Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hanging out at the Wingate....again

I blame my flight attendant.

When I flew this trip two weeks ago we had weather cancellations and an aborted takeoff.

This week we had massive weather cancellations...but no aborted takeoff....yet.

All my flying on day 2 was cancelled due to weather. All day spent in the Wingate.

Today I was supposed to fly two to base and one to a different overnight.

Supposed to.

I woke up and had the same breakfast I had yesterday. If I ever need a new career I make a PERFECT Belgian waffle.

After breakfast I noticed the second leg was pulled off as weather would delay my first flight. I let my wife know I would be home tonight and could pick up my daughter from daycare. She let me daughter know the good news and both were very excited.

Originally had a 10:50AM van.

There was a huge line of weather moving across the country.


My Captain called and said the new van time was 11:25AM. Then later it moved to 12:10PM. Then 12:55PM. Then 1:15PM. That last one stuck.

I let my wife know I would not be able to pick up my daughter as she would be done with work before I landed.

To make matters worse the morning kick off flight was delayed due to a mechanical. The next flight was ours. The inbound plane had 2 mechanics on board to fix the issue. Lots of upset passengers waiting around.

Finally in the van. Two and a half days at the Wingate was enough. I pack a few meals and was happy to have them to avoid going out in the rain.

Fairly easy flight. Lots of constant light turbulence. Fought a 150 knot headwind. Landed 3 hours late.

Happy to be home and live in base.

My Captain commutes, he headed off to a hotel.

We all go back tomorrow for a quick 2 hour turn.

I like the's a decent hotel.....but I am happy my February has zero overnights at a Wingate....oh and I will have a different flight attendant too!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I can't see you.....but I know you're there

Most of the time....say around 95% of the time...I shoot a visual approach. Weather is almost always VFR.

There are times when the cloud deck or visibility is low enough to require an ILS. Even then it's normally an ILS to a visual. For example the airport is reporting 1200 OVC but 10SM visibility. I fly down the glide slope and my Captain calls the runway around 1200 feet AGL. From then on it's a visual.

Every now and then the weather is just crappy. Minimums for a normal ILS are 200 foot ceilings and 1/2 mile visibility.

In my 5 years I've only gone down to "real" minimums maybe 3 times. It's just rare that it's that crappy.

Last week on the last turn was one of those times.

Before we left our hub, the destination was reporting 200 foot overcast and 1/4 mile visibility. The previous flight was holding waiting for the weather to improve.

Due to various regulations we could launch and give it a shot. We had two alternates with the second being our departure airport.

My leg.

On the way down we kept checking the weather. Twenty minutes out they were still reporting minimums. The company flight that was holding landed at the destination. Fine.

I briefed the ILS to runway 4. The plane was fully set up.

One thing I was taught (and still teach when I instruct the ATP Regional Jet Course) is to brief the approach off the approach plate, verify the plane is set up (FMS, localizer, RADAR altimeter and such) and then put the plate away. If everything is set up properly there is no need for the approach plate for MOST approaches.

My Captain is a little old school. He clips the plate to his yoke. That would distract me, but different strokes for different folks.

After being handed off to the first approach the controller he advised RVR was down to 1300. We needed 1800. My Captain and I both sighed.

"Is it okay with you if we pull the power back as we can't shoot the approach?" My captain quiried.

"Maintain 280 knots for now, you're leading the pack." the controller replied.

Level at 11,000 feet.


We pulled the ATIS again via ACARS. The ATIS was still reporting mins. No RVR reported.

The next controller stated RVR was 1800,1800,2000. Just enough.

Smooth air. Autopilot on.

Vectored around.

Finally shooting down the glide slope.

With low RVR, low clouds and low visibility it was going to be really tight.

Clearing 300 feet AGL my Captain was silent. He was leaning over in his seat looking for the approach lights.

My eyes was focused on my PFD.

The RADAR altimeter readout is at the base of the artificial horizon.

Passing 250 feet AGL my hands gripped the yoke and thrust levers. My pinky and thumb hovered over the go around buttons.

