Los Angeles, Friday 6-2-95 1900 local (Z-7)
It was a glorious three days at home, made all the more precious by the confusion created by crew scheduling when they left a message that seemed to indicate I would have only one day. I called them and pointed out that it made no sense for me to come to New York just to turn around and head back to the West Coast deadheading. That bought a second day. Then, unexpectedly, they called and delayed my departure out of L.A. by another day, and that gave me three days.
At one point I thought I had even a little more time. Normally they give us our show times in the local time. However, this time they gave a departure time in Z, so I had a total of 8.5 hours less than I thought I had. A little explanation: Each of the world's time zones is represented by a single letter. "Z" is the letter assigned to the standard time of the zone in which lies Greenwich, England. It is for all practical purposes what used to be known as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Actually GMT isn't used anymore. The world's official time standard is UTC (Universal Time Coordinated). UTC is maintained by the coordination of hundreds of atomic clocks throughout the world and has a constant "second". GMT is determined by the actual position of the earth in its orbit and has a "second" that is variable - it also takes running observations through about three years as I remember to calculate. So the world runs on UTC (or Z time). When ever UTC approaches differing from GMT by a second, the atomic clocks throughout the world are adjusted at the same time by one second. Not something that is terribly noticeable to human beings.
The 8.5 hours? I was given a time of 0530 on the 3rd. I thought they had given me my local show time but it was the Z departure time. So, I had to back that up by 7 hours to correct for the fact that it was 0530Z. 0530Z on the 3rd is 2230 local on the 2nd in L.A. (everybody with me). Then I had to back it up by another hour and one half to account for the fact that it was the departure time rather than the show time, which is 1.5 hours before departure by Tower policy. So, I really have to "show" no later than 2100 on the 2nd. Actually I'm going to show up at the Garuda ticket counter at 2030, a full two hours before the flight, so to have time to handle the inevitable confusion when one carrier moves another carrier's pilots as part of a subcontract.
Garuda? Oh, yes, I'm headed back to Jakarta to fly the outbound Haj - outbound from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia back to Jakarta. So we'll be empty from Jakarta to Jeddah, full from Jeddah to Jakarta. Ten hour legs, which means I'm good for six round trips max until I reach the international limit of 120 hours per month. Actually, my guess is that I'll fly no more than 5 round trips since the task will be finished I think somewhere around the 20th.
This month I actually have a line. It says simply "Garuda Haj", but shows the 6 days off they have to give me as 6/23 - 6/28. I'm looking forward to it. Hope the weather is as good as I just left.