Humans have a remarkable ability to become accustomed to the extraordinary. Think about people who do amazing jobs every day; doctors delivering babies or probing into the recesses of someone’s skull. Actors standing on a Broadway stage making people believe they are someone else every day (and twice on Sundays). Steelworkers who calmly sit down to eat lunch on an eight-inch wide beam hundreds feet up in the air. Yet to these people, their jobs are all familiar and comfortable. That isn’t to say they don’t feel excitement, as an actor may do as he stands in the wings, seconds before stepping onto the stage. But these actions – a surgeon slicing skin, an actor performing in front of thousands, a steelworker balancing above the void – are things they have practiced and accomplished hundreds if not thousands of times in their lives. They often choose these careers because of the challenge the jobs provide, and the satisfaction they feel when they do a difficult job with finesse and accuracy.
It is something that I have felt too. Stepping into the cockpit of a 767 is something that feels normal, natural, and very familiar. I know the sounds, smells, and sights that await me, even before I get to the airport. Yet I am also keenly aware that for just about everyone else on the plane, it is something unusual, if not amazing and/or frightening to become airborne in a third of a million pounds of metal, glass and plastic. I hear from friends that they are amazed at my job, and ‘just don’t know how I can keep all those buttons and knobs straight’. I know that what I do isn’t ‘ordinary’ by most people’s standards, but for me it has that familiar and comfortable feel.
Two and a half years after returning from furlough, my longstanding wish was granted and (thanks to my seniority and an expanding pilot group) I was able to bid back into the Seattle pilot base for Hawaiian Airlines. So I am once again doing what I started with when I was hired at HA
; flying from my home to the islands. It may be extraordinary for some people, but it is just me doing what I love – flying people to and from Hawaii. Here is a trip report of a very ‘ordinary’ couple of days for me.
Day One: SEA
Our flight from Seattle to Maui leaves at 10:35am, so it’s a very civilized schedule for me. I got up around 7:30, and since it was a weekend, quietly got ready while the family slept. I grabbed a granola bar, banana, and bottle of water on the way out, and ate in the car. It was a cold and very foggy autumn morning in Seattle and I could tell winter wasn’t far off. At the employee lot off the north end of the airport I could hear the aircraft on approach almost overhead, but couldn’t see them through the mist. The fact that they were landing was heartening though, as the fog couldn’t have been too thick. When the visibility gets really low you hear the arrivals pass by less often as some of the aircraft have to either wait it out while hoping for an improvement, or have to divert to an alternate.
Here’s a photo of a Horizon Dash 8 on short final for SEA
The short bus ride from the parking lot to the terminal was quiet, as the fog seemed to have a dampening effect on the passengers. Once inside the terminal I made it quickly up to the front of the TSA
line, but had to wait a couple of minutes while they got enough people to do individual searches on three people in a row who set off the metal detectors. Meanwhile the X-ray operator kept the belt going and soon all the bags backed up into the detector. That didn’t stop her though and sure enough, bags that were waiting for their owners to come through the metal detector were soon popping off the belt and onto the floor. Finally one of her co-workers noticed and told her to stop. About that time I made it through the detector, collected my bags (which allowed her to force more bags onto the overwhelmed collection area) and took off for the gate. I passed by the rebuilt central concourse on the way out to the ‘B’ gates.
Even though it’s been open for several years, I still think it is one of the nicer concourses I’ve seen, especially the huge windows with a view of the runways.
I arrived at gate B7
an hour and ten minutes before departure. People were already lined up at the ticket counter. The agent checked my ID
against the crew list and let me down the jetway. The Captain was already onboard, a long-time Seattle resident that I had flown with many times before. The cabin crew had arrived just before me and I said hello as I walked aboard. I stowed my bags in the cockpit and said hi to the Captain. We had just flown together three days earlier so there wasn’t much new to talk about before we began our preflight preparations. We were on aircraft N587HA, originally delivered to Hawaiian in 2002, and outfitted with the ‘new look’ 777 style interior.
As I said earlier, flying an airliner may be a mind-boggling job to some, but for me it is familiar and comfortable. I ran through the initial cockpit checks, which ensures that the aircraft is set up safely and minimizes the chance that anyone would get hurt as we bring more systems online in preparation for departure.
The setup only takes a few minutes, and I kept my uniform coat on because my next step was the exterior inspection. The fog had lifted just a little, and the visibility was creeping upward as I entered the code to go out the jetway door. Our gates are just south of the central terminal, and we have a good view of the bustling Horizon ramp.
