Wednesday, March 05, 2008

I'm Not Dead (but give me a week or so...)

Unfortunately, I won't be able to give you guys much of an update about what's going on, but the long and short of it is that I lost my job, was unemployed for almost two months, and am now starting ground school for another airline. For the moment, I'm not going to say who my new employer is, due to the fact that saying as much would give away my location and potentially spoil the latest mischief I have up my sleeve, but I'm now living in yet another hotel in yet another city I've never been to before. I'll be here for another 2.5 weeks and then have some time off (don't know how long yet, they haven't made our schedules, but it could be anywhere from two days to two months) before heading to the simulator. Ground school is shorter here than at Big Sky (3 weeks vs. 4), but covers the same amount of material, so I have to study that much harder.

That's about it for now, I really wish I had time for more of an update, but I really need to hit the books. Our first test is on Friday, our second one is Monday, and the third is coming up next Saturday, so it's a pretty accelerated pace. Here's a picture I took the other morning of the airplane I'm going to be flying in the near future (you have to admit, it's a much better looking bird than Big Sky's Beech 1900D's):

Monday, February 04, 2008

My Favorite Superbowl Ad

This one had me cheering.

By the way, please be praying for me over the next few days, I have my interview with Piedmont Airlines at 7:00am on Thursday. I'm studying hard (trying to, at least), but I have a feeling I'll be nervous regardless of how well I'm prepared. If I get hired, I'll start training on March 4th. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Jumpseating Adventures

(The following post was originally started on Saturday, November 3rd and finished on the 17th, but I haven’t hardly been online over the last couple of weeks and thus haven’t gotten around to posting it.)

You know you’ve been watching too much Seinfeld and it’s wayyy too early to be up in the morning when you start coming up with a Jerry Seinfeld’s standup-esque series of jokes while you’re in the shower about something completely mundane about everyday life (which is his trademark style of jokes). Once again, I’m up entirely too early (especially for a Saturday) sitting in the airport waiting for a flight (it’s presently 5:23am).

To recap the last week, I made it back to Billings after visiting Mimi about 10:30 at night. It was a really good visit, but overall the process of traveling there and back ended up being an over 20 hour day, so I was exhausted when I got back. The good news is that the last flight of the night, United put me in the exit row of a 737-500 (which is technically part of the Economy Plus section, which has extra leg room). But, instead of being the typical 5 extra inches that most of the Economy Plus section contains, this exit row had the most leg room I’d ever seen in any airplane (even first class). Sitting in my seat, I could stick my leg straight out in front of me and still have 5 inches of space between my heel and the back of the seat in front of me! Needless to say, it was a nice change of pace from the cramped Coach or even-more-cramped jumpseats I usually end up sitting in. Anyway, Sunday I took a really long walk (which I’ll get to in a minute) and then started sitting on Reserve on Tuesday.

Reserve is essentially being on-call in case a pilot gets sick, runs out of duty time, can’t make it to a flight, etc. On the days that I’m scheduled to be on reserve, I have to be available to answer my phone from 7am to 7pm. They’re required to call me at least one hour before I have to show up for the flight (and I have to call back within 15 minutes if I miss the call), so I’ve made a habit of getting up so that I’m actually reasonably awake by the time 7 rolls around. They’ll usually just give me a couple of legs when they call instead of a whole multiple-day trip, but I want to be fairly awake in case they give me an overnight or two so I don’t have to go crazy trying to get up and pack on really short notice.

Anyway, I was on reserve from Tuesday through Friday this week, but didn’t have to fly at all. They almost had me fly a couple of flights on Tuesday, but ended up not needing me because they had someone volunteer to pick up extra flights and they needed someone else to take a flight in order to do a Line Check (a routine check of captains required by the FAA). The annoying thing about being on reserve and not flying is that I have to stay close to the Rimrock in case they call, so I’m liable to go stir-crazy from being trapped there all the time (can’t even go up to the Rim because if they call while I’m up there I won’t have enough time to get back, get ready, and get up to the airport within an hour).

Now I have a couple of days off before I start reserve again on Monday, so I’ve decided to jumpseat to Minnesota to visit my grandparents and uncle and aunt (and my cousins) because I won’t get to see them over Christmas like I normally do.

