Monday, April 27, 2015

Job Fair

Last Thursday I attended my first job fair.

The job fair was a large part of the OBAP (Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals). Contrary to the name, OBAP is open to anyone interested in Aerospace.

The event began at 7 AM Thursday so I flew up very late Wednesday night. To save money I slept in the airport. Kidding. I burned 4,000 SPG points for a room at a Four Points. I also used points for a rental car, though I could have (and maybe should have) used the free hotel shuttle.

I met up with a long time friend from ATP. He's at Jetblue now, looking for something bigger.

OBAP is much larger and more involved than I thought. They are huge on being a volunteer.

After some very informative morning sessions I waited for my turn in the job fair room. Entry was by seniority. Seniority is ruled by when you signed up. I signed up the week before....I had time to kill.

I chatted up some fellow pilots. Most were regional pilots but there were a few pilots just starting out.

When it was my turn my first stop was Virgin America. I did okay with the pre-interview. I feel okay about it. I then hit up Frontier and did horribly. I was tired at that point as I waited outside for 2 1/2 hours.

United was there unofficially. I spoke with a few United pilots who gave me tips on improving my resume. All said I have enough flight time, I just need to make myself stand out.

I left a little defeated as I hoped to land solid interviews. At least I know what I need to do to get an interview. I'll be attending the next conference in August. I plan to bring my A game then.

Still waiting on the Captain bid results.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I'm becoming a Princess

Seniority is everything in aviation. Seniority determines pay, vacation, schedules and overall quality of life.

I've been at my airline for 7 1/2 years....all in the right seat. This may change next week as I've bid for Captain. That's for later.

Lately I've been using my seniority to fly what I want to fly. Mostly this means long flights (for a regional) and as few legs as possible. I don't like flying more than 3 legs a day.....I've become a princess.

This week I have a 2 day trip that's a 5 and 1 followed by a dead head home.

I've flown with the Captain a few times in the past. He's quirky but fine.

The first turn was 4 hours total. He took it out. I then flew back to base. The third leg was a quick 70 nautical mile flight. We taxied almost as long as the time in the air. Up and down.

The fourth and fifth legs were his. I was beat on the flight to the overnight. Descending into the airport area we were cleared for the visual. Mostly clear skies. We did have a 20 second encounter with heavy snow at 3000 feet.

Once on the ground I was worn out. Over 7 hours of flying.

Day 2 is one short hop to the hub and I get to sprint to my deadhead which starts boarding as we are scheduled to pull into the gate.

Wednesday I will be working on union NewsBlast all day before hopping a flight to Vegas.

Thursday I will be walking around the OBAP career fair talking to major airlines hoping to score a new job. My eyes are set on United and Virgin America. Wish me luck on scoring a job OR at least holding Captain next week.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Always pack a suitcase

I'm currently sitting in a Marriott hotel in Alabama. I'm supposed to be cooking up scrambled eggs for my kiddo.

This week I picked up 10 3/4 hours of extra flying. Two day trips.  Five hours and a quarter hours was on Thursday and 5 1/2 on Friday. Thursdays trip went fine.

Friday started okay. The original Captain (who I was looking forward to flying with) and Flight Attendant called in sick for the trip. I had a reserve crew.

We blocked out on time. He took the first leg. Weather. Slight delays as Clearance was issuing reroutes to aircraft waiting to takeoff. Away we went.

Weather at the out station wasn't horrible with 1200 broken and 3/4 mile visibility...except it was a localizaer approach. We needed 1 mile visibility. Our alternate was our hub.

Getting closer the front was passing through. The visibility was 3 miles and winds shifted so we could use the ILS. Fine.

While being vectored for the approach the winds shifted again and we had a 10 knot quartering tailwind. Clouds were still low and the visibility was just 1 mile. We discussed it and planned on landing with a tailwind on the ILS was better than a headwind with the localized as we could go lower with the ILS.

In and done. This was the first of four legs. We planned for a quick turn. Once boarded we were told there was a "Call for Release" program in effect. This meant that the Center controllers needed to meter the aircraft arriving and would sequence us in. My leg. Up and away we went with a minimal delay.

Mild turbulence. In and parked close to on time. Plane AND terminal change.

Originally we had 50 minutes between flights. With the delays we had just 30. I've been around long enough to know when I need to slow down and eat.

I stopped by a Subway and snagged a Veggie Delight Chopped Salad. I get every single option which makes it a steal for $6.

Blocked out a few minutes late. No delays on the departure which was good as there was a huge line of weather moving in from the west. We were headed east.

Great tailwind. At cruise I ate my salad and chatted up the Captain. It turns out he was an Offensive Lineman for the University of Michigan. My wife went to Michigan State. I told him he went to the "wrong" school.

Choppy ride at FL310. We tried FL350...worse. We went down to FL270. Better.

Mild weather in Alabama. With the winds coming from 120 at 9 knots I figured they'd be using runway 15. Nope runway 33. Another tailwind approach. The tailwind through my planning off a bit and I had a firmish landing...which made my Captain laugh as my previous landing was butter smooth. "At least I know you're human," he replied as I had been flying very smoothly until that point.

Once at the gate and parked I whipped out my Ipad to send out a Union email. I then did my postflight and called for clearance. That's when the fun started. ground stop. The first delay was just 35 minutes. We figured it'd be best to board up and be at the ready if the ground stop was lifted. It wasn't.

The next ground stop was pushed until 9PM. My Captain had to be off the ground by 9:02 PM to be legal under FAR 117. He started his day earlier than I did.

