Archive for April, 2009

The Big Island

27 April 2009 at 9:36 pm
by Jonah

We’re hopefully off to Hawaii early in the morning. Be back sometime Friday.

Casper, Wyoming

26 April 2009 at 11:58 am
by Berck

One of the downsides (though maybe some will consider at an upside, so maybe I’ll just refer to it as a side) of flying the Dash is that we’ve only got a few destinations. I haven’t even really managed to visit half of them, but I’ve spent a lot of time in Casper, Wyoming lately.

As I showered this morning, I thought that the scars in the bathtub seemed awfully familiar, but I was reasonably sure I hadn’t been in this hotel room before. This was based on the fact that this room has a balcony, and I was sure I’d have noticed if it had a balcony. The hotel views project reveals that although I photographed the balcony, I still somehow missed it. In my defense, it was a very short overnight, and we left early in the morning.

I flew us in last night. The autopilot was broken, so I had to hand fly the whole way. I didn’t really mind since I like remembering that I’m actually a pilot. There was some turbulence, so level flight required a bit of work, but the Dash is much easier to hand fly than the jet. My only complaint is that the yoke is positioned strangely–it’s very high up. It’s impossible to grip it where the hand grips are and rest your elbows on the handrest, unless I move my seat so high that my head is touching the ceiling and the glare shield blocks the top instruments. So I was instead holding the yoke down at the bottom with my right index finger and thumb, and seem to have injured those two digits in some strange way. Yes, I’m a pilot, and I hurt my finger flying.

More interestingly, the weather in Casper was overcast at about 1,000 feet, which meant flying an ILS, with no autopilot. This is something we just don’t do in the airlines, because it’s much safer to let the autopilot fly the approach. So, despite having hand-flown a zillion ILS approaches in the sim, this was my first one in an airplane, in the clouds. It required a fair amount of concentration but wasn’t difficult. I did have a flight director, after all. I could hear my sim instructor’s voice, “Stay in the flight director!”

We broke out at 1,000 feet above the ground like the weather said we would. I floated down the runway quite a bit farther than I might have liked, but it’s a very long runway, and I really only needed about 1/8th of it in the Dash, so I elected to keep floating in order to get a smooth touchdown. I wasn’t happy about it, but passenger comfort is important, and we had lots of runway. And the touchdown was nice and smooth, though the wet runway probably helped out.

I collected my free Shiner Bock from the hotel bar (Shiner on tap, in Wyoming even), and headed to bed. It was still raining when I went to sleep.

I woke up this morning and looked outside to see if it was still raining. It was still cloudy, but there were about 4 inches of snow on the ground, which was melting and turning to slush. I made it downstairs in time to collect my free breakfast from the hotel, which unlike most hotel breakfasts, turned out to be really decent. I had a totally acceptable breakfast burrito. My captain had steak and eggs, and the steak looked wonderful. I might get that next time.

Jackson Hole tonight, but we don’t get in until 9pm and leave pretty early in the morning, so I don’t get to have much fun, or get a breakfast burrito from D.O.G. Sad because the Jackson Hole overnights are apparently seasonal, and it doesn’t look like I’m doing any next month. Soon my snow-covered Rockies will be dirt-covered and I’m a bit worried about how hot the Dash will be. That’s okay, winter be back, and with any luck I’ll still be flying it in Denver next year. In the meantime I’ll try to stay cool and dodge the thunderstorms.

Eid Ma Clack Shaw

26 April 2009 at 11:05 am
by Berck

Working though death’s pain
Last night I swear I felt your touch
Gentle and warm
The hair stood on my arm

How…. how… how….

Oh show me the way show me the way
To shake a memory
Show me the way show me the way
To shake a memory

A flipped my forelock
I twitched my withers
I reared and bumped
I could not put my rider aground

All these fine memories
Are fucking me down
I dreamed it was a dream that you were gone
I woke up feeling so ripped by reality

Yeah, love is the king of the beast
And when it gets hungry it must kill to eat
Yeah, love is the king of the beast
A lion walking down city streets

I fell back asleep some time later on
And I dreamed the perfect song
It held all the answers like hands laid on
I woke halfway and scribbled it down
And in the morning what I wrote I read
It was hard to read at first but here’s what it said:

Eid Ma Clack Shaw
Zimbovin del bahl
Mertepi vin seener
Kofalli rag doll

Oh show me the way, show me the way, show me the way
To shake a memory
Oh show me the way, show me the way, show me the way
To shake a memory

Eid Ma Clack Shaw
Zimbovin del bahl
Mertepi vin seener
Kofalli rag doll

A new song from Bill Callahan of Smog. I love it. I decided to post the lyrics, because I couldn’t find them anywhere on the internet. So I’m making the internet more complete.

One of the downsides to buying MP3’s on Amazon is you don’t get liner notes which might have lyrics.

A line! A line!

24 April 2009 at 5:35 pm
by Berck

I’ve got a solid line. Apparently I figured out how to work PBS (our new, preferential bidding system, because it did a pretty decent job. The most important thing was that I get the 14-17th off to go to Sydney’s graduation, and I got that. In addition, I got a couple other saturdays off. I only have 4-day trips, which was what I wanted. If I had 1 or 2-day trips, I’d have to drive to the airport way too often. A rough sketch of the overnights is on my google calendar (DEN means I’m working, but I’m done when I get back home), as well as all the details on facebook.

