Monday, May 12, 2014

Musical Captains

I don't care for deadheading. Just not my thing.

This month I have 2 trips that start with a 3 hour dead head.

The Captain for the trip is a "friend" of mine on Facebook. She posted she was sick last week. I responded she had better be well by Sunday.

When I left home she was still on the flight. I arrived at the dead head gate and saw my Flight Attendant. I've flown with her a lot and we get along well.

"Nice to see you again, guess we are playing musical Captains for a while eh?" she said. I was a bit confused. After checking the schedule we had two different Captains for our 3 legs that day. My Captain called in sick.

The first Captain was a reserve who was being reassigned at the last minute. Our departure was set for 2:20PM. He didn't arrive until 2:30PM. We blocked out at 2:33PM.

Long flight.

Quick turn. I never stepped foot in the terminal. I assumed the reserve Captain wanted me to fly since he'd been flying all day. Nope. He was also an IOE Captain and wanted to fly as he'd been sitting right seat for new Captains a lot. Fine with me, I get paid the same either way.

Long flight back.

Once back in base I shook his hand and headed to the next aircraft with my Flight Attendant. We saw a Captain headed UP the jet bridge. Broken aircraft. Delayed. Things weren't horrible as a new aircraft was towed over and we left 30 minutes late.

This new Captain was also reserve. Only a year senior to me. He left who would fly up to me since it was my leg. I chose to fly.

Crazy cold front blowing across the midwest. The 30 minute delay really put a kink in the flight plan as weather was closing in on the out station.

Normally we fly at flight level 280 for this flight as it's only an hour. Last night we were at flight level 360 to save fuel as it would be iffy getting in due to weather.

Sure enough at flight level 360 we had a great view of the weather. A lot of lightening, sometimes nonstop for several seconds.

The outstation was showing clear per the ACARS weather report with winds stiff out of the south.

I briefed a visual approach to runway 21 backed up by the GPS. If weather got hairy or if it didn't feel right I stated we'd head straight to the alternate. To conserve fuel and have "out" options I setup the VNAV for a constant 3000 foot per minute descent to be level at 1500 feel AGL 5 miles from the outstation.

The outstation is only served by my airline. Tower was closed so we'd likely be the only aircraft in the area.

Before starting down I tuned in the VOR located at our alternate. I put the needle in the background on the MFD and looked off in the distance. Nice and clear there.

About 90 miles out I started our descent. A few bumps but nothing bad. The lightening show was intense though.

The Captain called our operations staff using our second radio to get an idea on the weather. Tower was closed and the only weather was an ASOS.

Station staff are "trained" to observe basic weather. They stated the lightening was to the west and north. We were coming in from the south.

My descent planning worked perfectly. Abeam the departure end of runway 21 we were at 1500 feet AGL and at 200 knots on a left downwind.

I called for the first setting of flaps. The Captain let me know when I was abeam the approach end of runway 21. Since I sit on the right side of the aircraft I can't see much to the left. I flew straight for a few seconds then called for gear down then began a descending base turn.

On base I could see the flashing lights of the REILs. Final setting of flaps  and I turned final. I couldn't have planned it any better. Nice two mile final and at 700 feet AGL right on the PAPI.

On final, the wind direction changed drastically from 270 @20 to 180@15.

Runway was a decent 7000 feet long. I briefed a wet runway and would use thrust reverse. Required runway length was 4800 feet. No nonsense landing. In and done.

Decent overnight.

Today was supposed to be two legs.

The first left on time. Captains leg. A little deviations for weather but we arrived on time.

I said goodbye to the reserve Captain and met up with my line Captain. We headed down to the aircraft to get ready. I had unpacked my side of the cockpit, preflighted, loaded the FMS and completed my scan when she came up and said she delayed boarding. I checked the RADAR on my Ipad...yep stiff line of weather from Texas to Illinois.

After about 35 minutes of delays operations took control and cancelled the flight.

My daughter was pleasantly surprised when I picked her up from daycare. She actually did a double take.

Tomorrow I am scheduled to do 3 legs along with 3 on Wednesday.

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