Sunday, February 19, 2012

Twelve legs ended up being 11......

Done with this crappy 3 day. Twelve legs worth 13 hours. Lots of short hops.

Day one was 5 legs. Nothing crazy. All on time. Tiring...but a 13 hour overnight helped out.

Caught a Rainbow during the descent to an outstation;

[singlepic id=502 w=320 h=240 float=]

Day 2 was just two legs. Really crappy weather. Inbound 45 minutes late. I thought I might get pulled from my overnight. Nope...we just flew it late.

A common practice is too swap flying duties at the outstation. Otherwise one guy is always landing in base one guy is always landing at the out station.

Day one started with the Captain flying. I picked up legs 2 and 3. He flew legs 4 and 5.

On day 2 there were just two legs. I flew them both.

First flight was to the hub. VFR. Easy flight and landing.

The next flight was to the overnight. The  outstation was barely VFR. I picked up the airport 6 miles out breaking out of the clouds. Off went the autopilot.

I'll stop here to discuss a pet peeve of mine....pilots who slam on the brakes upon landing just to exit early. I hate that.

The runway was over 13,000 feet long....I could land, take get the idea.

I greased it on....and then it happened. I became "that guy".

Max reverse, heavy braking....all to make an early exit. I didn't realize it until after I did it. As the passengers got off a few said, "geez way to hit the brakes guys!". Hopefully I won't do that again.

I hadn't been to this airport in 2 years. Nice older hotel. At dinner with my crew.

Day 3 was long...5 more legs.

Captain took the first leg. Watched the sunrise and the moon fade.

[singlepic id=503 w=320 h=240 float=]

The Captain is fairly senior...likes his paycheck...thus flying slow. An extra minute or two over block here and there adds up for him. For me it's pennies.

Being vectored for an ILS. Early in the morning on a weekend. Not very busy.

The controller gave us a tight turn to join right before the FAF. It was marginal IFR....meaning a thin layer of clouds.

We could tell due to wind we would join final AFTER the FAF. The controller asked if we were okay with that. We stated we were. All good right?

Switched to tower. Cleared to land. Then another voice came on, "8722 approach clearance cancelled. Turn left heading 210, climb and maintain 3000". The final monitor decided it wasn't okay for us to join after the FAF. The final monitor is a guy who watches over every single approach and can over ride an approach clearance or landing clearance. Every now and then the monitor jumps in to give a speed correction due to distance between arriving planes.

Back to approach control. Tight circle and we were lined up for a longer final.

Blocked in 6 minutes late.

Weather moving in. Next leg was also his. We blocked out...and then he had a 10 minute discussion with the dispatcher over the weather. Understandable....but we had an hour sit time before the flight.

I looked at the weather. At the out station the weather wasn't great...rain (with heavy rain in the area), light winds and 600 foot ceilings. We had an alternate that was VFR including the route to the alternate. We had 25 minutes hold fuel in addition to a 45 minute reserve after arriving at the alternate. Just a 45 minute flight from the hub to the oustation. Fine with me.

The Captain was very apprehensive about weather from the first time I flew with him on day one. I can pick up on vibes from Captains sometimes. Some are very worried about being in the correct plane (tail number) after having been violated in the past (it's easier than you think to get in the wrong plane). Others are antsy about having more than enough fuel after being put into a corner in the past. Everyone has their hangups. Many have hangups on weather.

I've been through crap weather before. So bad the autopilot clicked off and all I could do was grab the yoke and fly straight and level, unable to read a single gauge. It sucks. But I never broke rule #1 (always come home).

Smooth at FL310. As we began the descent it was moderate chop.  The Captain was discussing turning back to the hub. Here was the weather I pulled up for the out station:

27004KT 3SM RA BR FEW006 BKN015 OVC042 09/07 A2998 RMK AO2 P0032

Not horrible.

Descending through 17000 we hit moderate turbulence. The Captain was not comfortable with it. The RADAR was showing moderate rainfall ahead. We had 6200 pounds of fuel. About 600 more than planned at the point of the flight due to lighter than estimated winds and a light load.

At 14000 the Captain said, "Tell ATC we're climbing up. And returning to our departure airport." That second part surprised me.

It was smooth above FL220. We had plenty of fuel on board. The route to the alternate was fine. But I'm the First Officer.

I complied. Up and away we went.

Once we got back the flight cancelled. Had we gone to the alternate we would have later delivered the passengers and picked up the one's waiting. Had we held we could have done the same. Now the passengers were going to wait several hours for maybe a chance to get where they wanted to go.

I then had a 2 hour sit. The next two flights were mine.

Ironically there was a last minute plane swap. The flight release didn't match the tail number of the plane we were sitting in. Thankfully the paper work was wrong and we were in he correct plane. New release printed...away we went.

A little weather.

First out station was VFR. The approach controller must have fallen asleep or gotten busy as he vectored us right through the localizer without stating he would be doing so. Only after we questioned him did he turn us back.

I pulled the power back a little early in the flare. The Captain said, "uh oh....sink rate." I quickly pushed the nose forward and goosed the power. Greaser.

Quick 25 minute turn.

On the return flight the weather we diverted (and subsequently cancelled) for was heading to the hub. The Captain was once again planning for the worst. I was flying. He was pulling up weather for airports in case we had to divert again.

I looked at the weather before we left. Just moderate to heavy rain. No high winds. One thousand foot ceilings.

There was moderate chop reported in the descent. I just planned to drop through it quickly. The Captain asked the controller if any flights had gone around or diverted. The controller stated flights from the opposite direction were changing course for weather but everyone was getting in.

Assigned to cross a fix at 10000. I programmed the VNAV to give me a 3000 foot descent. Done. Minimal bumps.

ILS approach. Heavy rain. Greased it on. Happy to be done.

Off for 3 days. Go back Tuesday night for a quick 3 day trip.

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love the photo of the sunrise and the moon!  Incredible. :)


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