Paris, Thursday 7-13-95 2245 local (Z+2)
Well, I suppose it would be nice to say that I'm looking out my hotel window at the Eiffel Tower, but that wouldn't be true. However, the only reason it isn't true is that I'm on the wrong side of the hotel, but there is a fireworks display going on a few miles away that I can see clearly (I'm on the 16th floor). This must be some kind of French holiday. About an hour ago a formation of French Mirage fighter planes passed low over the city, now the fireworks. Also, when I walked to the Eiffel Tower earlier, I found the tower closed, but the long park stretching from it to their military academy (Ecole Militaire) had the central grassy area blocked off and huge speakers lined the entire area. The Eiffel Tower itself had the lower one third draped in a huge white canvass and a stage had been erected at its base and facing the park. People, lots of them, appeared to be getting ready for something on the stage and others were gathering at what appeared would become entrances to the grassy area. As I neared the stage, I noticed three busloads of police sitting on a side street. Then a few blocks farther, there were about fifty police in riot gear on another side street. This group included a half dozen dogs, all big, and all muzzled. Hmm, now I'm seeing small fireworks displays in other parts of the city in addition to the primary display to the south. Definitely some kind of national celebration I think.
I flew the leg over here with a captain with whom I had never flown. He's senior but is the first Tower captain I have flown with which I would consider a little weak, at least in the non-flying pilot role. We'll see how he does as the flying pilot tomorrow. The 7 hour leg seemed like a breeze after the JFK to Tel Aviv leg at 10+ hours and the return at 11+ hours. The leg was uneventful until the approach into Paris Orly airport, then we got all messed up. The captain put in a wrong frequency into one of the nav radios (and I didn't catch his error) and we headed off in the wrong direction. The French controller, a woman, got really upset. A few minutes later a male controller to whom we had been switched first told us to speed up then had to tell us to slow down, and we almost had to make a go-around because the aircraft in front of us nearly didn't have time to clear the runway. Long story, really, but I won't bore you with the details,
This captain is also a chronic complainer, and as luck would have it, the engineer is ex-Evergreen and one of those who organized and supported the Teamster election at Evergreen, so he and I had butted heads over that. He, too, is a chronic complainer. So, all in all, it's not a good pairing for me, though at heart both guys are basically okay even if their opinions and manner don't match mine.
I climbed into bed here at 1000 intending to take a 4 hour nap and then be up and about. I should know better. I passed out and didn't awake until 1800. I showered and took a 4 hour walk. [Lots of fireworks all over now.] Went from the hotel to the Eiffel Tower then upstream along the Seine to the Louvre. I had intended to go as far as Notre Dame, but I ran out of time (and energy). There will probably be later opportunities for exploration - Tower has 11 flights a week into Paris.
C.J., I finally looked into what our travel benefits are on Tower. They don't take effect until I've been with the company for 6 months, but then each of us is allowed 2 domestic and 2 international tickets per year free of charge. Reduced rate tickets are also available on Tower and other airlines, but I didn't check into them (later). So, for example, you could get a ticket San Francisco to New York to Paris and return and that would count as only one ticket. Not bad, really. I think that this fall we should consider a Tel Aviv trip. The weather will have cooled by then but still be pleasant and the tourist crowds will have thinned. I certainly don't care about all those religious sites from the standpoint of religion, but they are significant in terms of history, and I would like to see the Dead Sea.
One of my regrets is that I never did get C J on a Tower flight. It just never worked out. And I never did get to the Dead Sea. I really had no heart for sight seeing without Jean being with me.
There was a big meeting going on at Tower when I checked in yesterday. One of the attendees is one of the pilot union officers. He deadheaded on the flight here, and he gave us a little rundown on what was happening. It seems that Tower management has finally realized that their crew scheduling is an absolute mess. They're going to get some outside consulting and are promising to change things.
This won't get sent until tomorrow back in the U.S. The French phone plugs in this hotel are unique and I don't want to take the time to take them apart. We leave the hotel at 0900 tomorrow for Chicago. If all goes as planned, I should get into Chicago in time to get a jumpseat to the West Coast, although it may be a problem getting to Eugene.