No Sleep ‘Till Dayton

So, I’ve been listening to the Beastie Boys. (hence the title).

Anyhow, yesterday was a rough day. I called in the night before for my reserve time (after being woken up at 5am to go to the airport at 6:30am to sit hot reserve until 3pm) and was given a 5am regular reserve. Excellent. Works for me. Maybe I’ll even get to sleep in. Then, at 9:30 my phone rings it’s wonderful scheduling ringer and for some stupid reason I answer it. Now, understand that once I had my reserve time the next morning I don’t have to talk to scheduling any more until my reserve time starts the next morning. But of course I wasn’t really thinking clearly and I picked up the stupid phone. They reassigned me (illegally of course) at 4:39am show for a day trip down to Charlotte. So, instead of sleeping in (haha) until at least 5am, I now had to get up at 3:15 in order to make it to the airport by 4:39am. Lovely.

I managed to get in bed by 10:30 but didn’t fall asleep until I turned on the air conditioning at 11:30. Then, for what ever reason I woke up at 2am and couldn’t go back to sleep so I just got up at 3am. Yep, that gave me a massive 2 hours and 30 minutes of sleep, after being up since 5am the morning before. Anyhow, I somehow managed to drag myself to the airport and once there I started to wake up pretty quickly. I was on the plane by 4:45 and we were loaded up and ready to go by 5:20.

The flight down to Charlotte was my FO’s leg and I actually was feeling pretty good. About halfway down the sun started rising and it was looking like it was going to be a nice day. Of course at that point ATC told us the planes were going missed in Charlotte because of the fog down there and to expect holding shortly. A quick look at our fuel showed that that wouldn’t work out too well for us, so I started playing the what if game.

Basically we need to be landing with 3000 pounds of fuel in the CRJ700. (We work in pounds, not gallons, and it works out to about 6 pounds per gallon so you do the math). That gives us 45 minutes before the engines suck the fuel tanks dry. 45 minutes may sound like a long time, but in reality, it’s not much when you are up in the air and at the 45 minute mark you no longer will be. When the put us in holding we had 5000 pounds of fuel on board. I did some quick math, backed up by the flight management computer and decided that Greer, South Carolina, about 50 miles to our south looked like the best place to go if we got low on fuel. It was about 50 miles away and at our current fuel burn it would take about 300 pounds of fuel to get there. I doubled it for my spider plant at home (most people use their wife/kids/goldfish, but I have none of those so my plant has to do) and then added another 100 just because. That meant at 3700 pounds of fuel remaining we would have to head over to Greer. It worked out that it would take 3800 pounds to get to Charlotte, so at 3800 we would head over to Greer anyways. That meant we had 1200 pounds of “play fuel” or at our current burn rate about 30 minutes to spin circles in the sky.

I called back to the FAs to let them know what was going on and they told me most everybody in the back was awake so I made a PA. If the majority had been sleeping I wouldn’t have bothered seeing as how ignorance is bliss and all. It ended up working out pretty well. By the time we had done one turn in the hold the weather was up enough that they were letting planes back into Charlotte. We turned back inbound and were cleared to continue on our route after holding for only 5 minutes. The rest of the approach was straight forward and we broke out of the fog at about 900 feet. After landing it was a quick taxi in to the gate where they actually plug in ground power and air making me feel like I worked at a “real” airline.

45 minutes later we were loaded up and pushing back to had over to Wilmington. Despite my lack of sleep I was still doing pretty well and managed to make one of my nicest 700 landings there. It’s on tape so I may upload it later. We had 45 minutes in ILM so I ran in and got a cranberry muffin for breakfast. It wasn’t as good as the last time, but when it comes to sugar filled baked goods I’m not picky. We then loaded up 40 more passengers and blasted off west bound to Charlotte. Despite some haze we made it in no problem (see picture below) and headed to the gate to start our 3 hour and 59 minute break.

Yeah, you read that right. Almost 4 hours of sitting and doing nothing. Fortunately a guy from my new hire and upgrade class was sitting hot reserve so we hung out for a while and then got lunch at Chili’s. That killed almost 3 hours so by then I was able to head down to the gate and get on the plane. Despite being 10 minutes late off the gate because our ramp crew took a mini vacation we got right out to the runway with no waiting and headed northwest towards Dayton and home. As we leveled off at 28,000 my exhaustion started catching up with me. A couple hits of O2 woke me back up enough to managed an ok crosswind landing in Dayton and then taxi in to the gate.

The drive home was mostly a blur, and then I was done and able to finally go to sleep. Of course I didn’t though. I was home by 5:30pm but I forced myself to stay awake until 9:30 so I wouldn’t wake up at 4am and not be able to go back to sleep. As was I got up this morning at 9am feeling mostly much better. Today is my last day of reserve and as of now it looks like they won’t be using me so I think I’ve survived the week.

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