After several phone calls we ended up cancelling. Long ago I learned to always bring a suitcase. Never assume you will always come home even if it's "just" a day trip.

I was being Junior Manned to fly the next day. At first it was a 8 AM departure and I'd be done by 10:30 AM. We were annoyed but content. On the way to the hotel they cancelled that flight and assigned us a 2 PM departure done by 4:30 AM. That annoyed us.....our entire Saturday was shot.

I had bought a box of eggs that morning as my daughter asked for scrambled eggs Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon was to be spent going with my family to a friends birthday party. I'd miss all of that.

The Captain had planned to be home last night to go to his kids soccer and baseball games. He'd actually gotten the day off of reserve to attend those functions. He'd miss all of that as well.

The Flight Attendant just wanted to commute home and sleep in her own bed.

For all of this I get 4 hours of extra pay or 200% actual flight time, which ever is greater. Given the short flight I will get 4 hours pay....roughly $170. Not worth it really. I do get another day off this month that I get to pick. Eh.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Flying a lot more

I've been flying a lot more lately. This is due to me loving what I do and to make more money. The company recently started paying 150% pay for any extra flying done and 200% pay when they are really short handed.

This month alone I've picked up almost 20 hours of extra flying. The flying was all done on weekdays where I would have otherwise sat at home. That extra flying will be worth about $1300 at my current pay rate.

Beyond that there's a vacancy bid open at my airline. Not holding my breath as it's being run with a displacement bid. My airline is closing yet another base.

When I started back in 2007 there were 8 pilot bases. By the end of the year there will be just 2. Thankfully I live in the largest base that should be safe from being closed.

When a base closes all the pilots are displaced. They are pushed out to the remaining bases. The pilots from the closed base can choose any seat their seniority can hold. Junior pilots in other bases often get shuffled around. It's a huge game of musical chairs.

I won't be displaced as I'm a very senior First Officer. There are less than 50 First Officers company wide that are senior to me. There are over 1000 First Officers junior to me.

The bid closes next week.....results will be out about a week after that.

Monday, April 6, 2015

First time here....hope it's my last

April is here! Time flies.

On a two day trip. Flying with a Captain I have not flown with in 4 years. Back then we were both on a larger, more powerful, all together better aircraft. Now we are both flying another plane solely due to quality of life. To fly the better plane we'd have to commute.

We both talked about how much we truly despised the current plane. When you've had the sucks to go down 5 levels.

The first day was three legs. He's an old school guy and always takes the leg out. No biggie. I took the next two. The first two flights were uneventful. The last was normal except for the last 5 minutes.

Headed to HPN...White Plains, New York....filled with uppity folks who despise regional jets but don't want to drive to JFK/LGA to fly a "big plane".

With a 130 knot tailwind we were projected to arrive 50 minutes early. The flight is a bit overblocked as the NY airspace can be congested.

The reported winds favored a straight in landing to runway 16.  As we got closer the ATIS stated runway 16 was in use. There was a light 5 knot direct crosswind.

I briefed and setup my descent for a straight in approach. Passing 11,000 feet we were told the airport was being turned around and now runway 34 was in use.

This would add 5-7 minutes to the flight, but still early.

On the downwind the approach controller stated we were number 3 and would be following a Gulfstream at 12 o'clock, 4 miles and 1000 feet below.

The NY airspace is busy. It was a clear night but with all the ground lights we did not feel confident following the aircraft we thought SHOULD be the Gulfstream. We advised we were looking for it.

On base I saw the airport and felt confident I could keep it in sight. Cleared for the visual and assigned 170 knots.

The Gulfstream was in clear view 3 miles ahead.

Once we switched to tower frequency we heard our flight and told to slow down as there would be a departure between the Gulfstream landing and our landing. We had not been cleared to land, only to "continue".

At 1000 feet AGL the Gulfstream was still rolling out. I told the Captain that I didn't think this was going to work. I mentally went through the go around profile. With the departing aircraft I included the possibility for the instructions to include a turn.

At 700 feet the Gulfstream was just still clearing the runway when Tower cleared the aircraft holding in position to takeoff.

The Gulfstream cleared by the time the departing aircraft started rolling.

At 500 feet the aircraft ahead was airborne.

Nice and soft landing followed by moderate braking and done. So I thought.

The HPN airport only has 4 gates. They will not assign a gate to a flight until they land. A bit odd. We were assigned gate 2. In and done. So I thought.

We were still 40 minutes early. We walked out to the curb to wait for the van. Being so early there was no van waiting. We saw another crew and asked where they were headed, happened to be the same hotel. They were concerned if we would all fit (7 total crew members between us). I called the hotel and asked if the vehicle was large enough. The hotel insured it was.

We talked a bit and watched a JetBlue crew walk past. I told the other crew they should all get in first since they arrived first.

The van arrived. We walked out to see Jetblue hopping in. We told them that we had all been waiting and both of us had called. They didn't care. We let the other crew hop in and we had to get a cab. We thought we were almost done.

We walked over to a cab and hopped in. We told the driver where we were going. He started shaking his head and took our bags out....not telling us why. He said we had to call our own cab as cabs are prearranged.

It took 4 minutes to get through as the line was constantly busy. I was told I had to pay via credit card and over the phone. Fine.

30 minutes after landing we were in the cab. The 7 mile drive cost $33! The hotel paid me back in cash on check in. Finally done.

Today is 3 legs with a deadhead on mainline home.