On Reserve

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.

One Response to “On Reserve”

  1. Jonah Says:

    Berck has been calling me every time he gets a new adjustment to his schedule. Generally, a pilot has to be on reserve until the next bid period, but Berck hasn’t spent a single minute sitting around yet…for ready or regular reserve. This is because the company has already furloughed the Dash pilots under him, and now they don’t have enough to fly their flights.

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