The previous crew advised us that the ACARS printer wasn't working and that a mechanic was on the way. We use that printer to print out our clearance, ATIS and more. Not vital...but it reduces the workload. After waiting 5 minutes past departure time I called maintenance again. Still on the way. Prior to starting flying I used to fix thermal printers during my 4 year's working for NCR. Thermal printers are VERY reliable. I figured I would give it a quick cleaning with a sanitizing napkin. Tada! Printer was working fine. We still had to wait though because the problem was still written up in our maintenance logbook. The mechanic signed it off and we were on our way.
I took the first leg out. Weather caused us to take the "scenic" route, meaning the long way around. The ride was mostly smooth until we got closer to the outstation. We were at FL370 getting bumped around. ATC advised lower was better. We tried FL350...worse. We the climbed to FL390...much nicer. Here is a track of our altitude and times from Flightaware.com. The first number is the time, then ground speed, followed by altitude.
15:31 526 37000 level
15:32 532 37000 level
15:33 532 37000 level
15:34 557 36500 descending
15:35 557 35600 descending
15:36 552 35000 descending
15:37 552 35000 level
15:38 530 35000 level
15:39 517 35000 level
15:40 517 35700 climbing
15:41 517 36900 climbing
15:42 517 37900 climbing
15:43 507 38400 climbing
15:44 501 38900 climbing
15:45 501 39000 climbing
15:46 501 39000 level
After leveling off a FL390 we were happy. The descent down was bumpy, but nothing too bad.
We were running late as always. Approach vectored us for a visual approach to runway 28R. Once cleared they advised us to "stay on our side" as another plane was landing on 28L. The controller then told the other plane to stay on "his" side. We kind of laughed as though the two planes were kids...."Mom that plane is getting on my side!"
I made a decent landing and 30 minutes later we were headed back to base.
The weather was still crap between us and base so we took the long way around again. Clouds are beautiful things and I take quite a few photos of them.
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Our route took us around most of the bad stuff. One towering cloud passed just off to the side...it was almost as though the dispatcher knew it would be there and planned us around it.
The clouds were very interesting as we descended into base. The sun was setting sending streaks of sunlight through the clouds.
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After the Captain landed we had to wait for about 10 minutes for a gate. The weather caused delays which meant no gates for us. As we were waiting I overheard a flight calling into operations about a passenger issue.
The passenger was on his way to a funeral. His connecting flight was the last flight out for the night and scheduled to leave in just 20 minutes. The flights would be 23 gates apart! The pilot was asking our operations to help out by having a motorized cart waiting to escort the passenger to his flight and, if possible, hold the outbound flight. Operations wasn't being very corporative. Sometimes I think airline personnel forget what it's like to be human. I have no doubt the crew of the outbound flight would wait if they knew about it. I hope he made his flight.
We had about 50 minutes before the next flight. Thankfully we were keeping the same plane.
This morning when I left home I left my Zune MP3 player at home. My amazing wife noticed it and sent me a text. I replied to her while at the outstation that if she didn't mind she could bring it up to me between flights. She did. I couldn't ask for a more supportive wife.
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just a photo of my headset hanging up...the hanger is nice..but has really worn out the top headband....oh the problems of being a pilot ;-).
Weather had moved in big time between us and our overnight. We were assigned a RNAV SID, but told to expect vectors.
Before departure I asked the Flight Attendant for a Diet Coke and a cup of ice. I placed it next to me and forgot about it. Barreling down the runway I rotated the aircraft at 130 knots and heard a sliding then crashing noise on my side. During takeoff my attention is outside the aircraft. The noise got my attention for just a split second. After getting the gear up the Captain asked what the noise was. I let him know. Right at 600 feet (minimum altitude for the autopilot on climbout), I called for "autopilot on". I have never called for the autopilot so low before. Thankfully the Diet Coke can was still closed. Just had to clean up a little ice.
After making the first turn we were told to turn right heading 300 and track the 285 radial outbound.
It's very rare we use VOR's as primary navigation. We both tuned in the VOR and setup the proper radial. As a backup I used the FMS to draw a radial line from the same VOR. Below is a dim photo of my MFD and PFD as we were flying outbound. Notice all the "colors" on the MFD....the storm clouds.
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We had a nice hole to fly through. On both side of us were towering thunderclouds with nearly non-stop lightening. The ride was amazingly butter smooth. I made a shallow, high speed climb, to stay under the shelf of the thundercloud.
I already ranted about the landing in "Damn Cessnas".
After we left the plane I called the hotel. This isn't required as they are supposed to keep track of our arrival times. We were right on time so they should have been waiting. They weren't there. The rep said he was on his way in a "Black Mercedes". Hmmm okay. After 15 minutes (our contractually agreed maximum time) I called again. Now we were told to look for a white full size van...that just pulled up. We piled in. The van driver drove down to the next door to pickup another crew from another airline. This other airline is known for having hotels bend over backward for them. This annoys me. The other crew wasn't all there and said they would wait. Good.
After arriving at the hotel the manager apologized for the van mix up and gave us all vouchers for free breakfast in the morning. Score!
Today I sit around in the city till 3PM. Just two legs today. Short overnight tonight(9 hours from arrival to departure). Tomorrow my wife is planning on flying out with me to my next overnight. There is a really good restaurant in the town we both want to visit. My flight has plenty of open seats and there are two flights back after dinner for her to fly back home that are also very open. Should be fun.