Done with the semester!

by Berck

The promised snow didn’t really arrive until last night. I still rode the bus yesterday so I didn’t have to worry about getting stranded at school on Yoshiko.

The calculus exam went pretty badly. It was just overwhelming. The 2 hours, 40 minutes allotted simply wasn’t enough time for me. It seemed more than twice as long as a normal exam, and my brain seemed sluggish as a result of lack of sleep. Other people seemed to think it was on par with her other tests, so maybe it was just me. That said, there were a dozen of us who hadn’t finished at the end. There were a couple problems I didn’t even get to.

I have no idea how she’s going to calculate the grades. If she uses the system she specified in the syllabus, I calculate that I’d get an A for the class as long as a I got a 60% on the final. But she seemed to indicate she was going to place even more emphasis on the final, so I don’t know. I suspect I got somewhere around an 80% on the exam. I just hope this doesn’t destroy my shot at an A in the class.

It feels good to be done with the semester, but now I have a whole new source of anxiety.

On Thursday, a FedEx delivery guy showed up on my doorstep with an envelope he wanted me to sign for. Somehow I immediately knew what it was as there’s only one entity in my life that FedEx’s envelopes around: Mesa Air Group.

Inside, I found a recall notice. I immediately freaked out. How could I be getting recalled? I’m too far down the list, Mesa’s still in bankruptcy, it’s not like they have new airplanes showing up… The letter was very misleading, but it mentioned there was more information online, including the furlough list. I read the letter a little more clearly, and while it did say things like, “Welcome back to work!” it did mention that they were only recalling 16 pilots. After checking the list online, I determined that out of 492 furloughed pilots, I’ll be #275 to be recalled. Clearly, some of those have found other work and won’t be coming back, but I suspect most will. It appears that Mesa sent the letter to all furloughed pilots. We have 7 days to reply with our intentions or be removed from the seniority list. I replied with my intention to accept the recall.

After trying to get as much information as I can, it appears that Mesa has been losing 15-30 pilots per month. It seems that Delta, Airtran, JetBlue and Southwest all hiring a bit, now. If these numbers hold steady, I could find myself with a training date in less than a year from now.

This is good in that I want to return to work, but bad in that I really want to finish a computer science degree. It seems that I will be able to graduate in May 2012, but it looks like there’s no way I won’t be recalled at some point in 2011. At this point, I’m definitely committing to continuing at school through the spring semester, but I’m not sure what to do beyond that.

I’m torn. As much as I want to finish my degree, giving up my spot at Mesa might be a dumb move. Hiring is likely to pick up quite a bit about the time I graduate, but I’m not sure how competitive I’ll be for a flying job without having flown in the last 2 years. Airlines like to see several hundred hours in the last 6 months. I could possibly get a job flight instructing before moving on to other things, but then I’d also be faced with starting at the bottom again. If I return to Mesa, I’d be making slightly more than $30,000/year, which is a lot better than the $19,000/year I’d make starting at any other airline.

On the other hand, I’m not sure how exciting returning to flying at Mesa would be. Denver is no longer a base–the best I could hope for is probably Chicago, and I might get stuck in Dulles for awhile. Commuting to sit reserve is a miserable existence.

You’d think Mesa might let me wait a little while before returning. It would require a leave of absence, and they’ve said that’s not a possibility at this time. Mesa wasn’t even granting leaves of absence when they were busy furloughing people, so I don’t think that’s likely to be an option. It’s frustrating that requests that would be almost certainly granted by normal employers are simply unheard of in the airline industry.

On the other hand, a year at UCCS will cost close to $12,000, and I’m not sure that it’s worth it if I don’t come through with a degree in the end.

In the meantime, it’s good to be done for the semester. I can do anything I want for the next month! Ben and Amanda will be here in a week, so there’s much whimsical fun to be had!

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