OK, let’s jump ahead a couple of weeks. I was in the midst of typing out the post you’ve just been reading when something happened to interrupt me (I think it was time to board the plane to Minnesota) and I simply never got back to writing it. It’s now been a busy two weeks since the above text was written. Quick recap:

-The trip to Minnesota was great, I really enjoyed seeing the family and I had no problems getting back to Billings on time. I even had the opportunity to go to the Mall of America to pick up Shane’s birthday present (abit a little belated). The downside was that it took Sarah and Sam (the cousins, 3 and 2 years old respectively) most of the time I was there to warm up to me because it’d been so long since they’ve seen me (I don’t think Sam was even able to remember who I was). Still, they eventually warmed up to me and we had a lot of fun.

-I finally got to do some flying that week. I was lucky enough to get called to do the Portland trip on Wednesday, which I’d really been hoping for because I wanted to see some of the scenery toward the west (all of my previous flying had been North, East, or South of Billings, which has much less interesting terrain). Our route took us to Helena MT, Missoula MT, and then to Portland OR. Missoula was especially fun because it’s in a valley surrounded by terrain and on the approach I descended between two giant hills that were a mile or so apart, so it was both really fun and terrifying to look out the window and see terrain higher than us a half mile off either wingtip. We were delayed in Missoula due to some fog in Portland and had to fly most of the way there in the clouds, but when we got close to Portland the skies cleared up and we could see Mt. Rainer, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Saint Helens (which had a little puff of steam coming out of it)! Naturally, I was quite excited. The other flight I did was on Friday, which was a quick trip to take a working airplane (and a mechanic with spare parts) up to Wolf Point where a plane had broken down. We then let the crew that was stranded there (and their passengers) take our airplane and keep going on their route while we waited for the mechanic to fix the airplane before we flew it back to Billings.

-Last weekend I flew down to Cincinnati to look for apartments. Josh flew in from Boston to look with me (we’re going to be roommates) and Kathy drove down from Purdue to be our wheels around town. We’ve got it narrowed down to two places and we’re going to sort out which one we’re going to live at when we get back to Cincinnati this coming Monday. Please pray about this, because the one we like better is more expensive by about $50, but we just found out that they have a unit that’s only $20 more expensive available and that someone had already applied for it (as of when I talked with them earlier this week, the application hadn’t yet been approved or denied, so please pray it’s denied so we can get that fantastic deal). On my way back to Billings on Monday, I got stranded in Minneapolis for about 9 hours (the earlier flight to Billings was full, so I had to wait for the late one), so I had Roxy pick me up and I spent the afternoon with my family again. That was especially fun because my last visit was recent enough that Sarah and Sam clearly remembered who I am and warmed up to me very quickly.

-This Wednesday I had an overnight trip to Glasgow which was delayed because of a minor security breach while boarding the plane in Billings. Long story short, a passenger saw that his suitcase was on the cart of bags being bumped until the morning flight (because we were overweight) and managed to dart over to the cart, grab his bag, and get back in the boarding line without being noticed. Then he ripped off the checked baggage sticker and tried to pretend it was a carry-on. Needless to say, this is highly illegal (because you can put a lot of things in checked baggage that you can’t carry on the airplane, like for example, a gun or a bottle of water), so we had to deplane all the passengers, send them back through security, have the guy questioned by the cops, I searched the airplane with a cop, and then we finally departed about an hour late. I don’t think the guy had any malicious intent, but he still got in a lot of trouble and has been fined $2800 for it.

-The good news is that yesterday (Friday) was my last day of reserve in Billings before moving to Cincinnati.

