Friday, December 27, 2013

Fly a trip....get a Blendtec

One thing I like about my job is being able to make extra money. It's something all hourly employees can do.

I had a great Christmas off with my family.

The day after my wife had to I figured I'd work as well.

This time of year is always rough staffing. My company was paying a premium for pilots to fly all week.

I picked up a turn worth 5 hours that paid 7.5 hours. Easy day trip.

It left late but arrived back on time. When done I earned enough to pay for a Blendtec blender I've been eyeing.

Next month is going to be interesting. I have vacation for a week. During the bidding process I selected an option to maximize my time off...thus I work a whole 8 days next month. Just two four day trips.

Time to play with my Blender.....

Monday, December 23, 2013

Hostile Work Environment

There is a very scary thing going on out in the regional industry. It's going to get uglier before it (might) gets better. The bar is being lowered further than I could ever have imagined.

Back in 2006 when I started at ALLATPs things were bustling. My location was very busy. Instructors were flying at midnight as that was the only time planes were available.

After 2009 things started slowing down. Today my old school is much slower.

Banks are no longer willing to hand over $60,000 to a person wanting to learn to fly and work for an airline. The banks have been burned badly by the folks who got the $50,000 loans in 2006 who can't pay them back. Reason? Stagnation.

Back in 2007 several regional airlines were touting their 2 year upgrades. Heck I have friends that went to those 2 year upgrade airlines. Pilots figured the'd eat ramen noodles for 2 years then double their pay.

Just THIS year they began upgrading.......over 6 years later. Upgrade time is very fluid.

In the meantime there has been a lot of consolidation among the regional airlines. I thought this would lead to higher pay as there are fewer dogs in the fight. I was wrong.

The first airline to succumb to the dangling carrot of "fly it for less and get new airplanes" was PSA. PSA is a fairly small airline owned by US Airways. They agreed (among other things), to cap Captain pay at 12 years, First Officer pay at 4 years, much higher medical insurance cost, less per diem and more....all for 30 jets.

Their upgrade time is over 6 years.

Management stated they needed the cuts to help operate the jets competitively. take the pay cuts. The pilots didn't buy the current jets that are now obsolete. When Progressive Insurance needs to buy new computers and vehicles for their agents, do they ask agents for money? No. They find the money through higher cost to the customer. The pilots don't get to take the jets home...or fly them on weekends to visit family. They are a tool. Same as a tool on an assembly line to build a widget. The use of the tool benefits the company...not the employee.

It gets better....errr worse.

Management FIRST went to the airline currently known as American Eagle (they are getting a new name as American Eagle is now a brand). The union saw the same proposal and said no. They stood their ground as they had already taken concessions the previous year in which they were promised jets...but got nothing as their parent company went into bankruptcy.

Right now two of the largest regionals are being told by management to do it for less or else, Expressjet and American Eagle.

Since American Airlines and US Airways merged, American Eagle (formerly owned by AMR) PSA, and Piedmont (both formerly owned by US Airways) are now all family under the American Airlines Group.

American Eagle pilots have allegedly been threatened by management that if they don't take the current offer (which is almost a mirror of PSA) they will be "Comair II".

Comair was once a great regional. They had a great pay, work rules and were highly respected.

Back in 2001 they went on strike after Delta threatened cuts. That strike REALLY hurt Delta as Comair did the majority of the regional flying.

Comair won the battle...but Delta won the war. Delta began farming out more and more regional feed. Comair began shrinking. Finally Delta had enough regional feeders that they closed Comair down.

Up until 2012 American Eagle performed over 95% of the regional flying for American Airlines. In 2012 American Airlines closed the American Eagle Los Angeles base (after the pilots voted in concessions) and brought in Skywest to do the flying and expanded the flying. American Airlines then brought in Expressjet to do flying in DFW along side American Eagle. In Chicago they brought in their first 76 seat regional jets to be flown by Republic. American wanted diversified feed even though American Eagle has a no strike clause and took the required concessions.
Could American Eagle be next? They have roughly 2900 pilots and still perform over 85% of the flying for American Airlines. They can't be replaced overnight. At best 3 years if other regionals can find enough pilots to replace them.

It's going to get ugly at American Eagle. Over the weekend their Union sent out a letter stating crew members are no longer allowed to commute home if they get sick while on a trip. Instead the crew member must pay for a hotel where ever they are until they are better. This is another attack as it's okay for a passenger to fly sick, but not a crew member sitting in the back of the plane?

This new policy could force pilots (especially First Officers) to fly sick to avoid having to spend money on a hotel room, which in New York could easily cost $150 a night.

Anyone remember Colgan 3407? That First Officer mentioned flying sick because they didn't want to pay for a hotel room.

If an American Eagle pilot commutes home anyway they could have their travel privileges revoked meaning they can't commute to work on American Airlines or American Eagle. Management can easily track a crew member even if they fly on another airline.

This industry is in a tailspin. I've already told my wife I am prepared to exit if I'm forced to work for less money than I expected when I joined my airline. She supports me. I love my job. I love flying....but I will not do it for sub poverty wages.

Good luck Expressjet and Eagle. The results will be known January 14th for BOTH airlines.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

That guy

I had just one day off between trips this week. Glad I don't commute.

I was supposed to have a 4 day trip last week. Wednesday morning I felt well enough to go to work physically. But I didn't feel great about leaving my family for another 4 days. Once at work I decided to request Saturday off. As I handed the form to the office assistant she let me know that "critical coverage" was declared for Thursday and Friday...and that my request was behind 4 other pilots. As I made my way to the gate I had no motivation to be there. I could have called in sick....but I wasn't sick. Just going to get through this trip.

The Captain arrived. His name looked familiar when I signed in...then I saw him. A light went off....last time I flew with him I remembered he was very unpersonable. He loved to talk about himself but never listened to one thing I had to say. He has a computer background as well...thought we could talk about tech....nope just his tech. Fine with me as I get paid the same whether I talk or not. It was a 5-2-4-3 trip. He took the first leg. While at the out station I check my request had been approved. I'd be finished at 8PM on Friday. I took the next two and he took the last two. Easy first day. Doubletree hotel. Very nice. Day 2 flying was all me.

I tried to chat with him during the trip. He had zero interest. Fine. Clouds it is.

Day 3 was 3 legs with just the last being mine. All through the trip he did something that annoyed me...but I thought it was just me.

At 500 feet on every landing the pilot not flying calls out my speed in reference to VREF and my sink rate. This is just to give me a heads up on where I am.

Prior to that...maybe 15 minutes prior...the pilot not flying sets my landing speeds via flip cards we carry on the flight deck. The speeds are all weight based and include VREF (speed I should touch down at) and how much runway is required.

We take the VREF number and add a minimum of 5 knots for light winds and...well we don't have auto-throttles so no one is perfect. Additionally if there are any steady state winds or gust those are figured in as well.

So let's use easy numbers. If my VREF was 135 knots my VAPP (speed where I should be when fully configured for landing) would be 140 knots.

If I was on speed on a calm wind day I should hear something like , "Plus 5 sink 700" at 500 feet.

Every time I landed with this guy I would hear numbers like "Plus 14 sink 800" or "Plus 9 sink 700". I glanced down at my speed tape and I was within 1 knot of VAPP....which was 5 knots over VREF. He was throwing me off.

After my final landing I had enough. After blocking in I grabbed the flip cards and asked where he was getting his speed calls from as I was on speed.

His answer? He was using the low speed awareness line as VREF and not the book VREF. I was floored.

The FAA requires some mark to show the speed that is just above stall speed to give pilots a head up. CRJs use a green line while ERJs use a white bar.

Our VREF speeds were first calculated by the manufacturer and then my company added a percentage to it. So even with a 135 knot VERF the actual stall speed is way down at maybe 120 knots. Big gap.

I politely let him know that he's the only guy I've ever flown with that calls the VREF based on the low speed awareness and that by doing so he's throwing out all the numbers in the book. Everything I briefed for the approach was based on the flip cards.

He replied with that's what's in our operating manual. I then pulled out the manual and showed him the landing profile and it stated VREF from the cards...nothing mentioned about low speed awareness.

The Captain then stated he will likely stop using the low speed awareness as a guide. Great idea!

I then gathered my things and went home. I had a great weekend with my family.

For the rest of the month I have 3 two day trips. Easy and low leg.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

I'm still here....

With just one day off between trips last week....I'm a bit worn. Working on a post. For now gonna sit on the couch and relax.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Quite the trip

Quite the 2 day trip.

I was originally scheduled to arrive home at noon on Friday. I didn't arrive home until 4PM Monday.

My early morning flight from the out station that I as to fly on Friday, canceled Thursday night. No biggie as I was reassigned to fly the noon departure. I headed to the Casino as it's the only thing nearby.

Friday as I was getting ready to go the noon  flight canceled. My crew and I ventured out for food. Being in a “downtown” hotel in a small town meant limited options. The only grocery store was more of a beer and chips store. They had grocery in the name...but didn't even have bread.

Friday evening I saw I was scheduled to deadhead on the 6AM departure Saturday morning. I would be getting Junior Man pay which means 4 hours pay or 150% of what's flown...whatever is greater. About an hour after I checked...that flight canceled and I was again assigned to fly the noon departure. I headed to the casino.

Saturday morning I headed to the casino for the cheap breakfast buffet. Once back in the room the noon departure canceled. I headed to the airport rent a car. At this point I would be paid 4 hours pay for the day plus all the per diem I was racking in (at $1.80 an hour).

