Thursday, June 30, 2005

Keepin' it real

Here's to my hard-working CFI friends, my freight dawg buds, to my fellow 3-stripers of the turbo trash & RJ kiddy variety... Some words of encouragement from Mr. Lover himself:

When I was young I use to dream of being rich
Have alot of houses and cars - couldn't know which one was which
And finding me a chick and getting hitched, living the fairy tale life perfect without a ditch
You think that this would bring me happiness, if at the end of every rainbow, there was a treasure chest
Sometimes having more is really less, so take a look inside yourself - you'll realize you're really blessed
No matter how inside you're blue, there's always someone who has it worse than you
Sometimes you gotta pay your dues - so don't worry just push on through.

Keepin' it real - gotta big up all my peoples who be working on the future, though they know they gotta struggle
Keepin' it real - to all my homies working on the 9 to 5 and doing right to keep themselves up out of trouble
Keepin' it real - although sometimes I know it seems impossible, there ain't no need in drowning in your sorrows
Keepin' it real - If things are as bad as they can be, you can be sure there'll be a brighter tomorrow

All the harsh realities appears to come into centuries
Don't worry cuz there'll be a better day
One thing I can promise you, just keep on keeping on
I swear to you there's gonna be a brighter day

--Shaggy, "Keepin' it Real"

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Lakeside Blog Roundup

I'm currently in Rosholt, SD, at my parents-in-law's new place on the shores of Lake Traverse. Getting here was a little interesting. After getting back from flying 6 hours on Sunday, I jumpseated PDX-DEN-MSP on United, with a few delays out of DEN thanks to monster thunderstorms that had everything backed up. The next morning, those same storms had caught up to MSP and delayed by MSP-FAR flight. I didn't get bumped off any flights though, thanks to a Skywest jumpseater who wrote himself a pass rather than take the jumpseat (United only takes one jumpseater regardless of the number of open seats, although this policy is changing in September).

I'll have pictures to post once I'm home, but in the meantime I have nothing very interesting to post. So...let's see what else is going on in the flying blogosphere.

Dave's daily life as major airline captain involves making decisions that impact a lot of people. There used to be a time when a captain's decisions went practically unchallenged, for better or worse. It ain't so today, and there's a lot of CYA involved. Read about one such situation at Flight Level 390.

Glenn Calvin recently passed his sim ride at SWA, and is beginning IOE right now. To paraphrase N.D.: "Jets! Major airline! SWA! Lucky!" Oh yes, get a screencap if you're his 1000th visitor.

Aviatrix is recupurating from an unfortunate auto accident while studying away for her upcoming class at "Ichneumon Airlines." What a coincidence - the ichneumon is my very favorite burrowing mammal of all. Actually, not really. I'd never heard of it prior to reading Aviatrix. Thank you, A, you've broadened my horizons in the burrowing mammal department.

John, freight dog extraordinaire, ruminates on maintenance, Part 135 rest regs, and the coldsoaked coffin with wings that is an iced up Caravan. Check it out at Freight Dog Tales.

Yellowbird has gremlins hiding in her transponder system that have been positively vexing her owner. They also attacked the transponder of an Archer I used to instruct in, but they were very clever at hiding from maintenance personel. They'd typically show themselves only when I was in busy airspace with SoCal Approach. Read about the Gremlin Hunt at Yellowbird.

Speaking of SoCal, Hamish at YAFB recently took the 172 to Santa Monica with some friends of his. Cool pics abound, and his artist chick friend is pretty good looking, too...

Last but not least in the GA department is IFRPilot, who is but weeks away from embarking on a big trip to Alaska. He just got all his charts for the trip. I don't even want to know what all that costed. At least he's going VFR, Jepp charges an arm and a leg for their stuff. When I flew full-time for AMF, I had to buy my own subscription. One year for the Western US only: $300.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Did I mention... much I love SMF layovers? Lounging by the pool with our FA's, Morgan & Coke in hand, soaking up those wonderful California rays...