-The bad news is that they gave me an overnight trip last night, so I wasn’t able to catch the early morning Northwest flight that I was hoping for, which brings me up to the here and now…

My plan for the weekend was to catch that Northwest flight to Minneapolis and then hop onto another one from there to Indy, where Kathy would pick me up and drive me up to Purdue. I’d spend the afternoon and evening there and then catch the Sunday morning Amtrak up to Chicago after spending the night in Adam’s room in Cary. Once in Chicago, I’d do laundry and then pack my car before going to bed early in preparation for an early morning departure to Cincinnati. If I make good time, I’m hoping to stop at Purdue for a late breakfast along then way. Then I’ll get to Cinci early afternoon and meet up with Josh so we can sort out which of the two apartments we’re going to go for.So, now that I got stuck with that overnight last night, I’ve had to revise my plans. Because I got back to Billings too late this morning to catch any of the early departures, I’ve decided to hop a ride on the Repo flight in order to get out of here. Big Sky’s airline service out of Cincinnati starts tomorrow (Sunday), but we don’t have an airplane down there yet, so today they’re flying 165YV on a straight non-stop flight from Billings to Cincinnati. If we get there on time, I’m hoping to catch a Delta flight to Indy where Kathy will pick me up as planned. The downside of all of this is that I won’t get to Indy until about 5:30pm (and thus Purdue around 7ish), so the time I can spend with people will be drastically reduced. You might now be asking why I’m even bothering to go to Purdue at this point rather than just going straight to Chicago. I have three primary reasons (numbered according to importance):

3. I’ve already spent $40 on the Amtrak ticket

2. A little time is better than none at all

1. A year ago today I took Kathy to the Silver Dipper ice cream shop after Cru and we officially started “dwaiting.” (for those of you unfamiliar with that term, it was invented by Mike Rose and is essentially a transitional phase of easing into a relationship rather than jumping straight from being friends to dating. If that oversimplified summary didn’t make any sense, ask me and I’ll explain it further) For the record, I don’t count this day as our “anniversary,” I prefer to use that term for the point when we actually started dating, but it’s still an important milestone for us.

One last thing before I finish this really long post spanning the last three weeks; I’m not the only person catching a ride on this reposition flight to Cincinnati. Also on board is Jeff Bost (not sure of his title, I think he’s the Director of Flight Operations), Fred Deleuw (the President of Big Sky Airlines), and Fred’s wife (whose name I can’t remember). That’s been cool for me because I haven’t yet had the opportunity to meet Fred in person (usually he goes and introduces himself to new-hire classes, but he didn’t make it to ours) and it’s been good to be able to get to know him a little. I actually spent the entire first hour and a half or two hours of this flight talking with his wife and learning all about their family, their daughter who goes to Purdue, etc. When she found out how long I’ve been living in the Rimrock, she felt bad for me and said she wished she’d known I was there because she would’ve invited me over for dinner. :) Apparently, Fred had tried to talk Dispatch into letting us stop in Lafayette for fuel, which would have been perfect for me because I’d have just gotten off the plane there and been done with my travelling, but sadly the plane is lightly-loaded enough that we have room to completely fill up the tanks and fly to Cinci nonstop. Oh well.

Anyway, at the moment we’re about an hour from Cinci and in 20 minutes or so we’ll fly right by Purdue, so I’m hoping the clouds below us will clear up so we can spot it as we go by.

If only I had a parachute…

Church With The Mogul #3

This post was actually supposed to be a part of the post above it (“Jumpseating Adventures”) when I originally started typing it a few weeks ago, but due to the couple-week delay in writing that post I never actually got to the Mogul Church topic, so I’ve decided to go back and write a dedicated post on the topic and just backdate it so that it fits chronologically in with the rest of the posts. (If you haven’t seen any of the “Church With The Mogul” posts before, I’d recommend you go back and take a look at the first one to understand the background of this intermittent series.)

The day after I got back from visiting Mimi, I decided to take a very long walk and continue my attempt to adapt to the fact that I can’t regularly attend church by listening to worship music and a sermon using the MP3 player functions of my phone.

I started out listening to David Crowder’s new Remedy album, which I’d bought a couple weeks prior but still hadn’t gotten around to listening to. It’s good, not quite as good as Illuminate (which I absolutely love), but I still liked it. I think I’m going to grow to like it a lot more after I listen to it a couple more times.

Then I listened to the next installment of Driscoll’s sermon series on the book of Proverbs. The downside of the fact that it’s been so long since I listened to it is that I don’t remember a lot of the points of the sermon itself, but there are a couple of things that stick out in my memory.

