Crew call at 3 am

by on April 8, 2008

Here I am, awake since midnight, waiting for the next crew call that should come an hour from now. Actually, that sounds worse than it is.

For me, one of the hardest things, physically, to contend with as a professional pilot is the effect that time zone changes have on your ability to get reasonable rest before a flight. As a domestic U.S. pilot, I had to deal with the 6 am departure after a 10-hour layover on the East coast while I had a West coast body clock. Multiple nights like that make you wonder why you were in the business, unless you happen to have a nice day like Kevin did recently. Now I fly primarily the international routes. My local 3 am call is at a body time of noon back home. Well, noon yesterday.

For this layover, I tried staying on ‘home’ time and managed to get a fairly decent night’s sleep. And, thanks to the 24-hour availability of room service, I even got a nice meal to start the day. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always go as smoothly.

What helps? Some people use exercise and diet, some use things like melatonin, others just try reading the aircraft manual in preparation for annual refresher training. And some use a mixture of one or more of them. You just have to use trial and error to see what works and it may vary by the trip.

I’m off again, here’s hoping that the weather at our destination is better today than when we left it 30 hours ago. Moderate rain and turbulence, CBs all around the airport.

Fly safe.

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