ExpressJet proved to be a great eight year experience for me. Albeit longer than initially planned, but none the less, so good that I became part of their hiring department! Even though I'm no longer employed by them, I'd recommend applying now if aviation is your thing! If you don't recognize me, I'm front and center! BAM
Something things go right sometimes they don't. Yesterday wasn't something out of the ordinary but I guess some of you never experience the frequency of weather or maintenance that we encounter working at an airline. Looking at the weather prior to our departure from Dallas-Ft. Worth, we knew that we could expect some thunderstorms during our approach into Charleston, West Virginia. Blocked to just a little over two hours, and looking at the terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF), we took off with confidence that we could "beat" the storm. Whether or not to jet east and then up and around the front or penetrate earlier in the flight and fly behind it, we chose the former. Usually you chose the latter, but once we were in the air, the weather didn't look that bad.
Almost an hour after our scheduled arrival, we made a safe approach and landing safely getting all our passengers to the terminal. It wasn't without bumps and initially the weather at CRW wasn't calling for landing conditions, but after 45 minutes, the initial thunderstorm cleared and calm winds presided.
Arriving at the gate, the plan was to leave as soon as we could board up, refuel and clean the aircraft but things changed. The plane gave us a flashing light notifying us of a maintenance item which after two hours of coordinating with dispatch, maintenance control and crew scheduling, ultimately led to the cancellation of the flight. Repositioning the aircraft to another portion of the airport, coordinating a shuttle and hotel stay our day came to an end with nine hours of sleep. We also had the opportunity of riding the hotel shuttle back to with some passengers who were taking the cancellation well.
So back to present time, scheduling had us report at 5:15am this morning and to no surprise without a phone call or notification from anyone back at company, we came down for the scheduled shuttle back to the airport only to find out that the aircraft wasn't ready. I'm now back in the hotel room killing another two hours before our next scheduled van ride. At least I can now grab some coffee.
update: I just got a call a couple of minutes ago notifying us again for a change to 6:45am which as I spoke to her was actually six minutes in the past.
"How did you become a pilot? Did you become an airline pilot via the military?" These are two of the most asked questions that I get when among friends or at the airport in uniform. Since @TimChoi89 asked them a while back via a comment on "4 on, two off, 4 on – part 2 / my printed schedule after the fact" and my response wasn't posted (error maybe or private, bugs, lost on the internet...) I decided that I'd answer them with a brand new post. It's Friday, the 13th and raining so why not.
The second question is easy; no, I did not have a military background. I did originally look at the Navy after graduating UCSD but flight slots were too few and in demand making my chances slim to none. I also wear some thick eye glasses so that was another obstacle in and of itself. I can't say that I looked into the other military branches as I grew up in San Diego. My father and uncles too were all in the U.S. Navy so yes, I was blinded and partial in my decision. It's Top Gun U.S.A.! That leads me to the first question which is a lot more complicated.
I started flying as a hobby after I graduated college in '03. It was also a time in my life where I was started to feel compelled to "do something else." I started taking lessons and thought that I was going to make it a side project, maybe instruct or fly people around for fun. I started receiving AOPA Flight Training Magazine and in it had ads scattered throughout boasting various flight schools and programs that could lead one to a commercial airline job. I thought to myself, "Why not?" I read about a few schools at the same time deciding if I really wanted to do a post-bac and go to med school. I ended up choosing an advanced ab-initio program which gave me a jet type rating along with whoever else I needed to get hired. The program was launched and closely associated with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and called CAPT (Commercial Airline Pilot Training). Unfortunately, while the program and its vision remained idealistic, fuel costs and enrollment coupled with a downward spiraling economy led the university to sell it off to the private corporation, FTSI, which has since then closed its doors. (Phases out / FTSI New Release) I was in the middle of the program when they accounted its transition but they promised to make good on their word and see us to the end.
I graduated in May of 2006 after 16 months of training and was offered a job with Focus Airlines. They operated as an ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance, insurance) 747 cargo carrier and their contract with CAPT was extensive; totaling a five year commitment, the first year one would serve as a "cadet" placed in the office helping with various tasks from scheduling, hotel reservations, tech publications, IT, etc. basically an intern type year learning the ins and out. The second year would entail upgrading to the second officer / flight engineer position on a classic 747 followed by three years as a first officer. Unfortunately, this program ended when the first couple of CAPT cadets were not allowed to upgrade to first officers alongside the face that Focus Airlines never had a program in place. Coincidentally, Atlantic Southeast Airlines (now officially called ExpressJet) was in the beginning stages of a hiring spree and our amazing director helped us get an interview. I scored my first flying job and the rest is history. Knowing and keeping ties along with timing is key in this industry and it panned out.
It's funny how people end up visiting my site. Mr. Tim ended up here,"...by searching "the verge vs. gdgt" then I stumbled upon your twitpic and saw that you're a pilot + tech enthusiast..." Thanks for stopping by Tim and keep the questions coming.