My crew was getting cabin fever. I used one of my National Rent a Car free days to rent a car. I drove my crew around town for a bit before stopping at a Wal-Mart for supplies.

The Flight Attendant was driving the cart and throwing in groceries like we were going to be here for a week. She stopped and put a few things back...she was in her normal grocery routine.

Supplies in hand we went back to the hotel. I ate my apple and walnut salad and got bored. Headed to the casino again. I then ventured out and explored the town in the car. Not a whole lot to see.

Saturday evening I was assigned to deadhead on the noon flight on Sunday.

Sunday morning I packed my bags and left the hotel early as I had to return the car. While waiting at the return counter.....the noon flight canceled. I just laughed.

I was getting frustrated. I was going to head to my airline counter to look for options when I saw the hotel van outside. I just walked outside and got in. The van was there for another airline crew. Once on board....back to the hotel I went.

The hotel gave me the same room again. I slunk back to the room to see it was being cleaned. After about 15 minutes of waiting in the lobby it was done. My wife couldn't believe the cancellations. Even though I was originally supposed to work the weekend I had been approved to have the days off. We had no real plans, but did plan on doing something as a family.

I then hit up friends at other airlines for load factors for a way home. There were only two departures per day from the out station for my airline. It would be a two legger on any other airline.  All could get me on one leg, but the legs home were all full. I was stuck.

Sunday afternoon I was set to deadhead again on the 6AM flight Monday morning. That evening it canceled and I was assigned to dead head on the noon departure.

This morning I woke up and checked the flight status...still a go.

I headed to the casino for the cheap breakfast buffet.

A bit disillusioned I didn't bother checking the flight status.

Once back in the room I checked....still a go.

I met my crew and the crew that would be working the flight in the lobby. We were all ready to go...especially the other crew. They were to overnight somewhere warm and packed for it. They got stuck here Thursday night. The temp outside never got above 20.

The station, for reasons I do not understand, had not prepped the plane. No heat...and it was covered in snow that fell last night.

The temperature of the cabin was just 1 degree Celsius. A few of the soft drinks in the galley had exploded from the cold temp. The Captain was not happy.

He fired up the APU and turned on the heat. After 20 minutes the cabin was still just 10 degrees. Eventually it warmed up. The station removed the packed snow from the engine nacelles. Boarding started.

Deicing took a while as the snow was quite thick. An hour after scheduled departure time we were in the air.

Arrived in base to see a winter wonderland. My car was covered in snow and ice. I picked up my daughter from school. Her teacher just shook her head and said, “ I thought about you each time the news said flights were canceled.”

Once home I decided I needed to visit a doctor. While stuck I started having an issue with my back. An itch developed that turned into a small rash. The Doctor looked at my back for 2 seconds and let me know I have...............shingles. Nice eh? It's not common at all in those under 60.  I was given a prescription and told it should be gone in less than 10 days.

I contacted my union medical Doctor to confirm I'm safe to fly while on it as I have a just one day off. I'll decide tomorrow if I am going to up for it or not. I'm not contagious unless someone directly contacts my no massages for me this week. Ha.

The trip was originally just a 7 hour 2 day trip. I was to be away from base for 25 hours. I ended up flying just 1 hour 40 minutes and being away from base for 102 hours and 35 minutes. Total pay including Junior Man will roughly $760 + $216 in per diem. I broke even at the casino so overall it's a lot of money. Not worth the frustration though.

Even my Captain whom has been here 15 years has never been stuck for that long before. Quite the trip indeed.

Still love my job.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Why do I even bother?

I had a 4 day starting on Thursday. Earlier in the week I put in a request to drop the weekend flying. The result was a 2 day finishing at noon on Friday.

Weather. Lots of it.

Day 1 on Thursday was one leg in. Before I even left my return flight was cancelled.

Arrived early. Off to the hotel..

Later that day scheduling reassigned me to fly a later flight. Just one leg in.

Friday morning my noon departure cancelled. I was reassigned for the noon departure Saturday.

As I got dressed for the 11AM van.....the noon departure cancelled.

All for weather.

The good thing was there is a casino nearby. I was up $130 yesterday. Came back with $80 positive. Pretty sure I'll give it all back.

Ya gotta have a sense of humor to work in the travel industry. I should make it home tomorrow.

xt I'm supposed to fly tomorrow is on it's way here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Congratulations to the junior pilots!

December is an anomaly for bidding when Christmas Day falls on a weekday. The reason? Senior pilots switch from bidding weekends off to working weekends to get Christmas off.

My original line for December had me working all weekends and having Christmas off. After last years Christmas fiasco I didn't want to work any part of Christmas.

After lines are assigned pilots are given a chance to move around their sequences. I was able to move mine around to get two full weekends off and one partial weekend off. I still have Christmas and New Years off.

This being Thanksgiving week I am working Thanksgiving day by choice.  In theory I should finish at 2PM. I'm always in fear of the junior man assignment. Sick calls go up every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I find it unfair as we work in the travel industry. Planes fly everyday of the year. We know this going into this job that we will work Holidays. The more senior a pilot gets the better chance of getting the schedule they want. I could have had Thanksgiving off, but I bid a schedule that finished in time to have half the day off. I don't complain when I work holidays. I don't like working holidays, but it is what it is. I do complain about being given extra flying because a pilot called in sick just to get the holiday off.

On day one of a 4 day. Much easier than my last 4 day as it's a 3-4-2-3 trip. Trips in and out of my base. Total value it a fairly low 19 hours.

The first day was just 3 hours. Three quick legs. Today is the "hard" day with 4 legs worth 7 hours and 50 minutes.

With the cold temps blanketing the country I've had to dust off my winter gear. Gloves, hat, thermal pants for under my uniform pants and the all important thermal liner for my jacket. I don't like cold.




Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A few photos from my warm flying



Just a few photos I snapped while flying over water. One interesting tidbit....we aren't approved for ditching in my plane. So if we had to ditch.....I'd be in trouble. We carry life vest, but no rafts or slides, thus we have to stay within 50 miles of "land" at all times. Understand we don't have to be able to land on said land...just be within 50 miles of land.


1118131145 IMG_20131119_170224 IMG_20131119_165935IMG_20131119_165619 1118131436a

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We were all new once

Day 2 of an interesting 4 day trip. The trip is a rare 5-5-3-1. Most trips have odd legs on the ends and even in the middle. The reason is with even legs overnights are most likely at an out station. With odd legs overnights are likely in a base.

Day 1 started on Sunday...early with a 6:25AM report time. My Captain was new to the seat. He was previously a very senior First Officer. He's been at my airline for 17 years. He upgraded the first time on a prop after 5 years. Two years later he was displaced to the right seat of a jet in order to stay in base. He could have commuted to be Captain, but quality of life was more important. For the next 10 years he was a very senior First Officer holding the exact schedule he wanted and great vacation.

Then the airline closed his base entirely. He said he took the first 9 months of this year off.  I didn't ask why. When he came back he upgraded to Captain in the same jet he'd been flying as First Officer.

He's a very nice guy but told me to not be shy about pointing out things as he was getting used to being Captain again. It's been interesting. I don't mind helping but it's a little odd. I'm used to the Captain doing certain things while I do other things. This is mostly true at the gate. When a Captain duty came up I'd wait a few minutes then bring it up. Just a little odd.

Being out of flying for so long and then switching seats is a lot to overcome. Flying from the other side of the flight deck means a reversal of hands.

Right now during the approach my right hand is on the yoke and left hand on the thrust levers. I look to the right for my PFD and left for my MFD. For Captains it's left hand on the yoke and right hand on the thrust levers. The PFD is on the left and MFD on the right.

Day one was an eleven hour duty day with 7 hours 30 minutes of flying.

The last leg was mine. This was the same airport I had to declare an emergency back in June when we ran dangerously low on fuel...landing at an alternate airport with just 5 minutes fuel remaining.

About 15 minutes after departing our base the center controller came on and advised "all east bound regional jets check your fuel. There was a report of a regional jet leaking fuel on takeoff."

Not again I thought.

Shortly after every departure we get a print out of our planned fuel burn at points along the route. We checked and were about 100 pounds short but within normal variances. We kept checking and thankfully it wasn't us. If there was an issue on another flight we didn't hear it.

Normal approach for a night landing with a runway lit with those LEDs. I'll get used to them eventually.

Shortish 11 hour overnight.

Early morning 6 AM van. Day 2 was all flying out of another base. We 'd be doing island flying.

The first Caribbean airport was very small. Just one 6000 foot runway with no control tower. They are adding a new runway, terminal and a control tower though.

My Captain had been here two weeks ago. He briefed me on the airport.

"If we don't see the airport by 7000 feet it gets messy as that's the base altitude for center....there's no RADAR below that. Also the locals don't tend to use the radio much and land with tailwinds. Last time I was here we had to shoot an approach and relay radio transmissions through other aircraft."

Thankfully it was VFR. The airport was busy and thankfully the other aircraft were making position reports.

Uneventful. Quick turn. My leg out. With no RADAR or radio contact it was a VFR departure. It was kinda relaxing to just takeoff and depart VFR. I made a nice turn out over the resort area. Looked nice.

Many foreign airports have US Customs facilities so passengers can clear before they leave. Those airports also allow the crew to avoid going through customs once back in the states. This was not a pre-clearance airport.

