I moved my schedule around this month in a pretty daring way. I set myself up to work 6 on, 1 off, 6 on. I figured (based on 4 months of data!), that I would be home most of the time (and nights). I haven't been away from home for more than one night in the last 3 months. Yeah about that.
I worked airport standby Wednesday...and went home. I left home Thursday afternoon and was supposed to be home Saturday afternoon. The flight to Cleveland Thursday was very rough. The roughest I have ever been thru. Somewhere over Indiana we got rocked so hard by turbulence the plane suddenly dropped 500 feet and rolled violently to the right. The Captain fought for over 20 seconds (which seemed much longer) to keep the plane level, while our altitude shot up and down. I advised the flight attendants to sit down. One didn't make it to her seat as was weightless for a while. Thankfully she has been around a few years and braced herself and avoided injury. No passengers were injured, but many has stained shirts from drinks being spilt and more than a few filled up the air sickness bags.
By Saturday morning everything still looked okay for my plan. Saturday afternoon thunderstorms changed the plan. I flew back to DFW and had to keep my hands on the controls for over an hour as we were kicked around by turbulence again. Not as bad as the day before, but close.
Originally my crew was to fly from Cleveland to DFW to Fayetteville, Arkansas to DFW and be done. Well we were re-assigned to fly to Little Rock, Arkansas and back...being done about an hour later our original schedule.
Once we arrived in Little Rock yesterday at 1PM, thunderstorms in the area delayed our departure. First by an hour...then another hour...then 2 more hours and so on. I am legally only able to be on duty for 14 hours a day. There is one exception in that I can fly up to 16 hours as long as the aircraft is off the ground before the 14 hour mark and I can complete the flight in the 16 hour window. Sixteen hours is a long work day. My crew started the day at 6:00 AM Eastern (5:00 AM Dallas time) Saturday morning. The flight from Little Rock to DFW normally takes 1 hour 7 minutes. Due to weather we were being routed over Oklahoma, to west Texas then to DFW. The new flight time was 2 hours 10 minutes. The last departure time we were given was 5PM Dallas time. We would be barely legal to go. Then ATC advised us that they wouldn't allow us to take off until 6:45 PM. At that point we knew we would be illegal. The passengers were in luck that an entire crew was deadheading (flying as passengers) on our flight and agreed to fly the plane to DFW. After waiting around the Little Rock airport for 6 hours, we finally went illegal and went to the hotel.
We were supposed to deadhead back on a 6:55AM flight ot DFW. At that point I was being sent back to Cleveland for an overnight. I didn't really want to go. I want to go home. An hour later my crew was scheduled to fly the flight back instead of deadhead. All of this was predicated on the DFW to Little Rock flights making it in. This morning I checked my schedule again. Two DFW to Little Rock flights last night cancelled. My crew is now going to fly back at 12:15PM. I then sit around for 4 hours before flying to...........Cleveland!
I'm tired. I really wasn't thinking I would be gone for 5 days. I packed for it though.
The flight I was supposed to fly back from Little Rock did make it to DFW, but not before holding (flying circles in the sky) for quite a while over Oklahoma. Below is the flight path along with the weather radar at the time.
Still loving my job. Not liking it right now....but still loving it.
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