At 600 feet per minute there was just 5 seconds for him to say "Approach lights in sight, continue". If I heard nothing I would go around.

I inched the thrust levers up and prepared to go around. My right thumb hovered over the autopilot disconnect in case he did call the lights.

He quickly stated "Approach lights in sight continue!" at the same time "Minimums! Minimums!" came through my ears from the GPWS.

I clicked the autopilot off and kept my head down. We had another 10 seconds to descend to 100 feet above touch down zone elevation. He would have to call the runway or we'd be going around.

My eyes were still inside. The RADAR altimeter was still in my scan.

Passing 150 feet....nothing.

Around 120 feet "runway in sight, 12 o'clock." said my Captain.

I looked up and quickly had to refocus from looking just a foot or so away to looking far out to a stream of runway lights.

"Going visual, landing." I stated.

Just 10 seconds later we were on the ground.

That was the tightest approach I have shot to date. My Captain remarked he hasn't had one that close in a long time as well.

The last leg was his. By the time we left clouds came up to 500 AGL and the visibility was 1 SM.

Again that was last week.

Right now I'm on day 2 of a 4 day. Same 4 day from the last two weeks.

Just like the first week, today is a cluster due to weather.

I was supposed to have 4 legs worth 7.5 hours.

My first leg out cancelled. Overnight extended.

Now flying just 3.5 hours.

When looking for an airline it's important to go to one with a good contract. I have a buddy that works for another regional that does not have as good of a contract. If a flight cancels his pay check is docked...even if it's beyond the crews control. I've had over 20 hours of cancelled flights this month. That would be over $850 out of my pocket if I didn't have pay protection for cancelled flights.

Just something to think about.



Friday, January 25, 2013

Pilot Humor

A Captain I used to fly with posted this on Facebook. He's in the top 2% company wide. I joked that he told me something similar the first time I flew with him. Ha!


Many years ago on a long transatlantic flight, an elderly lady asked
if she could visit the cockpit.
When she got up there, she found four crewmen. She asked the first
what he did, and he explained that he was the navigator and what his
responsibilities were.
She turned to next one and asked what he did. He explained that he was
the engineer and his job was to monitor and troubleshoot any system
problems to keep the flight operating smoothly.
She turned to the next one and asked what he did. He explained that as
the captain he was responsible for everything on the airplane and the
functioning of the crew. She turned to the first officer and asked
"Well young man, what is your job?"
He replied "Ma'am, I am the captain's sexual advisor."
Somewhat shocked, she said "I beg your pardon, but what do you mean by that?"
"Very simple ma'am. The captain has told me that when he wants my
fucking advice, he'll ask me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Well that could have been embarassing

Same 4 day as last week. Different cabin crew...same Captain.

Nothing exciting...which is good.

I took the first leg out. The "really long" 88 NM flight. Beautiful VFR weather.

Picked the airport up 20 miles out. Cleared for the visual to runway 4. I had the GPS approach loaded up as a backup. On base I realized I was 4 miles out and still 2000 AGL. Hmmm...

The runway was almost directly out the left window.

"You gonna make it?" asked my Captain.

I was already slowed with the gear and half flaps extended.

"Yeah, should be all right." I replied and arrested my descent and began a turn.

"Flaps 45, before landing checklist" I said.

Engines idled. I was 15 knots above approach speed when I began my turn.

As the flaps extended I pitched for my airspeed. Over shot the runway just slightly. Decent landing.

It's nice to be very comfortable with my aircraft. I know what it will do, can do and most important...won't do. I likely would not have attempted it this time last year when I had barely 100 hours in the plane.

Captain took the leg back to base. Plane swap.

There was a paperwork issue with the next plane. Nothing major, just a wrong date.

When a Captain accepts an aircraft he is stating the flight release and logbook are in proper order. If he flies the plane and the next day someone else finds a paperwork issue, he (and because I'm also on the release) and I are on the hook.

Took a while to get it fixed by maintenance. Blocked out a few minutes late. Flew fast, arrived on time.