The first one is that the topic was the heart, so he spent a lot of time focusing on how God takes our hearts of stone and turns them into hearts of flesh and the importance of the fact that it is God that does this, not our own effort. The other big thing that sticks out in my mind is how Driscoll said he prepared for the sermon. He said that there are roughly 900 references to the heart in scripture (including other terms with the same meaning but don’t necessarily use the word “heart”) and in preparation for his sermon he looked at all 900 references, in context. Needless to say, that’s quite an effort, and I think it showed in the quality of the sermon and the grasp he seemed to have of what he was talking about.

There are a couple other little snippets that I remember from the sermon, but I’m afraid I don’t remember them well enough to elaborate here (besides, I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you if you were to actually listen to it yourself). Overall, it was a good sermon and I’m looking forward to continuing the Proverbs series (although I don’t know when I’ll listen to the next one, maybe it’ll be tomorrow while I’m riding Amtrak up to Chicago (see post above)).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Church With The Mogul #2

Ok, I'm finally taking the time to catch up on blogging a little bit. The quick update on life is that I'm now done with IOE and sitting reserve (basically being on call as a backup in case something happens like a pilot gets sick) here in Billings. Today I'm not on reserve, so I've decided to jumpseat down to Colorado Springs to have lunch with my grandma Mimi and then come back to Billings this evening. At the moment, I'm sitting at gate A1 in Billings at some ridiculous hour of the morning waiting for my flight to Denver.

Anyway, back onto topic: the second installment of my fledging Church With The Mogul series.

Almost two weeks ago (yeah, I'm behind), I listened to another Driscoll sermon on my Mogul because I wasn't able to go to church that morning. Later that day I was supposed to fly my first IOE trip, so I decided that I needed to buy a flight case to carry my required manuals, headset, etc in because I didn't really have anything to carry that stuff in (much less look professional doing so). The store that carried the case I needed was over 2.5 miles away, so the long walk there and back provided a convenient opportunity to listen as I walked (and it was a really amazing morning outside).

I started out turning my heart toward worship by listening to David Crowder's "Illuminate" album. I love that CD because the lyrics of their songs have so much depth and can consistently put me in a more worshipful mood even when my day isn't going so well. My favorite song on the album is "All Creatures, No. 2," their modernization of the classic hymn "All Creatures Of Our God And King" and is one of the best updates of an old hymn that I know of (staying faithful to the original song but also making it more modern stylistically). As a side note: while I was out on that walk I stopped and bought Crowder's latest album (Remedy, I think it's called) because Bob Mann loved it so much he demanded I get it. I still haven't listened to it all yet, but what I've heard so far is pretty good.

Quick update on what's going on in real time: I found out just as they were about to start boarding that the United flight was completely full (when I called United a half hour prior there was still room) and that even though I was first in line for the jumpseat, the guy behind me was with a company that code-shares with United, so he'd be able to bump me out of the seat. I ran (literally) down to the Big Sky gate where they'd just finished boarding 2590 (the flight that goes to Sheridan and then on to Denver) and was able to get on at the last possible minute. The bad news was that even though there was room on the first leg (to Sheridan, WY), the second leg of the flight was almost full, so I risked getting stranded in Sheridan. The good news is that I got lucky when we got to Sheridan and there was room for me on the second leg, so I'm presently sitting in 1A as we cruise towards Denver. I doubt I'll be able to make my original connection to Colorado Springs at 10 though, so I'll have to hope for the 11:20 and have a little less time with Mimi.

Back on topic:
When I got done with the Crowder album, I started my sermon for the day. After that really great sermon on idolatry I raved about in the first post of this series (because nobody left any comments about it, I'm guessing none of you listened to it, so let me take this opportunity to re-plug it as one of the best and most applicable sermons I've ever heard, so I strongly recommend you listen to it), I thought about going back and listening through his whole 1st Corinthians series, but I decided not to based on a recommendation from Fack. J.D. (aka, The Fack) was telling me a few days prior about how he's been listening through Driscoll's series on Proverbs and how much he'd been enjoying it because Fack's spent a lot of time in Proverbs and he thought Driscoll did a really good job with it.

