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Friday, June 23, 2017

Eating My Lunch

Just before the bankruptcy of Braniff II, I was hearing stories about how the older, senior pilots were having trouble learning the automation of the Airbus A-320.  They wanted to resort to the old fashioned ways of flying and not do all the flight management and automation stuff.

This caused me a little consternation as I drew closer to beginning my training.  My instructor's name was Helmut.  Thankfully he had a good sense of humor and was very patient.

There were several times when flying the plane with all the computers and automation seemed overwhelming and I had learned that the 757 flew just like an old technology airplane if you turned all that voodoo stuff off.  When I suffered from brain lock, that is what I would do, but Helmut would yell and make me turn it back on.  I understood.  That is what the plane is all about and that is what he had to teach me.

There were these things called route modifications, which would be necessary when Plan A had to be altered for some reason.  Helmut taught us how to do them early in the program.  Later, when he was reviewing them, before signing us off for a check ride, he gave me some route mods to perform.  I was just leaning over the computer, with my finger poised above it, in a kind of freeze.  Helmut said, "Denny, you look like you've never seen these before".  I said, "That's how I feel".

Frankly, I don't remember much about that simulator check ride, but I passed.  I have never failed a test of any kind in my aviation career. 

After that, we were scheduled for Initial Operating Experience (IOE).  (I learned so many acronyms during this training, I could not remember what all the letters stood for.)  I kind of stumbled my way through that.  My first instructor did a good job, but did not seem to have much of a sense of humor.  

My Release To Line check ride was with a management guy named John Fanning.  Good guy.  He flew the first leg, then as I was beginning the descent on my leg, he told me that most people who get in trouble with "this plane" do it because of overload within 15 miles of the destination and sometimes it is best to turn all the automation off and just fly the airplane.  When he said that, I felt the weight of the world lift from my shoulders.  I knew that I could do that.  I also knew that Helmut had to insist on using it, because that was his job.


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