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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Last Flight

Today was probably my last bit of flying for ExpressJet, at least for a while. I'm furloughed Sep 30, which for you lay people, means I will get called back at some point in the future if they don't go out of business. Oil is still expensive and of course you can't charge what it should actually cost for a ticket, can you?

Getting out of Chicago (O'Hare) is like fighting your way out of a semi-crazed beehive and in most cases you can't even read things back. It slows down the radio traffic. We get out rather decently but it's only Tuesday, so traffic's not bad.

I climb at a little faster airspeed than normal because the captain wants home and so do I. The last day of a 4 day trip. 3 different beds in 3 different hotels with early wakeups 2 of those days. The last day always seems to be the earliest, and this one's no different. 340AM in my time zone. That's not too bad, because we had about 13 hours on the ground between flights. Sometimes it's as little as 9 hours from wheels down to wheels up.

We fly southwest of Chicago which today looks flat and green. Puffy cotton ball clouds are everywhere. We spot forest fires and call them in and pass the time with idle chitchat as usual. You don't want to get into spirited discussions or anything deep when you tired and you've been locked into a closet with the same person for something like 22 hours of the last 68.

We get shortcuts and pass over Little Rock. I look down at the Air Force base and wonder what might have been different had I been a navigator on the C-130 instead of the E-3.

We've sustained Mach .79x forever and we're looking at TWENTY minutes early. .80M is the limit. I don't want it to end but it's been a long day, and home's good too.

The captain goes to the bathroom before we get to the busy descent, and then I go after. 3 hours in the same seat folks. When ya gotta, ya gotta. My feet would dance on the rudder pedals like an overjuiced 3 year old if I didn't.

In the descent, Daisetta at 250KTS and 10,000'. Then the bad news, we have to use runway 8R which means going aaaaaaaall the way to the OTHER side of the airport and following 8 or so other aircraft in. Now 20 minutes early is 4 minutes late.

We're 3-4 miles in trail of a 737, which means it's turbulence time. It's my leg so my landing.

In spite of all the turbulence from Continental, it's a greaser. A good way to end a chapter in flying.

Like golf, these shots and landings that keep you coming back, you know?

We taxi in and shutdown and there's someone with a clipboard. GREAT. Someone is getting reassigned or something undesirable is happening.

Remember that pee I took? Well, ExpressJet wants another for a random drug test. So much for slightly late, now I'm really late. And my near-last company duty is not hustling a 44,000 pound jet onto the concrete at something like 160MPH, but peeing in a plastic cup.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

At any rate, I'll be back for the free peanuts and the adventure. And the view from the office can't be beat.

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