Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reduced Rest, Line Check and a lot of legs

Last trip kicked my rear.

Day one wasn't too bad. Just 3 legs with a total of 7 hours of flying. The first two legs were a total of 5 1/2 hours....with a 30 minute turn in the middle. Five and a half hours is a long time to not eat....and sit in the flight deck.

Captain was a reserve Captain, line Captain called in sick. I took the first leg. Traded at the outstation.

I snacked on a GoPicnic meal on the way there....but it wasn't enough. Grabbed a box of breadsticks from Pizza Hut during the turn. It helped.

Captain took the next two legs.

Going to the overnight the tower at the airport was closed. Another regional was headed to the same airport. Since there was no tower it was one at a time. Whomever was second had to wait until the first plane cancelled IFR.

Thankfully we were first. Once we were sure we were lined up with the correct runway I called to cancel IFR. They landed soon after.

First overnight was long....16 hours long.

The hotel was in the middle of nowhere. The ONLY food was a Dominos Pizza inside of a gas station next door. Bleh.

Day two was just two legs. Total of 2 hours 45 minutes. Quick and easy. Since we started at an outstation both legs were mine.

The second overnight was interesting....the hotel was also a casino. Yeah it sounded neat at first.

Beautiful night approach. Flew right over the hotel during final. This overnight was a reduced rest overnight....just 8 hours 40 minutes between when we left the AIRPORT and when we had to be BACK at the airport. Blocked in at 8:32PM...8 minutes early. Our departure was scheduled for 6:20AM.

Very nice rooms. Walked into my room at 9:05PM. I quickly changed clothes to blow $20 in the casino.

Fifteen minutes later I was up $40. Done.

Back in my hotel room by 9:50PM. Called my wife and then got ready for bed. Tossed and turned a bit. Still up at 11:20PM. Then the bad part about being in a casino reared its ugly head...errr voice.

Drunk people and kids in the hallways and rooms close by. The noise went in and out for about an hour. Finally fell asleep a little after midnight. Turns out my Captain and cabin crew also had problems sleeping due to noise.

My alarm went off at 4:55AM. Quick shower and out the door by 5:22AM. In a hotel limo at 5:30AM. A limo to work  SOUNDS cool....but it's a casino limo. It was VERY smoked in. My Captain did have fun playing with all the lights and buttons in the back though. Tired. Very little sleep.

Five leg day. Captain took the first leg to base.

Plane swap at base.

Hour sit. While walking around I saw a Captain that looked familiar walk by....but I couldn't place him.

When I arrived at my gate he was waiting a few feet away. Ding! He gave me my last cheek ride....and would be giving ME a line check today. Surprise line check at that.

Captain took the leg out. Check airmen was in the back. I spent the hour reviewing a few of the "right" way to do things that I might do during the flight back to base.

When flying the line...."line contamination" is big. You learn to fly by "the book" while in training. Once on the line...things can be a little more relaxed. Nothing unsafe mind you just relaxed.

For example briefing an approach.

Before every approach the flying pilot briefs the non-flying pilot on the approach. The "book" way is to transfer controls to the non-flying pilot first. The way MOST pilots brief the approach is during level cruise when we pull up the ATIS. During level cruise flight....not a whole lot is going on. It's not a critical moment of flight. It's easy to knock out a briefing. For the most part it's a 1 minute affair. It's not rushed. Here's a typical briefing I give for a VFR approach into our hub.

"This will be a visual approach to runway 10 backed up by the ILS. Localizer frequency is 111.80. Inbound course 102. Touchdown elevation is 998 feet. Runway is 11,000 feet long and I need 5400 feet to stop. VASI on the left. I plan on taking the H5 high speed exit to the right. No hot spots exist between the runway and the terminal. If we have to go missed it will be tower instructions or at a minimum 2500 feet pattern altitude and runway heading. Any questions?"

There are rarely any questions.

Anyways I reviewed the "right" way to do things.

Once at the out station we deplaned and the check airmen came up to the flight deck. After reviewing our certificates and medicals we just chit chatted. I was tired and not really looking forward to being observed.

Normal takeoff. Enroute our ACARS software failed. My Captain wanted to do a line trick to get it back up and running....but with a check airmen in the seat he just got the ATIS the old fashioned way and also called operations over the radio the old fashioned way.

