. Blocked out 2 minutes early. First two legs were his. Middle two were mine. Last one was his.

First leg was just over an hour. I sipped my coffee and watched the sunrise. Never gets old.

During the arrival we got a DFDR caution message. For whatever reason the Digital Flight Data Recorder ("Black Box" recorder) was offline.

Blocked in a few minutes early. A mechanic fixed the DFDR issue and we thought we'd leave early as we had just 3 passengers. Nope.

There was a broken aircraft at our next destination. Fuel leak. The company wanted to dead head a mechanic. We were delayed waiting for him. After 10 minutes passed departure time they gave up and we left without him.

Quick 25 minute flight.

The broken aircraft was sitting on a gate. It was the "kick off" or first flight of the day....and it was delayed. They were full...we were already full...a lot of upset customers.

Blocked out 8 minutes early full.

Twenty six minutes after taking off I turned final for landing. Decent landing and we blocked in 8 minutes early.

Hot day. While running checklist for leg 4 we got an indication that there was smoke in the cargo compartment. The rampers were loading bags.

We did a quick fire test and the indication went out. The Captain went to visually check. No issue. Likely cause was hot APU exhaust being blown into the cargo compartment.

Blocked out on time...full + an offline mainline jump seater...a fairly large offline  jump seater.

Long flight. Blocked for 2 hours 15 minutes. Tired. We all chit chatted enroute. Ironically my Captain had more than double the flight time of the offline mainline jump seater. Ironic because many assume mainline ( Delta, United, American, US Air)pilots are "more experienced" and have more flight time than regional pilots. Not always.

Low clouds, low visibility and rain required an ILS approach at the destination. I briefed the ILS. While being vectored in we could tell the approach controller was swamped.

Bouncing around in the clouds.

I was on a heading to join the localizer. I noticed I crossed a fix 2000 feet higher than on the approach chart. I began slowing at I had 9 miles to the FAF and could make it work. Nope.

Approach controller apologized for leaving us high and vectored us back around for another approach.

My Captain called the runway in sight just inside of a mile. I clicked off the autopilot and made another average landing. The runway was 11,000 feet long and we parked at the far end...I let it roll and used food old friction to slow down...minimal braking.

Ready to be done.

Twenty five minutes after blocking in we were being pushed back for the fifth leg. Two hours and and Twenty Five minutes block. Crazy weather popped up during the arrival into the area.

The center controller changed our STAR three times in 10 minutes as a cell was expanding faster than expected. Very bumpy ride in. Lots of up drafts and down drafts.

Fifth leg done. Seven hours and forty five minutes of flying. Tired.

After blocking in I looked at my schedule for next month. I'm not happy about it.

I had been holding 18 days off, 3 day trips and weekends off until July. This month I had a mix of 3 day trips and 1 4 day trip working partial weekends.

For August....I have all 4 day trips....weekends off...but just 13 days off.

With the carry over from July (I start a 4 day on July 29th that finishes August 1st) I have 94 hours of flying for August. Too much for me.

I plan on requesting to drop at least 20 hours which is one 4 day trip giving me 17 days off and 74 hours of flying which is enough for me. It's only a it's only approved if there are enough reserves to cover the flying. a


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