Once back it was a long walk to customs. I used the Global Entry kiosk while the rest of my crew got in line for regular processing. I zipped out quickly. Not being my base I was a bit confused on how to get back through security since customs exits the secured area. An airport employee stopped me and advised to turn around and head toward the Known Crew Member entry for faster service. I was thankful.

I pulled out my KCM barcoded ID and passport and handed it to the TSA representative. I breezed through...and then had an incredibly long walk back to the gates. Quick salad and back on the flight deck.

The next island was a pre-clearance airport. I flew planned speeds but managed to arrive 25 minutes early. By this point I was getting  worn. Captians leg back. Arrived 15 minutes early.

We had a 22 hour overnight. The hotel is in a very upscale area....which means expensive food options. Thankfully there is a fridge and microwave in the room. I walked about a mile to a grocery store and found very healthy options...and my favorite beer.

Day 3 is just 3 legs worth 5 hours followed by an 18 hour overnight. On day 4 it's one leg with a 6PM departure arriving home at 9PM.

Thursday I have off while Friday I head to the first auto show of the 2014 season....the LA Autoshow. It will be a day trip. Saturday my family is flying to visiting family and friends coming back Sunday. Then Monday I start another 4 day trip. Over the course of 12 days I will only sleep in my bed 3 nights.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

28 Center? I hardly know you

Cold....and high pressure.

This trip has been easy but a little different.

A weather system has blown through the country leaving cold weather and oddly high pressure. My highest altimeter reading so far this trip was 30.74. Normal is 29.92 of course.

I don't care much for Chicago O'hare. This might be changing.

Last month the new runway 10 Center and 28 Center opened up. It's really changed up the routine.

I used to land on what is now 28 Right and then feel a bit rushed as the Captain had to monitor ground while I had to clean up the plane and call operations to check if the gate was open. I'd then relay this to the Captain either to go in or request to go sit somewhere.

With 28 Center it's much more relaxed.

Last night we arrived on the Benky1 arrival. While on downwind at 10,000 feet I had a beautiful view of downtown Chicago.



Not the best's from my phone....but trust me it was beautiful. To my right I saw Midway and a Southwest 737 climbing up straight toward us and level off around 4000 feet according to the TCAS.

The controllers in Chicago are pretty good. They all seem to be leaning back in lazy boy relaxing as they give out instructions. No sense of stress at all. This is different from say, Houston, where they seem to in a constant state of WTF!??!?!?

Not a busy night, the controller stated "Speed your discretion, you'll go right in".

I got the hint. I slowed to 200 knots and called for the first setting of flaps.

"Turn left heading 360, descend to 4000  and report the airport in sight" stated the approach controller.

I clicked off the autopilot and made a smooth left diving turn. I had the ILS tuned in and the approach path set up on my MFD as a backup.

It's funny how airports appear as mostly black holes at night. City lights drown out the airport lights.

I saw the hole that was the airport and the lights. The localizer and MFD confirmed that was indeed the airport. Cleared for a visual.

With a continued left turn I lined up on final. A little high. I called for the gear and final flaps.

Runway 28 Center is new and thus has LED runway lights. They are much sharper and smaller than the older runway lights. The LEDs throw me off a bit.

About 7 miles out and approaching the glideslope the tower took the opportunity to launch two flights off 22L. Another thing about Chicago, they can stack them deep and launch them quick. More than once I've heard ,"Be ready to go I'm going to launch you in the same gap as the aircraft in front of you".

They will clear one flight for takeoff and then as soon as the nose is off the ground clear the next one.

Once they were clear I still had another 4 miles to go. Easy landing. As briefed I made the Papa 2 exit.

"Two right turns and join PAPA. Contact ground on 134.15" tower stated.

With the new runways they have minimized crossing aircraft in front of departing aircraft. This meant we had to taxi all the way down to GG to cross. Safety has it's penalty.

Here's a photo from the City of Chicago website


Quick turn. For the outbound it was a little busier. Chicago uses a "metering" guy and a "ground" guy.

After push back I called metering with our location. All he says is monitor ground. I imagine the metering guy slides a tile over to the ground guy so he can work us in.

Most of the time I can never talk to the ground guy. He is like an auctioneer as he almost never stops talking. If you miss an instruction you just have to wait till he notices you haven't moved and he gets back to you.

Last night it was;

"3291 Three two left Tango 10, turn right on Alpha, Alpha 7, Tango behind the 76 on your left," then he went on to the next flight. No chance to confirm.

Easy flight. Cold.

I'm moving up in my relative seniority. I'm currently in top 31% of First Officers in base. A few months ago I in the 33rd percentile. This time last year I was in the 44th percentile.


Friday, November 8, 2013


I had almost a week off between trips. Most of that time was spent traveling with my family. My daughter is quite the experienced flyer.

I need to update her logbook, she really has one, I think my daughter has been on over 60 flights now.

It's natural to assume a family with a toddler in an airport is frazzled or confused. Most families travel once or twice a year.

A few months ago my wife, daughter and I enrolled in Global Entry. Along with Global Entry approval we were given TSA Precheck. There are likely very few 3 years olds in either program.

Almost every time my daughter goes through security the "agents" comment on how well behaved she is. My daughter just walks through and waits by the end of the belt. I guess that's good behavior?

Once on the airplane she sits down and waits as we put on the CARES harness. We then read a few Curious George stories until we can whip out the Ipads. She's only been loud maybe twice on a plane. We are always tweaking our system. Everything is checked except a backpack for my wife and I. We have snacks, books, crayons and toys inside.

Beyond the flight we drove over 500 miles visiting family. The benefit of unlimited travel is definitely a perk to the job since our family is so spread out.

Right now I'm on day 4 of a 4 day trip. I have 4 day trips all month. It's not the ideal schedule but it works.

My airline is getting ready for the new rest rules for pilots. Our flight attendants don't get the new rest rules. As a result we are playing musical flight attendants.

In the past I had the same flight attendant for the entire trip unless they called in sick or had vacation. It was nice getting to know the people I work with. That's history.

I've had 5 different flight attendants on this trip. Each night we bring one in to the overnight and take another one out.

The Captain I'm flying with is a guy I haven't flown with in 4 years. He traded into the trip when he saw my name as we enjoyed flying together. It's just like old times. Truly a great trip.

As winter is approaching I'm thinking I need to bid more southerly. Currently in Fargo, North Dakota. It's cold. Supposed to come back next week. Two weeks from now I have a 20 hour overnight in Florida. Looking forward to that one.

Back in 2007 when I left ALLATPs my fellow CFIs chastised me for not going to an airline with a quick upgrade. Back then there were a lot of regionals with 2 year upgrades.

Well things of course slowed down. After 5 years not a single friend had upgraded. A few were really upset as they planned on upgrading in 2 years and moving on. They didn't like the airline the chose as it had a low quality of life contract.

Just this year the upgrades have started. One friend at Expressjet upgraded after 6 years 11 months. Another was just awarded after 6 and a 1/2 years at Air Wisconsin and Republic. I'm hoping mine is coming in the next year.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

About that pay raise

Day 3. I joked this morning in the hotel van that I was going to work harder today since I get an extra $0.53 an hour. Yeah....about that.

First two legs were mine. First was super short with just 23 minutes off to on. The second leg was long. Due to weather we had an alternate.

Enroute the weather at the destination was bad. Like zero visibility bad. We slowed down.

Thirty minutes out conditions didn't improve. We ran the numbers. We had 15 minutes of hold fuel. Literally 3 minutes before we were going to reach bingo fuel the visibility came up to right at minimums....1800 RVR. We headed in.

At 300 feet my Captain saw nothing. At 200 feet he saw the approach lights. I clicked off the autopilot and continued down. Right at 150 feet he called the runway. I looked up and saw a foggy mess. Easy landing.

Quick turn.

Captains leg.

The takeoff roll began normally. I called 80 knots and he replied. All was normal.

VR was 133 knots which is just over 150 MPH. Right at VR the plane began to vibrate severely. We looked at each other. I said "rotate".

He rotated the nose into the air and the vibration stopped. Everything seemed normal on the EICAS.

On climb out I advised tower, "I think we blew a tire on takeoff."

Tower replied ,"Roger what are your intentions."

I looked at my Captain and he pointed up.

"We are going to continue." I replied.

We were 6000 pounds over max landing weight. It was safer to continue and burn off the fuel than land. Tower couldn't verify our landing gear condition as the tower was fogged in.

Emergency declared.

At cruise I made a PA advising passengers of the strong vibration they felt and that we thought we blew a tire. Everything would be normal on landing except the presence of fire trucks.

Over the next two hours we had plenty of time to discuss the situation and the possible outcomes. I had the abnormal gear extension checklist at the ready in case the nose didn't come down.

We would land as soft as possible and keep the nose off the ground as long as possible.

On final we shot the ILS. Breaking out about 900 AGL we saw the runway lined with Fire Trucks.

We touched down on the mains very softly. The nose was kept in the air until it finally rotated down and the vibration started again.

Once down we came to a stop and the nose gear was inspected. The Fire Trucks stated the tires looked normal.

We looked at each other. We taxied off very slowly...flanked by Fire Trucks.

Thankfully it was just a blown tread on the right nose gear. There was no way we could have known that from the flight deck.

Off to sit for 2 hours before one more turn.