Once he had the ATIS I asked if he was ready for an approach briefing. He was.  I said, "Ok we are descending to 14,000 feet using VS mode and I'm holding a speed of 280 knots. The autopilot is on...your aircraft."

I then briefed the ILS to runway 10. Clouds were 800 overcast.

We both made all the call outs by the book.

Vectored in. I left the autopilot on until about 500 feet. I then managed a very nice landing.

Line check done.

Two legs left. Already flew 3 hours 20 minutes. Two hours thirty minutes to go.


Flew fast the next leg. I wanted to be done. This was leg 4 for the day.  Greased another one on. Done. Very tired. The short overnight and long day was catching up with all of us.

Quick turn and we left 10 minutes early. Captain flew fast as well. Ready to be done with this trip.

Landed 20 minutes early and blocked in 10 minutes early. We shook hands and I headed to my car.

I non-rev'd my mother in law up to watch my daughter for the weekend. We have no family in town so it's a little tricky to find a baby sitter we trust (we have never used anyone but my mother in law). The only flight we can for surely get seats on to Vegas tomorrow is the 7AM that's the one we will take.

I haven't had a reduced rest overnight in a long time. It really screws up my whole day as I don't sleep well as I'm worried about over sleeping. It's sad that my overnight was 8 hours 40 minutes while I was on duty for 9 hours 50 minutes the next day. I had less rest than duty!!

Even if I had tried to go to bed RIGHT when I got to the hotel room I maybe would have had 7 hours sleep as travel time to and from the airport is considered rest. In reality the most sleep I've ever had on a reduced rest overnight is 6 hours. It takes time to get from the airport to hotel, check in, relax, get ready for bed, fall asleep, get up in the morning, shower, get dressed, EAT and out the door to ride back to the airport.

But that complaint is for another blog. For now....time to pack. Vegas baby.....Vegas.



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spiraling down to the runway

Nice 3 day last week. You may have noticed I don't update as often. There's a reason for that.

When I finish a trip I'm tired. I work Wednesday thru Fridays this month. I finished late Friday nights. Saturday morning I rested with my family. I then spend the entire weekend with them.

Monday morning I am Mr. Mom as my wife goes to work and I stay home with my daughter. My daughter and I don't really stay home. We hit the town big. The Zoo, Toys R Us, The Mall, Target.....maybe a trip to Lowe's. We do it up big!

Tuesday is a little more tame.

Wednesday mornings I update my Jepps, pack my suitcase (really just the same clothes over and over again...I just wash everything), and prepare to go to work. Thus....not a lot of time eh?

Anyways back to my trip.

The Captain was new to me. Really sarcastic guy. He was a real smart ass right off the bat. I gave it right back.

I took the first leg. Somehow greased it on during a gusty approach. "So that's how it's going to be eh?" replied the Captain. I told him I got lucky.

After the second leg he appreciated my being a smart ass back to him. He stated most co-pilots he flies with don't get that he's kidding or just clam up.

We had a great trip. Lots of jokes and stories.

On day two...the long day of 7.5 hours scheduled flying...things got interesting.

I had the first two legs.

Arrived at the out station a little early. Plane arrived a little late. I walked down the jet bridge and saw everyone but the First Officer...he was out doing a post flight.

The rule at my airline is no post flight is REQUIRED if the next crew is there. Being an out station most crews are waiting.

His bags looked new. I went outside and met him as he walked around the left wing...yup he was a new hire. I let him know I'd take it from there and that he didn't have to do it if I was there.

First leg was normal. Made up all of the delay.

The second leg required some skill and planning. Weather.

The outstation had a thunderstorm overhead. It was expected to blow through while we were enroute. Alternate filed. Fuel loaded. Away we went.

Mostly smooth flight.

The weather at the outstation wasn't great. Heavy rain, wind....low vis....a thunderstorm.

I pulled the power back in anticipation of holding or diverting.

Thankfully the weather did move away from the airport....but not out of the area.

The weather was about 4 miles south of the airport. Currently landing runway 32....which meant an approach from the south.

Cleared to deviate left and right for weather.

Descended to 5000 and told we would be getting vectors for the ILS to runway 32. Hmmm.

While on downwind my Captain saw the airport on his side of the plane. Patchy clouds.

Ahead of me was the trailing end of storm....huge towering cumulonimbus clouds towering 15,000+ feet. If I got vectors for the ILS it would be through the crappy weather.

