January 2, 2015 – Piedmont’s Schedule

The excitement of test flying the PA30 is on hold. We’ve found for sure that the left aileron was warped in the process of re-skinning it. An entirely new aileron was built to replace it, and has just been completed. The final repairs and test flight will be Jan 8th, when the brand new aileron is installed.

Flying for Piedmont, December screamed on by as a whole. I spent a good number of days (too many) away from home because of my flight schedule. There were a good number of four day trips that started at 5:00 or 6:00 am, and ended on the last day at midnight (they lacked purity). I was feeling tired on the last day, and the weather was consistently terrible – low IFR at night.

Rest: During the month when I was largely commuting from Smyrna. This required me to wake up 3 hours prior to report time to get ready and on the road with enough time for a stop at WAWA. The two rest days I’d typically have off in between were broken up by this schedule, since I’d get into bed at the beach around 1:30 am. The next morning I’d finish my commute up to Smyrna, effectively killing half of my first day off. I’d lose half of the second day died when I’d go to bed early so I could get up 3 hours before report time and head south again. Do that several times in a row and you get pretty tired.

I’m done complaining, since I was lucky to have gotten to see my son Chris get married on the 12th. Congrats to Chris and Raquel, and welcome Alexsis, Blake, Charles, and Deuce to the fold of grandchildren Bev and I enjoy. I was also off on Christmas Eve Day for a big event at my house, but had to leave early for Christmas Day flying.

I do appreciate the support I received from several Captains while I tried to manage my schedule around this wedding. I received lots of advice, and you could see that everyone cared and wanted me to make it. They made sure I understood my options, and the crew that I flew with on an out-and-back for that day work tirelessly to keep us on schedule. They did their level best to get me there on time, and it worked. When we landed, they sent me right to my car and took care of all remaining details.

For January – I decided not to bid at all and let seniority play it’s course. The schedule I was awarded has allot of 2 and 3 day trips that mean I’ll be spending more days at home. There are no four day trips on my schedule, and I actually have a four day off stretch. I am hoping I’ll get the chance to eat better; sleep better; and feel better about the daily grind. I may like this schedule more.

Jets are coming too, which means that training will change this year. We are also losing people to mainline, so my seniority will move up faster than in recent years I am told. New opportunities with the same organization in training are out there too, which will all affect my schedule. Whether or not the affect is good or bad remains to be seen.

With all this, I’m beginning to develop a long term career strategy; building options just in case.

Currently I’m taking the time to learn more about Piedmont’s history and ALPA in particular. Started reading Flying the Line and will purchase Hard Landings right after I’m through with those. I’ll continue learning how to bid to better meet my needs, and have time to try different strategies.

I’ll also be back in the books learning more about the Dash in preparation for my mid-year check-ride, and will continue to practice flying the Dash every week. After I complete CQ and have gotten out of my first year’s probation, then I’ll seriously re-assess my next steps. I’m thinking the impact on the schedule from jet training, mainline flow, and seniority movement should be at least coming into blurry focus by then.

If none of that works, the salaries are low enough as a first year FO that it should be easy to replace with either a full time job or a series of part-time jobs. Flight Safety, ad hoc Flight Instruction, King Air and similar opportunities could be assembled to keep the fun and education going with a better quality of life. I could even go back into engineering, computers, or management if the aviation side comes up light; just to make sure I keep moving.

In the mean time, I’m learning from great pilots every week; seeing some amazing flying; and having a ball flying a capable machine.

Fly safe.

Frank