Day 2 was also standard fare....until the last leg.

After a plane swap between the 3rd and 4th leg, we were sitting on the flight deck and were happy to have a plane with no issues.

Light load. He started the APU and I turned on the packs. Everything seemed normal. The ground crew disconnected the ground power. All was well.

Ten minutes to departure.

"Hey something is wrong with my coffee maker, it won't turn on." said the cabin crew.

There is a knob that, under particular electrical configurations, disables some electrical loads including the coffee maker.

We quickly checked the electrical synopsis page....the APU wasn't putting out any voltage...we were running the entire plane on batteries.

I quickly sprang from my seat and had the ground crew re-connect the ground power.

We then had to write up the APU for not providing voltage. It was busy as my Captain talked to company while I finished up the pre-flight task of loading up the FMS, verifying performance, fuel and passenger counts.

Between the two of us we dotted the I's and crossed the T's and blocked out just 4 minutes late. Not too shabby at all.

With the APU not providing voltage we had to do an external power start, not a big deal.

Short overnight at 9 hours. One perk of short overnights at small cities, we bring in the same aircraft we are taking out inthe morning. Helps to know the plane.

Today, day 3, was 4 legs. First two were mine.

On leg 2 we were brought in a little high. I misjudged how close I was and fully configured the plane....6 miles out. Yep...flaps 45....6 miles VFR conditions. I felt a little

During the approach to leg 4 the Captain was flying. We were about 10 miles out when he chuckled and said, "Hey you think I should go to flaps 45, I mean we are only 10 miles out."

I laughed.

Tomorrow is day 4....just 3 legs. Same trip next week.


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Questions Answered: How much does a regional First Officer make after 5 years?

Well I have my 2012 W-2 form.

In Box 1...for Wages, tip and other compensation I have $38,098.91.

Box 12 Code L is for my "expenses" AKA per diem I have $5209.56.

Box 12 Code D is for my simple 401K paid to me by my employer - $793.53.

Box 12 Code AA is for my Roth 401K  paid to me by my employer(I switched from regular to a Roth)-$1674.28.

Box 12 Code DD is interesting as it's "health insurance paid by employer" - $!

So total money in my pocket (simple wages + per diem) = $43,308.47

Including the 401K money = $45,776.28

I flew 790 hours last year. Dividing $38,098.91 by 790 hours equals an effective pay rate of $48.22. I didn't pick up much extra flying as I like my time off. I flew just 14 hours in September due to training and vacation.  I really earn closer to $42 an hour.

All in all I am content. Do I want more money...sure. Do I need it? Not really.

My wife and I live under our means. We are happy. I have all the tech toys I want. I've taken my daughter to all 4 corners of the United States including Hawaii. She's also been to Germany.

The pay is what it is. I should be a Captain within the next 18 months.

And with that is my annual , "How much does a regional First Officer make?" post.


What are the odds?

Bids closed for February. I have the same Captain again. Kinda odd as there are over 200+ Captains in my base. I guess the odds are good as I  put in my preferences for the same kind of line as this month.

First I wanted 3 day trips. Didn't get one.

Then I wanted a 4 day trip that started after 4:30PM on and finished before 6PM...weekends my current line.

That's what I got.

The 4:30PM start allows my wife to work a full work day before I start work. This way we save on daycare.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Abort! Abort! Abort!....ok a little over dramatic eh?

Day 4...go home day. Just three flights between me and going home.

Day 3 was easy, three legs. Got to the overnight at 2:30PM. After an early dinner I went to bed a 6PM. I wanted a GREAT night of rest, not just a good one.

Hopped in the hotel van at 5:30AM.

By 5:50AM I was pre-flighting a glycol soaked airplane.

Except for a missing static wick (which was already noted), everything was in order.

We boarded up 39 passengers and closed the door. I then over heard a flight attendant make the following announcement:

"Welcome aboard our flight this morning. Your Captains name is Michael, your First Officers name is Jon and my name is Henry. Now that you know our names, let's take a moment and go down the aisle and state your name so we all get to know each other."