Even though mechanics thoroughly check the aircraft before each ETOPS flight, we still go outside and do our own inspection, more for the fact that it is our own butts that will be riding on the plane and not the mechanics. We’re looking for leaks, dents, and anything out of the ordinary.
Landing gear (looking for strut leakage, gear pins, tire and brake wear, etc):
Tail section (with streaks of dew dripping down the rudder):
Engine (looking up the fan duct exit):
After the walkaround it’s back to the cockpit to finish the setup. We got all our flightplan and weather paperwork from the ramp agents, who received it via computer from our dispatch office in Honolulu. Thanks to technology however, we don’t have to enter all that info ourselves. Push a couple buttons on the Flight Management System computer, and it uplinks all our route, takeoff, and performance information via radio data link. Once it’s been loaded we check it against the printed plan, and we’re almost ready to go. Once we make sure the altimeters, speed bugs, and altitude settings are all correct, we run a preflight checklist. Then it’s really just a matter of waiting for the passengers to board and the fueler to bring our fuel slip showing how much he put on the plane.
I could see that the fog was beginning to burn off a little, although every few minutes a new bank would roll across the airport and drop visibility to a fraction of a mile
For us, as long as they are reporting visibility of at least 600 feet, we could takeoff legally. I knew it wouldn’t be a problem this morning.
For this particular flight we were expecting to burn a little over 57,000 pounds of Jet-A fuel. That equates to about 8600 gallons to get us from Seattle to Maui. The flight plan called for us to be fueled to a minimum of just over 75,000 pounds, or 11,200 gallons. The difference was because of the ETOPS rules. To be mercifully short, ETOPS rules call for us to carry enough fuel so that if we lost an engine at the mid-point of the flight we could turn either direction, descend to 10,000 feet, and fly to the nearest airport and still have enough fuel to hold and make an approach. This means that we almost always have to have more fuel onboard than would be required for an overland flight of the same length. If we flew a normal flight today, we would land with over two hours of cruise fuel still onboard.
The boarding went very smoothly, and the agent came up asking if we needed anything else. We were fine, so we said goodbye, and a few minutes later we heard the whirr and thunk of the boarding door closing. That’s our clue to sit up, put on the headsets and buckle in. The first flight attendant came in with the passenger count, then closed the cockpit door behind her.
We have a new flight planning system at Hawaiian that gives us more precise performance information for takeoff. Once we get the final load numbers via the ACARS radio ‘e-mail’ system, we input the current weather (temperature, wind, pressure) and the computers back in Honolulu figure out the most efficient takeoff speeds and flap setting for our weight and conditions. It takes just an extra minute or two after everyone is onboard, but it’s nice to have the most accurate and up-to-date information for our flight. Once that was entered into the computer we were ready to push back.
Like a clock ticking in a familiar room, the calls and procedures to get us going are very familiar, even if they don’t allow much slack time to look around. I called for our clearance to push, and got it. The Captain called for the start checklist which we finished in a few seconds. This helps us make sure that doors are closed, fuel pumps are on, lights are on, and the pressurized air is ready to start the engines. When we got the all-clear from the tug crew as they pushed us back, the Captain turned the start switch on. We watched the air turn the engine, and when it reached the appropriate speed I flipped the switch to turn on the ignition and introduce fuel to the engine. Numbers spooled across the instruments, and when the engine stabilized we started the other one. Then we called the tug crew to disconnect and watched to make sure they pulled the nose gear pin as they walked away. If not, the nose gear wouldn’t retract and it would be a short, embarrassing return to Seattle.
Flaps down to the appropriate setting, and then we called for taxi clearance. On the roll toward the runway we did our taxi check, ensuring that all but the last few items were ready for flight. As we taxied northward toward runway 16L I watched as other planes popped out of the low foggy overcast just seconds before touchdown. An Alaska 737 landed on 16C, and in the foggy air its wingtip vortexes spun and snaked their way to the surface like two writhing, ghostly snakes. As we neared the north end of the runway there were two aircraft ahead of us. A JetBlue E190 and a Skywest CRJ700 in Delta colors. The JetBlue launched, followed a moment later by the Skywest. Then we were cleared into position. The last checklist items were covered; strobe lights on, transponder on, traffic avoidance equipment on. We sat for a moment on the runway, awaiting our turn. The in-runway lights were on, diamond bright near us, fading to a dimmer twinkling gold toward the far end. The blanket of fog had lifted, if just barely. To the south we could see a thin band of brighter light, but it looked like when I was much younger and in bed under some heavy blankets, peeking out through a small hole to see if monsters were in the bedroom.
