Around the Pattern

Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Tag: Tokyo (Page 1 of 2)

Passing on the Left

At the end of the last post we had arrived in Tokyo on the third leg of this trip. Today finds us in Tokyo again. I see a pattern rotation developing. The past three days were spent flying a round trip to LAX.

The first leg was fairly uneventful, the way you would want all your flights to go. As the junior copilot, I ended up with the first break, lasting one third of the planned flight time of 9:12. That part of the flight turned out to have the majority of the turbulence that we encountered and was the reason I got no sleep at all. We were flight planned on a route  that took us across the north-central Pacific to just west of San Francisco. Boeing B-777 100' above and a couple of miles ahead.From there we were cleared direct to Avenal for the Sadde Six Instrument Arrival with vectors to runway 24R. The weather at the time of our arrival was calm winds, 1300′ overcast and 2 1/2 mi visibility in haze and a solid marine layer covered the entire valley. We were sequenced behind a B-757 and told to keep our speed up at 190 knots until the final approach fix. It seems that no matter how much you brief the arrival and approach into LAX, it always feels like a goat-rope when you get in close. The controllers are just trying to keep the traffic moving as smoothly as possible, but you end up descending earlier than planned or slowing early or both, with a possible speed-up in the middle as a hole opens in the line of traffic. Of course, our arrival time didn’t appear to be in their quiet period, either. Everything settled down as we turned onto the final approach course and the landing turned out fine.  We even exited the runway before the last exit, not something that we manage to do very often on this 8900′ long runway.

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A Day Off, But Not Really

This leg was a bit easier than usual and was a change to my originally bid pattern. [Oops, I just read that I’m supposed to refer to these series of flights I work  as “rotations” now, not patterns – part of the standardization of  the two merging airline’s terminology. Oh,  the changes just keep rolling along.] Anyway, this rotation originally had me working the flight from Manila to Tokyo, however  a few days before I left home I was notified of a change to my schedule that had me deadheading this leg.  The notice just hadn’t told me why I had been given the change.Airline Passenger - davitydave: http://www.flickr.com/people/dlytle/

It turns out that the captain I have been paired with has been training to become an OE instructor. That’s an Operating Experience instructor, the person who gives you ‘real world’ training after you have completed your simulator training. (I talked a bit about our simulator and flight training program in a previous post.)  At the completion of the OE legs the same instructor usually switches hats and becomes a line check airman who administers the new pilot a line check. If the line check is completed successfully, the check airman certifies that the  pilot is qualified in the new position and releases him/her to begin flying regularly scheduled trips rotations. Now we get to the fun part. In order for a new OE instructor to become line check airman qualified, he must administer a line check to a new captain while he is, in turn,  being evaluated by an FAA inspector. This is commonly referred to as a daisy chain – an evaluation being administered to someone administering an evaluation. The only way it could become more convoluted is if the FAA inspector were receiving an initial qualification evaluation from their supervisor at the same time. Yes, I’ve seen it happen….and it gets really ugly.

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Back at work so I can get some rest.

Time Off?

I was at home for about a week and a half toward the end of June. During that time I went back to work rebuilding the landing gear on my Swift. I’ll make a few posts on that process in the next day or so. I even managed to take some pictures of the process this time. The left main gear rebuild took me two months of working during breaks between trips. The right one is now 90% finished after a week of steady work and long days in a 95 degree hanger. Between the heat, the solvent, the hydraulic fluid and the paint, I had to change clothes just to get into my truck and drive home. My wife would always stay upwind until I got a long hot shower and changed clothes yet again.

Another Hat

I manage to wear several hats when I’m around the airport. The most often worn hat has the general “airport bum” identifier, but two more are associated with my involvement with EAA. One hat is labeled Technical Counselor and the other is labeled Flight Advisor. They are both great programs for the amateur aircraft builder. As a Tech. Counselor I visit the builder as the building project progresses, look over the work that is accomplished and, if warranted, make suggestions or answer questions about alternate ways to approach a problem area. I then write up a short description of the project, the progress that has been made and the things that were discussed during the visit. The builder signs the form and keeps a copy for the aircraft building records, I keep a copy and I send the original to EAA headquarters. There are several aircraft under construction on our airport. Two that I have been involved with lately are RV models. I took a look at an RV-9A the other day that is being build in the person’s garage.

RV-9A Fuselage

RV-9A Instrument Panel

You can see that the builder is well along in the process. Something like 80% completed with another 90% to go. That’s the way is always seems, anyway. Lots of detail work to be done that seems to take forever. It’s a nice instrument panel with the Dynon flat panel displays. The empty space in the center is to be the home of a Garmin 495 or 496.

Other Work

Now I’m out on the road again. I just had a layover in Hong Kong, but was so beat that I spent the majority of the time asleep, trying to catch up after several short nights. Tomorrow is a short flight to Shanghai with a quick layover at the airport hotel, than back here to Tokyo and home the day after that. With a bit of luck I’ll finish the Swift landing gear rebuild this time at home and possibly get most of the annual complete. It would be nice to go flying again – the real kind, not the high altitude programming that widebody airline flying has become.

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