Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"My First Wife".....something I hear often

On an easy 3 day trip. This trip is all late flying with the day starting after noon and finishing around 9 at night. I haven't landed at night in a while. Captain took the first leg which was daytime. I took the next two.

During the 2nd leg we were heading west into the sunset. Sunglasses and the tinted sunshade didn't help. The sun was just blinding me so, while in cruise, I lowered my seat to the lowest level so my eyes were below the brow of the dashboard. Problem solved....until it came time to land.

After the sun was set I raised my seat. Problem was it was higher than I normally set the seat. I thought it felt odd and tried adjusting it up and down. There is a set of 3 balls in the middle of the flight deck that can help pilots assure themselves that they are at the correct seat height. It's a good starter, but every pilot sits differently. Some with long legs will have to pedals full forward, while some have them full aft. Some sit really high...some sit really low. Once a pilot gets the "sight picture" right...they sit the same every time.

Since I moved my seat...and it was dark out....I couldn't set a sight picture. I guessed it.

Well I guessed high. The sight picture never looked right so I flared where I thought I should. Well because my seat was high...I flared high...I realized it and worked it down to the ground and made a decent, albeit firm, landing.

Now for something completely different.

I've noticed over the years many pilots I fly with and meet use the term , "My First Wife." The trend has been that most of these pilots commute.

We had a jump seater last week from JetBlue. Every week he makes a two leg commute home to Des Moines. Every week.

Des Moines has limited mainline service so it's mostly regional jets. The JetBlue pilot is based in JFK. I asked him why not move to New York or somewhere closer. He replied that he's waiting for his first kid with his first wife to turn 18, then he will move. Ouch.

The Captain I was flying with later said he almost got a divorce due to commuting. He had just upgraded to Captain but wasn't able to hold his home base, instead he had to commute. Reserve Captains only get 11 days off. During the winter he had problems getting home due to full flights and cancellations. He would be home just 5-6 days a month. His wife asked for a separation. He replied, "What would it change as I'm not there anyway."

Thankfully his marriage survived.

This career takes a very strong marriage. Any weakness present beforehand will just expand. If you plan on jumping into this career, take a long hard look at your life, family and finances.

That got me thinking. My wife and I discussed the possibility of me commuting before I started flight training as it was a possibility. Lucky for me I got based at my home airport from day one.

Long time readers will know that back in 2010 and 2011  I was temporarily based at another airport...right when my daughter was born.

It was rough. Especially when I was based elsewhere for 5 months in a row. I was a line holder then and able to hold 16+ days off, but it still wasn't ideal.

That experience taught me I am a bad commuter. This is another reason why I am not applying to a few major airlines as I would be forced to commute forever. We just bought a new house, my wife has a very good job (her only job out of college...been there 13 years!) and we like where we live. I'm not going to move my family around the country for this job. We live a nice life and are not money hungry. Do I want to fly a bigger plane...yes....but it's not paramount.

When the time comes for me to upgrade I will have to really ponder if it's worth commuting for as my current base is VERY senior for pilots. I'm currently in the top 33% of First Officers in my base. The most junior Captain in my base has been here 10 years. In the most junior base the most junior Captain has been here 8 years.

Kind of rambling post. Once I'm done with this trip we are taking a weekend getaway trip to visit family....then my annual trip to the simulator.

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