...and yeah, witnessing a somewhat drunk Southwest FA perform a sexual act on a SWA Captain in the pool when they thought nobody was looking. At least 4 people were looking, and are now scarred for life. Needless to say, I didn't go back in the pool after that.

PS: Glenn, you might not want your wife to read this particular post!

Northwest Volcano Tour

Well, I remembered to bring my camera on this trip; unfortunately, I don't have any legs that go into Seattle, therefore no North Cascades tours. Between yesterday and today, though, the weather was good enough to get some pictures of the major volcanic peaks from Ranier southward. The best pics are from a VFR-on-top tour we did of Mt. Hood this morning.

This is Mt. Ranier, the largest and (in my opinion) prettiest mountain in the Cascade Range. This view is from just south of Yakima, so you're looking at the south face - Paradise Lodge would be on the left side of Ranier and Sunrise on the right side. The classic climbing route goes up the left side of the mountain.

Above, steam rises from the crater of the not-so-dormant Mt. St. Helens. This is a pretty average day; lately, eruptive activity hasn't been much more exciting than this. The new lava dome inside the crater, however, continues its growth unabated.

12,276 ft. Mount Adams, with Mt. St Helens visible behind. The area around and between these two volcanoes comprises the majority of wilderness area in Southwest Washington, including Mt. Adams and Indian Heaven Wilderness Areas, and the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

This picture was taken this morning while VFR-on-top about 5 miles south of Mt. Hood. At 11,245 feet, Mt. Hood is shorter than its neighbors to the north (Adams, Ranier, & Baker). Its close proximity to Portland makes it a popular destination for hikers, climbers, and skiiers.

Here, the upper reaches of Mt Hood Meadows ski area can be seen at lower right, and Timberline Lodge & Ski Area is on the far left. The Palmer Snowfield - dba Palmer Glacier (left side) - enables Timberline to offer year-round skiing. Nothing like topless skiing in July!

Mt Shasta: second largest peak of the Cascades, crown jewel of Northern California, sacred ground to past native peoples, and endless source of "positive engergy" for countless Bay Area hippies and new agers. I can't count the times I've been bumping through rain clouds in Southern Oregon, when suddenly: The clouds give way, and there's Mt. Shasta, standing guard over the great bright expanse of Sunny California beyond. No wonder the Indians held it sacred: it seemingly has the power to keep the bad weather in Oregon.

Hopefully tomorrow the weather will be good enough to get some good pictures of Oregon's Southern Cascades from Mt. McLaughlin to Mt. Jefferson. Once I get back, I'll be flying to MN to join Dawn; later next week, we'll be driving the Blazer home from MN. Blogging may be light, but I'll post roadtrip pics & updates when I can.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Livin' da vida CRJ...

I had a 5:25am report time for a 3-day trip this morning. I woke at 4am and did all the requisite showering, packing, and dressing. I was about to head out the door when crew scheduling called. "We've had an equipment substitution on your first few legs. Your new report time is 12:51pm."

Whaaaaattt? An equipment substitution? I DO fly the MegaWhacker, after all. We do all the equipment subs for the CRJs, not the other way around. Suddenly I'm blessed with 7 more hours of sleep, to eat, to post to my blog. What bliss! So this is what it's like to be one of the anointed few that we at ABC Co. call Jet Pilots. I could get used to this! Lounging around while the less fortunate minions of the company do all my flying for me! Sign me up!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Bachelor Life

Dawn just began the long drive to Minnesota, so I'm on my own for a few days. Here's how well she has me trained: I just did the dishes, even when I had clean dishes left to eat on, and when she won't be back for a week! Hmm, it's not quite like college-era bachelorhood.

Anybody stopping through the Portland area in the next few days is hereby ordered to contact me for hiking, samurai movies, hottubbing, and/or having a few beers at McMenamins.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Touring the Cascades

I just got back from a four-day Helena-Edmonton-Billings trip. The first two days were gloomy and rainy, both at our layover cities and everywhere we flew. Thankfully, the last two days were absolutely gorgeous - severe clear VFR. It gave us the opportunity to do something very cool: scenic tours.

