Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I thought I was kosher

There I was sitting at home in my office. I haven't used my office in months. I cleaned it up over the last few days and was flying on Flight Sim 2004. Relaxed. The time was 1:15PM. I figured by 2PM I would be safe from having to go into work. Then the phone rang. Doh! The scheduler said he had a 4 day trip for me! He hated giving it to me as I was barely legal for it. I hate 4 day trips.

I stopped what I was doing and started packing. My sign in time was 4:25PM. Thankfully my wonderful wife would be home at 3:30PM so she could take me to the airport.

The trip isn't bad. All the overnights are in the same time zone. Two of the overnights are in the same city.

My wife's Prius is in the shop right now and she has a Nissan Sentra rental. She hates it. She wants to use my car while I am gone. My car isn't anything special, a 2008 Mazda5. I have only put 8500 miles on it in the last 15 months. My car is babied...lives in the garage and is rarely driven more than 15 miles a day. The poor car will be in shock with her commuting the next few days. Eh.

I signed in at 4:20PM and made my way to the plane.

The ground crew connected the external power....but didn't turn it on. As long as their boss sees it plugged in...they are "doing their job". During my walk around I use hand signals to tell a ramper a gate over the power isn't working. When I finish he ask me to check it. I mention that we need ground air as well as it's 90+ degrees outside. He told me the ground air isn't working. When it's this hot outside we need power AND air otherwise we have to use the APU. I verified the power was working and powered up the plane.

The cabin temp was already 82 degrees. I turned on the recirc fan to get air moving. Once the flight attendants arrived I powered up the APU.I then began setting up the plane.

There were storms moving in from the west side of the airport. They weren't here yet...but would be soon. When I tried to pull up our clearance via the FMS (called a PDC- Pre Departure Clearance), it wasn't coming up. Nothing on file. After a few minutes of trying I tuned in the airport clearance frequency. It's a mess....non stop talking. Everyone was getting re-routed due to the weather. Ugh.

Passengers began boarding. I haven't seen the Captain yet. Ten minutes prior to departure I finally get a PDC. The Captain came down a minute later. The dispatcher was working hard getting everything filed due to the weather.

I pull up a radar image on my phone. It's bad. Really bad.

We pushed out 15 minutes late due to a discrepancy in the cabin. The gate agent had people on board who should not have been.

The Captain gave me the leg out. Instead of following the RNAV SID we were being vectored. Our destination was straight west. Because of the storm we had to fly 200 miles south before turning west. The climb out was smooth. Due to every other westbound plane having to fly south first the airspace was congested. We were told to descend from FL280 to FL220. Thankfully we had enough fuel that flying so low wasn't an issue.

The view out the window was amazing. The storm clouds tops were over 45,000 feet.

[singlepic id=188 w=320 h=240 float=center]

[singlepic id=187 w=320 h=240 float=center]

[singlepic id=186 w=320 h=240 float=center]

[singlepic id=185 w=320 h=240 float=center]

After clearing the biggest part of the storm we were vectored right under a shelf. We had moderate turbulence for a bit and I slowed down the 280 knots. We then broke out and were in beautiful clear skies.

The overnight is in a city that I attended college for just one year. It's a very flat city. We were headed into the sun and directly too the airport. The controller advised the airport was 12 o'clock and 5 miles. We couldn't see it due to the sun. Finally 3 miles away we saw it. We were then cleared for a visual. I was already slowed to 200 knots and flaps 8. I disconnected the autopilot and made a near continuous turn from downwind to final. I was stabilized but didn't line up with the runway until right at 500 feet.

My landing was very nice. I came in slightly low and kissed the ground somewhat flattish on the 1000 foot markings. Nice.

After parking at the gate I called the hotel. The next crew was supposed to leave the outstation, head to base and then come back here for the overnight. Due to the storm the were delayed. They now won't get back to the outstation till after midnight. They were supposed to be done at 10PM. Ouch.

Since I started my duty at 4AM and didn't finish until 7:35PM I need at least 10 hours "rest". To be legal the airline reduced our "show time" in the morning by 16 minutes to give us exactly 10 hours rest. It's all numbers. Whatever.


  1. What planes do you usually fly on Flight Sim? Have you ever flown the Wilco CRJ? If so, how realistic is it?

  2. Interesting post about the storms and turbulence. Do you have any comment about the AF accident, and how you feel about flying through thunderstorms and turbulence?

  3. Those pictures are amazing. I love seeing them.
    It must be so cool to be in the calm above a storm creating havoc on the ground. :)

  4. I have the Wilco CRJ and E170s. The CRJ is pretty good for a flight sim model. All the buttons are in the right spot, the autopilot works correctly, FADEC kinda works. The flight model is pretty good. The CRJ7 in flight sim is a bit more twitchy than in real life. Flying the CRJ is like driving a big Cadillac. When I turn the yoke it rolls slowly. The ERJ145, from what I hear, is like a sports car. It turns faster and is more responsive. One thing that takes getting used to in the CRJ is that there is no physical link between the yoke and the flight control surfaces. Every feeling is artificial.

  5. As far as the Air France accident....I have flown through a few thunderstorms. Not by choice. I have had turbulence so bad that it sent a flight attendant into the ceiling. Again not by choice. A pilot has to know his equipment, be able to UNDERSTAND weather and plan accordingly. I don't think enough of the information is in about the Air France crash.


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