The series is really long (I think over 30 or 40 sermons) and goes through the book topically because of how many passages have similar themes but aren't located next to each other. Not surprisingly, with that much material to cover, Driscoll felt the need to start off with a sermon that was essentially an introduction to the book and some of the overarching ideas before actually getting into Proverbs itself. It was this introduction that I listened to that morning.

Because it was an introduction rather than actually preaching out of a specific text, there wasn't as much that I got out of it as I would from a normal sermon, but it was still a worthwhile listen. Those of you who know me well know that I'd normally frown on not preaching out of a text, but I'm making an exception to that general rule in my mind because there's so much in our culture blocking our ability to understand Proverbs that I really think it was necessary in this case. That brings me to the biggest theme of the sermon that I remember, and that's about the difference between knowledge and wisdom (and how knowledge is so highly valued in our culture and wisdom isn't). One of the single biggest
reasons that he identifies is that our culture is so youth-focused (and is thus highly impatient) and knowledge can be acquired relatively quickly, as opposed to wisdom which takes a lot of time (and thus the wise typically aren't very youthful according to the viewpoint of the culture).

Anyway, like I said, I didn't get as much out of the introduction as I'd hoped, but I am looking forward to the rest of the Proverbs series (I'll probably listen to the next one tomorrow morning). It sounds like we're beginning our descent into Denver, so I think I'll call this post done and focus on making my connection (don't worry, I won't email this post in to Blogger until we're back on the ground). Please pray that the rest of my travels go well today and that I'm able to make it back to Billings tonight after seeing Mimi.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Checkride Done!

Ok, I’m really tired; I’m in Sheridan, Wyoming overnighting on my first trip flying with passengers and I don’t think I’ll be able to write all that I hoped to tonight (my checkride, the second installment of my Church With The Mogul series, and talking about this first IOE trip I’m on), so I think I’ll just do the first part and write the others over the next couple of days.

Thursday night (well, technically Friday morning, I’ll get to that in a second) I finally got to finish my aircraft training. They told us that we were going to have a plane at 9pm, but then called us in the afternoon and said we’d been pushed back to 11. The plan was for Rich to do an ILS approach to finish up his training, then have Rachel and Ashley each do a trip around the pattern to get their required night landing, and then finally to have John and I finish or at least get closed to done. Around 12:30am, we were done with Rich, Rachel, and Ashley, so we stopped to let them out and take a short break, then John and I headed out. John has me beat on seniority, so he got to fly first while I got to sit in the back and try to stay awake, then I finally got my turn at 2:30. It went ok, but I was definitely relieved to finally get done flying and get to bed about 4:15 in the morning (ironically, just as I was about to go to bed, I looked at the lappy and noticed on my instant messenger that Kathy was no longer idle, having gotten up to start her day about 45 minutes prior, so I said good morning before hitting the sack).

Later Friday afternoon I got a call saying that my checkride was going to be at noon on Saturday, so I quickly got to work trying to figure out if they were going to give me time off before IOE and I could go home or if I was going to just stay in Billings (or, worst case, they were to decide to send me to Boston for IOE). I couldn’t get a definitive answer out of Crew Scheduling, so I decided to gamble on the side of being able to go home and packed up my stuff (quite an undertaking, because I’ve settled in at the Rimrock and bought all that food). I packed most of my stuff to take home with me (hoping to leave a good sized chunk of the stuff I no longer need behind when I return) and gave the rest to Kevin to keep in his apartment while I was gone. Then when it was time to leave for the checkride I just left my key in an envelope at the front desk (so they could check me out if I left or just give it back to me if I didn’t) and took all my luggage up to the airport with me so I’d be ready to go.

The checkride itself went pretty good, though I made a few mistakes (landing with the yaw damp on was the big one), but hey, a pass is a pass. The bad news is that right after the checkride I got an email from Crew Scheduling saying that I’d be starting IOE the next day, so no trip home for me (but at least I get to do it here in Billings!). They told me that my first IOE trip would be the 66-90, which is a three day trip that heads out to Sidney, Montana the first day and then spends the next two days shuttling between Denver, Colorado and Sheridan, Wyoming (with a 24 hour layover in Sheridan where I am now). I’ll tell you more about that another time, for now I’m gonna hit the sack and try to get rested for Day 3 tomorrow, which is the longest day of this trip. Goodnight everyone!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Phantom Vibrations

No way! I never realized that I'm not the only one who experiences this:

Yeah, it really happens to me on a regular basis. Because my phone usually resides in a pocket next to my right thigh, that's the spot I occasionally feel a phantom vibration (I also occasionally feel it higher up on my right side where the belt-holster holds it against a bone). I also have been known to think it's vibrating and reach for it to answer a call before it actually starts vibrating or ringing.

