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Just Enough…

April 29th, 2008 · 1 Comment

I just got back from Dallas, and I’m happy to say that I’ll be allowed to keep my job for another two years.

I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but every other year, First Officers at my company submit themselves to the Gods of the box on stilts for a proficiency check (or “PC”). The PC consists of a two hour oral examination followed by four hours in one of the company’s full-motion flight simulators. Typically, we FOs are paired up with a Captain who is also doing his yearly PC. I was fortunate to have been paired up this year with a captain I’d flown with before, which made things easy and stress free.

The check consisted of the typical stuff, and it is sufficient to say that I performed satisfactorily. There is never any fear (in my mind) about “busting” this sort of thing, as most of our company check airmen have a very good attitude towards the event. That means that they’re not looking to get you fired (and thus waste all the company cash it took to hire and train you), but instead are looking to make sure your knowledge level is still “up there” enough for them to be okay with putting their families on airplanes we’re flying. So when it comes down to it, a pilot’s level of proficiency has to be pretty low and that pilot has to be dense enough to not allow things to get through to them when they go through immediate re-training after boogering up a particular task badly enough in the simulator.

But even though a fall from flying status is a rarity on a PC, it does happen. There are a lot of things that influence the way a pilot’s brain functions, and the way a pilot’s brain functions influences the way they perform in the simulator. More often than not, there are extenuating circumstances in the pilot’s life that cause him to perform poorly. Too little sleep or stress at home can keep a pilot from properly wrapping his mind around his upcoming checkride.

For the most part, however, pilots will over-prepare for their PC. For me, that’s usually the case. I think my primary concern is that I don’t want to look like an absolute blithering idiot in front of a check airman and a captain who I may end up flying with sooner or later. Word gets around, you know. Being that I said that over-preparation is usually the case for me, it would stand to reason that there have been times when I have prepared insufficiently or just enough. This year, the “P” word (procrastination) got the best of me, and I found myself putting off my study at every opportunity to focus on more fun things. I didn’t find myself to be insufficiently prepared (since I did fine on the oral and in the sim), but I could perhaps put this year into that “just enough” category.

I’m glad its over. I’ve got seven days off that I think I’ve earned by flying so many four-day trips lately.


As of May 11, I’ll have been with the company for three years.

Three years gone. Thirty-one left.

The last three years has gone by in the blink of an eye and crawled by like a slug on a cold sidewalk at the same time. All-in-all, it’s been a great three years no matter how I look at it.

Fourth year pay starts the day after tomorrow. $96 per trip averaging 105 trips per month. A guy could make a pretty decent living and provide pretty well for a family on that. It’s certainly a long way from where I was almost 10 years ago, when I was flying Saab 340′s and making $14.50 per flight hour.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Aviatrix // Apr 30, 2008 at 5:52 am

    I stayed above the poverty line, paid taxes, and had money over for my RRSP this year. First RRSP contribution in several years.

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