"You still have the airport?" I asked the Captain.

"Yes." he replied.

"If you can keep it in view, ask for a visual." I stated.

He could....and he did.

"Cleared for the visual to runway 32, manuever as needed." was the reply from approach.

Off went the autopilot. Out went the flight spoilers, first setting of flaps and the gear...I needed the drag.

I banked the plane to the right and made a spiraling descent to the airport. I had a small space to maneuver with weather all around.

As I passed through about 120 degrees I picked up the airport. I saw it would be a tight turn to final.

I kept the right turn and planned for about a mile final. Not terribly long.

Descending through 1000 feet I stowed the flight spoilers and called out for the remaining flap settings.

Descending through 800 feet I began a turn to the left to line up with the runway.

Lined up descending through 500 feet. Decent landing.

As passengers got off several stopped by to thank us for the great job. A few noticed the small hole in the weather we had found and how smooth the ride was. It felt good to smoothly navigate weather and fly a spiral into an airport.

I've been playing a lot of "Draw Something" on my I drew a little sketch of the weather and approach. It's supposed to be laughter is welcome.

The next two legs were the Captains. More weather. Arrived back at the same overnight about 40 minutes late.

I've had the same overnight all month. Not only the same overnight....but the same hotel room. Kinda spooky...but eh I never have to wonder what room I'm in.

Day 3 was long. My Captain commutes and wanted to be home that night as his daughters 18th birthday was the next day. We were scheduled to arrive at 8:10PM. The last flight home for him left at 8:30PM. I clued him in on day 1 that I haven't been on time on day 3 yet. An average of 40 minutes late.

The first two legs were mine. We swapped planes after the first leg.

I flew fast on the second leg. Right below MMO. Arrived 15 minutes early. Quick turn and we left 10 minutes early.

The Captain flew just as fast as I did. ETA was 7:43PM.

Then it happened. We were slowed and turned due to congestion.

Yadda, yadda, yadda we were sped up again.

He landed at 7:47PM. While taxiing in I let him know that if he wanted to cut and run, I would shut down the plane. He thanked me for the offer and took me up on it.

Parked at 7:51PM. He was gone shortly there after. I looked up his flight when I got home....he got the jump seat.

This week I have a different 3 day trip. First overnight is long at 16 hours. The second is very short at 8 hours 40 minutes. Yep a reduced rest overnight. On top of that I do 5 legs on day 3. Nice eh?

This weekend my wife and I are planning to hit Las Vegas to celebrate our 7 year wedding anniversary. Should be long as the flight loads stay light.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

March was good....but just look at April...seriously?

For March I got an awesome schedule. Eighteen days off.....weekends off...easy 3 day trips!

For April...ugh.

So I preferenced weekends off, 3 day trips, little sit time and fewer legs per day. I got a little of everything.

My first trip starts on Thursday April 5th..a 3 day trip...finish on Saturday

I then get TWO days off.....then

My second trip starts on Tuesday April 10th another 3 day...finish on Thursday

I then get five days off.....then

My third trip starts on Wednesday April 18th another 3 day...finish on Friday

I then get three days off....then

My fourth trip is identical to my second trip...I start on Tuesday April 24th and finish on Thursday

I then get TWO days off...then

I start a freaking 4 day trip on Sunday April 29th. Yup 4 day trip. Ugh.

Total value of all 5 trips...72 hours exactly. Lots of short legs.

Is it May yet?

Total of 16 days off...and I work a Saturday and Sunday.....

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ahhh who needs all that fancy FMS stuff?

Same trip as last week. Still not an easy trip.

Started off with the rest of my crew abandoning me! They all called in sick!

I was the only line holder, the rest were reserves. Departed on time. The plane had a lot of MEL's including the FMS. This meant we would be navigating the "old fashioned way".

Well not too old fashioned. I didn't have to break out a sundial and star map. We had to use navigational radios.

Flying "green needles" with ground based navigation is a little more relaxed than FMS. Not crazy RNAV GPS departure...simply takeoff and track a radial outbound. Easy enough.

Since I started the last trip, I had the Captain (even though he's not my line Captain) start this trip.

Easy enough first leg. The approach controller left us really high due to a few general aviation planes flying around west of the airport. Steep descent and done.

My next leg was mostly uneventful. ATC kept offering us "direct tos" but we had to decline if it wasn't a VOR we could tune in. A little annoying...took a few minutes longer....but I'm paid by the minute right?

