Pilot Ball Caps

Pilot Ball Caps
Pilot Ball Caps .com

Pilot Ball Caps .com

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Naked Chuck

Every once in awhile, you run across a character that is so vivid, and colorful, that you never forget them...ever. Chuck was just such a person.

Chuck was my last copilot while I was on active duty. He's an exceptional stick, good heads-up, great skills and an all-around great guy (for an Academy grad). I got him on my crew when he was a 1LT, and we worked together on a special ops crew for my last year with the 305th.

Now, I know I mentioned Chuck was a great pilot.... and my best example was going out to Red Flag that year. We were in formation with another KC-135, flying the RT as number two. Formation spacing on the tanker is maintained by radar tracking and DME. We were in and out of the weather and deviating for thunderstorms, when out radar crapped out. This meant we had to maintain visual contact with our lead aircraft, and if separated we could not detect and avoid any of those thunderstorms. Since we had the RT (KC-135 modified to receive fuel as well as other spec. ops mods) it was as simple as maintaining physical contact with the Lead tanker's boom. Getting the contact is tricky enough, but we had to stay connected to the Lead for over 1 1/2 hours straight. Chuck and I would have to relieve each other about every 10 minutes. Swapping control while in contact was not my first option, but neither one of us could have held on for that long. If it weren't for my trust in him it's doubtful we would have been able to continue. He'll forever be a part of my fondest memories of my Active Duty years.

I know he's out there somewhere, probably still in uniform and still the same as he was as a First Lieutenant.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Certified sane pilots

Weird but true. We hear lots of weird stuff on the line. But when you hear it often enough, or better yet...when you witness it, then it becomes more than urban airline legend. We were trading stories with some charter crew the other night, and I had to share these little fun facts.

Years ago, Captain Rudy was known for many things... dressing to kill in three-piece suits on layovers (with matching chapeau...you know where I'm going with this!). He was a very engaging man, and always had "plans" for his layovers. BIG plans! The suits varied in colors from purple to baby-blue. Rumor..these were his off duty "work clothes". Nothing confirmed on this, ever. In spite of his extracurricular activities, apparently Capt. Rudy was pretty religious. We all found this out after his "incident". Rumors had been "floating" around that Capt. Rudy didn't like to fly through clouds. Not that he was afraid to fly on instruments, but rather that he feared hurting the "angels". Now the factual part of the story. One day during a routine takeoff, Capt. Rudy did a high-speed abort, that ended in an overrun incursion. His reason for the abort.... ANGELS! "There were angels on the runway, and that was his reason for the high-speed rejected take-off! No kidding. Then it was off to "happy camp" for Capt. Rudy, to prove that he was still sane.

I was flying with another Captain, a guy I'd flown with many times, when I made the comment that Rudy was one of only two "certified 'sane' " pilots at my airline. He asked "who was the other one"? I told him that it was Brian/Beth. He then told me that there were three certified 'sane' pilots. So I asked him who the other one was. It was him. Now he was a bit edgy, but I didn't find him in the same league as Rudy or Brian/Beth. I guess "happy camp" is busier than I knew. I also confirmed this when I was the last Captain to fly with a certain First Officer. He definitely needed a trip to happy camp. I knew this after one leg. He needed a break, and got one.

Now I know what you're about to ask.... who the hell is Brian/Beth? You've already figured it out, but I'll fill in a few fun facts. Here's a guy that I always knew as 'Weird Brian'. He was a cross between Howdy Doody and some homeless guy. It seems he rarely had a 'professional' hair cut, wore double knit slacks instead of the issue uniform pants, and unshined black cowboy boots. His hat was one size too small, and rested on the crown of his head, letting his unkempt red locks curl around the hat band. As weird as his 'normal' appearance may be, one day I found him to be unusually unusual. While waiting for my outbound aircraft to arrive, I see Brian come up from the jetway. Now I'm looking at him, just thinking, "Oh, there's weird Brian". But then.....holy shit! Weird Brian has TITS! He has a full c-cup in an incredible girlie bra! And I have now confirmed that I am going to hell, because I am staring at Brian's breasts! Can't look away. Must....look....away....but just....can't. Kind of like that horrible car wreck where you know that there has been a fatality. You don't want to see it, but can't look away.

Later I find out that Brian is one of the 'certified sane' pilots, who ends up getting a gender reassignment. He remained married for quite some time, which I attributed to the rumor (that I started) that when he had his penisectomy, his wife had an addadicktomy, so everything worked out. It was only a bad joke, but sometimes you just can't make this stuff up! From this I came to my own unscientific conclusion that one out of every 5000 airline pilots is trans-gendered. Now, at the time, Continental also had 5000 pilots and had one, and American and United both had two, and they both had around 10,000 pilots. So I figured that this was the industry standard. It's good to have standards.

Now I don't want anyone to freak out on this. As a profession, we are still far more scrutinized than any other. Those pilots were hired way before me, and I've been here 20 years. All three of those Captains are now retired, and the First Officer...well, he's doing much better. Thanks for asking.

This is my second installment. Fear not, all is well.

To add your stories, email me through my site at pilotballcaps.com. Blue skies and fair winds.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

First installment: I've always enjoyed flying, but the things that go with it.... can be tiring at best. Manual updates are the bane of every pilot's existence. And trying to understand the new Delta Air Lines method of organizing things in "One Place - Right Place" is more like "Some Place -or No Place". We'll all get by.

So yesterday, after nearly (Very nearly!) napping through my check-in for my rotation (read pairing, or trip schedule) I made it with 0 seconds to spare and managed to get the flight out late, due to a late inbound aircraft. I'm flying with Frank, which is good, because he's good at what he does and seems to get my weird sense of humor. The weather is crap... snowing and deicing, low ceiling and vis at destination. We make it there and back, and switch aircraft. No problem, we're back on time, looking forward to a long layover in Appleton WI (woo hoo?) and we're closing in on the end of an already long day. Just deice again, and find a place in Appleton that has hot wings and cold beer. Not so fast! The normally reliable DC-9, has a minor maintenance problem. We can't seem to start the right engine. Now I've been flying this thing for 18 years... and it always starts. Almost. No one seems to think it's a good idea to take off with just one engine, so it must be fixed. My dispatcher Vicky thinks I am very funny for suggesting that she work on the performance data for single engine takeoff.

Two hours later, we reboard our 'happy' customers, go deice and fly to ATW (Appleton). The control tower is closed now, but the weather has improved and we arrive uneventfully. The nice thing about the people who go to ATW...they're pretty friendly and are generally just happy to make it there the same day... so I didn't get bitched out just for doing my job today. They actually thanked me. This was nice, but that doesn't put hot chicken wings and cold beer in my belly. And being that we're so late, nothing is open to solve my dire need for this sustinence. I am denied of this basic pleasure, but tomorrow is another day. I will continue my quest.

The best part of my day is knowing that Connie will be there to share my wings, if I were able to find them. Second to that... Stu from Canada finally got his ball caps from me. I sent two separate packages to the Netherlands in less time than I could get one package through customs and up to Canada.

To see my flying pictures go to pilotballcaps.com and click on the random flying link.