In other news, I still haven't flown any this week. Chris got done with his checkride today, so he's done except for IOE. John and I are supposed to go flying tomorrow night, so we'll see if it actually happens or not. the company hasn't decided if I'm going to do IOE here in Billings or out in Boston, but I hope it's here because I'm already settled in here at the Rimrock (unpacked/have food/used to the area/etc). For those of you who can't remember what IOE is (which seems to be everyone, which is kinda annoying when the people I talk to a couple of times a week need it explained again every time), it's my first 20 hours flying with passenger where they pair me with a specially-trained captain who can help me get the hang of actually flying the line and learn the kind of stuff you can't learn in the classroom. After that I'll be sent to my domicile and finally be done with training.

Anyway, that's it for tonight, I'm gonna get to bed at a reasonable time tonight. 'night everyone!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Lost Day

Hey everyone, sorry I haven't posted in a while, it's just kinda slipped my mind over the last few days (and there hasn't been a whole lot to write about).

Yesterday night, I had my first flight at the controls of the real airplane. They called us up in the afternoon and most of the pilots here for aircraft training had to show up at the airport at 8:45 because we had a plane from 9 onwards. Unfortunately, this meant I had to miss the end of the Purdue vs. Ohio State game (which wasn't going so well anyway, but I did miss our only touchdown of the evening) and instead spend a few hours sitting in the back of the plane while others were flying. I finally got my chance to fly around 12:15 and did one trip around the pattern (the goal was to complete a night landing and do most of the rest of my training during the day). It went ok; the plane definitely flies and lands better than the sim, but I wasn't expecting the power levers (throttle to you non-pilots) to be so much more sensitive than in the sim.

We finally got back to the hotel about 1:45 and I got to bed about 2:30, glad that I was going to be able to sleep in. Before you bash me for sleeping in instead of going to church, you have to understand that I'm on call 24/7 right now, so even if I could get to church it would not be fun to have to pull my ride out of sunday school or service if my phone rang. They told us last night that there was going to be a plane available from noon to 6pm today, but also that only the captains should plan on flying (they didn't think they'd have time to fit us F/O's in).

So, I slept in until about 11:30, took my time getting up, and was looking forward to a nice relaxing day (was planning on having church with my phone again by listening to some more worship music and another Driscoll sermon, taking with Kathy and Dan Willman, an old friend who called me out of nowhere last night, doing some video editing, etc) when my phone rang at 12:20 while I was in the shower. It was John (one of my classmates) saying that we have a plane and we're leaving for the airport in 5 minutes. Naturally, I wasn't too happy, but that didn't change the fact that I suddenly had to frantically get dressed, grab my flight stuff, throw a book and some snacks into my gear (made the mistake of being stuck in the back with nothing to do for a few hours the night before), and rush downstairs to meet my ride up to the airport.

It's now 5:50 and I'm still sitting in the back and haven't gotten any chance to fly, which means they really didn't need to have me come up here anyway. Oh well. At least I brought some stuff to do up here (read my Bible, did a little reading in a book Shane is lending me, reviewed some of my flight study materials in case I got a chance to fly, and I'm finally blogging a little from the Mogul (in Flight Mode, of course, I'll send this after we get back on the ground). I guess on the plus side, even though I didn't get to listen to that Driscoll sermon, I did end up spending some more time in the Word than I would have according to the original plan.

I don't know what I'll be doing this evening yet, but food is definitely on the agenda, seeing as how all I've had to eat today is a couple granola bars and a Snickers. I'll probably spend the rest of the time relaxing a little and hopefully talking to Kathy and Dan if they're available.

Well, I think we're about to land for the last time (finally!), so I think this is a good time to sign off. Later everyone!