Four day trip. Day one was a killer.
Five legs and 7 hours 55 minutes of flying in a 12 hour duty day.
I had a 8:40AM report time. This meant I could eat breakfast with my daughter then take her to daycare.
Even after two years, it's not easy to drop her off some days.
My daughter is a genius...yeah I know every parent thinks that....but my daughter is pretty smart. She's picked up on the routes to various places like Target, the park, daycare and sometimes the airport. She hasn't learned plane models yet....but can identify an airplane, point and shout "airplane!".
She also knows when I have on my uniform I'm leaving for a few days.
She was quiet for most of the trip. As I picked her up she clung to me a little tighter. Once I put her down and kissed her cheek she let loose. "Daddyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, Daddyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!" crying and wailing. It still isn't easy walking away.
My Captain is new to my base. For the last 11 years he has been based elsewhere and rarely flew through here. I've been based here for almost my entire 5 years...so I know the lay of the land.
Since this is a hub for us ATC has coded terminology to reduce frequency congestion. Instead of saying " taxi to runway 26 via Golf, Victor 2, Sierra and Charlie" they use a coded phrase such as "Runway 26 via the green route". There are pages in our books stating what the "Green Route" is. I know all the routes by heart.
My Captain does not. No biggie. I clued him in.
Being "from here" also came into play for arriving back into base as to which runway to expect. I generally can guess.
I took the first leg out. Quick 25 minute (air time) flight. Once parked things got weird. We swapped flight attendants. In my 5 years I've never swapped flight attendants at an out station. Most of the time the cabin crew and cockpit crew have the same schedules. We fly the same flights and have the same overnights. This helps keep things simple...if one of us is late...we are all late. Not this week.
Captain took the leg back into base. We had another flight attendant swap.
Lunch time. I grabbed a burger and headed back to the cockpit.
Just as I took a bite, a man standing in the doorway said, "Hey don't eat that, I brought the entire crew BBQ."
I turned around and saw a guy in plain clothes, but with a company ID, standing there.
"Yeah right." I said and proceeded to take a bite.
"No seriously, I'm a must ride new dispatcher. I'll be right back with the food." He said and disappeared.
Sure enough a minute later he handed me a huge brown paper bag full of BBQ. I mean full as in BBQ beef sandwich, fries, pinto beans, banana pudding, pickles, onions and BBQ sauce. All for me. He had a bag for each of us!
He was new at my airline, also a career changer. Part of his training is he must have 4 hours in the jump seat to see how line operations work. He was a commercial pilot, but never worked for an airline, he flies for fun. After a few years as an architect he had enough....and got his dispatcher license.
Now our next turn was blocked for exactly 4 hours. We had a 70 knot tailwind for the return flight which was already overblocked by 20 minutes. Hmmm.
Normal flight out. Once at cruise I dug into my meal. Stuffed.
We blocked in 4 minutes late meaning we had 4 minutes to spare on the way back..
My leg. Slow taxi. Waited for a few general aviation planes which normally annoys us.....but today it helped pad the time. Normal takeoff. Once at cruise the FMS showed us arriving 25 minutes early. I pulled the power back to long range cruise. Still showing 10 minutes early.
I planned on landing on the south side of the airport. We park on the north side which is at least a 10 minute taxi. It would be close.
Don't ya know it we were given a north side runway. I planned on landing long to eat up a few minutes. It worked. We blocked in 3 minutes early which gave him 4 hours and 1 minute in the jump seat . Perfect.
Another cabin crew swap. This was our 4th flight attendant in 4 legs.
Long flight to the overnight. Getting a little worn. Flew fast. Arrived on time thanks to headwinds. Eighteen hour overnight. The cabin crew was once again leaving on a different flight than us....they only had a 10 hour overnight.
Day 2 was pretty easy. Just two legs. We of course swapped flight attendants again in base.
On the way to the overnight the frequency was very congested with flights asking about ride reports and weather. We were 39 miles from the airport at FL250. I had been waiting to request a lower altitude since we were 60 miles out.
"Cleared to FL240" responded the controller.
"Tell the Cabin to prepare for landing." stated my Captain. I made the PA.
Quickly given a frequency change. The next guy cleared us to 13,000 feet. Time to strap in as at this point we were just 20 miles away at FL210.,
Captains leg. Out went the first setting of flaps, the speed brakes and then the landing gear. We descended at almost 5000 feet a minute until reaching 8,000 feet. It wasn't a straight down descent but rather a shallow banking descent. With a turning descent the g-forces are lower. Passengers likely had no idea we were descending so rapidly.
Airport still in sight. Cleared for a visual and then cleared to land. Here's where it got kinda comical.
A female voice cleared us to land.
Not a very busy airport.
We stopped on the runway and prepared to do a 180 as there were several taxiways closed.
"Tower is a 180 ok here so we can taxi back to Delta?" I asked.
I asked again....3 more times.....with pauses in between. No answer.
My Captain chimed in to make sure it wasn't my radio.
A male voice....very out of breath, responded, "180 approved taxi to the ramp via Delta."
The Captain and I both chuckled.....things that make you go hmmmmmm?
Nine hour overnight.
Day 3 was also two legs. Both mine.
During the first landing things were normal till about 50 feet. Winds were reported calm. On my MFD they showed to be a 9 knot direct crosswind FROM the left.
Well between 100 feet and 50 feet....somewhere in there....they became a 6 knot tailwind.
The right wing dropped quickly around 50 feet. The nose had been pointed to the left, into the wind, while the plane tracked down the center of the runway.
Now to plane was flying to the left since the wind was gone.
I countered the right wing dropping while easing the plane back to the right and onto center line. A quick goose of the power and all was right with the world. Even greased it on.
Surprisingly we KEPT the cabin crew. Quick turn.
Quick flight to the overnight. Landing runway 32....but runway 14 was a straight in. Requested and approved for runway 14. Just a 6 knot quartering tailwind. Former military base...so the runway is ridiculously long for a regional jet.
Once below 200 I shallowed up the approach. Made a very flat landing. Done.
Now a 19 hour overnight. Tomorrow is just three legs. Then off for one....and come back Monday for a day trip.