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Friday, January 27, 2017

Wise Ass

I flew the 747 for 5 years at UPS.  Because of the lousy conditions at UPS, pilots senior to me were leaving and going to other airlines.  Passenger airlines were always considered better places to work for pilots.  It was considered more glamorous to walk out a jetway than to be driven to your plane by a van, in the middle of the night.  

There were advantages to not having passengers in the back.  The boxes did not complain about anything and did not have any of the problems that humans can come up with.

Having realized that it was UPS or nothing for me, I had settled down and found a way to enjoy my life and enjoy my job.  I was becoming an experienced international pilot and very experienced on the 747.  Once you get used to the sight picture out the windscreen when you are landing, it is a really easy airplane to fly.

I went to a local airport to get checked out in a Piper Arrow, a plane I had flown for many hours in my Butler Graham Airport days, and when I was trying to land it, I was flaring way too high and scaring the instructor.  When we were touching down on the runway, it looked to me as if we were going under it.

I was now flying with captains who had less experience on the 747 than I did.  Many were brand new, just out of training.  It was fun to help them with some of the details and watch them as they were learning the plane.  There were some guys who were nervous about things like landing at the Hong Kong Tai Kak Airport and wanted me to do that a few times before they tried it.  They were all good pilots and were just being prudent.

There was one guy who had recently been flying the 757, with all its fancy avionics.  The Whale was definitely a step or two back in that respect, but it still had good stuff.  You just had to know how to use it.  The new guy from the 75 and I were flying across the country on a day trip.  

Somewhere in one of the western states, there was a big, lone column, that looked kind of like a thunderstorm.  It was not showing up on our weather radar and the captain was freaking and complaining about the junky radar.  The 757 had digital, color radar.  This gave you a very clear, very easy to see image of precipitation in 4 colors based on intensity.  The 747 had digital radar, but only one color, green.  The captain told air traffic control he wanted a different heading to go around the "storm".  The controller said he didn't see any weather on his radar.  I was having so much fun watching him fuss with the radar and complain about it, I did not tell him it was a big forest fire.  The radar was working just fine.

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