I literally laughed out loud. I love working with people who love their jobs.

My leg. Uncontrolled airport.

I made all the normal position announcements. Nearing the runway I called center to get our clearance.

Clearance copied we were released.

My Captain turned the corner and I finished up the checklist.

"Your aircraft" he stated.

"My aircraft." I replied.

The nose was slightly off center so I applied left rudder pressure (I have 7 degrees each side of center for nose wheel steering with rudder pedals) to steer the plane toward center while bringing the power towards takeoff thrust. I've done this countless times.

I'm pretty sure I had released rudder pressure when I said, "Set thrust."

Right then the dark serene flight deck was interrupted with a Master Caution light flashing right in front of me. A rudder fault had been detected.

"Abort! Abort! Abort! Traffic 9830 is aborting on the runway."

We were only going maybe 20 knots. The airspeed had not registered yet.

When the power was brought down the message went away, too late it was already recorded.

Back to the gate.

This airport only has two departures per day. The employees are all contract. I imagine a few were on their way out the door when I called them on the radio.

Parked. Deplaned. Frustrated.

We figured we were dead until the next flight came 2:30PM. This was a very small airport where we are the only airline. We would have to wait for a company mechanic to be flown in or hope for a local mechanic. What are the odds of a local mechanic being available and have the know how?

Odds are great actually.

The local mechanic used to work for a regional airline as a mechanic. It took a few minutes for things to be done and people to be called.

Mechanic was on board at 7:45AM. He found the error in the diagnostic computer. His diagnosis was it was a timing issue with a sensor that could be related to the plane having been bathed in glycol. Next step was to do a high speed taxi run.

Being a small airport the passengers were just a few feet away inside the terminal. Many watched as we closed the boarding door, turned on the lights and taxied away.

We lined up on the runway and my Captain set the takeoff power....albeit slowly. No errors. Away we went. He briefed me on a new 50 knot call as that's when he wanted to abort.

I called it, he aborted and we were both happy with the plane again.

All the passenger bags were still on board. We boarded up the passengers,  fueled up the tanks (My Captain asked for 800 pounds over the original release), got a new flight release and left the gate again at 8:28AM.

I took control of the aircraft and slowly added takeoff power. Away we went.

I felt bad having the passengers so delayed so I flew a good deal faster than planned.

The flight was blocked for 1 hour 40 minutes. We blocked into the gate in 1 hour 15 minutes. Not too shabby.

Since we were so late we lost our last turn.

My 4 day trip was originally worth 19 hours 10 minutes. With the weather cancellations and mechanical issues I only flew 9 hours....over 4 days. Once again I'm happy for cancellation pay!

Off for 3 whole days. I planned on hitting the autoshow in Detroit...but the kiddo is sick. Maybe next weekend.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hanging out at the Wingate

On day 2 of a 4 day.

Day 1 was three legs.

The first flight was just 88 miles long. Yep 88 miles....straight line distance between the two airports.

If one were to hop in a car and drive it would take roughly 90 minutes.

The flight was blocked for 50 minutes. Of course a passenger has to be at the gate 30 minutes security and what not. I know most passengers are passing through the airport....but seriously....88 miles.

We blocked out at 5:30PM...5 minutes late. The wheels left the ground at 5:48PM and touched back down at 6:09PM. Climbed to a whole 11,000 feet. Blocked in at 6:13PM....3 minutes late.

With a lightening fast 21 minute turn we blocked out at 6:34PM and left the ground at 6:39 PM.  Slight delays on arrival put us back on the ground at 7:03PM and into the gate at 7:13PM.....17 minutes early.

Hour sit.

Flight to the overnight was delayed as the inbound plane was late. Blocked out at 8:47PM instead of 8:25PM.

Weather at the overnight was foggy. Reporting just 1/2 SM visibility and overcast 300. We had two alternates.

My leg. Smooth flight. ILS approach.

Clearing 500 feet AGL...nothing. My Captain asked tower to have the lights on full brightness. They already were. Major temperature inversion and winds.