1029131256Guess I earned my $0.53 extra eh?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Six years later

Six years later. I joined my airline on October 29, 2007. It was a long time coming all things considered. I day dreamed of flying for an airline since I was in 6th grade. That was when I first encountered Microsoft Flight Simulator. At the time it just didn't seem possible. I had no idea how to get started so I stayed with my second


Over the last 6 years I have flown more than 3300 hours across the United States, Mexico, and Canada. I have flown through all kinds of weather. I've endured the stress of landing in a stiff crosswind during a heavy rainstorm and of course many more landings in beautiful VFR weather.


I've been so exhausted that I've arrived at the gate not having remembered landing. I guess it's like driving to work the same way everyday and not remembering it?


I've come to despise and avoid reduced rest overnights. The airlines have abused a rule made to help schedules continue in case there was weather. Reduced rest overnights were never meant to be scheduled. Having just 8 hours from the time I walk off the plane until I'm supposed to be back on the plane is dangerous. In reality that's maybe 6 hours of sleep as travel to and from the airport is considered "rest".


I've spent two and a half years away from home.....I paused when I thought about that. Since I'm gone an average 3 nights a week that's at least 900 nights spend in hotels. I collected hotel keys for a while....huge stack I'll take a photo of this week and post. Why? I don't know.


I've been able to take my family to all four corners of the Continental United States, Hawaii, Japan, Germany, parts of the Caribbean, Mexico and more.


It's been a life changing 6 years.


My wife has thankfully supported me through this journey. It hasn't been easy, it would have been worse if it were not for her. When my daughter was born it became a little more challenging juggling work and family life. I didn't like that right after she was born I was temporarily based thousands of miles away...for months. But we made it work. I was able to take more than 2 months off to bond with her though.


Three years later my daughter knows when I put on my uniform that I'll be gone for a few days. She says ,”are you going to the airport to work in the sky daddy?” Once I arrive back home I can't get her off my lap....and I enjoy every minute of it.


Would I do it all over again? After all I still haven't made as much per year (excluding per diem!) than I made at my old IT job. Without a doubt yes. Money isn't everything. I have friends that think otherwise. To each his own. My family lives a good life. We have little debt and still have  enough toys and money to keep us happy.

In the last 6 years I have flown 3300 hours at my airline. I was hired with 554 hours total time. Taking 3300 hours and dividing by 6 equal 550 hours a year. Kinda low. Considering I've spent a full 5 months in training, 3 months off with my daughter and 11 weeks on still low. I remember thinking I would fly close to 1000 hours a year. So far this year I've flown 630 hours. My highest month was July with 85 hours and the lowest was August when I took 2 weeks off with 45 hours.

So what's next? Well hopefully I can slide to the left seat before October 29, 2014. I feel pretty good it will happen.



Sunday, October 27, 2013

I was getting ready to blog

And then this happened.....Sunday morning with my daughter.....should have time later this week.




I never thought Barney could be more annoying..until I saw him on a 100 inch screen. It's all my fault. We were watching Caillou when Barney started...and I didn't grab the remote fast enough. I need a Master Warning Light for Barney then I know I would have reacted quickly!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Funny numbers

On day 3 of my first multi-day trip in almost a month.

I have 3 day trips this month. Each is worth 18 hours and 40 minutes of pay/flying.

My wife was happy to see me go. I get irritable when I don't fly. When I'm home more I tend to leave a mess behind me. My wife and I met on back in 2002. We have little in common...still wondering how I came up in her search.  We're the odd couple with her being Felix.  Whatever we work.

Day one was kind along as it started with a 2:20PM departure. The Captain is a guy I've flown with in the past. He took the first leg and I took the last two of the day. The flight to the overnight was to a small airport in the middle of no where. The tower closes well before scheduled arrival time.

Arriving from the south we had a 30 knot quartering tailwind. I planned my descent to be at pattern altitude (1500 feet for jets) just south of the airport. Worked out fine.

It's rare to fly a pattern at an airline. Most of the time we are on vectors, nature of the business.

Flying a pattern in a jet is no different than flying a pattern in a Cessna 172. The only tricky part was I was flying a left downwind and thus could not see the airport from my right seat. The Captain called when I was abeam and I replied with the first setting of flaps.

I glanced at my MFD which had the GPS approach loaded as a backup and began a shallow descent. Once we were right between the final approach fix and the airport I began my base turned and called for the gear.

The quartering tailwind had pushed me a little closer to the airport, even with my crab, than I liked so  my base leg was short.

Winds at the airport were 120@15. Runway 17 is 7000 feet long while runway 13 is 6000 feet long. Runway 13 would have been fine, but it required a much longer taxi, thus I picked Runway 17.

Easy landing. The overnight was a little over 9 hours. Not horrible.

Day two was fairly long with a scheduled 7 hours of flying with 4 legs. The first two the Captain flew. Bumpy weather and ILS approach to the hub. A few bumps and clear skies to the out station.

This one out station always creeps me out as its the location where Comair 5191 crashed.

Quick turn. While boarding the gate agent came up to the flight deck.

"Hey guys I need some help, we are 30 pounds overweight." she said.

"No problem, I will stay behind" I joked.

The Captain and I looked at our fuel numbers. We agreed we would burn off the extra fuel and still be able to complete the flight safely.

I call this funny numbers as we assume all adults are the same weight and all kids are the same weight. Additionally every suitcase under the 50 pound weight limit is recorded as 30 pounds. Those over 50 pounds are recorded as 60 pounds. I can go on.

We had to burn 220 pounds of fuel. We agreed to start both engines right away and leave the APU on for takeoff. Our engines burn 400 pounds per engine per hour at idle on the ground. The APU burns about 135 pounds per hour on the ground.

We blocked out and began our taxi. Ground told a Bonanza to follow us.

"Ground we need to burn some fuel so we will be happy to follow the Bonanza." I stated.


While taxiing to runway 4 we noticed the Bonanza having a hard time staying on center line. Then it stopped and we saw why. Flat front tire.

Meanwhile we had about 80 pounds to go. The Bonanza was stuck next to the departure end so we back taxied into position. Straight forward takeoff.

Fuel looked great until we got about 40 minutes out and began hearing flights getting holding instructions. We were approved to slow down.

Looking at the fuel we had enough fuel for one turn in a hold....that's it. The remaining fuel would allow us to fly to the destination, alternate and 45 minutes thereafter.

Thankfully it worked out that we didn't have to hold.....but we weren't done with delays.

At big airports there is a position called the Final Monitor. The job of the Final Monitor is to assure spacing is good between aircraft, especially on IFR days. The Final Monitor can over ride and talk over tower controllers.

On final for an ILS. Spaced 5 miles apart from the aircraft ahead. We were told to hold 170 till the final approach fix. I was dead on speed. Right at glide slope intercept the Final Monitor came on.

"This is the Final Monitor, approach clearance cancelled. Turn left heading 040 maintain 4000."

Not sure what the reason was for, I clicked off the autopilot and made a smooth left turn. Once back on heading I asked for the autopilot to be turned on and flaps to be retracted.

We were vectored back in for another approach. This time behind a 777. Nice eh? The extra vectoring ate up the extra fuel. One more delay and we were obligated to head to our alternate.

Thankfully the approach was easy.

Plane swap.

The next plane was late. Raining. When it arrived I went down the jet bridge while passengers were deplaning in hopes of a quick turn.

The pilots were still in the flight deck with the door locked after all passengers had left. A Flight Attendant grabbed his bags and said, "It might be a while, IOE"

IOE stand for Initial Operating Experience. Someone was getting trained...and I guess things didn't go well.

I did my detailed pre-flight...and they were still locked in the flight deck. They came out 20 minutes after arriving. So much for a quick turn.

With the rain and low clouds, departure was staggering aircraft for takeoff. We left the gate with 350 pounds of extra fuel.

Once in line we shut down the second engine as we were down to just 200 pounds extra.

Tower rattled off the sequence. When we were number 4 I started the APU and then the second engine. Doing a crossbleed start would have saved fuel, but with an aircraft right behind us a crossbleed wasn't an option.

When I pushed the thrust levers up we had 40 pounds of fuel over min takeoff. Close.

Ironically the time spent waiting for takeoff was longer than the time spent in the air. Arrived late.

Day 3 was supposed to start with a 5:15AM van and terminate with a 5:50PM arrival.

Around 8:50PM last night was I was trying to fall asleep my phone rang, it was the Captain. He told me our morning flight cancelled. We now had a 1:30PM van for a 2:20PM departure and we would be done at 3:30PM. Score!

Hoping next week is smoother.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Day Trippin'

Three, one day trips in a row. Not my cup of tea.

Even though I drive a car that gets 48 MPG....and live just 10 miles from the airport....I don't care for driving to and from the airport everyday.

The first day trip was Sunday. One 5 hour domestic turn. Being a Sunday my wife dropped me off and picked me up. Nice to have a driver!

Monday and Tuesday were 4 leg days. Both had a trip across the border.

Last month I was approved for the Global Entry program. It was $100....not cheap, but I get to breeze thru customs AND get TSA Precheck when I travel in normal clothes.

I flew with the same Captain both Monday and Tuesday. Very senior but relaxed. He's 59 and hoping to stick around 2 more years before retiring.

It's been years since I have overnighted out of the country. I don't get any additional money for flying internationally. It's more of a hassle as I can't bring the same food I would for domestic trips. The same rules apply for a turn, but since I never leave the footprint of the plane there is less to worry about. Any food I bring can be eaten before I arrive back in the United States.

I used Global Entry for the first time on Monday. Amazingly simple.

Off for four days.  I start my October line 3 day trips on Sunday.

