Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 3 of the 4 day

Day 3 was really rough. We had a 5 AM van which meant waking up at 4:30AM....which is really 4AM as I wake up early on my own.

I pack my bags the night prior to I have just a little extra time. At 4:55AM we were all sitting cheek to cheek with other passengers in an overcrowded hotel van. At most overnights we are the only people in the van.

This outstation, like most, doesn't have a "crew only" security line. We cleared the first TSA agent then went up the exit lane to the front of the line and cut back in.

There were was 1 mainline flight leaving at 6AM along with us. My crew had the plane ready more 40 minutes prior for only 18 passengers. This outstation isn't happy to have lost a mainline flight and are more than happy to let us know is subtle ways. They didn't have the 9 passenger bags loaded in the aft cargo until 2 minutes past 6AM. The mainline flight pushed out 4 minutes early. We pushed out 9 minutes late.

After joining the conga line for takeoff away we went. Even at 6AM the airspace was busy. No RNAV departures here. After taking off from runway 6R, turn right heading 080 until reaching 1500 feet. Then turn left and proceed direct to the VOR and cross it at at least 3000 feet but no higher than 5000 feet. Then track the 290 radial outbound. No time for autopilot use. Once level at 5000 we simply waited for ATC to call us.

We were initially behind a 737 and another CRJ headed to the same airport. The 737 was in the lead and doing Mach.74 at FL340. We were assigned no faster than Mach .74. Hmmm....we requested FL400 and once there, were allowed to go as fast as we wanted to. Set at Mach .80 we slowly caught up the to planes and passed them. Even leaving 9 minutes late, I touched down 10 minutes early and we blocked in 3 minutes early. Block to block was 2 hours 11 minutes.

Breakfast. An hour later I was back in a cockpit pushing back for the next leg. The Captain and I were trading flying at the outstation versus trading each leg. This way one guy didn't always land in base and the other guy didn't always land at the outstation.

The base we were flying from is busy....busier than my base for sure. The ground controller would rattle off instructions to 5 planes before taking a breath. No time for us to respond. If a plane didn't get an instruction the would have to try and chime in or wait till the ground controller noticed a lack of movement and repeated the instructions. I did my first flight out of this airport, I remember only getting the runway assignment during the taxi instructions. I couldn't comprehend the taxi instructions to get to the runway.

An hour and twelve minutes later I was floating over runway 23. Touchdown. We were back to being an on time machine as we blocked in 9 minutes early. Block to block was 1 hour 18 minutes.

Thirty minutes later away we pushed out 6 minutes early. This time we had no choice but to fly Mach .72 for the entire flight. No weather, just airspace saturation. This base has lots of intersecting runways, and the uses most of them. It's an odd sight and sensation being lined up for runway 9 and seeing planes takeoff from runway 33. Spacing was getting tight again causing the Captain to slow to approach speed early. Glad we left 6 minutes early as we blocked in right on time. Block to block was 1 hour 46 minutes.

No chance of keeping the plane to the overnight. Fifty minutes was scheduled between arrival and departure. Hungry, but not in the mood to eat real food. I grabbed two diet cokes from the galley and snacked on some peanuts I had in my flight kit.

A whole 12 people on board we pushed out 5 minutes early. Being the hotel leg the Captain flew fast. For reasons not known to us ATC left us high at FL400 for a long time. Finally they began to descend us. The Captain dialed in 4,000 feet a minute down to be at 10,000 feet 30 miles out. Coming down like a rock. ATC then requested us to expedite through FL280. I replied, "Is 4,000 feet per minute not enough?" No reply. We surmised the equipment they were using wasn't updating fast enough to show how fast we were coming down.

Even though it's "spring", it's still cold enough to require anti-icing when coming down through the clouds. Cowls on, Wings on....just for a bit.

We broke out of the clouds and saw the most magnificent runway (runways always look better on hotel legs) ahead. We landed 25 minutes early and blocked in 20 minutes early. Block to block was 1 hour 25 minutes.

Tired. Really tired. So tired that when I got to my hotel room I just sat quietly for a bit before getting food.

One of my favorite hotel chains is the Hyatt Place. I love the rooms. Stretched back on the L-shaped couch I played a little baseball.

Total flying for the day 7 hours 16 minutes which I think is a record for me. Day 3 done.

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