At 500 feet the outside temp was 17 degrees C and we had a 37 knot tailwind. The temperature at the surface was 6 degrees and winds were only 11 knots.

At 400...nothing but clouds. My left hand gripped the thrust levers a little tighter and I put my pinky and thumb over the go around buttons.

"Approaching Minimums" announced the GPWS as we passed through 300 feet AGL.

Nothing by clouds.

"Approach lights in sight, continue," stated my Captain around 250 feet AGL.

"Continuing" I replied and clicked off the autopilot.

"Minimums! Minimums!" announced the GPWS.

"Runway in sight 12, O'clock." said my Captain.

"Going visual, landing." I replied.

I looked up from the dark flight deck to see a blinding set of runway lights ahead.

Slight quartering tailwind. Decent landing and done.

Long overnight.

Supposed to have had a 10:55AM van and 4 legs today.


The inbound flight cancelled. Scheduling pulled the first 3 flights off my schedule.

My crew was to dead head on the 5:50PM flight and connect to our 8:20PM overnight.

Well there were more delays. As of now all I do today is dead head home. Tomorrow I pick up my trip with a 10:20AM departure and 3 legs.

So much for having a record 91 hour line.

With the 4 legs pulled today and 1 for tomorrow I'm down to 82 hours. I still get 91 hours pay there is that.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thanks for the germs

Day 3 was a turbulent, low visibility and germy day.

Decent 14 hour overnight. I used the crew car and got a decent dinner. Back at the hotel I got back into my P90X routine and slept great.

Van time was 6AM. I got up at 5AM and was down at breakfast by 5:40AM. My cabin crew joined me at 5:50AM.

The Captain came down right at 6AM and headed to the van.

Once again he was coughing and complaining how horribly he slept. Nice.


The station had deiced the plane before we arrived. It was just covered in frost. I don't like to pre-flight my aircraft when it's covered in Glycol. Just messy.

My Captain stayed in the terminal to get breakfast while the rest of us headed out to the plane.

Walking up, the fueler approached me, "Sir we have a problem. While fueling up I heard liquid dripping and looked over to see fuel coming out of the left wing." he said.

He showed me where the fuel was coming from one of the vents in the fuel tank vent system.

We only had 5600 out the 9000 pounds of fuel needed. I told the fueler I would alert the Captain and I completed my preflight.

When the Captain arrived I let him know, he called our operations center. After all was said and done the single point refueling port was put out of service. Fuel only leaked when the single point was used. The remaining fuel would be added over wing.

Departed 15 minutes late. An ILS approach later and we arrived 10 minutes late.

Light turbulence and moderate chop enroute.

Plane swap.

The next plane also had a fueling issue.

The left fuel gauge was reported as having issues. Every now and then it would read dashes instead of the actual value. The MEL required us to verify the total on the outside fueling panel OR with the magnetic sticks in the tanks.

Sticking the tanks takes time. There are several magnetic sticks at various points on the wing and tanks. The sticks are locked in place normally. When needed they can be manually unlocked and will fall toward the ground. To read the amount of fuel I push them back into the tank and guide them slowly down. When they stop (due to a float magnet) I read the number at the top of the stick. It's easier than I described.

Once I get all the numbers I use a table to figure out how much fuel we have.

Thankfully I could use the outside panel. Once I got the number we simply monitored fuel flow and amount of fuel showing on the gauge to make sure it made sense.

First turn was quick as the outstation was just 121 miles away. Yep 121 miles......close enough for people to drive versus fly. Whatever.

Two ILS approaches later we were back in base. One turn left.

It was my leg out. Weather at the outstation was reporting:

36026G31KT 3SM -RA BR OVC007 05/04 A3000 RMK AO2 PK WND 36033/2033

The ONLY ILS was to runway 10. Max demonstrated crosswind in my plane is 30 knots. The runway was wet. Even though it's only a 60 degree difference between runway heading and the wind it was right at 30 knots.

There is a GPS approach to runway 34. Runway 34 is also the longest runway.

"Ask approach the GPS 34 approach." I told my Captain.