There's been a good amount of movement at my airline lately. Hoping this time next year I will have a fourth stripe...or maybe a gig at a major. I took the first step of moving on by applying to a Major airline next week. I'm one of hundreds of regional First Officers, but if I don't apply....they can't say no.,

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Good for another year

I'm good for another year before I have to fly the simulator again.

My training was different than in the past.

Until this month I was given one  sim session to get trained on things I do everyday and many things I don't. I've never lost an engine on takeoff (or any other time), had a fire, lost an engine on go around or stalled the real airplane. After that session I was given a check ride and tested on all of those items. It was a "bet your job" event as if a pilot fails more than once they could be let go. Seems kinda silly to be TESTED on things I never do.

The training department wanted to change things up. They wanted to test on things pilots do everyday and TRAIN on things they don't do everyday. Makes more sense eh?

One might think it's easier.....and it is if one flies by the book. If a pilot is sloppy and informal day to day then they will have problems. Things like turning the autopilot on by reaching for it versus asking for it to be turned on, not using checklists,  landing fast or improperly setting up the aircraft.

Before my  check ride I had an oral. I prepped for it like I always do...and yet somehow I've missed the same question the last 2 years. It's a simple question and I gave the answer that , according to the check airman, every pilot gives. Hopefully I will have it down next time.

Right after the oral another check airman poked his head in and stated the sim was "available early." This meant a crew failed the check ride.

The Captain I was paired with was waiting outside. I told him the oral was very straight forward and went to get a snack. I was told to come back in 30 minutes. I was back in 20 minutes and surprised to see the door open. The check airman and a FAA rep (who has been present at every step) were there. Apparently the Captain had a bad morning and was in no mood for the oral. Thankfully they were able to call another Captain to come fly with me in the sim.

The FAA rep stated the first 2 crews (there are only 5 crews in the new training program) had failed the check ride. My heart began racing.

"But don't worry, I haven't seen anything in you that would cause me to think you will have a problem." stated the FAA rep.

My heart just kept racing.

The flight was set up as a flight from Boston to LGA. I'm not familiar with Boston and only been to LGA a few times. To add on more stress it was winter...snow...slush....yeah great.

I could have elected to be the pilot monitoring but chose to fly.

The flight was to be treated as a real revenue flight. All emergencies and situations that come up must be dealt with unless the instructor interrupts. We had a few MELs to deal with including my FMS was inop (it was actually working, but for the sim we had to play along and comply with the MEL).

On climb out I noticed a fuel issue. Somehow we lost over 1000 pounds of fuel in 2 minutes.

I brought it up to my Captain. We discussed it and decided we didn't have enough to be legal for our alternate. Additionally we didn't want to continue the flight with a possible fuel leak. Right before I was going to announce we were headed back to Boston the instructor stated it was a simulator problem and to continue the flight. Okay.

Everything was real time. The weather at LGA was borderline good for an ILS to runway 22. After passing the Final Approach Fix RVR dropped to 800. Since we were inside the FAF we could continue. I knew this meant a go around was likely. Sure enough I heard  "Minimums! Minimums". I pushed the thrust levers up and began the go around profile.

Weather was not going to improve. Time to head to JFK which was our alternate. Due to congestion we were given holding instructions. Told to hold west on the DPK 270 radial.

This is what I had a brain fart on last year...a basic...basic...basic...hold. We were about 15 miles north of the VOR. I briefed the hold and asked the Captain to set it up in the FMS as a back up. Well he made himself busy with other things and said he would get to it. Not sure if he was told to not set it up or not beforehand.

I entered the hold manually. Once on the outbound leg we were broken off and given vectors for an approach into JFK.

Basic approach. Once on the ground a little confusion set in. I've been to JFK in the past....but it's been a long while. The Captain had never been there. A little confusion finding the gate and ramp procedures. Again this was a real flight so we had to do everything we would normally do.  Done.

I was the first to pass the new training program.

After a break we were back in the sim for advanced maneuvers. This is where we were TRAINED on things like CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain), Wind Shear (increasing and decreasing), Stalls and more.

One eye opening maneuver was the high altitude stall. While at 36,000 feet he had me idle the thrust levers and just wait. This was simulating descending from a higher altitude, leveling off and not adding power.

It was hard watching the airspeed bleed off. I was told to let it go to the pusher. Once the pusher activated I grabbed the yoke and pulled back and added full thrust. My first pull was too aggressive as the plane entered a secondary stall. I had to let the nose stay below the horizon and gently pull back. We lost 1600 feet during the recovery.

Another stall was the approach to landing stall while in icing conditions....and at MDA....a la Colgan 3407. Once level at MDA he told me to idle the thrust. Once again I cold recover during the pusher. We were just 500 feet above the ground in the clouds....with the ice protection on. Once the pusher activated I added full thrust and grabbed the yoke. This time we only lost 100 feet.

This sim session was very eye opening.

Once done I saw the next crew waiting for the simulator. I told them both the news about the first two crews and that I was the first to pass. Both were a little shocked.

I have a really good schedule this month. I was awarded a line with 19 days off. Due to training I have 20 days off. Not too shabby.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Comeback kid!

I had a very good day today. It started with my Sausage Egg and Cheese McGriddle of course.

My oral exam went very well and my flying was even better.

It feels great to do so well after the problems I had last year. Made me think of a great Brett Dennen song....The Comeback Kid. Time to celebrate. More later. It's Beer-Thirty


Friday, September 27, 2013

Guinea pig

In the school house for annual training. I volunteered for a new training program. Part of being a volunteer is having the FAA present at every training session and event. Doesn't really make me nervous, but in the back of my head I know the "man" is here.

Going well. Better than last year for sure.

Pretty brain dead. Spent 4 hours in the sim in the most unreliable airplane (because off all the emergency drills). Tired.

An oral and four more hours tomorrow.

Side note. Really disappointed in PSA pilots lowering the bar with their vote today.

More later. Gotta relax.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lightening Strikes...again



Remember how I said it was an easy 3 day trip? Yeah about that.


Day 3 started with an 11 AM van. Inbound was on time. The First Officer of the inbound flight is a good friend of mine I Flight Instructed with. Once I saw him I gasped and said ,” Awe I'm really going to have to do a detailed preflight after you landed!” He quickly replied with, “Well if I knew it was you I would have left instructions on how to fly in the cockpit.” Nice!


Easy flight. Once in base we had an hour sit. I grabbed one of the best deals in the airport, a chicken breast sandwich and fries for $4.86 with the employee discount. Normally it takes 10 minutes. The lady in front of me at the "to go" station was ordering while on the phone READING the menu to someone else. Six minutes later she was done. Bleh.


Blocked out on time. Weather moving toward the out station so we had an alternate. Captains leg.


About 100 miles out I pulled up the ATIS. No bueno. Wind and rain. We could see the storm out in front of us. The storm was moving west and we were coming in from the south. The storm was about 20 miles west of the airport.


We decided to head east and beat it in. Our RADAR isn't the showed a good size gap north of the airport. We had the Flight Attendant get the cabin ready early.

SAM_0511 SAM_0510


Center set us free for deviations...with a precaution that we might want to get in from the west. Once on the east side the RADAR showed the complete picture....the gap wasn't really there. We turned toward the airport (for a RADAR image) to see if there was any way of getting through. Nothing....solid wall.


“Tell Center we're going to Milwaukee,” the Captain told me.


“Center we'd like to change our destination to Milwaukee.” I said.


“Turn right heading 090 maintain flight level 200” replied center.


While in the right turn it hit...... a big down draft. I tried to key the mike but my hand slipped off as my body was pushed upwards against the shoulder harness.


Finally got the words out. The next 40 seconds or so were rough. Heavy rain, turbulence....and then a lightening flash.


I've been hit by lightening before. Normally we can tell by an electrical surge in the displays and/or a smell in the air.


“Did we get hit?” I asked.


“I don't think” the Captain replied.


“Descend and maintain 17000 for traffic.” stated Center.


Engines were idled during the low 1000 foot per minute descent. A downdraft pushed us down and the airspeed increased rapidly....enough to almost cause an overspeed.


I communicated to our dispatcher the plan of heading to MKE.


They replied back they would prefer another airport as the weather was due to hit MKE. Fine we went with their plan.


Once in smooth air we made sure the cabin was fine.


The Flight Attendant was warned of the impending weather. Well right before it hit the ride was smooth. A passenger decided to turn on his cell phone. The Flight Attendant stood up to tell him to turn it off....just before the rough stuff started. With a full flight her only option was to duck and cover in the aisle. Thankfully she wasn't injured....I would have simply used the PA to tell the passenger....but I'm not a Flight Attendant.


It was VFR to the new alternate. It was a “gas and go” meaning they brought the paperwork out to the plane while we fueled up on a remote pad.


Normally whomever is flying will keep flying until we reach the destination. The Captain had enough and gave me the leg. Fine.


The weather had passed our original destination. The ATIS was advertising thunderstorms still. Approach assured the field was VFR. We were coming in from the south and told to expect runway 18. I planned my descent for that approach.


Well the approach controller offered up runway 36. I could see the airport and thought it might work.


I called for flaps and tossed out the speed brakes.


“Ya know what, it's going to be too steep, the passengers have had enough of a wild ride, ask for 18 instead.” I told my Captain.




While on final, another flight called tower.


“We are currently holding about 20 miles west, how are the field conditions?” they asked


“Absolutely great now. VFR. An aircraft is currently rolling out on final. Winds calm” tower replied.


“Great we will see you soon.” the flight responded.