Third leg of the day involved a plane swap. Different terminal. Just 40 minutes between when we were scheduled to arrive and scheduled to depart.

I stopped by a place to grab some food. Took longer than I planned. I arrived at my gate 22 minutes before departure. Boarding started as soon as I placed my bags in the plane and turned the power on.

Ten minutes to departure I had the preflight done, FMS set up and ready to go. Then it happened. My cabin crew stated there was a seat back that wouldn't stay up. We had a few open seats, but the seat needed to be upright. Mechanic called.

Delayed. Ten minutes AFTER departure the mechanic arrived. He started banging around on the seat then came up and said we would have to deplane for him to finish the job. Ugh.

Everybody off. He then had it fixed in 2 minutes. The REAL reason he wanted everyone off was he didn't want them to get the wrong idea about his repair and all the banging. The banging was needed to release the gears so he could lock the seat in an upright position. Fine. Reboarded. Left an hour late.

Smooth flight. Calm wind at the outstation. We were arriving from the south but they were landing south. I hoped to land north and save a few minutes.

I briefed a visual to the north and backed up by the ILS.

Cleared for the visual to runway 2. Coming in from the southeast on about a 320 heading. Night time. It "looked" like I was fine altitude wise. The ILS was turned on for ILS no help there.

I quickly loaded up the GPS approach to runway 2. This gave me an artificial glide slope. I was really high.

Dirtied up and steep descent. I turned final at about 1100 feet AGL. Right on the VASI. Slight 6 knot tailwind. Floated a bit. Decent landing. Done.

Arrived an hour late.

Day 2 started fine. Nice ride to the airport....sunny day.

My cabin crew includes one new flight attendant. She told me she worked as a FA elsewhere, but was new here. She seems really new though...very slow in getting things done and doesn't keep an eye on departure time.

The distance between the gate and the runway was maybe 100 yards. Short taxi. We advised her of the short taxi.

We ran the checklist and taxi'd really slowly. We then held short for about 4 minutes while they finished the safety demo. Thankfully there was no one behind us.

Captain took the first two legs. We were in the same plane as yesterday, but all the MEL's were in fixed. The plane stayed the night in a maintenance base.

Fairly easy day. All flights on time. The last leg to the overnight was mine.

The overnight had weather coming in. It was supposed to be gone before we arrived. We had an alternate just in case.

About 35 minutes out the weather over the airport was gone....but there was still weather in the area.

The enroute controller was issuing commands non-stop. We were headed to a fairly small airport. The controller was primarily giving instructions to planes inbound to a much larger airport.

I had the VNAV setup to be level at 10,000 AGL 30 miles from the airport. My normal setting.

We were level at FL370. I watched the required rate increase from 500 feet per minute, to 1500 feet per minute, to 3500 feet per minute....all without being given a descent. Reason was twofold...traffic and weather.

Finally clear of traffic....but not the weather. I gave up trying to cross 30 miles out at 10,000 feet as the required descent rate was 5500 feet per minute. I just wanted to hustle down through the weather.

It was rough. Heavy rain and lightening all around. I was using the RADAR to deviate around the worse parts of the weather the best I could. We were cleared direct to the airport when able. Given a descent down to 10,000 MSL . Airport elevation is 1000 feet MSL. We were just 6 miles away from the FAF while passing through 9000 MSL.

Finally thought I had it made as we were in clear skies so I began a steep descent. Being given vectors for the ILS to runway 2. Problem...there was another RJ inbound. The controller asked if we could take a turn to final. Unable...we were simply too high. To make matters worse we were flying around inside a small area surrounded by weather.

It seemed like the controller couldn't see the weather as we were being flown toward squall lines and thunderclouds at every turn. I had the autopilot turned off and was deviating the best I could. The Captain asked if we could get a left 360 to stay clear of the weather. Approved but we had to stay above 4500 MSL as the other RJ was at 2500 MSL inbound to land. Fine. I could see the airport clearly during the turn.


Here's a shot of the actual RADAR and our flight path (the green line). The dashed blue line was our filed flight path. We fell off RADAR tracking by flightaware (source of the image) probably around 5000 feet AGL.

Lots of bumps. I was on the ball keeping a tight turn while descending. Finally cleared for the visual.....number 2.

The other RJ was 3 1/2 miles ahead. I quickly slowed up and made a small S turn for spacing.

