Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sleepless Break

It mystifies me to no end. How can I go for hours up in the cockpit without needing a head call (in the Marine Corps they say potty break) and then when I'm back here in the crew rest seat trying to sleep, I have to go every half hour?

Maybe it's all that rich Italian coffee I gorged on coming out of Roma this morning. Good stuff. Didn't spill any on the console either. I know you read about that last week. A flight headed to Frankfurt from Chicago diverted into Toronto after one of the pilots spilled coffee on the center console. Costly mistake.

I saw the comments on the public web boards: “How could he be so stupid?”

“Why does this moron still have a job?”

Why? Because he's a professional. The reason he still has his job is precisely because he chose to land and have the plane inspected instead of heading out over the Atlantic with possible degraded navigational capability. A good reason to fire him would have been had he continued.

I've done it―spilled stuff on the console. A flight attended once held a cup of orange juice out over the console and when I turned to get it, not expecting it to be hovering there, my arm hit it and the sticky sweet juice hit the console and splattered. We leaped like mad men with paper napkins to mop it up, and we did seconds. Too late. It did its damage in fewer seconds. The number 1 VHF radio and the captain’s audio panel rolled over and died. You can tell because the radio's eyes close. No kidding. The LED lights in the frequency window turn milky white.

Did I fly into a rage? Nope. Did I say, “See what you've done?” Nope. Didn't have to. She knew. She won't do it again. Radios are easily fixable. Feelings are not.

Sometimes more than feelings get hurt on these trips. Two days ago one of our flights coming out of Zurich was suddenly canceled. One of the first officers didn't show up in the hotel lobby for departure. He wasn't in his room. The police located him in a local hospital, all busted up. Mugged.

One of the first officers I'm with on this trip got mugged in Buenos Aries. He was pounced on and pounded down to the pavement as dozens of people walked by not lifting a finger. It has also happened to crew members in San Francisco, Dallas and most any other big American city you can name. Too bad they won't let FFDOs carry their stingers on layover. Maybe then I would become one.
Gotta keep checking six.

My break's about over. Got to hit the head again before going back up front. This blue water flying wouldn’t be so bad if they would issue me a bigger bladder. Or less coffee.

Quote of the post:
Instrument flying is an unnatural act probably punishable by God.
— Gordon Baxter

Not a bad view for an afternoon stroll on layover.
Beachless isle in a glassy smooth Mediteranian.Or island in the sky?