The runway was quite wet. Slight hydroplaning as we were the first flight in after the storm.


We hoped for a quick turn and started the APU. This was our go home leg.


“Operations we are going to try for a quick turn. The APU is running we won't need any power or air” I advised.


As the passengers left I headed out for a post flight. Rounding the nose my hopes of going home faded. The nose was missing paint....a few charred marks. I tapped on the side of the plane and motioned for the Captain to come down.


“Think we got hit?” I asked.


“Not sure, let's look for an exit point.” he stated.


Normally when hit by lightening the strike exits through a static wick on the wings.


We looked all over the exit point. Odd.


Regardless we had to have an inspection. The passengers waiting to board could clearly see us inspecting the nose and plane. The station manager came down and assumed the worst.




I called my wife and let her know the situation. We had plans to fly out the next morning to visit family. She and my daughter would still go.


My wife didn't like the news, but she knows it's always a possibility that I could be delayed.


While talking to her the flight canceled all together. Scheduling had my crew deadheading home the next morning. The flight would arrive well after my family was leaving. Time for a plan B.


I went to and looked for a way out west. As luck would have it there was a Frontier flight leaving at 6AM for Denver. From there I could hop on any number of airlines to meet my family.


We headed to the hotel van. A little awkward as the van was full of passengers from our cancelled flight.


Once at the hotel I called my wife again. If everything worked out I would arrive just minutes after them.


I planned a 4:30AM van to make sure I had time to clear security and list for the jump seat.


Arrived and done. It was supposed to be a full flight. When I listed I asked if they could check me through to my final destination. This would prove critical later.

A few passengers were no shows so I got a whole row to myself.

Once in Denver I had just an hour till the next flight.

I arrived at the next gate and went through the check in process with the agent (I'm not posting exactly what to do as to avoid tipping off folks who want to attempt to bypass security). The agent looked up my name and said I was number on for the jump seat. I looked to my right and noticed two Virgin America pilots sitting down.

They had check in just before I arrived. Since I was check thru I was ahead of them. If I had waited until I arrived in Denver I would have been below them.

Right before boarding a United pilot arrived looking for a ride as well.

The plane was totally full. The Airbus 319 has two jump seats. I got one and one of the Virgin America pilots got the other.

I was tired. After being showed how to use the jump seat I locked in and tried to stay awake.

We all talked about typical pilot stuff for about 40 minutes....then it got quiet.

A little over two hours later "Retard! Retard!" came over the speakers. We were on the ground.

My wife and daughter arrived 10 minutes prior.

Time to rest up and enjoy time with my family.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"My First Wife".....something I hear often

On an easy 3 day trip. This trip is all late flying with the day starting after noon and finishing around 9 at night. I haven't landed at night in a while. Captain took the first leg which was daytime. I took the next two.

During the 2nd leg we were heading west into the sunset. Sunglasses and the tinted sunshade didn't help. The sun was just blinding me so, while in cruise, I lowered my seat to the lowest level so my eyes were below the brow of the dashboard. Problem solved....until it came time to land.

After the sun was set I raised my seat. Problem was it was higher than I normally set the seat. I thought it felt odd and tried adjusting it up and down. There is a set of 3 balls in the middle of the flight deck that can help pilots assure themselves that they are at the correct seat height. It's a good starter, but every pilot sits differently. Some with long legs will have to pedals full forward, while some have them full aft. Some sit really high...some sit really low. Once a pilot gets the "sight picture" right...they sit the same every time.

Since I moved my seat...and it was dark out....I couldn't set a sight picture. I guessed it.

Well I guessed high. The sight picture never looked right so I flared where I thought I should. Well because my seat was high...I flared high...I realized it and worked it down to the ground and made a decent, albeit firm, landing.

Now for something completely different.

I've noticed over the years many pilots I fly with and meet use the term , "My First Wife." The trend has been that most of these pilots commute.

We had a jump seater last week from JetBlue. Every week he makes a two leg commute home to Des Moines. Every week.

Des Moines has limited mainline service so it's mostly regional jets. The JetBlue pilot is based in JFK. I asked him why not move to New York or somewhere closer. He replied that he's waiting for his first kid with his first wife to turn 18, then he will move. Ouch.

The Captain I was flying with later said he almost got a divorce due to commuting. He had just upgraded to Captain but wasn't able to hold his home base, instead he had to commute. Reserve Captains only get 11 days off. During the winter he had problems getting home due to full flights and cancellations. He would be home just 5-6 days a month. His wife asked for a separation. He replied, "What would it change as I'm not there anyway."

Thankfully his marriage survived.

This career takes a very strong marriage. Any weakness present beforehand will just expand. If you plan on jumping into this career, take a long hard look at your life, family and finances.

That got me thinking. My wife and I discussed the possibility of me commuting before I started flight training as it was a possibility. Lucky for me I got based at my home airport from day one.

Long time readers will know that back in 2010 and 2011  I was temporarily based at another airport...right when my daughter was born.

It was rough. Especially when I was based elsewhere for 5 months in a row. I was a line holder then and able to hold 16+ days off, but it still wasn't ideal.

That experience taught me I am a bad commuter. This is another reason why I am not applying to a few major airlines as I would be forced to commute forever. We just bought a new house, my wife has a very good job (her only job out of college...been there 13 years!) and we like where we live. I'm not going to move my family around the country for this job. We live a nice life and are not money hungry. Do I want to fly a bigger plane...yes....but it's not paramount.

When the time comes for me to upgrade I will have to really ponder if it's worth commuting for as my current base is VERY senior for pilots. I'm currently in the top 33% of First Officers in my base. The most junior Captain in my base has been here 10 years. In the most junior base the most junior Captain has been here 8 years.

Kind of rambling post. Once I'm done with this trip we are taking a weekend getaway trip to visit family....then my annual trip to the simulator.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Everybody off.....

Currently sitting in an airport terminal in the mid-west on a 3 hour scheduled sit. One leg left of my 20 hour 3 day trip.

Here's the view out the window.

photo (4)

Day one was pretty easy. The Captain I'm flying with used to be in the training center. Nice guy, but doesn't seem to really enjoy flying.

The first overnight as mentioned in another post was in Sioux Falls. Day 2 was 4 legs long worth 6 hours and 20 minutes of pay.

The first 2 legs were mine. Fairly standard except a really bowed runway got  the best of me and I planted it on the runway.

For the hotel leg things got odd. Crazy weather all along the east coast caused delays. We thought we were fine as we were headed to a tiny airport vs a large hub.

Boarding started. I pulled up our clearance on the ACARs and the letters EDCT caught my eye. EDCT stands for Expect Departure Clearance Time. Our scheduled departure time was 1:30PM. Our EDCT was for 3:12PM. The reason was flow. Even though we were going to a small airport, the airway we would be using was clogged with aircraft headed to larger airports.


I told the Captain and he asked for me to call operations. They stated to halt boarding and have everyone deplane. Before the Passenger Bill of Rights we would have boarded up and sat in a holding pad hoping for an earlier EDCT. That's potentially too costly now.

Once they were all off I decided to stretch my legs. When I walked into the boarding area I was "greeted" with a bunch of angry eyed passengers. The didn't understand an ATC weather delay as the weather outside was beautiful. Severe VFR.

The gate agent motioned me over and asked if the "new" 1:55PM departure time would work. Apparently no one told her about our EDCT. I told her at best we would board at 2:40PM. She then asked if we would cancel just loud enough so passengers nearby could hear. "Mam I only fly the planes, I have no authority on if it cancels. I want to go just as bad as the passengers." I replied.

As I predicted we boarded up at 2:40PM. No further delays. Getting into the airport was interesting. The small airport is located near a few fairly tall hills. They were high enough to cause a 3 degree offset localizer for the ILS. The terrain, nearby thunderstorm and haze required the use of the ILS to start the approach. About 4 miles out we picked up the runway.

Being so late the overnight was 12 hours instead of 14. Enough, but I was fairly beat.

I had what qualified as food in the hotel cafe and hit the bed. Alarm set for 5:20AM. I woke up at 4:40AM as my body is paranoid about oversleeping even though I've never overslept.

Fairly standard day. There was a little excitement during leg 3. While on a visual approach the tower advised us of two large flocks of large birds flying over the runway. We were already on short final. One flock was coming at us high and the other was crossing the runway.

The Captain saw both and simply said, "don't go around."

Enough for me. Light airplane plus light winds meant the plane really didn't want to settle. One main....then the other....then the nose. I get paid the same for greasers and plants.

Once I'm done today I have 3 days off before starting another 3 day. After that my family is taking a 4 day weekend to visit my sister in law who's expecting a baby. I think it will be my daughters 56th flight.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Questions Answered: Making the jump

I'm 29 myself, with about 106 hours, and thinking about banging out the rest of my ratings locally (FBO) while staying out of debt.. One of the biggest hurdles for me is wondering whether or not I'd fit in, or get bored.. Do you feel like you are home often enough? I mean at my office job, I leave the house at 8 and am home by 6 usually.. so that's 50 hours away from home per week. So that's about 217.5 waking hours away from home in a month.. I feel like "awake" hours away from home would be similar if I worked a typical regional airline schedule.. (3.5 days per week away, 56 hours per week) I don't care about being home all the time, I just don't want to feel like I have no home, ya know? Would you recommend it to someone in my position? Decent but boring and at times annoying unfulfilling job (upper level IT Help desk/Network Admin.. 60k a yr about), unmarried, no kids.. I love to fly and travel, but also like my life at home too..(but many of my friends are getting married and having kids which means I'll only ever see them when they need something, or a wedding gift - we know how that goes.. so being home is less of a desire than it was before, my girlfriend is a nurse and she works long and odd hours too so that could be a good match up if anything) Anyway I do appreciate this blog.. It gives a good feel of what life is like as an Airline guy.. I know I have 1200 hours of instructing and/or some other poor paying job now until then, but that's ok as long as I have 0 debt, and if the shortage is real, that will improve the future career prospects... hopefully making it worth the massive investment. I've been on the fence about this for a while, but just couldn't make the leap.. I think the time to finally do it is here.. Advice?


