Jan 15, 2007

A Day in the Life: CYUL - CYVR - CYUL (4)

A description of a typical day's flight from Montreal to Vancouver and back - using it as a backdrop for a detailed, non-technical description of what an airline pilot does.

Log Entry 2003 - A320 Capt - CYUL - Flight Planning

Departure Time: -40 minutes

FO Paula heaves her flight bag onto the cargo strap of her roll-a-board crew suitcase. I don't bring mine on these turn-around trips anymore. She takes pity on an old man and offers to add my flight satchel to the stack, but I decline. Carrying this thing is the only form of exercise I get any more.

I have thought about getting one of those flight satchels that also has wheels, but I'm old school - a real pilot's pilot. Okay - I'm too cheap to buy another 'brain bag' when this one is still perfectly good. Well, maybe it is hanging together by a thread, but it only has to last as long as I do.

I remember when real pilots would never deign to use wheels of any sort -- those were just for flight attendants and the odd pilot who had legitimate back problems. But he would have to make sure everyone knew it was "because of my bad back..." One captain made me laugh by dubbing his chariot the "wimp wheels."

But that was back when the luggage wheels were cumbersome things at best. Having to set up and take down the whole thing at each enroute stop was a hassle, not to mention a hazard when sometimes the bungees would snap back flinging those big metal hooks at the eyes and other sensitive parts. And it was not just a coincidence that when folded the things most-resembled giant mouse traps for the fingers. Ask me how I know.

Finally, some genius figured out how to hide the wheels inside the suitcase. And then, seeing as we already had them, well we might as well use them -- right? No wimping out now, just good common sense. Use 'em if you got 'em. I hope the inventor becomes very rich! What a great idea...

These bags have become the defacto standard for airline pilots. I noticed one day that my FO was carrying his roller-equipped suitcase like a regular bag. I looked at him and said with concern in my voice; "You do know that there are wheels on that thing, don't you?"

He laughed, ensured me he did and went on to explain he was carrying it because the wheels were worn out from too many miles of dragging through the winter salt and slush in the parking lots. The axles were badly rusted. Later he tried rolling it and it produced a terrifying wail approximately like a herd of cats being ingested in a jet engine. I quickly told him how much more macho he'd look carrying it.

Departure Time: -40 minutes
(to be continued)

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