This is a 1200z (7:00 a.m Toronto time) surface analysis. It's depicting the "low" parked over the Maritimes with a center of 964 millibars. One can also see it's track in six hour intervals. It didn't intensify during that time but she (yeah I'm going to call it a "she") packed a wallop.
The city host to the cracked liberty bell (Philadelphia) didn't escape the east coast storm which tormented most the northeastern States and the Maritimes.
The phone rang yesterday offering me a Philadelphia turn. Crew sked would drop my early morning check-in the next day with pay and pay me draft premium of nearly 6.5 hours for about three hours of flying. I said yes in a nanosecond. In hindsight, I should have taken a few more seconds to think about it. Their question to me was, "how soon can I get to the airport?" My question to them, "who am I flying with?" (Something I always asked when I flew as an F/O). They told me my F/O will be arriving from San Francisco...my first hint things will be interesting.
I arrive at the airport on time and right away I'm on the Jeppeson site trying to download approach charts. This route is a dedicated Embraer route so I knew I would have one set of charts on board in the "alternate airport" section but I wanted to make sure I had all the charts. Years ago I launched to Munich assuming I had charts...oops...I'm digressing. "Painful" would be one way to describe downloading each chart into a PDF file and then printing it individually. There were 39 charts but I aborted the mission after 15 minutes with most of the charts. Now I'm looking over my shoulder for my F/O.
I decide to make my way to the airplane requiring American customs and security. I get to the gate where everyone is camped out. All the previous flights were cancelled and I could tell people were not happy.
The in-charge meets me in an agitated state. The A319 is our newly inherited Mexicana's airplane which has no J class just "sardine class." :) (It's my humour everybody). She doesn't have the correct cabin safety form. In the back of my mind I knew I recently read a memo buried in the bowels of the company website about this. I need my F/O...where's my F/O?
They started to board the airplane with me trying to make my way to the flight deck. (Equivalent to a salmon trying to swim upstream). I'm polite and I knew I would get the usually quips, "we need you" or "we are not going far without pilots." (I thought I flew there before, but it was Pittsburg about 12 years ago).
I get to the plane and I'm asked whether I'd be okay with a deadheading captain in the jumpseat. Now I'm thinking "home security." STOC (Station Operation control) says it's okay. It was nice of him offering his seat in the back for a passenger. Besides there was no J class. :)
Everyone is boarded and I'm still missing charts. Plus..."where's my F/O?"
Then there is a "duped" (double booking) seat, followed by an empty seat requiring a one by one passenger count and then a broken seat. Plus maintenance arrives saying they fixed the lavatory. "We had a broken lav?" I asked. Apparently someone filled it with....well...were not sure.
No sign of my F/O. I do the walk around. Brand new paint emblazoned the aircraft.
I make an announcement (one of many that leg) telling everyone we will be shipping an F/O in from San Francisco. Passengers are looking at the deadheading Embraer F/O and are querying why he can't fly the airplane.
Finally my F/O's flight arrives at another gate but he must pass through customs, get charts himself (or so he thought), go through customs and security.
He arrives and we get to work. I knew his "duty time" clock was ticking. Throughout the mission I determined he is a numbers guy...at precisely 13 hours he is walking.
Since I've never been there before (he was there once on a JETZ charter) I asked him to take us there. (I thought I flew there before, but it was Pittsburg about 12 years ago).
Off we go and make our way to the sixth populous city in the States. The whole time there is child in row one wailing. Not only did I feel sorry for the parents but the entire cabin.
We near the airport only to find they are down to a one runway operation. Translation...vectors...lots of them. I get a datalink from dispatch saying, "I... c... u...r ...in a hold." I datalink back saying, "not a hold...just vectors from hell." (More of my humour). Heck if things are off the rails you might as well make light of it.
An airplane missed the turn to the taxiway so two airplanes had to go around. Okay things are getting serious. Another airplane said they had enough (and NOT enough fuel) so they ducked off to their alternate. Plus everyone was reporting moderate mechanical turbulence below 5000 feet. I'm glad it's the F/O's leg. (More humour)
Finally the wailing child stops, there's peace in the clear skies, we are finally vectored to final. But not before they switched our runway about five times. Another runway opened up and they wanted us to land on it. What about runway conditions? We are approaching the FAF (final approach fix) and ATC and tower are giving brake index values but there's a hell of a crosswind blowing. I don't have time to pull out the charts. Besides I'm busy changing the runways in the "box." A B757 lands on 27 Right saying braking action is good. That's all I wanted to hear. The F/O wrestles the flight to a greaser (smoothie) of a landing. We clear the runway only to be greeted with poor taxiway conditions. I felt like a snow plow driver (not really but there's that humour again). :)
We get to the gate. The F/O is reminding me we might be staying the night.
He and crew sked determined he has until 8:58 to push back. Captain Doug releases the park brake at 8:48 p.m. Back to Toronto we go with pleased passengers.
A bunch of other things transpired (moderate icing in descent into YYZ, snags, etc) but hopefully many will appreciate we pilots don't always sit up at altitude and count our money. :) :) :)
I'm off to Edmonton and back tomorrow.