You may think you might not like being gone all the times, but six days on the road living in hotels can get old.

I was 28 while I sitting in a cubicle at an IT company troubleshooting log files when I decided I'd had enough. It was only my second day at the job. Prior I spent 5 years working in the field fixing hardware. I realized I wasn't made for office work. I had weekends and holidays off...making good money....but I wasn't happy.

Getting your training done at an FBO is an excellent choice. Chances are training cost are lower and likely more relaxed than "big flight schools". Being more relaxed has its pros and cons though.

I'm going to assume you don't live near a major airport. Living "in base" increases your quality of life 100%, especially starting out. My airline gives reserves 11 days off a month. Just assume you will have to be in base all but 11 days. If you commute you could easily be down to just 8 days at home. This could go on for years.

Since your girlfriend is a nurse...and you have nothing tying you down....I would strongly suggest moving to base. Nurses can work just about anywhere. Bigger cities (where bases are) likely pay more for nurses. One thing to watch out for is airlines that use "out station" bases. This means being based in Louisville, Columbus, or Dayton. Cities where you would have to two leg commute to get in. Additionally out station bases are much more likely to close than say Chicago, Miami, Atlanta or New York.

Speaking of pay, I left a decent paying IT job. I'm approaching year 7 pay at my airline and will still not make more than when I left my IT job (excluding per diem). When I made the jump to flying I did so with a level head and we prepared for it financially. This year I should clear about $43,000 excluding per diem.

My first two years or so I was on reserve. Since I lived in base I was home a lot. There were times where I was gone for 5 days, but then I was home for 3 to 4 afterwards.

Now in my 6th year I'm home a lot more. For the most part I have 14-15 days off a month. Every now and then I hold 18 days off. It's very nice being able to work when I want to. I've been able to take a week long vacation without using any vacation time by working with my schedule.  I'm also able to spend several days in a row being Mr. Mom with my daughter.

As far as the pilot shortage I will say this. There are more pilots leaving my airline than coming in the front door. My airline is a great place to work, but pilots are finding flying jobs at the Majors and elsewhere. Word is 30 are going out the back door and just 6-7 are coming in the front door...every month.

This career is one that, if you stick around long enough, you can make six figures (even at the regionals) and work when you want to.

Additionally you get to travel for free or next to free on just about every airline. I travel standby, but I'm able to see exactly how many paying passengers are on each flight.  Before my daughter came along my wife and I would travel almost every week. We'd take day trips to Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington D.C, Minneapolis and more. We took long trips to Cabo San Lucas, Tokyo, Toronto, and Frankfurt. My wife has taken trips by herself to visit family a lot while I was on reserve. Even now with my daughter we travel about once a month.

I think I hit all your questions. If you have any more feel free to comment or shoot me an email at Geek at I don't use the @ symbol as bots pick it up and I get spam.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Getting out on overnights

Most of the time I am a "slam clicker" on overnights. What's a "slam clicker" you ask? Well it's a name given to crew members who go to their hotel room, close the door and click the security latch....and never go out.

On an overnight in Sioux Falls. I've been here a few times. Last time was Christmas 2012. I got stuck here for a few days. There was no way I was going out in the freezing, snowy weather.

Right now it's nice out so I ventured out to the falls. It's a short walk from the hotel. Nearly every airline crew stays at the same hotel.


After the visit I ventured downtown and ate at a local diner. Very nice to get out.

On a 20 hour 3 day trip. That's a lot of flying as I typically have 19 hour 4 day trips. Today was long with 7 hours of flying over 3 legs. The next two days I transit another base before heading home on the last leg of 5 leg day on Friday.

It's nice to get out....hope to do it more....before winter....

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Two cats....for when I really can't see outside....

Most of the time I land in VFR conditions.

Every now and then...maybe once or twice a month I have to land via an ILS (more often in winter than summer). Most of the time those are flown to a visual.

Even more rarely things are just bad....and I get to fly and approach....but the Captain has to land.....a Category II approach.

Things happen fast during an approach. With a Category II approach things can get messy fast.

At MY company this is how we fly Cat II approaches (Cat short for Category).

The Captain briefs the approach and the First Officer flies the approach. The Captain is looking outside from 500 feet down to (hopefully) the runway. The First Officer is looking inside the entire time.

The decision height for MOST Cat II approaches is 100 feet above the runway.  If the RUNWAY is not visible at 100 feet a missed approach much be executed.

Things happen fast.

In the simulator during training (the only place I've shot a Category II approach to mins), a moments hesitation can really mess things up.

The time is takes the plane to descend from 100 feet to the runway is 5 seconds. When I'm flying the approach and I hear "Approaching Minimums!" my fingers are positioned right over the Go Around buttons.

Once I hear "Minimums! Minimums!" I take a breathe and, if I don't hear "landing" from my Captain, I push the Go Around buttons and execute a missed approach.

The first time my Captain and I shot a Cat II approach he hesitated for a moment at minimums. That hesitation caused me to go missed approach when in reality he had the runway in sight.

After going missed we were vectored back around. This time he was ready and said "landing". Up until that point the autopilot was engaged. I had my hands on the thrust levers and yoke as a backup. The autopilot MUST fly the entire approach. Once I heard "landing" I immediately put my hands in my lap and looked outside.

I can only imagine how difficult it is to take over the controls of an airplane with just 5 seconds until landing.

Another scenario is a balked landing during a Cat II approach. This is where the Captain takes over but right before touchdown tower calls a go around. Things are really busy as now the Captain is flying and I am the pilot monitoring. So he flies the missed while I push the buttons. Once level I take over the controls again.

At "mainline" and newer regional jets a Heads Up Device is used on the Captains side so they can scan the instruments and look  outside the entire time.

Also more common at mainline are aircraft setup for Cat III approaches. A Cat III approach is one where the autopilot flies the approach and lands the aircraft.

One day I will get to experience the pure terror excitement of watching an autopilot land my plane.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Approaching 6 years

Simple two day trip. Five legs on day one and 3 on day two.

I don't care for 5 leg days. The first turn was quick at just 90 NM each way. The second turn was about an hour each way with the final flight being a 2 hour flight.

Interesting crew. My Captain is new to me and is from France. My Flight Attendant is from the country formerly known as Yugoslavia.

Both have accents and know each other well. Both would joke to the other that the passengers have no idea what the other is saying when giving announcements.

My Captain did really up the French accent when giving his announcements. Quite a few passengers stopped by the flight deck and asked who the , and I quote, "sexy french voice" belonged to.

Day one was long. I left a portable battery on the first aircraft I flew. I didn't realize it until I was on the second aircraft. I looked up the aircraft routing and saw it was to arrive 30 minutes before my last flight of the night was to depart.

After the first 4 flights we were supposed to have a 50 minute break. Well we were delayed by an hour and the delayed departure time was 9:45 PM. During that now almost 2 hour sit I got a call from scheduling around 8:10 PM. They needed a First Officer to fly a 8:25 PM departure. They wanted to reassign me with the "dangling carrot" being I would be done an hour earlier and still get paid for my original sequence.

Rarely have reassignments gone my way. I declined as I wanted something to eat....and my original overnight had free breakfast while the reassignment hotel was in the middle of no where and no free breakfast.

The aircraft I left my battery on was running late with an ETA of 8:50PM. I hung out around the arrival gate. The First Officer saw me and asked if I left a battery on board. He didn't find it until they landed and heard it slide forward.

The battery is all black which looks nice, but way to easy to leave behind. I'm going to wrap it in neon green tape when I get home.

The flight to the overnight couldn't go fast enough.

The hotel is a Homewood Suites. They offer free dinner on weekdays (until 8PM) and free breakfast everyday. Our scheduled arrival time was 10:45PM. Our delayed arrival time was 11:25PM.

Being so late the tower was closed. We went back to basic traffic reports. No one was in the area. In and done.

The hotel van had stopped running for the night. We took a taxi...for the whole 1 minute and ten second drive.

The hotel employees were nice enough to box up some of the free dinner for each of us. Nice touch.

Decent nights rest.

We had a 12:30PM van. While waiting near the gate I saw my Captain and Flight Attendant talking to a grey haired lady that looked like a Grandmother. Things got a little odd when she whipped out a pad of paper and started writing down information.

Turns out she was with the FAA....and she'd be riding on our jump seat.

We weren't full, but whatever.

Due to weather we needed extra fuel. We were actually 160 pounds over max takeoff weight when we left the gate.

We were limited due to runway performance meaning the max weight to accelerate to V1, abort and stop on the remaining pavement.

I briefed the departure including a static power takeoff. With both engines running and the APU powering the packs we burned the extra fuel fairly quickly.

Cleared for takeoff. My Captain aligned the plane with runway 17 and said, "your aircraft". I replied "my aircraft".

With my feet firmly on the brake pedals I set takeoff power. Once the engines were stabilized I released the brakes and away we went.