"Really, the ILS is easier." he stated.

"Yeah, but I don't want to play with that crosswind." I replied.

"OK, but now you're being complicated." he said.

A GPS approach is a little more complicated. The company operations manual  requires to make sure we have RAIM during the approach, terminal scaling within 30 miles and GPS approach scaling within 2 miles of the final approach fix. Noting major in my opinion.

I briefed the approach and we were vectored in.

At 600 feet we were under the clouds...but couldn't see the runway due to the rain. Wipers on.

My Captain called the runway.

Decent landing and in.

While parked my Captain let me know he would have picked the ILS even with the crosswind. Whatever.

Blocked out on time. Took off on runway...............34....into the wind.....imagine that!

Moderate turbulence for most of the ride back. Quite uncomfortable being rocked and rolled. We would be jolted up 150 feet then down 200 feet. Lots of left and right jolts as well.

Happy to have blocked in 10 minutes early.

My Captain coughed every leg. He apologized for it....but I wished he would have called in sick. I had my flu shot and washed my hands and wiped of my flight controls before each leg. I hope I don't get sick because he was too selfish to call in.

Off for 4 days. I have three 4 day trips left with the same Captain.

Time to go eat breakfast and drink coffee my daughter made me in her play kitchen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Lost my faith George

Day 2 of a 3 day.

Day 1 was pretty easy. Three legs. Captain took the first and I took the next two.

Captain is nice. He'd been off for 3 weeks on vacation. During the first leg he started coughing.

The first leg was to an uncontrolled airport surrounded by mountains. Several airlines fly in and out. Even though it was VFR we had to fly a specific route into the airport. In and done.

For the departure we also had to fly a specific route out. Not a big deal, but when it's safe than sorry.

His cough got worse on the second leg. Just a dry cough...but it was there.

Third leg...figured  he would have called in sick. Eh.

Nine hour overnight. Had time to work out a bit.

Today started early. First two legs were his. ILS approach into base.

Not a big deal. In 10 minutes early. Had 40 minutes instead of 30 minutes for the plane swap.

I picked up a bite to eat on the way to the next gate. Departed right on time.

While being vectored in for an ILS we listened to the approach controller help a Cessna 172 shooting the ILS. The Cessna was having problems.

"Cessna 12TA are you glideslope equipped? Currently 1/2 mile west of the localizer and 300 feet low" stated the controller.

The Cessna was on a different frequency so we could only hear half the conversation.

"Cessna 12TA you are now 1/2 mile east of the localizer and 400 feet low, I suggest you level off until the glideslope comes in." approach continued.

"No problem sir, this is why we are here, to help. You're doing fine. The glideslope should be coming in now."

He helped the Cessna all the way down. The approach lighting system was NOTAM'd out of service, but apparently it was working as the Cessna called it in sight.

With it NOTAM'd out of service we needed 3/4 mile visibility....and that's exactly what was reported.

When it was our turn I'm glad the Approach Lighting System was working as we got to 200 feet and I saw only the ALS and not the runway until we were at 100 feet.

Raining. Quick turn and back out.

During my approach back at our base George let me down...big time.

Twelve miles out we had a 30 degree intercept for the localizer. Stiff wind blowing 30 knots at 90 degrees.

The autopilot was on...but I can't sat it was flying an approach.

The Flight Director pitched hard left.....then hard right.....then hard left.....then hard right. The airplane banked sharply each direction.  Enough.

"I'm turning the autopilot off." I stated. Too late.

"Confirm you are established on the localizer." The final monitor stated.

While I was turning off the autopilot we went 1 1/2 dots deflected.

"We are established." Responded my Captain.

I tried to fly the needle and glideslope and ignore the flight director commands. It was hard to ignore the command bars bouncing left and right.

Right when I was ready to go around my Captain called the runway in sight.

I looked up and was happy to see the runway lights through the rain.

My Captain reported the ILS issues to the tower. Once parked he wrote up the problems in the matanence log. The plane was out of service.

Problem was we were to take the plane to the overnight. Another swap.