The tower cleared us for takeoff. It was the Captain’s turn to fly, so he advanced the throttles to near the appropriate setting. At his call I engaged the autothrottles which brought the engines to the exact power setting we’d programmed in the preflight setup. We accelerated down the runway and almost as soon as we rotated were into the clouds.
Positive rate of climb, gear up, and we were on our way. As rapidly as we entered the fog, we exited out the top. It was a bright and sunny morning above with the fog a thin layer of cotton balls hugging the surface of the earth. Ahead and to our left was Mt. Rainier, the bright sunlight reflecting off the sheets of ice that cover its summit.
By 1000 feet we had to turn on the autopilot, because the departure route we were following requires very tight guidance, so it is mandated that we turn on the autopilot for these departures. We climbed southward for a few miles, then over Federal Way we turned right. We leveled off at 9000 feet as a United 757 flew overhead at 10,000, entering a downwind leg for SEA
. We told ATC that we had the plane in sight, and they cleared us to climb further. About the time we crossed over the Kitsap peninsula we turned southwestward, toward the coast.
As the non-flying pilot I was kept very busy in the first few minutes. There’s a lot of paperwork to accomplish, mostly testing navigation systems and other instruments, to ensure we are legal and ready to fly the overwater leg of the trip. We both kept an eye outside too, watching for other traffic.
Our original flightplan called for us to fly south to Newport Oregon, then turn southwestward to our designated track across the ocean. We were over Shelton, Washington when ATC cleared us direct to our gateway fix, about 100 miles offshore from Newport, saving us from having to make the dogleg over Newport itself. As we neared the coast we could see the fog breaking up.
We crossed the coastline near Astoria Oregon just about the time we leveled off at 36,000 feet. Shortly after that we passed under the contrail of another jet heading from Asia southward, probably toward SFO
Here’s a view of my main flight instruments shortly after we crossed the coastline. On the upper screen it shows that our indicated airspeed is 264 knots, which equates to Mach .795. Our groundspeed is 430 knots. On the lower map screen you’ll see that we’re heading for the gateway waypoint, named Hemlo. The blue and green triangular shaped icons show navaids, with the one ahead and to our left (ONP) being Newport, and the one behind us (AST
) is Astoria. The green shading to the left is a representation of terrain. The green color means it is below us. The magenta line is our course, and you can see the waypoint of Hemlo about 160 nm ahead of us. That is where we make the turn to follow the published track across the Pacific to Hawaii.
Thirty miles before reaching the gateway fix, ATC turned us over to Oceanic Control. These are the people, based in Oakland California, who run the ATC operations for a huge swath of the Pacific Ocean. Our normal VHF radios don’t work more than a few hundred miles from land, but we can contact them on our HF
radios, although it sounds more like an old 1920’s style radio than the clear communications we’re used to over land. They can’t see us on the radar either, so they rely on us giving them a position report every time we cross over a designated waypoint. We tell them where we are, when we got there, when we’ll get to our next waypoint, our altitude, and the weather conditions. Their computers crunch the numbers and can get a fairly accurate picture of where everyone is, even in the most remote parts of the world.
We cross those waypoints roughly once an hour. The process of collecting the information and radioing it to Oakland oceanic takes maybe three or four minutes. The rest of the time over the Pacific is quiet and uneventful.
After crossing Hemlo and making our report, here is what my instruments looked like. You can see that over the ocean there aren’t any navaids or terrain to show up – merely our course out ahead of us, with our next waypoint off the screen, 382nm ahead.
So this is really what the majority of my career is about. Watching endless miles of ocean pass by as the aircraft takes care of all of us as we hurtle through the freezing stratosphere.
Before we know it, it’s time to eat. I feel fairly lucky to be a pilot at Hawaiian for many reasons, one of which is because we get the same meals they serve to our first class passengers. Our FC menu is a choice of thee out of six small tasting plates. They offer a variety of hot, cold, vegetable, and appetizer plates. I chose the herbed chicken wing with potato slices and mushroom gravy, a crab & spinach crepe, and an antipasto plate. I was hungry enough that I forgot to take a picture for you. Sorry!
An hour later, it was time for another position report, then back to doing whatever it is we do on these flights between waypoints. I wouldn’t say that we weren’t completely concentrating on monitoring our flight, but it has been known that (once in a while), some illicit reading material (i.e. newspaper or magazines) might show up on the flight deck and somehow end up in a position where we couldn’t avoid noticing what was printed on the pages. Of course, such indiscretions would never occur on one of my flights.
