I haven't been motivated to write for almost 3 months. I've thought about it many times, just couldn't get started. So here we go, with not much of a plan about where I'm going with this one.
I mentioned in my last post that I had been flying the 747 as a first officer for 5 years. I spent one year as a flight engineer on the DC-8 before that.
During this 6 year period, my kids went from being ages 6 and 4 to 12 and 10. They were doing well in school and being involved in sports activities. Early on, they both tried soccer. Then Mike gravitated toward basketball and baseball. Caitlin began swimming competitively for a local pool, where we were members. The nature of my schedule had pros and cons. I missed lots of events, but I was able to make lots of events. I predominantly worked a week on, week off schedule and when I was off, I was off 100%. I was able to help coach Mike's teams and attend most of Caitlin's swim meets.
The kids began taking piano lessons shortly after we moved to Louisville. I became convinced that this opened up circuitry in their minds that might not have otherwise been touched. I could see indications of speed of thinking in both of them that was very impressive. They both solved computer game issues much faster than I could.
During these years, both kids began learning to ski. That didn't take long. Kids learn that kind of stuff very quickly. Caitlin had gone with a school group, but I took Mike to a tiny resort in Indiana. It was the first time I had skied in several years, but it came back quickly. I showed Mike a few things and he became an excellent skier, until he decided to switch to snow boarding.
The first time he tried that, I told him I couldn't help him much. All I could say is that you have to use the edges of the board, as you do with the edges of skis. We went to the same little resort and I rented him a board and boots. Mike tried to teach himself, but was having trouble. When I moved in to check things out, I could see the problem. His feet were already so long, that the toes of his boots were extending over the edge of the narrow board we rented and dragging in the snow, making it impossible to use the edges. I had to buy him a double wide board and boots to match. Over time and with a couple lessons, he became a competent boarder, but I always thought he was an incredible skier.
I knew that I was getting close to being able to upgrade to captain. I always took upgrades as soon as my seniority allowed. Some people don't, because of quality of life and other issues. That transition is usually from being a senior first officer, with lots of bidding advantages, to a junior captain, who is forced to take what is left over after the senior people have finished picking. I didn't care about that. I wasn't afraid of the responsibility and hated being the second in command.
There were many issues to consider, but one that was very new to me had to do with the new generation of airplanes. UPS had planes that were older technology, with analog instruments and they also had Boeing 757s, with Electronic Flight Instruments Systems (EFIS) and computerized Flight Management Systems (FMS). This required a method of flying that was foreign to geezers like me from the stone age and airplanes with steam gauges.
I had heard stories about this transition and decided to make it easy on myself. I had learned long ago that it is best to minimize the number of new things that you are learning in upgrades or transitions. In other words, don't upgrade to a new airplane type. Too many things to learn. The 757 was the junior airplane at that time, so it would be my earliest upgrade opportunity. I decided to transition to the 75 as a first officer and learn how to fly it on someone else's ticket.