There are a lot of
Internet forums that focus on various aspects of aviation. Some are very
useful, some are full of general information, some are unpopulated and
unhelpful, and then there are some that are heavily populated, but by people
interested in nothing more than gaining an audience for their nightly rant.
I have read them all and one stands out from this crowd as a useful, enlightening and objective information for aspiring professional pilots is BeAnAirlinePilot.com. I peruse the various pilots’ chat rooms on this site regularly because I find great stories from young airline pilots “flying the line” like this one from ExpressJet Adam. Adam is an Airline Captain, mentor and Career Coach who freely shares his advice with pilots who want to become professional aviators like him.
I came across this story he wrote and would like to share it with you:
“As many if you may or may not know, ExpressJet has a fairly lucrative Charter Department, and although I’m not senior enough to hold Charter full time, I am in the “Charter pool”, though which means I get called from time to time for Charter trips (quite frequently lately as they’re busy). Now as I’ve stated in the past, I really enjoy being an airline pilot (and all that goes with it), but there are some very cool things about doing Charter. The pay’s better and we usually get fed really well, but that’s not the main draw. It’s different. Different locations and often there are different challenges. At the airlines “most” things are taken care of and we simple “fly the tube”.
Anyway, I’m on my latest Charter trip and much to my surprise we’re flying the RJ to TTN, (Trenton/Mercer County Airport where I instructed for ATP Flight School!). TTN is a very nice smaller airport, not tiny, but smaller. It is tower controlled and there are 2 runways, 4000′ and 6000′, which is fine since 6000′ is plenty for an RJ under normal conditions. Trenton is under Philly’s Class B airspace, has one ILS (precision approach) and ALWAYS has a crosswind. It’s a great place to train. So when I said my goodbye’s to my TTN friends after getting hired at ExpressJet, I had no idea of a triumphant return to TTN in my jet, Captain stripes, mustache and RayBans or any of it. But, cool things like that happen in this business and I was very happy about that.
However, when I checked the weather yesterday morning it did not look good. Gusty winds, poor visibility, snow and all runways were closed! But the forecast looked good. We went out to the airport, got everything ready when dispatch called and said they had finally got the runways open. Cool, we’re going!
Being the dutiful pilots we are, we get out our charts and plan for the worse. Take all our penalties for runway contamination, tailwind and possible diminished braking. We’re good, cool. We discuss all the contingencies; make sure we’re on speed, in the touchdown zone, not looking for “pretty” just safe. Somewhat ironically after all the discussion, as we get closer to TTN we get the latest weather and the skies have cleared. It’s still a little gusty but we can do a visual now to 24 (remember, no vertical guidance, generally not an issue, BUT we do not want to be high on the approach, particularly if the runway’s contaminated). We finally can see the airport and much to my delight, the runways were all nice and black without a hint of snow or ice. We talk to tower, they say no braking issues at all and in an instant I’m back in the traffic pattern for runway 24 at TTN (just like the good ole days). I execute one of my signature “greasy” landings (ok, maybe not every one’s a greaser, but this one was nice), and we taxi up to good old Ronson Aviation where my favorite ATP Flight Training Center is located.
Just on the other side of a huge plowed snow pile I could see the t-tails of a few ATP Seminoles and a couple of 172’s (we didn’t have them when I was there). I know this may sound corny, but as I exited the Jet and I stood on the same ramp I had spent so much time on, I realized how far I had come. I had always wanted to be an airline pilot, but to be honest, back when I was flying the Seminole I wondered if it would ever happen. As I was doing my walk around inspection of my RJ I recognized a ramper I had known in my past life, I said “you’ve been here a while no?”, he said “20 yrs, you look familiar?”. I told him I was here back in ’04-’05 instructing for ATP. He said “that’s right, I remember you… man, the troopers (NJS Troopers keep their heli’s there) were just checking out your Jet, this is a REALLY nice plane”. I said “thank you”…..but the Seminoles were the best things on the ramp to me to me that day.”