The Pacific rolled on. Even among airline jobs, this one is particularly easy. One leg a day, mostly daylight flying, and very few storms to worry about. Of course we do have some red-eyes, and flying across the equator and the ever-present Inter-Tropical-Convergence-Zone means we’re always deviating around enormous thunderstorms going to/from Sydney, Tahiti, and Samoa. Our interisland pilot can rack up to ten takeoffs and landings in a day. But the west coast – Hawaii flying is about as easy as it gets.
My position in the cockpit is fairly comfortable too. It seems strange when I have a friend or family member sit in my seat before or after a flight. They look awkward there, and don’t know how to place themselves or what everything means. Yet for me, it is a comfortable as an old sweatshirt. Ahead of me is the control column and primary flight instruments. Below and to the left is one of a duplicate pair of flight control computers (with the green screen). That is where we enter all the performance and route data for the flight. To the lower right (with the red tabs) is my emergency oxygen mask. The black handle above it is the crank to open my side window. Various lighting controls are on the far right edge of the glareshield.
To my right is where I have a cupholder for my water bottle, and a little cubby-hole for my personal items like phone, logbook, and glasses.
Waypoint follows waypoint, and our time in the cockpit is broken up into discrete hour-long segments.
Then, before we can really get bored, we see the first indications of our destination – on the far distant horizon are the peaks of Haleakala on Maui, and Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa on the Big Island.
The tempo picked up as we near the islands. I got the weather for Maui and set up our instruments for the descent and approach. The weather in Maui was normal: Hot, partly cloudy, with strong gusty tradewinds. We contacted the Honolulu ATC facility on the VHF radio, and once they picked us up on their radar, they gave us a left turn us directly toward Maui.
Our aircraft computer can calculate, using current winds, when we should start our descent so we can do it with maximum efficiency. That means staying up at altitude as long as possible (where we burn less fuel) until we can bring the engines back to idle for the descent. The computer crunches the numbers and shows us on the map where to start down. After getting a clearance from ATC, we did just that. The strong tradewinds were pushing a layer of clouds up the slopes of Haleakala, hiding all but the topmost part of the peak from view. But the airport was visible from a long ways out.
They call Maui the valley isle for good reason. Two large mountains join the middle to form a flat valley that is close to sea level. Those mountains also work like a giant wind tunnel, forcing the tradewinds between them, and accelerating the air to a sometimes unbelievable speed. The current winds were reported at 23 knots, gusting to 28. As all that fast moving air spills around the edges of Haleakala, it gets tumbled into some occasionally brutal turbulence. There’s just no way around it; when you land at Maui, you’re going to get bounced around.
ATC cleared us onto a right-hand downwind leg and the Captain began slowing the plane and extending the flaps. I’m too busy below 10,000 feet to take any pictures, but here are a couple I took when deadheading into Maui a few months earlier, following approximately the same route.
It is a huge change from the cold and foggy day we’d left in Seattle, but in my schizophrenic world, it was again as familiar a sight as my own living room.
The controller made us extend our downwind because of inbound traffic coming from HNL
. Once they were past it they turned back toward the airport.
My job as non-flying pilot is to make sure the checklists get done, do anything the Captain asks, and look out for other traffic. We were getting bumped around pretty good as we descended through 3000 feet, and it kept getting worse as we turned onto final. We had large variations in airspeed as we got closer to the ground, although we knew about this from experience and carried some extra speed to compensate. Out of 1000 feet we had full flaps, gear down, and were at the appropriate speed. The tower had launched a Gulfstream jet as we turned final, and then sent one of our own 717’s into the air as we closed in on the airport. The runway at OGG
is the shortest one we regularly fly into with the 767’s, at just under 7000 feet. The gusty winds can play havoc with our landings, and we usually just plan on planting it on at the touchdown markers, with little thought to making it smooth. If it works out, great. But with those gusty winds it’s much more a matter of luck than any skill in flying. We crossed the threshold as the Captain wrestled with the controls, and plopped onto the runway at the 1000 foot marker. We braked and slowed to a safe speed with plenty of runway ahead. The tower told us to taxi to the end, and from there we turned back to our gate, up at the far end of the terminal. We blocked in at 1:27pm local, for a total time of 5:55. As we finished the paperwork for the flight, our happy passengers exited into a windy tropical paradise.
More of our planes were parked at OGG
, including a 717 and 767, both of which were flying interisland.
