I made it home from my first trip in the left seat of the DC-10. It had its challenges but we all made it to the end.
The trip started out with a delay. That landing I previously blogged about actually happened about 16 hours or so later than it was supposed to. That resulted in the trip turning into an all-nighter. That was okay, though, I was just happy to be there.
We left Baltimore the next day (a little over 24 hours later) on time to ferry the airplane (meaning empty) to Leipzig, making that the one and only on time leg of the whole trip. There were 15 flight attendants with us from two different crews, including most (but not all) of the crew I was taking back out… which was supposed to happen after the airplane made a quick trip to Kuwait and back (~16 hours later). When we arrived in Leipzig, you guessed it, another delay, this time of just over 24 hours.
Being the Captain now, it was my job to work out the logistics of rearranging our hotel. They had booked us for the short layover at a short-layover hotel. Both our pilot and flight attendant contracts specify downtown hotels for layovers over 30 hours. And it turns out the place we were booked really wasn’t satisfactory for a longer layover. Unfortunately, hotels in Leipzig were sold out due to a convention of some sort. We had to stay the first night in the originally-booked hotel and then move the next day. Normally, I’d have to notify the First Officer, the Flight Engineer and the ISM (Inflight Service Manager – lead flight attendant, who would notify the rest of the flight attendants). Because I’m still on OE and flying with a check airman, I had to additionally notify him. And we also had a new Flight Engineer (who was one of my engineers during training) on OE, so I had the Engineer Check to notify, too. Whew.
To make matters worse, we were put in a downtown hotel that, it turned out, could only accommodate us for one night. That wouldn’t have been a problem had we not delayed again. Yep… so we moved a second time, thus setting a record for every single person on the crew (14 of us, some with as much as 40 years with the company) for most hotel changes on a single layover. Welcome to the left seat…
We finally left Leipzig two calendar days late. The last flying day was long. We flew 3 legs, Leipzig to Bangor, then to McGuire to drop the passengers off, then ferried back to Baltimore. By the end of that, we were all pretty tired. I was far more worn out than I would have been if I had worked that same trip on the MD-11 as an F/O.
It had its rewarding moments. I’m fairly quickly getting the feel of taxiing the airplane. I’m not to the point yet where I’ve got things down to inches, but I’m getting close. My last parking job I was straddling the line with both the center and the nose gear, so I was pretty happy with that (not bad for a new guy). My landings are technically improving (particularly with respect to getting the nose gear on the ground after touchdown), but I haven’t done a really greasy smooth one yet. I am enjoying hand flying the airplane, though. It’s definitely nicer to hand fly than the MD-11. While I might still consider the Canadair Regional Jet the ‘best’ all around airliner I’ve ever flown (it was easy, flew nice, simple, reliable), I have to say, the DC-10 definitely feels good… now if it just had a glass cockpit…