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Long time, no blog…

July 30th, 2006 · 8 Comments

Not so much blogging lately.

I’m about to start the fifth day of work this week. That’s a highly unusual string of work-days, especially for this company, but I did it to myself. On Wednesday, I did another pilot a favor and picked up a bit of his flying that started out of LAX and ended up in SLC. Although it was an easy five hours of pay, I did have a bit of a difficult time getting back home from Salt Lake.

The big carrier in SLC (which shall remain nameless, but rhymes with Smell-ta) had a flight leaving to LAX about half-an-hour after my arrival in SLC from Reno last Wednesday. Plenty of time to make their 10-minutes-prior-to-departure cutoff…if I sprinted.

Picture a 6’3”, 285 pound first-officer jogging briskly along the people mover.

Arriving at the podium to check in for the flight I glanced down at my watch. Twelve minutes to departure. I cordially introduced myself as a pilot and asked very politely for access to the jumpseat. The gate agent looked at my I.D., said, “Just a moment,” then proceeded to do absolutely nothing important for a minute or two. She then told me, “Sorry, but I just closed the flight.”

“Was the flight closed when I arrived three minutes ago?” I asked as politely as possible.

“It’s closed now. We have a 10-minute cutoff.”

This lady obviously had no interest in helping me. In fact, I’d go as far as saying she allowed the cutoff to come and go without checking me in. It’s very obvious, sometimes, that employees of other airlines blame the wrong people within the airline industry for their company’s financial woes. Had I been an employee of any other carrier in the industry, I’m certain I would have been treated very differently.

But the gate area was neither the time nor the place to fight with a very unaccommodating employee of another air carrier. I just hope she’s never treated that way by an employee of an air carrier that isn’t her own when she’s out traveling.

*****

A few weeks back, I hurt my left elbow at work. It has to be the wussiest injury I’ve ever experienced! As I was replacing the onboard performance computer (a tablet PC that weighs about four pounds) back into its charging cradle behind the captain’s seat, I felt (and heard) a loud POP from my left elbow. My left arm immediately felt as if I’d fallen asleep on it, and was unable to hold the OPC in my grip. The initial shock went away almost as fast as it came, but I was left with a mild pins-and-needles feeling from my elbow to the tips of my ring and middle fingers, and I was unable to grip anything with any significant pressure without the pain returning.

I toughed out the remaining two days of the trip, getting by as best I could. When the trip finished that week, I debated whether or not I wanted to go in to the Chief Pilot’s office to report my problem. I reluctantly decided that I should at least make it known that I had the problem, and into the Chief’s office I went. I didn’t think it would be more than a couple of days before I was back to normal, so I didn’t bother filling out any on-the-job injury claim forms.

Three days later, the feeling in my fingers still had not returned to normal, and I wasn’t able to do everyday things with my left hand. So I elected to rest it further by using some sick days. For a week-and-a-half, I rested my left arm. The problem improved well enough to convince me I could go back to work. I still had a slight pins-and-needles feel, but I could grip things between my thumb and forefingers with no pain.

I’m on the second trip since coming back from the week of sick days I took. The elbow started giving me problems again two days ago. This time, I’m going to be at least filling out a form and seeing a doctor. For a First Officer, being unable to use your left hand is a tough thing to deal with. I don’t want to miss any work (and for now, I don’t believe I’ll have to), but I want the injury documented just in case it gets worse.

*****

This week’s trip is what we call a PM trip. PM trips typically start after noon and finish each day close to midnight. Normally, I’m an AM flyer, for a couple of reasons. I don’t like sitting around the hotel, waiting to start work…especially since I’m an early morning riser. I also like to be able to get home on the last day of my work week. Tonight, I’ll finish the trip at about 10pm, and I’ll have to head to a hotel to wait until I can get on a flight early tomorrow morning to get home.

*****

The Oshkosh Airshow is going on right now. I believe today is the last day. The thing that I’ve found most interesting so far in the news coming out of the show is Cessna’s fly-by of a new proof-of-concept aircraft for their piston-engine single line.


Currently, Cessna is producing the 172, 182, and 206 at its plant in Independence, KS. These aircraft are all-metal, and are essentially unchanged structurally from the airplanes of the same model that were produced in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. The new airplane is a brand-new design, and while it’s very obviously a Cessna from the way it looks (high-wing), it’s also very obviously a new Cessna! Of course, it’s just a proof-of-concept experimental right now. But hopefully, Cessna will introduce it as it’s all-new piston single sometime soon!

Ron Rapp has an excellent entry in his blog with more pictures of the aircraft on its Oshkosh fly-by. Thanks to Ron for posting the pictures!

Cessna also unveiled a new Light Sport Category proof-of concept aircraft at the airshow.

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8 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ron // Jul 30, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    Wow. It sounds like that gate agent has some issues. Former employee of your airline, perhaps? Or maybe married to a pilot? ;)

    I wonder why people like that always end up in sensitive customer service positions. A good gate agent can make the commercial flying experience a lot more pleasant. Even when I’ve been bumped off flights in the past, if I felt the agent was pleasant, honest, and working on my behalf, I always came away feeling ok.

    Sounds to me like this person should be working in a back room somewhere rather than dealing with the public. Even though you’re a non-revenue, you’d think there would be some camradarie since you both toil in the same industry.

  • 2 Gina // Jul 30, 2006 at 10:04 pm

    Good to see you blogging again! Too bad about your elbow; hope you’re able to get some relief for the pain.

    And about that gate agent…she’s just mad she works for Smell-ta and not you-know-who.

  • 3 Electron // Jul 31, 2006 at 3:53 am

    No struts on that new cessna eh? How you supposed to get up high enough to check the fuel quantity without the strut to step on? :-)

  • 4 Ron // Aug 1, 2006 at 6:11 am

    Maybe the fuel gauges are guaranteed to always be 100% accurate.

    Um, or not.

  • 5 GC // Aug 1, 2006 at 6:10 pm

    Dripless dipsticks!!

  • 6 Gina // Aug 7, 2006 at 8:03 pm

    Hi GC…quick question (I think)for you if you don’t mind. Just got back from a quick trip near LAX (I was good and didn’t stop at In’N'Out) and noticed the traffic pattern is reversed. Kinda strange since the winds are calm and the weather is great. Any idea if the work on 25L would affect the pattern? Thanks!

  • 7 GC // Aug 13, 2006 at 7:02 pm

    MMmmmm…could be! If they were landing and departing to the East, I’d imagine it had more to do with actual field winds.

  • 8 trailrunner // Aug 13, 2006 at 8:34 pm

    I feel your pain. I think custumer service agents are rated on hostility towards pilots, points for belligerence. hope the arm gets better.

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