The flight attendants were all HNL
based and once the passengers were off, they went to the interisland gates for a short flight home. The Captain and I were staying on Maui, so we packed up our gear and walked out to the curb where our shuttle van was waiting for us. It was certainly a change from Seattle, yet as I’ve said, it was all so familiar – the sights, sounds and smells of a place we’ve been to hundreds of times. The van took us across the ‘valley’ of Maui to our hotel in Kihei. Along the way we saw the old sugar mill,
and miles upon miles of sugar cane fields.
Even the hotel is familiar, where the staff greets us by name. I went out for a long walk down to Wailea to stretch muscles unused in six hours of flying, then sat down in front of a TV
to watch not only the Seahawks play football, but Tampa win the ALCS. Thank goodness for the ‘previous channel’ button on the remote! By the time the games were over it was late by Seattle standards, and the Captain had already taken off to get some dinner. So I made my way down to a local taco shop and got a burrito with mango BBQ Pork. Ono! (Good in Hawaiian). Then off to sleep as the tropical birds chirped outside my window.
Day Two: OGG
I woke up in Maui and thought, 'yeah, just another day at the office'. I got up and went for a walk south of our hotel. Even at that early hour, people were up and playing at the beach.
I continued down the road as more people showed up clutching their beach mats, snorkel gear, and a cup of Starbucks.
The south coast of Maui is definitely a tourist area, but the views are still spectacular. Across the water from Kihei is the small islet of Molokini (where many snorkel tours go) and the larger, but deserted, island of Kahoolawe – formerly a navy bombing range.
It warmed up early, and by the time I was back at the hotel it was over 80 degrees. I made a few phone calls, checked my e-mails, and packed my bag. The shuttle van picked us up at 12:50pm, and got us to the airport in plenty of time for a 2:30 scheduled departure. Again we went through the TSA
gauntlet (no mashed bags this time) and out to the gate. We met the Captain who'd brought our plane in. He said there were only a few minor mechanical write-ups, such as broken tray tables and inop reading lights. It turned out to be the same plane we'd flown the day before, N587HA, Pakalakala. After we'd left it in Maui, it had flown to Portland, spent the night, then came back to Maui for us to fly it to Seattle.
Once we were let on the plane I did another walkaround inspection while the Captain did the setup of the computer. The inspection only took a few minutes, and back in the cockpit familiarity reared it head again as I brought out the charts I needed, and made my 'nest' for the next few hours. Outside, our other 767 flight into OGG
arrived; flight 29 from SEA
, the same flight we'd arrived on the day before.
The computer ran smoothly, our paperwork was waiting for us when we boarded, and soon all we had to do was wait for the passengers to board.
At places like OGG
, it's easy to know when to begin our last-minute preparations as we can easily see into the gate area, and when it empties out we know we're about 10 minutes or less until the door is closed.
Right on schedule the agent told us they were ready, and the boarding door closed. We pushed back at 2:28pm local, two minutes ahead of schedule. Maui's runway is very close to the terminal, and our gates are at the south end of the terminal, directly across from the departure end of the runway. We pushed back and got the engines started, and then had to wait for the safety video to end because as soon as we would start our taxi, we'd be at the hold-short line for Runway 2. We did all the taxi checklist while waiting there, and when the video was done called for clearance to taxi (all 100 feet of it). It was my turn to fly so once we were cleared to go I took hold of the throttles and control wheel as the Captain steered us onto the centerline. We were packed full with passengers, which meant we'd be using close to full power for the takeoff on the short runway. I moved the throttles up, and the Captain engaged the autothrottles. More flaps than normal also reduced our rotation and liftoff speeds. But still, it's a little unnerving to see the end of the runway coming toward us so quickly. Everything was fine though, and we lifted off with plenty of room to spare. I turned northward according to our departure clearance, and in between radio calls I had the Captain retract the flaps in increments.
We were cleared straight up to 35,000 feet, and directly to the gateway for our track back home. This time we were on a more northerly track, to try and pick up more of the westerly wind that we'd been avoiding on the outbound flight.
Familiar sights, familiar sounds. We leveled off, turned off the seatbelt sign, and I relaxed as the Captain went through all the same paperwork I'd filled out the day before. Honolulu ATC turned us loose, and we called Oakland Oceanic as we crossed the gateway fix.
Soon enough, dinner was ready. I had coconut shrimp with mango salsa, a Thai beef skewer with wasabi mashed potatoes, and a cheese & fruit plate. A few clouds right at our altitude caused some bumps, so we requested a climb to 37,000, which was quickly granted.