Blocked out 50 minutes late. We were number 15 for takeoff.

Easy flight. In and done and hour and eight minutes late.

Very small town for the overnight. Very nice hotel that has a crew car. Off to find food. More later.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

In and out

Easy two day trip. The trip was just a small piece of a 4 day trip. The orignal First Officer dropped most of the trip and it was split amongst reserves and myself.

I only had one leg out and one leg in.

Early in the morning I noticed the original crew was delayed at an out station due to a mechanical. I would be flying with reserves. No biggie.

Met the crew at the gate. Captain has the same name as me just spelled differently.

They were all flying up and dead heading back. The original crew would be dead heading up later in the day. This was done to keep the flight on time. The orignal crew was running 2 hours late.

We deiced and then up and away we went. I opted to fly if up.

Mostly smooth flight.

The out station was reporting snow and 1000 foot ceilings. Calculated required landing distance on a dry runway was 4900 feet (with no thrust reverse or headwind credit). There were no braking action reports. I planned on a wet runway which increased the landing distance to 5900 feet, again with no thrust reverse credit. The runway was 7500 feet long. No biggie.

Light icing conditions during the descent. Broke out to see, what appeared to be, a perfectly dry runway.

Decent landing. My eyes were correct, totally dry runway.

In and done.

When I went outside to hop onto the hotel van....there was no van. I called and they thought I was coming in later. It seems crew tracking forgot about me.

Fifteen minutes later the van arrived.

Cold and snowy. Walked to a local cafe for one big meal that would serve as lunch and dinner.

I was in bed by 9PM for a 4:45AM wake up time.

At 5:25AM I headed to the lobby. There I met the rest of my crew. Quick cup of coffee and we were off to the airport.

The Captain was 3 years younger than me. He got started in aviation right out of college. I waited 6 years to start flying. Seniority is everything.

He had 5 legs that day so I once again offered my flying skills.

The plane was covered in a thick layer of frost again.

Planes are deiced with a heated fluid called Glycol. The plane is bathed in the stuff. During deicing we have the packs (think air conditioners) turned off. The only air in the cabin is simply recirculated air. This is why it gets stuffy during deicing operations.

After deicing is complete we wait 4 minutes before turning the packs on again as to avoid ingesting glycol into the cabin. It's not dangerous, but it can make people noxious as its a burning smell.

It's very hit or miss wether or not we will ingest glycol. On this morning we did.

As soon as I turned on the packs I could smell burned up glycol. Yuck.

Even with deicing we were estimated to arrive early. Sure enough we blocked in 20 minutes early. Great for me as I had a meeting with our home builder to pick colors, upgrades and options for our new house.

I checked on my original sequence involving the international overnight. If I had kept it I would have been 90 minutes late to  the meeting as the flight was heavily delayed. Glad I traded!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

This was like an office job

Did a day trip today. I left the house at 6AM and walked back in my front door at 6:05PM. I only live 15 miles from the airport.

The flying was fine. Normal winter ops. We did have to de-ice twice. The first one was kinda silly as there was a patch of frost 5 inches by maybe 20 inches on the left wing...that's it. Rest of the plane was clear. Rules are rules though.

First turn was easy. Extremely senior Captain. No issues.

Next turn was long.

The outstation weather was crap. Unpredicted snow.

During the boarding process at the out station the station manager came up and said, "I will try to find some Type IV fluid."

The Captain and I looked at each other and he said, "Did she just say she will FIND some Type IV fluid?"

Thankfully she found some.

Ironically right after we deiced...the snow stopped.

Rules are rules.

Flew 7 hours and 45 minutes today.

I show up tomorrow for one leg to the overnight. I have one leg back Friday.

Previously I had an international overnight with a trip worth 7 hours 20 minutes. I didn't care for the overnight or dealing with customs. Instead I traded into a trip worth 5 hours....but it's domestic.

I lost 2 hours 20 minutes, but I'm not worried. This month I am scheduled for 91 hours of flying. The highest amount ever. Saving money for the house.