When the weather is nice and the route starts or ends near a scenic area, my company's pilots will sometimes request VFR-on-top with deviations from course, and stay low to give the passengers a tour. It's a neat thing that most people really enjoy... we get a lot of compliments as passengers deplane after a scenic tour. It's also something to differentiate us from the competition: you'll never get it on Southwest, and I've never heard Skywest requesting one.

On Sunday, we descended early on our return from Edmonton and toured the North Cascades to Glacier Peak, which we circled before continuing the GLASR6 arrival into SEA. When outbound to Billings, we stayed low on departure and deviated over the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, particularly the Enchantment Lakes near Mt. Stuart. Yesterday, we had numerous legs into and out of Seattle, so we had the chance to tour the Alpine Lakes and Cascade Peak areas again, as well as a stunning low-level circle around Mt. Ranier.

The bad news in all this is that I forgot to bring my camera on this trip. I'm sorry! I promise it won't happen again! The trick is to get a good weather day on a trip that I bring the camera along...


Dawn's brother, Paul, is in town right now. He's never been to the Pacific Northwest, so Dawn has been showing him the sights while I was gone - Cannon Beach, Mt. St. Helens, etc. Yesterday, after I got back, we drove to the Columbia River Gorge to do a short hike at Multnomah Falls, Oregon's single most popular natural feature.

I figured it'd be less crowded on a Monday. The good weather, however, apparently coaxed a lot of people out of work early. Even the trail to the top was fairly crowded. I hadn't hiked it before for this very reason, and was surprised to find that the whole thing was paved. I pity the poor sap who had to haul asphalt up 800 feet of cliff!

The top of the trail (well, the top if you're not continuing to Larch Mountain) features an overlook perched on the precipice of the falls. Multnomah Creek gurgles gently along the last bit of trail, then slides over a small waterfall before cascading over 620 ft. Multnomah Falls.

The overlook features a nice view of the lower Gorge:

After Sunday's pollyanna-ish post praising man's brilliance as exemplified by the modern aircraft, here's a little something to bring me down to earth: several idiots, having bothered to haul themselves up the hillside, having taken in the peacefulness of the creek and the beauty of the overlook, thought it would be cool to throw their cans and/or bottles into the creek.


After Multnomah Falls, we drove back to Portland via the historic Columbia River Highway, and stopped off at Vista House, which always provides memorable views of the Gorge.

Dawn's going to be driving to Minnesota starting on Wednesday. Anybody wanna be my hiking partner while she's gone?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Sam's off probation!

Yesterday marked my first day off probation at my airline. To "celebrate," I woke up at 2:30am for a 4AM showtime. Five legs and six flying hours later, I found myself in Helena, MT.

So despite my newfound freedom to go slumming, I'm still wearing hat & tie, and am turning out at 5AM in freshly pressed shirt and slacks. Why? Because if pilots expect to be treated as professionals, they should look the part. That's a somewhat unpopular opinion in the regional airline world, perhaps because enforcing hat rules is the way certain chief pilots exercise their power and justify their job. Hat issues aside: we need to be professionals in the public's eye if we want to improve our profession, and that's all I have to say 'bout that.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

More thoughts on PCL 3701

The more I find out about this accident, the more it bothers me. My thinking on it has shifted as I've read more information on it.

First off, it turns out that the crew was slightly above the maximum altitude for their weight and air temperature. They were at 37,600 lbs, and the air temp was ISA + 9.4d C. The performance charts for 38k and ISA+10 show 40,400 feet as the maximum climb ceiling. Furthermore, at Pinnacle the climb profile called for Mach .70 or 250 kts minimum, whichever is slower (since Mach changes with air temp). As the crew approached FL410, they were at Mach .57 and a mere 180 knots. Given all this, the media's contention that the crew was acting recklessly is looking uncomfortably close to the mark.