Dodged a few towering clouds and made our way to base.

The FAA rep was on her way to training and just wanted to ride up front. Nice lady.

In and done. Almost a 3 hour sit laid ahead.

During that sit I took the opportunity to leave the airport for dinner. I then parked at the terminal versus in the employee lot. I'd have to pay to park, but I would save time getting home after my flight.

The inbound plane was late. My crew was motivated. We left one minute late. My leg. I flew fast.

We were full but the return flight was booked light. My Captain called ahead and told the station we wanted a quick turn. He planned on using the APU and asked that no power or air be connected to the plane. Additionally the Flight Attendant stated he needed nothing in the way of trash or ice.

Winds at the outstation were 090@13 with the active runway being runway 10. Coming in from the east runway 16R was easier and faster. I briefed it and we were cleared for the approach.

In the 2 years I've flown to this airport, I have never seen it in the day time until on a 5 mile final at best. The area is flat, sandy and featureless. My Captain picked up the airport 12 miles out.

"If you see if you can call it." I stated. He did so....he did.

My Captain hipped me to staying in between two roads to set up for a final. I had the GPS approach set up as a back up. Turning about a 6 mile final I finally saw the airport.

My fourth greaser of the trip.

Just fourteen minutes after opening the passenger door we were taxiing back out.

The FMS estimated we would be 35 minutes early. Not bad for a flight blocked at 55 minutes. Well a little congestion meant we were slowed and turned. We still blocked in 25 minutes early.

We were so early that I was able to hop in my car, drive at posted speed limits, and pull into my garage at 8:42PM.....two minutes after scheduled arrival time. Nice to live in base.

The end of October will mark my 6th year at my airline. I kinda thought I would at least be in Captain training by now.  Here's to hoping the "pilot shortage of 2013-2014" comes to fruition and I can upgrade or move up to mainline.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Me, Flat Stanley....and "that guy"

First four day trip in months. I tried to get out of it.....not luck.

The original Captain was a guy I've only heard great things about. I was looking forward to flying with him as he was new to me.

Well the day before the trip the original Captain was pulled off the trip. He is the new Chairman of our Union and was removed for Union work. In his place I was assigned a guy I've flown with once before. The most non-interesting man in the world.

The trip was absolutely boring. Eighteen hours of flight with only the checklist read out loud. The rest of the time was spent in complete silence.

The quietness of the guy didn't bother me, but his "all about himself" attitude did.

Most crews will leave the airplane or jet-bridge at the same time when swapping planes or headed to the hotel. It's common courtesy in case the cabin crew needs help or the First Officer is still outside doing the post-flight and finds an issue.

This Captain always headed right up the jet bridge and waited either in the terminal or walked to the hotel van each time. I always waited with the cabin crew. Thankfully I didn't find an issue during my post-flights that required him to write it up.

Another annoyance was at the hotel.

We have a sign in sheet made by our company. It's basic stuff like name, employee number, room number, wake up call excetera.

Most crews take turns filling it out. On the first night I simply asked the other crew members to spell their last names and their employee numbers. Takes 2 minutes.

The second night my Flight Attendant did the writing.

On the third night I thought for sure the Captain would do the job. Well he grabbed the sign in sheet and started writing. He had a piece of paper in his hand I thought had our names and employee numbers (some people print them out for each trip. I was wrong.

He just filled in his information and the flight information and walked away. Ah....that guy.

I did have some fun on the trip.

A friend of mine is home schooling her kid and is working on a project with "Flat Stanley". I offered up my services to take some photos of Flat Stanley during my trip. At each stop I took a photo of Flat Stanley at the terminal. I also took a few photos in flight. Happy to help out.

I finished my trip early Saturday morning. I go back Monday afternoon for a two day trip.

After that I have a one day simulator session Thursday and go back to the line next week on Wednesday.

I don't want to ever be referred to as "that guy".

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back in the Saddle

Today was my first day back at work in almost 3 weeks.

One perk of this profession is setting your own schedule and getting extra days off by bidding creatively. For example I used two weeks of vacation but I was able to get 18 days off in a row.  I could have had 19 off in a row, but I was ready to head back.

Today I had a simple day trip. Just a trip down to Cedar Rapid, Iowa and back.

I really didn't want to bring my suitcase as it's somewhat of a hassle. Of course I would risk getting stuck in Cedar Rapids if the plane broke. I risked it. I just brought my headset and required manuals.

Thankfully it was an easy trip. My Captain took the first leg. I wanted a chance to refresh myself on how things operated. I did make a joke that if he could just remind me where I put the keys in to start the engines, I could likely figure out the rest.

Nice trip. As expected my first landing after being gone for almost 2 weeks was a thumper.

Off tomorrow and back for a 4 day trip on Wednesday afternoon.

For September I decided to bid an international schedule meaning every overnight would be out of the country. I wanted something different.

Well I got what I wanted, 3 day trips all international with weekends off. Great.....until I saw my Captain. He's one of two men who I just don't get along with. Thus I traded all of the trips for different trips. Same working days. Due to training conflicting with my schedule I "work" just 8 days next month. I have another 5 days of training. Overall fairly easy.

Glad to be back. More later.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Still on Vacation

Had a great 7 day cruise to Bermuda. Now spending the next week doing as little as possible. Just stopped by to keep the site fresh and drop of a few photos from my trip.

AUG20130000 AUG20130001 AUG20130002Bermuda was nice, but I don't think I will go back. Too expensive. The cruise was nice, but 7 days is my limit for a cruise. I was ready to get off on day 7!

Interesting end to the trip. My wife and daughter used airline miles (yep my daughter has had enough real tickets to earn a free trip!) to get 1st class seats home. I was going to non-rev home.

We walked off the ship at 7:55AM. We arrived at Newark in time to check in our luggage and all go standby (they were much higher as they were paying customers) on the 9:15AM flight home. We all got first class seats! It was my daughters' (can you believe she's 3!) first time in 1st class. She knew no different other than getting food.

Time to relax for a few more days.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Remember those plastic wings?

Three day trip, last before vacation.

Early 6:20AM report time on Monday. I haven't had an early show time in a long time.

Left home at 5:20AM. Even though I live just 10 miles from the airport it takes time to park in the employee lot, wait for the bus, ride the bus and clear the security portal. I have a 15 minute buffer as I am paranoid of being late.

Day one was just 3 legs. Arrived early on the first flight. Dodged a little weather. For the flight back we were given a route around the weather that would put us in 15 minutes late.

The weather wasn't as bad and the FMS estimated an early arrival. About 40 minutes out the ACARS spit out the connecting gates for passengers and the crew.

Scheduling saw we were estimated to be late and pulled us from our flight to the overnight. Instead of a 35 minute turn we had a 5 hour sit and were dead heading to the overnight.

The early wake up and the thought of a 5 hour sit at the airport made me tired...and annoyed.

While taxiing to our gate we saw the electronic sign above the gate showing the flight we were supposed to take. The gate was empty meaning the plane had not yet arrived.

After blocking in I called scheduling and asked to either be put on our original flight as a dead head or fly it as the plane had not made it in...and we were on time!

The scheduler was new, which is typical as it's high turnover, and was confused.

He eventually agreed to put my whole crew as WORKING the flight.

I made a quick dash to the crew room to pick up an update pack for my manuals and headed to the gate. My Captain was there and shaking his head. He said I was on the flight but the rest of the crew as not.

Just then a First Officer came up from the gate stating she had been pulled from the flight (she was on reserve). I made my way to the flight deck and put my stuff away. I sat next to the Captain (who was on reserve) and let him know what was going on.

He had his stuff set up and signed the flight release preparing to leave.

My Captain came down and the reserve Captain left. My Captain was going to use the original flight release and make a "pen and ink" change to the flight crew. A "pen and ink" change is legal and allowed within certain parameters.

We can "pen and ink" a flight crew change and a MEL change...but not an aircraft change.

While reviewing the paperwork we noticed the MELs on the plane didn't match the flight release. Further investigation showed the aircraft number was wrong....the reserve Captain failed to notice it.

My Captain headed back up to the gate.

Departure time came and went. I made a PA stating we were waiting on a paperwork issue and it would be 10 minutes. Printing a new release normally takes 3-4 minutes.

Ten minutes later the Flight Attendant came up and asked for another PA as the passengers were all giving her the "What the heck" look.

"Ladies and gentlemen my 10 minute estimation has come and gone. Hopefully it won't be much longer, thank you for your patience." I said hoping it would be the last one.

My Captain arrived as I put up the hand mike. The long delay was due to the printer running out of paper AND a new MEL which had to be added.

Left late and arrived late.

I am very habitual. I eat at the same places at each overnight....and eat the same thing.

Long overnight.

Day 2 was long at 7.5 hours of flying starting with a 5:15AM van ride.

The plane, which we had all day, had no APU. This meant having to use an external air start each time. Not hard, but tedious.

Tomorrow is just 3 legs. Should be done at 1:10PM.

Every now and then kids come up to the flight deck. I enjoy it and wish I had something to give them.

When I was a kid I strongly recall getting plastic wings when I flew. With the cost cutting we don't have wings to give out to kids.

I have looked on line for generic plastic wings and have come up empty unless I want to order 1000 units. I might see if I can buy a roll of sticker wings that I can write the flight number and such on. The looks of the kids eyes as they scan the cockpit remind me of how I felt when I would walk buy and gaze at the switches, buttons and lights.

Anyone have a tip on plastic wings?