Amsterdam, Saturday 9-30-95 2200 local (Z+1)
Hi, everybody. It's a cold, clammy, damp night in Amsterdam - typical Dutch weather. Temp is in the 40s. Quite a change from the last trip here. It was warm, even hot, and sunny. Today everyone is in long pants, jackets, hats, etc.
I went from Buenos Aires directly to Miami. We were supposed to refuel in San Juan, but we had absolutely no freight, so we were able to carry enough fuel for the 10 hour direct flight. Flights over 8 hours really poop me out. We got into Miami early in the morning, and I slept all day. I was supposed to go to JFK the next morning, but that got changed, and I wound up spending two nights in Miami. The good part of that was that I rented a car and went to the local (and legal) clothes optional beach at the northern part of Miami Beach. They were warning people that it wasn't safe to go into the water because of an ongoing sewage spill, but it was nice to lay in the sun. I don't much go in the water anyway.
When I got back to JFK, they sent us to Dover, Delaware by van in the middle of the night to pick up a military freight charter out of Dover Air Force Base. That was a little deja vu since the last time I had done that was when I was with Evergreen. From Dover, we operated (my leg) to Ramstein Air Force Base near Frankfurt. The weather was crappy when we got there, and I shot my first true instrument approach since coming to Tower. The visibility was fine on the ground, but there was a ragged ceiling (fog) at 600 feet. The runway there is short for a 747, only 8000 (which gives you only 7000 from where the glideslope intercepts the runway) and we had an inoperative reverser on #3 engine. That meant we could use reverse only on the outboard engines (1 & 4, 2 & 3 are the inboards) since you don't want to reverse asymmetrically. Given that and the short runway, I elected (properly) to give priority to getting the airplane on over trying for a smooth touchdown. I lucked out, though, and got both. We were down to taxi speed with over a 1000 feet of runway remaining.
Had a little confusion during the approach. As we started to break out, the captain called the runway in sight and said I was high, a real no-no on a short runway. I checked the raw data on the ILS deviation indicators (I was following the flight director) and they were saying I was right on. Anyway his call forced me to look up and outside to see what the hell was happening. About that time he said, "disregard," he was looking at a taxiway (narrower than a runway and thus giving the appearance of your being high if you think it's a runway). I hate it when that kind of thing happens.
Last minute false reports are always disconcerting. On an instrument approach, the flying pilot stays "in the cockpit", keeping his eyes on the instruments. The non-flying pilot stays "out of the cockpit" much of the time, trying to spot the ground and then the runway. False reporting by the non-flying pilot is not uncommon. Trying to discern things visually can be very confusing when you are just coming out of the clouds. You want to inform the flying pilot as soon as possible of the changing situation, and people jump to conclusions. I've done it a few times.
It's usually a 1.5 hour drive from Ramstein to Frankfurt, but construction on the autobahn ran that to 2 hours and also destroyed some of the fun of being able to go fast. This was a van anyway, so it really couldn't move. The driver was only doing about 160 kph (100 mph) in the nonconstruction areas. I really wish we would adopt their driving philosophy (and driving discipline - nobody passes on the right, nobody uses a horn just in irritation). Actually, they've slowed down some in that they have put speed limits on some portions of the autobahn, but there are still plenty of areas where you drive as fast as you like.
Spent the night in Frankfurt and then commercialled via Lufthansa to Amsterdam. A Dutchman by the name of Mike Broere met me getting off the flight. He works for a Dutch ground handling outfit named Avia Presto. They're interested in exploring the possibility of using my weight & balance program. I suspect nothing will really come of it, but I'm going to devote some effort to the possibility. For starters I'll have to change the program to accept basic aircraft weights and measurements in the metric system. It can already accept loads in the metric system optionally. It's unfortunate, but, to my knowledge, the U.S. is the ONLY country in the world that has not adopted the metric system. When are we going to learn? It really pisses me off that we're so insular. Not only that, we tend to force our archaic outlook on others, and that really drives me up a tree. Amsterdam is, of course, filled with ex-Americans who so much felt that way they said the hell with it and moved here. I don't think I could do that, though. The weather here is terrible, and it is very crowded, although you don't notice the crowding as much when everyone is tolerant, and you can walk anyplace here at any time of the night without worrying about being mugged. Okay, off my soap box.
Tomorrow it's Amsterdam to JFK. I don't know what I'll be doing after that. In a typical Tower screw up, they were 3 days late getting the bids out, but of course did not adjust the deadline for submitting them. Consequently, I'm on a reserve line since I didn't get to bid. Crew scheduling called the house the morning the bids were due to say I had 30 minutes to get mine in. The interesting thing is that I was in Miami at the time and they knew that. The other interesting thing is that the bid package arrived at our house in the mail AFTER the deadline for submission. If I wasn't within the year's probationary period, I'd complain, but as it is I just have to grin and bear it. Anyway, being on reserve means I don't find out what I'm going to be doing until each trip completion - impossible to plan. Sometimes though you can really luck out on reserve. We'll see what happens.
The captain I'm flying with is an interesting guy. Same age as me, retired out of the Air Force, has a German wife here in Germany, a home in Colorado, and lives with a young and very shapely Tower flight attendant in Long Island. Giving credit where credit is due, you have to admire his ability to juggle.
He and his wife eventually divorced, and he married the flight attendant. He retired shortly before I did.
Enough for now. Time to try to sleep (though I'm not sleepy) for tomorrow's 0800 wake up call.