In the comments section of my previous post, Glenn mentioned that there seemed to be very little CRM practiced - it was very chaotic, with both pilots trying to do too many things. Mind you, they didn't have a lot of time to burn, and it's easy to say "practice better CRM!" in the comfort of one's own living room. Still - if the dual flameout checklist would've been followed better, the thrust levers would've been moved to shutoff; they apparently remained at idle, which caused fuel to remain flowing to the engines. This, together with continuous ignition being selected to "ON," apparently caused significant melting of the turbine blades in the #2 engine. Thus, the number two engine never could be restarted.

Glenn mentioned in his blog that they attemped a windmilling airstart below the recommended speed of 300 kts, causing a hot start. Actually, they started to run that checklist, but discovered that the high pressure turbine (N2) was not windmilling, so they elected to instead try an APU-assisted start at 13,000 feet. As to why the #1 engine would not turn when they attempted the start, General Electric has admitted that the CF34 engine is subsceptible to "core lock" when flamed out at low speed. You can find out more about core lock from ALPA.

Many of the recent airline accidents are completely unforseen things - such as TWA800's fuel tank explosion or the stabilizer jackscrew snapping on Alaska 261. For this accident to happen, then, when we have 50 years of experience with high altitude jet flying, is pretty freaking senseless. Did nobody teach the young captain about these things? Many Pinnacle pilots have decried their company's poor training department and their practice of hiring very low-time applicants. Of course, they're not going to attract a lot of high-quality applicants with some of the lowest pay in the industry.

I'm a political conservative. Still, if free-market competition among the regionals results in a body count, I don't see what alternative the government will have to re-regulating the industry.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

ABC News' Hatchet Job

Between the networks' slanted news coverage of anything Bush-related and their overall tendancy to sensationalize, I generally don't consider their news programs to be worth much more than a bucket of warm spit. Dawn watches TV news but I usually tune out and get my news from newspapers and the internet. I do, however, perk up when the news programs cover aviation. More times than not, they get it outragously wrong, and tonight ABC's World News Tonight made me stomping mad in the process.

The segment was regarding Pinnacle Airlines flight 3701, a CRJ-200 that crashed on a repositioning flight after apparently flaming out and stalling at it's maximum certified altitude. I'm can't say I'm a huge fan of Pinnacle. Their low pay and hard crew usage tend to attract very low-time applicants, who then upgrade to Captain in a short length of time due to the airline's rapid growth. Still, the ABC news segment was a pure hatchet job, bordering on libelous in it's treatment of the deceased crew members.

First off, they made a mountain out of a molehill regarding the crew's transmission to ATC that they were "just having a little fun" by climbing to FL410. It was in response to a curious controller who was surprised to see them that high; the crew was just giving an informal reply when they said "Yeah, we don't have any passengers on board so we decided to have a little fun up here." It's fun in the same sense as you might take a different route to work tomorrow for "a little fun." The plane was certified to FL410 and had the published performance to cruise there for the weight they were at; it's pretty hard to call that reckless, although that's exactly what ABC news was implying.

While they were playing the ATC tapes, they showed a "simulation" of a CRJ climbing at an improbably high angle, like 60 degrees up, then flames shooting from the engines, sending it into an equally steep dive. Were I a member of the general public, at this point I'd be wondering just what kind of cowboys are flying those little planes. I'd be even more convinced after the anchorman said that "the crew lied" by transmitting that they had an engine failure when they infact had a dual flameout. Yeah, don't suppose they could've merely been confused or unsure, or paying a little more attention to getting their engines back than exactly what they said to ATC.

Cue the anchorman's most sincere look and concerned voice as he wonders outloud whether "pilots flying small jets, which are becoming increasingly common, are getting enough training." Yeah, thanks, dude. Nevermind that the CRJ has a better safety record than the B737. Or that FAA training requirements for "small jets" are essentially identical to the "big jets" they replaced (ie DC-9's).

