Tuesday, February 17, 2015

That was sporty

I've been off a lot this year. Between my work with the Union and being senior.....I haven't spent a lot of time in the flight deck. February is almost over and I project to fly just 25 hours.

A good two weeks was spent on vacation. I took my family to Florida for a week.

We spent 3 days at Universal, 1 day at NASA (where we watched the SpaceX launch scrubbed with 2 minutes left!), 2 days in Clearwater at the beach and two more days in Orlando going to science museums. A long time.

Right now I'm sitting in a hotel in Florida on a 3 day trip. It's a 3-4-1 trip. It was originally a 4 day but I was pulled off the last day for Union work.

Day one started with a 3:50PM report time. I spent the morning taking my car in for a software and hardware update. I love my geeky BMW I3, but it's having minor issues.

Around noon I noticed there was no Captain on my trip. The original Captain couldn't commute in so Crew Scheduling had to find a replacement.

When I signed in for my trip there was a Captain assigned, but he wasn't scheduled to arrive until 10 minutes AFTER scheduled departure time.

I walked onto the plane to see two mechanics in the flight deck and the Flight Attendant sitting in the cabin.

"Whatever broke, I didn't do it!" I said to the mechanics.

"Of course it was you, you RJ pilots are great at breaking stuff....great job security" one of them said jokingly.

They were just there finishing up a periodic check. They were making sure all light bulbs in and out of the plane worked, fluid levels were good and general check up.

I told the Flight Attendant about the tardy Captain. The gate agent came down and we agreed to not board until the Captain actually parks. No reason to have passengers sitting on the plane waiting.

I began setting up the flight deck, printing the release and everything else so once the Captain arrived it would be quick and easy.

Departure time was 4:35PM. He parked at 4:40 PM 20 gates down. Boarding was almost done when he walked on board at 4:55 PM. At 5:04 PM we blocked out. He thanked me for having everything ready to go. He took us out.

Quick up and down flight, just 25 minutes off to on. Quick turn, just 8 passengers for the return leg. Super light weight meant great performance. We reached rotation speed in less than 2000 feet.

Being so close in we were inside the approach corridor. The Approach controllers had nice rows of flights spaced out and we popped up in the middle. He vectored us around, sped up other flights and slowed others down. We merged in. In and done a few minutes late.

That Captain left and another one arrived. He's fairly senior and wasn't happy about being reassigned due to weather. Blocked out a few minutes late. Still my leg.

Headed east we had a 150 knot tailwind at FL370. Zooming.

Being winter I wasn't expecting much in the way of storms. We checked the weather on the release and it mentioned rain but that's it.

Right before I began the descent the controller warned of level 2 returns. What?!?!?! Our on board RADAR showed clear air. Being night we couldn't see much out the windows.

Thankfully there were small holes from cities that gave a hint of  where the weather was. Minor vectoring. The lower we got the more clear the on board RADAR showed the weather.

Weather at the airport was 20014G19KT 10SM BKN036 BKN050 OVC065 19/17 A2980. Landing runway 17 which is 7004 feet long.

I briefed the approach. The controller brought us out a little wide to avoid a cell.

On final we were in moderate rain. I could see the runway 9 miles out. Winds were from 220 and were a stiff 45 knots at 1800 feet.

"The ATIS made no mention of rain. I'm going to plan to use full reverse just in case." I said to the Captain. Our performance flip cards stated I needed just 4000 feet of pavement to stop on dry while 5200 on wet. Neither includes the use of thrust reversers. I like to play it safe.

At 500 feet the winds were still a stiff 30 knots but the rain had let up. I touched down normally just as the gust picked up. Ailerons into the wind with my right hand I put the thrust levers into full reverse. We slowed to taxi speed with 2000 feet left.

Pulling into the gate the rain came in heavily. We had just beat the rain. While nice...I still had to do the postflight.

Today is four legs followed by an 18 hour overnight with one leg in. Wednesday will be a waste of a day in a hotel as I get home at 9PM.

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