Winds at the airport were 310@18G30....landing runway 2. At 2000 AGL the winds were a screaming 330@45 knots.

The descent was bumpy all the way till about 200 feet when the wind started to die off.

Minimal flare and touchdown. Done.

Same hotel room as the night prior. Happy to be done.

Day 3 was mostly easy. We had to deal with weather again on the 2nd leg. Lots of scud making a visual approach hard. The approach controller said some aircraft could pick up the runway 6 miles out while others could not. I looked joy. Cleared for the ILS.

The last leg was mine. Ready to be done.

Gusty winds on takeoff. Long flight.

During the flight I told the Captain how happy I was to have 4 days off. He wished he had that. He is a very junior Captain. He was on day 3 of 6. Sure enough he had more flying to do once we got back. He flew each day.

I forgot how bad reserve can be. Not sure I'm looking forward to it when I upgrade to Captain (which MIGHT happen in the next 12 months or so). It's a big step up in pay while a huge drop in quality of life.

I will go from having 18+ days off, nice schedules and top picks on vacation to 11 days off, unpredictable schedules and crappy vacation. Eh.

For now I'm happy to be relaxing. I do the same trip again this week. Next week though will be different.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It never got better

Finally recovered from my last 3 day trip...of course I start the same trip again today. I hope it goes better than last week.

The trip is a 3-4-3. Three legs on day one, four on day two and three legs on the last day.

The trip started well enough. Pushed out 5 minutes early. I took the first leg and landed at the outstation 15 minutes early.

The next two legs were the Captain's legs. We were doing the normal , "trade at the outstation" flying.

Day one ended one minute early to the overnight. Not a long duty day at just 7 hours 30 minutes. Of course I spent the morning with my daughter, so I had been up for 17 hours.

Day two looked long before I left the hotel. Weather....lots of it.

Sure enough when I called to get our clearance I was told to, "Call back 10 minutes to push as there are flow delays." Nice.

I called back 10 minutes delays for us. Nice!

Gusty, crosswind takeoff. My leg.

I hand flew the plane through 15,000 feet as there were quite a few build ups I was navigating around. Cleared up to FL220...normally we are given FL230. Hmmm.

Once level we were told to expect a hold at the next VOR. Ugh.

"Hold as published," was what we were told. EFC time was 40 minutes away.

The Captain looked for the hold on his low en-route chart. Not there. I transferred control of the plane to him and looked at my high en-route chart. Also not there. He queried ATC...."Ah....just hold on your inbound course." Fine.

Around and round we went. Thankfully the dispatcher loaded us up with fuel.

This was my first time holding in my "new" plane. Took my time programming the FMS. Done.

After 20 minutes we were released from the hold....but were speed restricted heading to the hub.

Weather. Bumps. Turbulence. Heavy rain. Ugh.

Blocked in 45 minutes late. Instead of a 70 minute sit we had 28 minutes. We had wheelchair passengers leaving the plane and coming back on to the plane for the next flight. This meant my flight attendants could not get off the plane for food or anything else. I asked if they wanted anything...they were ok.

Pushed back 10 minutes late. The wheelchair passengers + weather just added on to make things go slowly. My leg again.

Back through the same weather. Rain, turbulence and more turbulence. Blocked into the outstation 29 minutes late.

Originally we were told our return flight was delayed by 45 minutes. Fine with us. We all wanted a break.

I did my post flight and walked over to the base of the terminal and called my wife. I wanted some peace and quiet. No hurry as I thought I had 45 minutes. Then I saw bags being loaded.

Call done. Back up to the plane....they were boarding. Hmmm.

Headed up to the terminal for a restroom...I hate using the one on the plane.

Back on the flight deck I called clearance. No delays. Hmmm k.

Pushed back 28 minutes after we blocked in.

Captains leg. We were given 3 reroutes for weather.

The first was 300 miles LONGER. Not enough fuel. Thankfully the second reroute was only 90 miles longer. The dispatcher reworked our alternates to make it work.

This was the leg where I recorded the video for "The Light Show" post.

Blocked in 41 minutes late. Next flight was to leave in 4 minutes. Delayed for weather...and gum removal.

During the previous flight a passenger got air sick. They put their gum on the outside of the air sickness bag, then used the bag, then set the bag down on the seat next to them. The gum stuck to the seat. Nice eh?

