Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Now What?--February 9, 2010
Woke up at 8:50 A.M. Grabbed some breakfast.
The morning was slow. I took the time to more or less finish my taxes. I need to fine-tooth comb them, but I have a ballpark idea of what I will be getting back. And it is pretttttttty!!! I'm pretty excited about that. With the $8000 tax credit, it's a large chunk of change.
The other guys were still sleeping.
Around noon, we headed over to the airport to get the courtesy cars again. This time we headed to The Dixie Cafe. Whole Hog BBQ was still closed. Silly Little Rock. We had six guys crammed into the car...and the entire time I kept thinking to myself..."Where else would this happen"? "What other company would do this"? But it wasn't on the fun side...it was more from the professional side...and I was kind of sad about that. I don't know if it's maturity or just being old or just sad or what, but putting six people in a tiny Ford Focus was not fun to me. I know it used to be fun in the past...but I think it's because it was with my friends...in college...and we were being silly or goofy. Here? All we wanted was lunch. As employees. As pilots. And we had to cram six people into a tiny car. I was stuck in the back. It rubbed me raw today.
The decision was made to go flying today, too. And I wasn't too keen on that, either. Yes, it's an extra $22, but really? It's a pain in the butt for the line crew...to have to pull six airplanes out only to put them back in 30 minutes later. The ramp was COVERED with snow, and it was incredibly windy at altitude (at least according to the wind reports). Several of the guys will do anything for $22. Me? Not so much. I think about other people, too. Not just me. But the decision was made. I wanted to get it over with as soon as possible, so I was the first to go up. Get up, get down, get out.
I should've stayed on the ground.
I was cleared for right-closed traffic for Runway 22R. The winds were out of 250 at 13. On the ground at least. I took off, and I was IMMEDIATELY blown crazy sideways. I had to crab like crazy to stay lined up with the runway. So this is how it was going to be, huh? I knew the worst was yet to come.
And sure enough, it came. It was so bumpy. I made a very leisurely turn to the right. My wings were being thrown back and forth...and what was more annoying was my tail being thrown back and forth. It was so gusty up there. I climbed to 1500 and went over downtown. I made a VERY wide downwind as I knew I would be blown back to the runway very quickly. But before I could do that, I was asked to do a left 360. Crap. It was soooo bumpy, and I was flying over the downtown buildings and the hills. It's just like water running over rocks...it creates updrafts and downdrafts. And they were painful. And now I had to stay up here even longer...in a turn...which I hate.
As I rolled out of the turn, I was asked to make that my right-hand base for Runway 22R. Easy enough. I slowed up and put in my first notch of flaps...and made my turn early! I had descended down to 700 feet when I heard Tower ask me to do a left 360. You have GOT to be kidding me. One of our pilots was on the runway, and he wasn't going to get off in time. GRR. So I climbed back up to a safer altitude (pattern altitude at 1300 feet). I had removed my flaps, and I was in the turn when Tower asked me to just fly a heading of 40 degrees. He seemed a little annoyed. Not my fault!!!
Well, I flew that for a couple of miles, and he said I would be behind a Southwest jet descending out of 2600 feet at my 10 o'clock. Yup, sure enough, I had him in sight. I was cleared to land on Runway 22R behind the Southwest jet. CRAP. Here is huge jet...heavy and slow...going to be descending to and through my altitude...just to my west. And I have to turn to the west and get on the same path to the runway as this jet. All while his wake turbulence would be careening towards me from the incredibly strong winds at low altitude. I'm not goin' to lie, I wasn't too thrilled about that. All I could picture was his wake turbulence hitting me as I made my turn from base to final. Crap.
So I kept an eye on him and tried to stay off of his path. I was nervous as I approached the base to final turn. I mean, it WAS bumpy, but I didn't know what was wind shear and what could have been his wake. I didn't care. I didn't like any of it. I flew the final to Runway 22R way to the right (on purpose). I wanted to stay off of his path. As I came in for my short final, there were two Southwest jets waiting for me to land. I had to crab quite a bit to the right. Winds were a steady17 gusting to 23. I'm sure it had to be quite a sight...and a topic of conversation for the crews. I was sideways.
I landed on my right tire first...a couple of times. It wasn't a smooth landing, but it wasn't terrible, either. It was just so gusty. But I was down. I taxied back. Sigh. What a dumb flight to take.
I had logged 0.5 hours.
The rest of the day was just passing time again. I went to Waffle House with Stan for supper (we had a very brisk walk)...it's amazing what you can learn about a guy in the right environment. We had a good though short talk. The walk back was brutal. So cold.
A few of us watched a special on regional airlines tonight by PBS. It was good, but it wasn't exactly what I had expected. It looks like it's just goin' to make passengers more scared to fly...and our wages/lifestyles really were not addressed too much in depth. At the end of the day, the general public wants to save money. And (several) pilots want to fly for the airlines. So the airlines get little money for tickets, but they have pilots chomping at the bit to fly for them. What better than to cut costs at the very place where they can?! With pilots!!! It's crazy, but it's the industry. It's a very nasty industry.
My problem? I want to fly for the airlines. It IS a dream of mine. And it really saddens me about the whole state of it all.
I did some home buying prep today...more logistics. But other than that, that was about it. It was just another day of passing time.
We are a couple of days past the halfway mark. It has been a GREAT season so far, but it has really been tough the past two weeks. I simply don't fly.
And here's what I don't get...I made another $190 today. Just by sitting on my butt.
But I can't get one thought out of my head. One of the pilots said it yesterday at lunch. When asked what he wanted to eventually do (a common question for each of us), he said, "Get out of aviation." It was probably 90% joke, 90% reality. The deeper you get into this industry, the more you realize it just isn't too pretty.
As a matter of fact, if you read about pilot stories too much, it can make you downright sad. It's a good idea to just put your head down and work. Through the entire season. Without thinking about what the future holds. Just one day at a time. Working my best at what I have been given. Who knows what the future holds?
I would like to think airlines. I haven't given up on that just yet.
But man oh man...what it takes to get there.
Went to bed at 1:00 A.M.
Nothing to look forward to tomorrow.