Speaking of money, I'll have a "How much does a regional First Officer on year 6 pay make?" post this week.

As far as this day trip business. No thanks. It's too much like an office job. I'll take my 3 day trips....maybe 2 day trips....but day trips? Nah.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Interesting 3 day trip.

The Captain for my actual trip is a former Air Force pilot. He is new to my base.  He is the most thorough Captain I've ever flown with. He went through a 5 minute (not exaggerating)  crew briefing with me and the cabin crew. He included security information, evacuation procedures, weather and more. My lead flight attendant was taken back a bit. I was a bit shocked. No Captain had ever gone through so much during a briefing. I appreciated it.

He then read out loud the last 4 days of issues in the maintenance log. Normally I read it myself. Since he read it to me I was able to complete my pre-flight duties.

While boarding a note and snack was passed up to the flight deck. I was shocked.

A 7 year old girl and her mom were on board today and brought us a thank you note and snack. It was a great way to start the trip.


My Captain continued on to read the NOTAMs for the departure and destination airport. Again not normal....but I appreciated it.

Three legs on day one. First one was his. The first two legs were quick, the last was long.

Snow, high winds and low clouds were on order.

While desending from 10,000 to 4000 we got a master caution for BLD LOW TEMP for both engines. I had the engines idled during the desecent. We were in icing conditions. The anti-ice was on thus increasing the speed as they rev up to supply bleed air.

I shallowed out the descent and raised the thrust levers to supply more bleed air. Normally the caution goes out. Not this time.

Just in case we did have ice accreting I advised I'd wait until we turn final to lower the flaps.

Turned final. Still had a master caution posted. My Captain ran the checklist which didn't really help as it was refernencing ONE of the engines having low bleed air, not both.

Broke out at 800 AGL. Heavy snow. Picked up the runway at around 500 feet. Winds were gusting 28 knots, thankfully right down the runway.

Nice landing and done.

He wrote up the master caution. We were at a maintenance base so it would be addressed overnight.

I'd been to this overnight a lot lately. Always at the Hampton Inn.

While waiting at the curb a Double Tree van pulled up. I called the Hampton Inn.

"I think you guys are at the Double Tree, my next flight doesn't come in for 2 hours." stated the Hampton Inn front desk clerk.

I walked down to the Double Tree van, "Are you here for flight 5813?"

Indeed he was. Fine with my crew, we get free cookies at the Double Tree.

Decent overnight.

Next morning started off with a lot of waiting.

Departure was 8:20AM. We took at 7:20AM van as we wanted to get breakfast since the hotel is....expensive.

We arrived at the gate at 7:35AM....and we waited. The station was very short staffed. We didn't get access to the plane until 8:04AM. Ridiculous.

Pushed out at 8:39AM. Thankfully we didn't need to deice. Blocked out 19 minutes late, blocked in 10 minutes late.

One hour sit. Long flight to the overnight.

The next hotel was located next to the airport. Within walking distance. So close that all crews just walk.

Another fancy hotel. I grabbed lunch before leaving the airport.

Later that night I ordered a $15 burger and fries for dinner from the hotel....and that was with our discount.

The next morning started early. Walked over at 5AM for a 6AM departure. My Captain had been in the cockpit since 5AM. He likes getting there early.

Pushed back 5 minutes early, quick de-ice and we were out. My leg.

Smooth flight. Low clouds and 1/2 SM visibility at the hub. Full ILS approach.

I left the autopilot on until about 300 feet. Runway came into view around 200 feet.

Blocked in 10 minutes late at 7:50AM.

My 3 day trip officially ended. I had previously requested a turn for overtime.

The flight left base at 9AM and returned at 12:10PM. Nice 2 hour 40 minutes worth of time and a half.

Easy flight for the most part. The Captain was new to me. Former Marine. He was interesting. He took it out and I brought it back. I shot the same approach as before. I was home by 1PM.

My line for January is a little odd.

I have a day trip on January 2nd followed by a 2 day trip on January 3rd. The 2 day trip is an international overnight. Bleh.