Pushed out 43 minutes late. No amount of short cuts and flying fast would help. Blocked into the outstation 47 minutes late. Total of 8 hours and 52 minutes of flying on day 2 thanks to the delays. All of that in an 11 hour 42 minute duty day.

Same overnight as the previous night. Same hotel room even.

I slept halfway decently.

The next morning I checked on the status of the inbound. Delayed. Big time.

My Captain commutes from the out station so he was at home. I called the flight attendants and let them know about the delay and that we should take a 1PM van instead of a noon van. Done.

Pushed out of the outstation 80 minutes late. We only had an hour connect to the next flight...and it was on a different plane. We all hoped they would pull us from the flight and use reserves.

Rainy approach. Around 30 feet the wind picked up and pushed the plane up and over. I had to quickly add power and add more wind correction to avoid a nasty touchdown. Every now and then the squirrel gets the nut....I recovered perfectly and greased it on.

Blocked in 90 minutes late. We were all still working the last turn. There were zero reserves available. Fine.

Swapped gates. We all walked quickly to the next plane. The waiting area was full of upset passengers. If they only knew what we'd been through!

Thirty five minutes after blocking in...we were blocking out. That is very efficient if you consider we had to deplane, shutdown the first plane, gather our bags, walk to the next gate, stow our bags, preflight, board passengers and luggage,  setup the plane , run checklist and then block out...all in 35 minutes.


I bounced it onto the runway 2 hours later...blocked in exactly one hour late. We were all ready to be done. Twenty nine minute turn and we were out.

Captain's leg. He flew fast and also bounced it on. We both blamed the plane for our landings. Still arrived 50 minutes late.

The 3 day trip is supposed to have 19 hours 30 minutes of flying. I ended up with 21 hours 5 minutes worth of flying.

Not much weather this week. I hope for a much smoother trip.


Friday, March 9, 2012

The light show

On day 3 of my 3 day. Day 2 was brutal. Scheduled for 7.5 hours flying. Ended up flying 8.9 hours. Four legs. All quick turns. Never had a real break for a meal. Weather, turbulence and reroutes were the words of the day.

Today is just 3 legs.

This video will be boring to 99.9% of the people out there. Just a few minutes I spent watching the beautiful yet destructive forces of nature. Cruising along at FL360 after a number of reroutes. Smooth ride as the lightening was nearly non-stop.



More later.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Flat, featureless terrain

Two day trip. Kinda rough.

Scheduled for 9.5 hours of flying. Just two cities. A 1 and 5 trip meaning one leg on day one and five on day two.

The trip started at 1:35PM. Late arriving inbound meant we pushed at 1:50PM. I took the outbound leg.

I used to be apprehensive about taking the first leg with a new Captain. I always wanted to see how HE operated. Now I don't care. I know what I'm doing. I fly within the safety margins of my flight manual. Nothing special....well a little special.

Normal takeoff. The overnight was at a city in the middle of nowhere. Literally.

The airport is surrounded by flat, featureless, sandy terrain. The runways are light grey. Sunny day.

Winds were at 220@20G30. Landing runway 28.

I loaded up the GPS approach as there was no ILS.

Thirty miles out I was at 10,000  and just waiting for a descent. Cleared to 3000 and given a heading to intercept the final approach course for a visual approach.

I spun the VS speed down and idled the thrust levers. Nice 250 knot descent. I then began looking for the airport. Nothing.

Five miles from the FAF I slowed to 200 knots. The plane was on a 20 degree intercept....the runway was just 10 miles away. I saw nothing.

Finally as I was allowed to be vectored through the approach course the runway was in sight. Way down there. Hmmm.

The Captain advised we had the airport. Off went the autopilot, out went the spoilers, flaps and gear. I got to do some of that crazy pilot stuff.

Five miles out I was just about 2800 feet AGL. Normally I like to be about 2000 feet AGL. Thankfully I slowed early.

Semi-steep descent. Engines were idled until 900 feet AGL when I finally slowed to approach speed. Decent landing. Rolled out a little long as I didn't feel like jamming on the brakes. Done.

Boring 15 hour overnight. Literally nothing around the hotel except for a 7-11.

Next two flights were for the Captain. The first was normal. The second was back to the same featureless airport.

Another regional was coming in to the same runway I landed on the day prior. They were being vectored in for a straight in approach.

