Saturday, May 11, 2013

Third Time's a Charm, Part 2

Continued from last post (click here to read it)

Garth eagerly made the call to the VP of Flight Ops (whom I'll call Herb)—the man who had given him his card. But Herb was a busy man and it took a long time to get the call returned. When finally he called Garth back the conversation was encouraging. “I'll call the training center and ask them to schedule an interview with you ASAP,” Herb said. Garth was ecstatic. He still couldn't believe his luck. The next few weeks he was on cloud nine as he worked the aisles with his flight attendant peers.

But no letter came inviting him to the interview. He waited, growing ever more anxious. Should he call Herb back, or wait longer? Would the busy Herb even remember him. Or, was it all a dream? He paced and fretted. Finally he called Herb. The return call took agonizing days, but finally it came.

Herb was astounded that the “New Hire Department” had not followed his recommendation. He promised Garth he would follow up. Within hours Herb called back. It was done! If Garth didn't get a letter within a week, Herb wanted to know about it. Finally things were looking up. It was no dream.

The Frasca simulator

The letter came and Garth dressed in his Sunday best. He reported to the training center and began the arduous process. First the physical, then the simulator flight. Garth had been out of Navy cockpits for a few years; naturally he would be rusty. But he reasoned he had been good at very demanding and challenging flying jobs in the Navy. He should easily be able to handle a Frasca simulator. The Frasca was a very basic simulator many airlines used in their hiring process. It was designed to train general aviation pilots on instrument and multi-engine procedures, but some airllines used it for the specific purpose of weeding out those who didn't have the basic coordination and cross-scan skills to perform at this level. It was a lot cheaper than using a big jet simulator. 
Garth's Frasca ride went a bit shaky, but he figured they'd take into account his years of idleness and cut him some slack. They didn't. He was aghast when they told him there would be no final interview.

Garth went back to work in the back of the company's big jets wondering how he could ever have been so complacent. Then to his surprise, Herb called. Herb had checked up on him and learned the bad news. He consoled Garth and urged him to practice up and try it again. A second chance was almost unheard of, but Herb apparently liked him. His luck, he figured, had not yet ran out.

Garth came up with the cash to buy sim time in a simulator similar to the one in which he flunked. He re-applied. His guardian angel in the executive building was still watching. He was invited back.

This time the sim went much better. His cross-scan was much improved and he flew the holding pattern and approaches almost flawlessly. But suddenly the sim froze (stopped). The evaluator jumped up and said, “Why are you doing that?” Garth looked at him, puzzled. “Because that's the way I briefed it to you!”

“No, you did not brief me that we would do that,” the man said. Garth felt exasperated. “In the Navy we briefed everything in total detail. That's the way I do things. I'm telling you I did brief you on this and you didn't object!”

He finished the sim ride, retired to his hotel and waited word. Then a call came. His interview was scheduled the next day. He relaxed and smiled. But he was to discover that his feelings of relief were a cruel deception.

Sorry, but my time—like Garth's incredible luck—is running out. I'm in Lima, I've got to take off at midnight tonight and head north. I must try and get some shut-eye. Till next post, adios.

A welcome sight after an all-nighter up from the Deep-deep South.
Engines spooling down and the sun coming up.


Jan Jansen said...

I was always one of the guys who wanted to do what you did, but my eyes kept me out of military flying and the closest I've come to flying in an airline cockpit was an RJ sim ride. Since I never had the chance to go the airline route, I've been flying light planes off and on since 1970, as time and money permit. When I'm not flying, I live my "wannabe" flying life vicariously through those of you generous enough to share your flying with us. I've read Bach, Gann, Drury, Berent, and many, many others. I just finished Tail of the Storm last night and I consider it one of the finest books on flying that I've ever read. This one is a keeper, so I bought a second copy for my son so we can each have one. You have the ability of Bach, Gann, and the other greats to put us right there in the cockpit with you and to take notice of the details in flying that most pilots may notice for a fleeting moment, but never remember later. Thanks for taking us along!

Dave W said...

You are a cruel man Mr Cockrell!!

But this is good fun....

All the best

Dave W

LS-P said...

I hope that your return flight was not too tiring, that you will have a few days rest and then find the time and energy to post the follow-up to this story- Holding my breath for Garth! LSP

Giulia said...

This is great!!! I hate the suspense, but it's a great story! :)


Anonymous said...

now I know who ate the chicken...

Alan Cockrell said...

I did not steal the chicken. I am not that bold.

Alan Cockrell said...

For Jan Jansen: I'm humbled and honored that you dare even mention my name amongst those giants of aviation literature. I clicked on your name and was linked to your flying club. I enjoyed you very enlightening article on mid-air collision avoidance.

Alan Cockrell said...

For Jan Jansen: I'm humbled and honored that you dare even mention my name amongst those giants of aviation literature. I clicked on your name and was linked to your flying club. I enjoyed you very enlightening article on mid-air collision avoidance.