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 image....it'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.