We heard approach asking if they saw the airport, "12 miles at 12 o'clock."


At 10 miles.


"If you don't call the airport by 8 miles I will have to turn you off and give you vectors for the GPS approach."

At 8 miles they called the airport. Funny how that works.

Similar winds.

Next up was a Cessna Cardinal...then a military T-1 (looks like a Beechcraft biz jet) then us.

The Cardinal was cleared for a visual and asked to keep his speed up as long as practical.

The T-1 was advised to slow down.

We were told to slow to 170 and expect to be vectored through the final approach course.

Short vector and we were cleared for the visual.

The Cardinal switched to tower.

Approach advised the T-1 the Cardinal had slowed to 70 knots on a 4 mile final.

My Captain heard this and slowed to approach speed while on a 8 mile final.

The T-1 was told to go around as it had 80 knots overtake on the Cardinal and just 3 miles behind.

Fine with us.

We were switched to tower just as the Cardinal cleared the runway.

We were then cleared to land while on a four mile final BUT, "traffic 11 o'clock , 2 miles T-1 on a tight left base."


Sure enough we looked over and saw the T-1 wing high. This was just stupid. There were several T-1s in the pattern.

The T-1 was cleared only for a low pass. Why they couldn't go behind a jet carrying passengers?!?!?!

Gusty wind. The T-1 was blown well off centerline.

We reached 500 feet when it finally crossed the threshold and began a low pass....being tossed around.

The Captain and I were just astonished at how dumb this was. If we had to go around it could get ugly fast.

Thankfully it ended well....I am still here to type about it.

Next two legs were mine. Double plane swap at the hub.

The first plane was going to be late. Given a new gate and plane.

The Captain had printed the release before the swap. But neither of us thought about it.

New plane still late. Tried to turn it as fast as possible. Already scheduled for a 12 hour 30 minute duty day. I didn't want it any longer.

Preflight done I began setting up the plane and began going over the paperwork and maintenance log as did the Captain. Tail number didn't match the paperwork due to the plane swap. He left to reprint the release. I kept setting up the plane. Done. Pushed back 20 minutes late.

Right before taxi the Captain took a moment to re-examine the logbook. Glad he did. There was an error in a sign off by a mechanic.

A repair was done earlier in the day. The mechanic failed to put down how long it took him to do the repair. A minor mistake, everything else was correct. The problem is our flight manual states that the box stating how long the repair takes must be filled out. Pilots have been pulled into the training center for additional training for flying planes with such small discrepancies. Just a single digit was causing the issue.

Mechanic called. Ten minutes later he was standing on the flight deck with us. Thankfully we were able to get everything taken care of without returning to the gate. Took off 20 minutes late.

Decent tailwind. Vectored in for a visual. Called the airport on the downwind. Another gusty crosswind approach. Put the nose down about 1 foot downwind of centerline....which annoyed me.

More issues.

It was a VFR day at the outstation and the hub. No weather in between. Somehow we were weight restricted. More specifically runway limited.

Every airport is unique. Various obstsacles on and around the airport factor into how heavy a plane can takeoff and still meet all performance requirements. People a lot more intelligent than I (engineers with pocket protectors are what I see in my head) work the numbers and print them on a chart for me to use.

The runway was a decent 8000 feet long. Not terribly hot outside. Yet we were runway limited.

It really blows to be sitting on the flight deck and hear a gate agent call passengers names off. I knew what was going on. The passengers likely did not.

Four passengers were pulled off the flight. One man was from another country and spoke poor english. He was very confused about why he couldn't go on the flight. He asked why they couldn't ask someone else. Someone "heavier" as he was a "small man". That's not how it works.

My airline assumes all adults weigh the same. All kids weigh the same. Kids are roughly half an adult. Addtionally a 2 year old kid as a lap child weighs nothing. But the same 2 year old kid with a paid ticket weighs as much as a 10 year old kid. Fuzzy math.

In the end 4 passengers and 7 passenger bags were left behind. I called VR with 3000 feet of runway left. I'm guessing there were vertical obstructions causing the weight restrictions.

Blocked in 30 minutes late. Flew exactly 8 hours. Tired.

Off until Wednesday when I start my nice 3 day trips for March.

Going to the zoo with my daughter today. Hopefully I'll find time to type up a blog this weekend about the small dots I've noticed on my right arm. The arm closest to the window while flying 40,000 feet closer to the sun.