Elevator to Heaven

Position: Fifty miles southeast of KOAK (Oakland)
Altitude: 18,000 feet and climbing
Groundspeed: 370 knots
Rate-of-climb: 2,800 fpm
Equipment: A319
Pax-on-Board: 123


It has been one of those weeks... Juggling a heavy flight schedule with family matters taking place away from the domicile. I am glad to be back in the cockpit where I am in control, more or less. The ascension feels good to these old bones! After clearing inbound SFO traffic, our 319 is climbing to the thin air like an elevator to heaven.

The right-seater is an experienced Electric Jet pilot. He is a sharp kid and does not mind babysitting a semi-crotchety captain. I flew with him a few times when he was a newbie and showed him some of my get out of jail free techniques for handling this electrical entity which we fly. He has always remembered those days and treats me with respect, which, naturally, I take advantage of in my pre-geezer state.
I know... It's bad, but I've got to keep my reputation intact. There seems to be no shortage of co-pilots who want to fly with me, so I must be doing something right. And this in spite of the wild stories my low-life buddies spread about me.

Such as:
  1. The wife-of-my-youth is an ex-stripper. Totally false, but she thinks it is funny.
  2. The Chief Pilot has my iPhone on his speed dial. Unlikely, but possible...
  3. I have inside knowledge of the infamous three-crew 2003 Orlando Hooters Incident. Where? Who?
  4. I am hard to get along with and "write up" co-pilots. I have never written up anyone in my life and certainly am not hard to get along with... Under any circumstances.
And on it goes... But, I must admit that I love it.

22,000 feet...

The winter sun is rising above the cloud deck giving light to a new day on the Line. This morning, underneath Fi-Fi, it was dark, wet, and cold as I pre-flighted her at the Oakland gate.

Yesterday, when I checked in for this trip, I saw two more pilots on the bulletin board... Yes, that bulletin board. The one we will all, one day, have our photo pinned in the upper right hand corner.

As I was shining my flashlight on Fi-Fi's smooth belly, I could not help but thinking about those two pilots. They were down here, where I am, not so long ago, and now they are gone... Flown west. Two photos, enlarged from their IDs, pinned to the bulletin board by an assistant Chief Pilot. We regret to announce...

28,000 feet...

The two V-2500 A5 IAE engines are in their element now as we soar high above the undercast. The fuel flows are falling as the altitude increases along with the groundspeed. Winds on our tail and sunlight in our faces... It is better up here. The early morning trepidations are gone.

39,000 feet...

The auto-pilot captures the altitude at 38,700 feet and begins to lower the nose and reduce the thrust to level at exactly 39,000 feet.

Mach number- .79
Groundspeed- 560 knots
Seat-belt sign- OFF
Starbucks Christmas Blend- Excellent
Cabin Altitude- 8,000 feet

Seven more days until Christmas Lift 2011 begins. I am working it, of course. Not complaining, just saying...

Life on the Line continues...