The waypoints went by as we raced away from the setting sun, and soon night fell upon the middle of the Pacific.
About an hour before we crossed the gateway on the mainland side of the ocean, Oakland called us and said there were reports ahead of moderate to severe turbulence at our altitude. We requested, and got, a clearance back down to 35,000 feet, and didn't feel anything more than a light hiccup. Shortly after we crossed the gateway and contacted Seattle center, they cleared us direct to Olympia, the initial fix on our arrival to SEA
. They told us to keep our speed up as they wanted to keep us ahead of other arriving traffic from the south. If you remember what I said about our descents earlier, we try and plan them to remain at idle power. Therefore, if you want to go downhill at a faster speed, the computer will plan an initial descent point that is later than if you wanted to go downhill slower (i.e., steeper equals faster). We started our descent just as we crossed the coast over Willipa harbor. The sun was all the way down, and lights from the coastal towns were occasionally visible through the broken clouds, ghostly glows that came and went. The winds at our altitude were out of the northwest at 145 knots, or about 167 mph. Those winds were what was causing the reported turbulence at higher altitudes.
We were about halfway down when ATC called back and told us to slow from 310 knots to 280. The Captain and I both sighed. We had to cross Olympia at 17,000 feet as assigned by the arrival procedure. We were on an idle glidepath at 310 knots that would put us over OLY at 17,000 feet. If we slowed to 280 we'd have to raise the nose (the engines were already at idle) to slow down. That wouldn't work as we'd end up too high over OLY, so our only other option was to extend the speed brakes. So I did, but that didn't satisfy ATC either, so they ended up making us turn right and vectored us around for a few minutes to let the other traffic (a Virgin America Airbus) get ahead of us. Finally we were cleared back to OLY to continue the approach.
Seattle had been forecast to have gusty winds, low clouds, and rain. Fortunately the actual conditions were better than that. As we passed over Tacoma and turned north over Puget Sound on our downwind leg. I could see the airport to our right, with just a few scattered clouds over the runways. It had been raining earlier, but had cleared out nicely.
I followed the instructions from ATC, and also slowed the plane as we got lower. They turned us to the east over north Seattle, then southeast to intercept the final approach course for runway 16C over Greenlake at 3000 feet. We were moving in and out of a few clouds, but the weather wasn't bad at all. We turned on the engine anti-ice as we entered the clouds to prevent any buildup of potentially damaging ice. We passed by a beautifully lit-up downtown, which included a spectacular string of blue lights across the top of Qwest field, the home of the Seahawks.
I could see that the aircraft ahead of us (Delta) was slowing early, so I did the same in order not to get too close behind him. If I hadn't, I might have had to make a go-around if they hadn't been able to clear the runway before we were ready to land.
But the spacing worked out well. Just as we passed Boeing Field we broke out of the last layer of clouds and saw the airport ahead. I kept the autopilot on, because if the Delta plane slowed more, or was late getting off the runway, it's much easier doing a go-around with the autopilot than hand flying it. We were about 1000 feet above the airport when I saw them turning off the runway I clicked off the autopilot and autothrottles, and hand flew it the rest of the way. The winds were very steady, and with just a little bit of luck, I kissed the rain-slickened runway for a very smooth touchdown. It doesn't matter what kind of efforts you've made to give everyone a safe, professional flight, it's always the landing that they judge you on. Hopefully, I did well in all those areas.
We turned off about 2/3 down the runway, crossed 16L, and were looking almost directly at our gate B7
. A quick turn right, then left again, and ground control cleared us to the gate. I barely had time to finish my after-landing checklist before we gently bobbed to a stop and shut down the engines. We finished at 10:47pm, for a total time of 5:19. It only took a few minutes to finish our paperwork, pack our bags, thank the flight attendants, and head out the door. As the Captain and I walked through the terminal, one of our passengers stopped and thanked us for such a pleasant flight. "It was like we were on rails the whole time. It was great!" he said. It's always nice to hear comments like that from the people who help pay our salaries.
Just another flight? For me, I guess so. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it though. I've spent many years going through up and down times in this industry to get where I'm at now. I love the job, and Hawaiian is a great company to work for. I get to do a job I've been working toward for more than half my life. Yes, it is a familiar and comfortable feeling to sit in this cockpit:
But that doesn't mean I don't love and appreciate what it is I get to do every time I go to work.
One smooth landing is skill. Two in a row is luck. Three in a row and someone is lying.