Yes, I know, I’ve been posting a lot of fluff recently. Lists, pictures, reminders and comments seem to have been making up the majority of my recent musings. The reasons for that are twofold (ok, maybe threefold, but that doesn’t sound nearly as cool as “twofold”). Firstly, I haven’t been doing much interesting stuff recently. I can really only type so much “took off, landed, rinse and repeat” before I get bored, and I’m sure my readers (if I actually have any) do as well. Secondly, I was in the process of updating the technology on the site and copy over posts from the old database. I didn’t really want to add to the backlog so I just didn’t post anything new. And that leads directly to the third (ie, threefold) reason. I’m lazy.
Today was day 2 of a three day trip with early shows the first 2 days and a normal show on day three (and, because of that, a rather late finish). As you’ve gathered from the previous few posts the early mornings haven’t been too kind to me. I’ve averaged about 5 hours of sleep over the last two nights, and even though I was up before my alarm this morning it was very hard to push myself out of bed.
I somehow managed and went through my normal morning routine and was downstairs waiting for the van at 4:55am. I walked off the elevator and saw a flight attendant wearing a US Airways uniform (but he wasn’t part of my crew so there was at least one other crew) and an ExpressJet FO sitting in the lobby already. So that was 3 separate crews of three trying to go to the airport at 5am. Good thing we had a 15 passenger van. But wait… the elevator door opened just as I sat down to wait and a captain with an ASA badge got out. Uh oh… 4 crews now. 12 people. 15 passenger van. BUT… the last row of seats was out of it to fit all the bags that we lug around. Hmm. 12 People plus 1 driver equals too many people or not enough seats depending on your point of view.
In the end we managed because the PDT captain ended up sleeping in and took a later van. It was tight, but fortunately it’s a short ride up the hill to the airport. Once we each headed out to our respective airplanes (except for the two PDT guys who were waiting for their captain, and were deadheading back to CLT on us anyways) and got stuff going. We boarded up 40 something people and taxied off the gate 3 minutes early at 5:57am, and were the first of the RJs to head out. 5 minutes later we were blasting off into a clear sky and heading south to Charlotte.
Because we arrived in Charlotte before 7am we couldn’t land on the normal North-South runways so we had to loop around for 23. By the time we were on the ground and at the gate our next flight was due out in only 35 minutes (and oh yeah, it was a different airplane, parked ALL THE WAY at the other end of the express gates). A quick jog through the terminal and several minutes later and we were boarding up for Fayetteville.
I managed to eat a quick breakfast of a granola bar that a mainline flight attendant have given me the day before when she non reved on us up to Charleston as they loaded up are 13 passengers to FAY. After some confusion over which airplane we were waiting for we pushed back and started up our engines. We almost spent more time on the ground starting up, trying to get off the ramp and taxiing out (21 minutes) then we did in the air (23 minutes). I managed a mostly nice landing in Fayetteville, and taxied it to the gate.
Due to some strange scheduling quirk we had over an hour on the ground in FAY so I elected not to start the APU and left one engine running while they plugged in a ground power connection. Even though it was pretty hot out (almost 90 already) the plane was relatively cool when we landed and if we turned off all the lights inside I figured I could start the APU a few minutes before the passengers boarded up to go back to Charlotte and the temp would be ok. Of course, my trying to save fuel ended up causing more work for me as when we switched over to ground power from the single engine that was running my Primary Flight Display (the screen that displays heading, airspeed and altitude information on my side) died. A quick call to maintenance and several circuit breaker pulls later the problem was fixed and I headed to the back of the airplane to read a book for a while.
My book reading was cut short when a large (several inch) butterfly somehow managed to fly through the cabin door and started bouncing around the cabin. It finally settled on one of the windows and I was able to trap it in a plastic up with some paper and transport it back outside. By then the cabin temp had climbed to just about 90 degrees and I figured it would probably be a good time to get the airflow going again. As I finished that our people started coming down the jetway. We crammed in 50 people and pushed off the gate a few minutes early back to Charlotte.
The FO made a nice landing in Charlotte where we taxied in to a 35 minute turn, and what I hoped would be my lunch break. That ended up not happening as we had another error message (system proximity fault) that needed to be cleared. This time it took 9 different circuit breaker pulls (and just about every aural alert the aircraft has) to clear the issue. That of course took away any chance I might have had at getting something to eat, so we launched for Knoxville with me just getting some pretzels to eat.
I made a nice landing in Knoxville on an empty stomach and felt the first edges of tiredness as we taxied into the ramp there. It felt like it was almost 5 in the afternoon, despite being just 11:30 in the morning. Fortunately we had a quick turn in Knoxville and were shortly loading up 50 passengers plus a jumpseater and taxiing back out. After sitting out a 15 minute ground delay we took off and headed east again back to Charlotte. With a nice tailwind we made pretty good time and 38 minutes later the FO was setting it down on 18R and slowing us so I could exit the runway just as a large dust devil (ok, it wasn’t that big compared to some of the ones I saw when I was living in Phoenix) crossed downfield from us. Once at the gate I said goodbye to my FO who was done for the trip and the FA and I hustled across the airport to the mainline gates to catch a deadhead up to Philly.
We got to the gate to find the plane was hugely oversold a it had been downsized from a 321 to a 320 with a lost of almost 25 seats. The FA got a seat and I ended up in the second jumpseat (as there was already another mainline guy trying to get to work) when we finally pushed 45 minutes later. The flight up the coast dragged on as they slowed us to our minimum forward speed pretty much as soon as the wheels were in the wells. We did eventually get there and head to the hotel. I manged to grab dinner in the hotel bar (my other option was walking about 1/2 a mile to a Denny’s.
So here it is 10:20pm, and I’ve been up since just after 4am. The thing is, I’m not even scheduled to get done tomorrow until around 9:30pm, and that’s after going through New York twice, so I don’t want to go to sleep to early tonight and be tired by the end of the day tomorrow. The problem is, right now it is a losing battle. If I can just make it another 40 minutes…