enroute JFK to SFO, Tuesday 6-20-95, 1400Z
I'm headed home, jumpseating on United, although they're letting me sit back in the coach section - even fed me.
Yesterday was both disaster and delight. Disaster in that the day started out with my PCMCIA faxmodem card going bad and having to put up with the absurdities of U.S. immigration and customs, delight in that I got to fly two out of three legs.
I'll send this from my home computer when I get home, and I'll hopefully get them to replace the faxmodem card before I am next called out.
The same crew I've been with flew empty (but for flight attendants) to Montreal, where we picked up passengers from a British Airways 747 and flew them to Detroit. The first absurdity of the day was that the flight was even necessary. The cause of it was union inflexibility on the part of British Airways flight attendants. Their union insisted that the flight from London stop less than an hour short of its destination, Detroit, so the flight attendants would not be overworked. Since you can't have passengers without flight attendants, BA loaded their passengers on us. Then we took off for Detroit and BA followed in their airplane with all the passengers' baggage. Then things really got bizarre. We arrive at Detroit and pull up to the international terminal so the passengers can clear customs and immigration. Since we're in the gate scheduled for the British Airways flight, their airplane with the baggage can't park at the international terminal. Customs then insisted that our crew go through the whole business even though we had never left the airplane at Montreal and, further, insisted that the British Airways plane be kept on a taxiway with engines running until we had cleared customs and had left the gate. They held all the passengers in the customs area because the bags, of course, were on the airplane waiting on the taxiway. What purpose was served in all of this other than flexing of bureaucratic muscle, I do not know. Talk about mad people, boy, and I don't blame them one bit.
The good part of the day that, since the captain I was with believes in trading legs across the entire trip sequence rather than starting fresh each day, I flew the JFK-Montreal leg and the Detroit-JFK leg. Just for the hell of it (and since the captain had said to fly my legs however I wanted), I hand flew all the way from JFK to Montreal, including the en-route portion at altitude. I used to occasionally do that when I was a captain if we got a short leg, and it was really fun to do it once again.
The good part for my ego was that I found myself doing other things (changing frequencies, checking approach plates, etc.) without altitude or heading excursions. Had I tried that a month ago, I would certainly have strayed outside the 100' altitude tolerance or the 5 degree heading tolerance. In fact, I remember one point about that long ago when it was necessary to divert my attention after I had started hand flying during an approach. I promptly gained 150' of altitude. I'm also relearning to recognize when the flight director is giving me bad info and relearning "looking through" it, rather than letting it monopolize my attention. So, slowly but surely it's all coming back. I've spent about 200 hours in the airplane since I came to work for Tower. Hopefully in another 200 hours I'll be pretty much back in the groove.
p.s. Home now. Did a little investigation on PCMCIA cards. I've got it working now, but I'm really not sure why it failed in the first place. Also, got home to a beeping message machine requesting an immediate return to New York. That was a bit disheartening. It was too late to catch anything back that evening, so I delayed returning the call for a couple of hours. When I called, I got a "disregard" answer. It pays in this company to give them time to work down the list.