I'm not trying to hold the crew blameless here. It sounds like it probably was crew error, rather than mechanical failure, that lead to this accident, and the NTSB will eventually tell us what those errors were. But the ABC news report clearly sensationalized the negligence aspect in dubious areas, making the crew seem carefree and reckless. Worse yet, they implyed that all the other crews of "small jets" are similarly inclined, admirable safety record notwithstanding. My estimation of ABC News just went down a few more notches.

Update: Yellowbird has linked me to the CVR transcript, which sheds some more light on this accident. You can find my response in the comments for this thread. A correction: ABC appears to have been correct regarding the crew fibbing to ATC about the nature of their emergency. I still believe, however, that the segment was fundamentally misleading.

Further update: Glenn Calvin, who has a lot of experience on the CRJ-200 at Skywest, has posted his thoughts on Flagship 3701. Go check it out.

The Career Killer

The airplane I fly has some mildly amusing nicknames at my airline: Megawhacker, Daddy Dash, Footlong, and my favorite, Trauma Tube (lots of turbulence-related FA injuries). To this list add my own contribution: Career Killer.

None of the captains on my airplane seem to have any motivation to go to the majors. Granted, there are rather few majors hiring right now, but none of them are even interested in, say, Southwest. A lot of these captains are in their 50s, so there's a good reason for them to hang around. But even the younger guys, with years of flying left ahead of them, seem content to stay put for the next 25 years.

The pay, trips, working conditions, etc, is better at the majors, even at those who've taken paycuts recently. The MegaWhacker, however, offers just enough to keep the young guys from jumping ship. The trips kinda suck, lots of time away from base, but at least they're based in Portland. The pay is $80+/hr, enough to live on comfortably, and you wouldn't make that much until your third or fourth year as an FO at a major. And then, a lot of these guys have been captains long enough that the thought of becoming an FO again has to ennerve them. They'd have to actually work. Being a MegaWhacker captain is a pretty easy, cushy job.

So they just show up for work every day, put in some easy time, take home a nice paycheck, and the next thing they know, they're a 20-year turboprop captain at a regional airline. Good for them, if that's what makes them happy. Meanwhile, I'm over here in the right seat completely grating my teeth at the thought of taking seven or eight years to upgrade because the company isn't growing and at least half the captains are lifers. And when I do, it'll be in a smaller airplane...I'll hopefully be gone before I can hold a captain slot in my current plane.

So the upsides of my airline - good pay, nice equipment, great bases - translate into the downside to my airline: nobody leaves, not after the Career Killer takes it's toll. I try not to think about it too much. I go hiking in the Gorge instead.

Another cool GA blog

I've added a few general aviation blogs to the flying blogroll on my sidebar. Here's another cool one, featuring Yellowbird, a 1974 Cessna 177B. Today's post is a great Lileks-style sendup of 70's era airplane sales literature.

Check it out.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sam vs. Oakland Center

Today we were filed from Boise to San Jose via a somewhat indirect routing: BOI.J7.REO.MXW.PYE1. Translated, that's Jet Route 7 (a kind of highway in the sky) from Boise to Rome, then direct to Maxwell VOR for the Maxwell transition to the Point Reyes One arrival into San Jose. That arrival takes you well northwest of San Jose before sending you southbound down the whole length of the San Francisco Bay - a rather extensive detour if you're coming from the northeast, as we were.

The captain and I hit upon a brilliant idea. Once airborne, we'd convince ATC to reroute us via the Capitol Three Arrival. We'd have a fairly straight shot to Sacramento, then turn south over Stockton and a turn towards San Jose near Modesto. To our pleasant surprise, Salt Lake Center was quite obliging and recleared us as requested. Hooray for us, we're saving time and fuel! Heh heh heh...Oakland Center had other plans in mind.

"ABC 521, cross twenty miles northeast of Sacramento at and maintain 12,000."