Anyway, this new bidding system is a very good thing. If it didn’t work out for some reason, I’d have been on reserve all next month because I missed the cutoff date for rosters. I hope I continue to have reasonably decent lines as more people get furloughed and the base goes more junior. For now, I’m pretty darned happy.

In addition to going to New York, it looks like Jonah and I are going to be able to go to Hawaii next week for a couple of days. The Sunday after next we’re going to see Vienna Teng in Boulder. (I just happened to get that day off by chance–I didn’t bid for it because I didn’t know about the concert until after I bid).

The downside is that I’m making a lot less money. Ahh well.

I did not get the FAA job in Anchorage I applied for. This doesn’t surprise me. What does surprise me is that I didn’t get it because I’m not a retired, disabled veteran. I can understand veteran’s preference. What I can’t understand is that as long as a qualified disabled veteran applies, no one else is even considered. Had I realized that, I’m not sure I’d have bothered apply.

‘Thank you for applying on our external vacancy announcement, AAC-NOE-09-AJW334B-113303, Airspace System Inspection Pilot, FV-2181-H. Qualified 10-point preference eligibles who have a compensable, service-connected disability of 10 percent or more were referred to the selecting official. Other 10-point preference eligibles, 5-point preference eligibles and non-preference eligibles may not be selected as long as two or more qualified preference eligibles in the highest priority group are still available and interested. I am sorry to inform you that, at this time, your application was not included in the group that was referred. Additional information on veterans’ preference in hiring can be located at Please feel free to contacty me if you have any questions at [email protected]..

On Reserve

19 April 2009 at 11:27 am
by Berck

I finished up IOE with 21 hours (the FAA minimum required for a turbo-prop is 20 hours) on Friday. I wasn’t sure what my schedule would be like, but I knew that weekends off in the future were somewhat unlikely. Neal was free Friday evening, so I cooked elk bolognese with the remainder of the elk that Nathan gave us and we had a fine dinner. I managed to stay up pretty late considering that I’d gotten up at 4am that morning and flown in from Casper, WY.

Crew tracking called that night to tell me that I would be on reserve at noon the next day, and that furthermore, I’d be on ready reserve. We all slept in until about 11am, Jonah made us some Belgian Waffles from Liege and I headed to the airport in the snow. When I got up, I checked my schedule and they’d already assigned me a flight to Jackson Hole. Because it was reasonably warm, the roads were mostly just wet, but the visibility was terrible. I didn’t make it to work at 1:30pm like I was supposed to, but it didn’t really matter because our flight was delayed.

About the time our plane arrived from Durango, dispatch gave our plane to the 10:30am Jackson Hole departure which still hadn’t left because their plane was broken, and left us with the broken plane. The standby electric hydraulic pump was broken, but they assured us that it’d be fixed soon.

We eventually left around 5pm and got halfway to Aspen when I saw something flash. It was the L GEAR UNAFE warning light. I asked my captain if he saw it. He said, “You saw it too? It did it 5 minutes ago and I thought maybe I was seeing things.”

We called dispatch on the radio who patched us to maintenance who told us to return to Denver, primarily because there’s no mechanics in Jackson Hole. So we came back.

The mechanics fiddled with this and that, but weren’t really sure what to do, and about then the plane that went to Jackson Hole (the one we were supposed to take the first time) came back, so they moved our passengers to that plane.

It turns out that this was the 4th attempt for many of these passengers to get to Jackson Hole. Most of them were on a late-night flight out of Denver on Friday night, and after hours of waiting for deicing, the ramp crew in Jackson Hole gave up and went home. So the flight canceled.

We finally got to Jackson hole at about 10pm last night, and I had to get up at 5am this morning for an early flight back. The skies completely cleared up overnight and the flight back was beautiful.

By the time I left for Jackson Hole last night, my schedule said that after coming back in the morning, I’d be working the last flight to Jackson hole tonight, with 13 hours in between of doing nothing. My schedule changed several times since then.

The latest is that I’m supposed to go to Aspen and back in an hour or so, then go to Casper and back, and then I get to go home for the evening. I come back in the morning at about 10am to go to Grand Junction, then overnight in Casper.

I’m dead tired, but seriously enjoying it. Life is so much simpler now that I’m based out of Denver. I don’t have to stay at a crash pad, or spend hours riding trains to get to Kelsey or Sydney’s apartment in New York. When I get a couple days off, I can drive home, and don’t have to hope there’s room on a plane to get me home, and I can drive to work in the morning instead of flying in the night before.

If I were commuting, I’d be seriously annoyed that my overnight was canceled tonight. Since I live here, it means an extra night in my bed.

I’m hoping the rest of this trip is pretty easy. The weather in Denver had been pretty rough. When I landed Friday morning, the control tower was in the clouds and we didn’t break out of the clouds until just above the point at which we have to go around.

Instrument approaches still fascinate me, even after a year of flying for the airlines. I can fly a plane by staring at some needles and dials, and then, as if by magic, the runway magically appears right below us as we break out of the clouds. As fun as that is, I’d still rather be able to look at the mountains I’m flying over rather than staring into the white murk for hours on end.