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.