We were still over the Sierras when we got this clearance. The captain and I looked at each other incredulously. We'd usually reach 12,000 feet around 40 miles from our destination. This time it'd be about 120 miles.

"Uhhh, Oakland Center, ABC 521 down to 12,000, twenty miles this side of Sacramento...any chance you could keep us high and slam dunk us over San Jose?" I wasn't ready to go down without a fight.
"Negative, ABC 521, we need you low for departures out of the Bay area," came the reply. So I started down. Yet the worst was yet to come, when we checked in with Norcal Approach near Sacramento:
"ABC 521, Norcal Approach, you are cleared to San Jose via direct Manteca, Manteca 183 radial to Modesto 216 radial direct LICKE intersection. Maintain 9000."

I scrambled to jot down the new clearance and read it back. This reroute was aggrevating for a few reasons: The routing (ETC R-183 -> MOD R-216) appeared to be completely arbitrary, since I couldn't find it published on any charts; as an unpublished route, I'd have to monkey with the FMS or just fly it "blue needles" (old school); it was longer than our previous routing; and the 100 miles to go would all be flown at 250 kts or less, since we'd be below 10,000 feet.

Mind you, this kind of thing is rather commonplace on the east coast, not to mention the Bay area itself, but I get spoiled by the uncongested airspace I usually fly in. I'm used to getting what I want.

We arrived in San Jose only slightly late and no worse for the wear save 100 miles worth of low-level bugs spattered across the plane's nose. We had one Boise roundtrip left, and agreed that on our return to San Jose we should just take our lumps with the Point Reyes arrival.

Several hours later, upon checking in with Oakland Center: "ABC, I have a reroute for you: Direct Mustang Direct Sacramento, Capitol Three Arrival to San Jose." Ha! Hahaha! I won't be lured down that primrose path again!

"Oakland, any chance ABC 523 can stay on our original routing? We got the Capitol Three last time and didn't like staying in the weeds for so long." There was a slight delay before the controller agreed to our previous routing. After Point Reyes, we were cleared direct San Francisco VOR and then direct San Jose. This gave us a very nice view of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges as well as downtown San Francisco and the Bay itself.

We stayed high and made a nice, steep, efficient descent with the power levers at flight idle from top of descent until about 1000 feet. ATC was thoroughly cooperative, we had no traffic hassles; it was a thing of beauty. We were patting each other on the back for persuading ATC to let us stay on the Point Reyes One when we looked at our watches: The first flight was quicker by 8 minutes, despite the reroutes and early descent!

The moral of the story: When you try to beat the system, the system beats you.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Recurrent Ground School

I'm back on AM home reserve today after spending the three previous days in recurrent ground school. As you may or may not know, the FAA mandates that part 121 pilots receive a certain length of recurrent ground training every year, with mandatory subjects including aircraft systems, weather, CRM, Hazmat, upset recoveries, runway incursions, etc. Some of it is very good review, but a lot of it is just BS to make sure the appropriate box can be checked, and that can get dreadfully boring. I had a very sleepless Sunday night, so staying awake through Monday's presentations was particularly painful.

It would've been nice to have the ground school take place before I went in the sim. The refreshed systems knowledge would have come in handy given the scenarios they threw at us this year. Actually, most people do the sim after recurrent ground, but I guess the scheduling didn't quite work out for me. Kinda like they sent me to CRM Phase II only two weeks before I had recurrent CRM. Oh well - I'm a well-oiled, assertive-FO, clear-communicatin' CRM machine now!!!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Flying Blogs

So besides my regular rounds of political/social blogs, I've been following an increasing number of flying blogs lately; namely, those you see at the right side of my blog. I'm sure there are more out there that are good but I've just not found. So consider this an open thread to throw out some suggestions.

