Wednesday, January 24, 2018

From State of the it's got a little glass

All was well at FL340 over southern Arkansas. I was flying the leg between MEM and DFW. While talking with the Captain a yellow beam of light interrupted our conversation...the right starter valve was open....and it wasn't supposed to be.

No idea why it was open. I called for the checklist. The end result was the engine had to be run at idle and the auto-throttles had to be disconnected...along with an emergency declared.

We tried to find somewhere to divert to...but wouldn't ya know it...every airport east of DFW was 1/4 SM and fog. DFW it was.

Cleared direct to the airport. I made a very nice single engine approach to runway 17 center. Once on the ground the Airport Fire Department verified all was well with the heat coming off the right engine. We shut it down and headed to the gate.

Once parked the Captain shook my hand...."Great job....definitely above average...welcome aboard." I was officially a DC-9 First Officer for American Airlines. The simulator instructor also shook my hand and welcomed me aboard.

The MD-80 is a DC-9 variant...thus the type rating is for the DC-9. I was VERY nervous selecting the MD-80 over the 737 or E-190 which were also offered. The 737 is more modern while the E-190 is the exact type rating I already have from my last airline. The MD-80 meant no commuting though....thus why I picked it.

The training wasn't easy. For the last 10 years I have flown ONLY fully glass flight decks. Nothing else. The MD-80 at AA has VERY limited glass. The Altimeter, Airspeed, VSI, VOR/ADF are analog dials. The PFD and a Navigation Display are glass...that's it. Every other gauge is analog. There's no EICAS...just a systems panel. Very different. I haven't flown steam gauges in more than 10 years...thankfully I have flown enough that a jet is a just required me to look in more places for the information.

The last 24 months has been a rollercoaster. January 2016 I upgraded from First Officer of the ERJ-145 to Captain of the CRJ destined to commute to Chicago. February 2016 my wife suffered an Ectopic pregnancy and had one of her two tubes removed. March 2016 I was awarded Captain 175 DFW. Great. June 2016 while on an overnight I was told my father passed away (you didn't miss anything...never made it public). September 2016 when I was getting ready for training on the 175 , my wife called stating her pregnancy might be ectopic again and this pregnancy might be our 4th and final loss. I flew home from St Louis to be with her...and had to go back not knowing the status. I finished training a few weeks later...pregnancy still in limbo. Thankfully in April 2017 we became parents to a healthy baby girl. I interviewed with American Airlines in June 2017..and was given the amazing news in August 2017 that I was hired. Today....January 24, 2018 I passed my 3rd long term training event in 2 years.  I won't get to fly it for long as it leaves service next which time I will likely head to the 737. For will be nice to breathe...and relax. While I was the one sitting in the seat for the check ride...none of this would be possible if not for my wife. She's an amazingly intelligent, strong, determined, sometimes annoying to the point I swear she's crazy, beautiful woman that is always up for the challenge that is being married to me....


  1. Congratulations! I recently found your blog and I'm really enjoying reading through it. I am also an ATP graduate with a background in the tech industry (programming). I am really enjoying working as a flight instructor while I work toward earning my 1500 hours. Your blog has been such a great insight into life at the airlines for me and has really been getting me excited for the future. I hope to be where you are someday. Good luck at AA and I can't wait for your next post!

  2. Congrats Darren!

    I started following your blog probably late 2008 or so. I remember because you had just passed your probationary check ride at Eagle right around the time I found it. Your blog got me through my boredom my senior year of high school and kept me motivated when I was going through flight training. It's pretty amazing to see you make it from your first year at the regionals to the majors. Thanks for answering all my annoying comments and emails, getting together with me on your overnight, and writing me a rec at Eagle a long time ago. I still appreciate it.



If you are a spammer....your post will never show up. Move along.