timh4000 wrote:The indicated speed is what I'm referring to the most. Woud that be equatable to the plane experiencing the same aerodynamic forces at sea level? Also, you referred to the Vmo, which Is where over speed comes in. ?
747Whale wrote:I typically get my schedule for the following month by mid-month prior. So for February, I know what I'm doing by mid-January. It's a bid system, meaning we get a schedule of all the options, and then turn in a form marked with our preference as to what we want to do the next month, ranked first to last. This is all put into a computer which assigns the following month based on seniority; the most senior get first choice, etc. If you're mid-seniority, you might not get your first choice unless no one wants it, but are likely to get your mid-range choices. Some pilots bid for specific lines, some just for the schedule they want. Some operations do it in blocks of trips, a few days here and there, some "out and back" meaning home each night, and some do it for a block of days during the month. Cargo operators tend to go for longer blocks, depending on the type of cargo, often times 17-20 days at a time for the long-haul operations.
Fires, I never know the schedule; I'm leaving some time, and coming back, and plan on 3, 6, or 10 months of not knowing anything day to day, until it's over. Check out of the hotel every morning, no idea where you'll be that night. Other jobs have their own unique elements, too. Schedules really depend on the job, and the employer. I lost track a long, long time ago of ending a day knowing could never have guessed or imagined how it was going to turn out, and a few simply grateful to be alive.
I like short domestic flights where I have more to do during the flight, and I like long flights where I have less, sometimes. I hate sitting, but that's part of the job on long flights.
I often fly a different aircraft each time I go fly, but that depends on the assignments. I've had a lot of assignments in which I stayed with the same airplane. On long flights, it may be that I fly it to a destination where another crew picks it up, and I take it when it gets back. That used to happen a lot on round-the-world schedules. I might land at Anchorage and go to the hotel. My next flight out of anchorage is on the same airplane, but it's been around the world since I last left it. Or it might be a different airframe. You get what your'e assigned.
Airplanes are not identical. That was brought home to me as a kid, when I started spraying (crop dusting). I stood with the owner one day when his son took the yellow airplane out. We had three, all identical makes and models. The son had 15,000 hours of spray time, and had flown the area and all of the airplanes for many years. He normally flew the blue airplane. Today he spent extra time at the runup before he departed. I asked the owner why. The owner replied "Because now he's in the yellow airplane. They're all different." In truth, they all appeared identical, but they all had a personality, all broke at the stall a little different, all had very subtle differences in the brakes, rigging, etc. We flew them to their limits; the limits wouldn't be the same. It may have been a bird strike one took in a wing, it may have been a hard landing somewhere in the past, but they all had their individual natures; the engines had different experiences and handling. I couldn't tell the difference at my age and experience level; they were just the same airplane in different colors. The boss, and. his experienced sons, could tell. It taught me an important lesson to treat every airplane, even if the same type, as a new airplane, every time I get in it, no matter how many times I've flown it. I still do that today.
Least favorite part of my profession; sitting and waiting, and listening to pilots whine. Ever heard the old joke, "what's the difference between a pilot and a jet engine?" The jet engine stops whining after the flight is over. Difference between God and a pilot? God doesn't think He's a pilot. You get the idea.
Favorite part of my profession? Too many to name. I like the smell of fuel, both avgas and kerosine. I like the acceleration of takeoff, but I like the precision of an approach to land. I like a night sky in the cockpit, and the way the aurora looks when beneath. I like a sunrise over the ocean, the way the water turns pink and gold and silver and blue. I like the way the earth's shadow forms a big black bowl that rises up behind and slowly envelops, with daylight on one side and stars on the other, a giant curved lid placed over the world as we race away from the sun. I do a lot of low flying, and I like the way the trees rush past. I love the smell of smoke in the cockpit. I like flying close to tall, mountainous terrain, and the challenge of delivering material precisely to a spot on the ground. I do a lot of flying during ongoing emergencies, and I like the tempo, the professionalism, the focus and teamwork to get the job done. It becomes all business. I like old airplanes, round engines. Because a big part of my career is also working on airplanes on the ground (and sometimes in flight), I love driving rivets, fitting metal, shrinking fabric, safety wire, troubleshooting, fixing, and sometimes the creativity that can go into that. I love the craftsmanship. I love the way Hong Kong smells when first opening the door (it smells like food). I love the smell of insecticide and fire retardant, and working with fiberglass. I like drawing sea monsters on oceanic plotting charts and more than anything else, I like taking off my socks after a trip, in the hotel, and feeling carpet instead of shoes. When I've been sitting, I love finally getting to work, and when I've been flying a lot, I love knowing I'm done. I love reaching V1 and knowing that no matter what may come, I'm going flying and that's where I'm going to deal with it. I love finishing a drop on a fire and hearing the air attack say "load and return."
I want that as my epitaph, and I want to be burned to ashes and dumped in the hopper of an air tanker, and dropped on a fire somewhere, when I'm finished with this life's assignment. I love the poetry, the symmetry.
Favorite airplane? Whatever I'm assigned to fly. All these decades later, I still revel in the fact that someone's paying me to fly, instead of me needing to pay to rent an airplane. Paying to rent always felt like a crime, like needing to pay to rent air to breathe. Now when I get in the cockpit, it's because I'm supposed to be there, which is how it always was, really. Having to pay for the privilege always felt to me more like prostitution. Still, someone's got to pay, and someone always does.
I like to look back at a bastardized disaster of a career that zig-zags all over the industry like a drunken bug, and thank God that I got to play along for a while, and give thanks more than anything for not having missed out on those opportunities, experiences, lessons, and life. My entire life is spelled out in terms of departures, destinations, missions, sorties, layovers, trips, and flights, and my life's journal is in the pages of a pile aging, decrepit logbooks that account for my whereabouts for the last few decades, and that mark me guilty for all the missed birthdays and life events that might have been mine had I been home to share them. Again, someone's always gotta pay.
Recognize faces? No. I scarcely recognize my own. I remember walking out the hotel door one morning and happening to glance in the mirror as I passed. I was startled to see an old, haggard, fat, balding, tired-eyed stranger in my room, one with bad teeth, a worse complexion, and a haunting look of someone from whom you shield kids and small dogs. I didn't even recognize my own. I don't think I'd remember a passenger any more than a box, and if the face, not the name, and if the name, not the date. Then again, I forget a lot of things: birthdays, address, which side of the street to drive on if I've been country hopping for a while. I once showed up for a flight in the dead of night with two different shoes. No idea how they got into my bag like that, but I had to wear them until we got to the first stop, where I bought more. I can't remember crew I flew with at prior jobs, names, faces, etc. Can't remember much of anything, let alone a passenger, except for a very few, and those I can't forget. Those include the dead eight year old on my stretcher as I flew him home to his family on a moonlit night. More than anything, I remember the way his small size only filled half the body bag. I remember the young man with cancer, being flown to treatment, and I remember thinking I'd gladly give him what time I had left, and spending the following weeks and months in quiet dispair over the unfairness of his short future. Those, I remember. I remember the bloodsoaked patient who took a chainsaw to the face, a young man who, as I closed the door, quietly asked through the oozing gauze if I could call his employer and let them know he'd be late that morning. Those stick with me. Those stand out. The rest, not so much.
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