Update: Thanks for the link to Yankee Alpha Foxtrot Bravo, a blog about flying GA in California - a subject near & dear to my heart, being as that constituted several years of my life.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Good Captain, Bad Captain

As a first officer, you get to fly with a lot of different sorts of captains. They all have different styles, mannerisms, favorite ways of doing things, pet peeves, and the like. I personally don't mind; I get along with most everybody and the quirks give the job a little variety. Mind you, airlines don't like their pilots to be different. Standardization, meaning that everyone does each procedure the same way, has become the industry mantra, and for good reason. Still, a few captains have their own favorite twists, and if it's not a safety of flight issue, I'm usually game.

It's when you get a truly bad captain that you find yourself in the conundrum long faced by FOs everywhere. You realize that the pilot next to you may well be unsafe, yet he (or she) has authority over the flight, and over you. What to do? None of your options are particularly appealing:
  • You can be upfront with your concerns - if the captain was just being sloppy, he may shape up. But you may now be flying with an incompetent captain who's pissed at you.
  • You can try passing along hints & suggestions in a subtle manner - but more than one captain has blown up at their FO for "encroaching on my authority!"
  • You can pass along your concerns to the union's professional standards committee, or in a really bad case, the chief pilot's office, but that's a longer term solution, and the captain's friends can make life difficult for you in the meantime.
  • You can sit by and do nothing, hoping the captain doesn't screw up too badly. Ultimately this is what many FOs have done. People have died because FOs sat meekly by, watching the incompetent, overbearing captain do something the FO knew was wrong. Accidents like these gave birth to our modern CRM (crew resource management) training programs.
Fortunately, most of the captains at my airline are very good, and I've had no serious problems with anybody I've flown with. Of course, the bad captains are the ones everybody talks about and swaps stories about. There are a few doozies that I won't go into due to the public nature of this blog. They do provide good fodder for shooting the breeze when my airline pilot friends and I get together.

You might ask what exactly makes a good captain. Here's my dream list.
  1. GC knows what he's doing. He knows and follows standardized procedures, and has a good grasp on aviation knowledge that gives me confidence in his decisions.
  2. GC seeks/accepts input when he's making a decision, but doesn't pass the buck on to me. I'm not the captain, dude, you are, so don't keep shrugging and saying "whatever you want to do."
  3. GC keeps an eye on the big picture. He does this by making me handle the grunt work, rather than doing everything himself only to mess up something important.
  4. GC lets me know when I screw up and gives me hints from the wealth of his captainly experience. This doesn't mean he needs to lord his Holy Captainness over me & nag over everything I do.
  5. GC is a generally cool guy who can make good conversation on a long leg or over a beer at the layover. He's got a sense of humor about things, but gets dead serious when he needs to be.
  6. GC cares about his crew and takes care of them. He helps them out when he can. He'll grace them with his presence at dinner if the crew is so inclined, and might even buy them a few drinks.
This is the captain I want to fly with, and the captain I want to be when I upgrade. That last quality is especially important to me. It was passed on by a old TWA captain who kept me from doing something dumb in Cairo, Egypt when I was sleep deprived after a sleepless 12 hours on the jumpseat. He told me, "I know I'll see you as a Captain someday. When you are, I want you to remember this: take care of your crew, even when it means sacrificing your own comfort." That's pretty good advice. Thanks, Captain Parker.

Woof, Woof

Played freight dog again today, flying AMF1964 PDX-PDT-LGD-PDX. Again, it was good weather east of the Cascades, with a broken layer over Portland at around 3500 feet. I came back VFR, which neccessitated a low-level trip through the Columbia River Gorge. It's absolutely beautiful this time of year, but I was pretty busy looking out for traffic - I wasn't the only one using the Gorge to go to/from Portland VFR.

Speaking of the Gorge, Dawn and I might go hiking there tomorrow, at Eagle Creek. Here's hoping the weather is good! Then it's off to recurrent ground school starting Monday.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Best of Craigslist?

Hey, a guy can hope. Go hither, and tag!

Better yet, email me with an offer. Good airport car, people!