Monday, October 29, 2007

The Basics

OK.....Just the facts.

My name is Len. I came to the airlines via the General Aviation world. I started as an A&P (Airframe & Powerplant) mechanic and worked for a couple of years at various FBO's (Fixed Based Operation) in the greater Phoenix area. I already had a pilots license and owned a 1940 Taylorcraft at the time. I subsequently bought a 1947 Stinson Voyager and sold the T-Craft. The Stinson was sold about a year later.

While working as an A&P, I was building flying time any way I could and soon I had progressed up to the rank of CFI (Certified Flight Instructor). Then along came a job offer in West Texas working for a small FBO. While teaching student pilots there I was offered a job by a local company with roots in St Louis. This company distributed beer!! You can probably guess who they were. I became one of their full time pilots and progressed from a Cessna 421(Golden Eagle) to a Cessna 441 (Conquest), then on up to a Learjet 24. I worked for this company for 4 years and then hired on with the airline I'm employed by now.

Times were good back then in the airline world. I started as an FE (Flight Engineer) on the Boeing 727. In a few short months I advanced to FO (First Officer) on the McDonnell Douglas MD-80. Three years later I was flying international routes in the right seat of the Boeing 767 and 757. Five years after getting hired I found myself in training for the Captain's seat of the Boeing 727. One year later I moved over to the MD-80 again. I've been there ever since.

For those folks wondering how the seniority system works in the airline world, it's quite simple. For every senior pilot that retires, the junior pilot moves up one number. Now when there are few retirements, there is very slow progression for any line pilot. But when the airline is expanding routes and buying new airplanes and so forth, times are good and more pilots are needed to cover all the new routes and fill the pilot seats. Conversely, when an airline is downsizing and selling off airplanes, many of the junior pilots are not needed and unfortunately end up getting furloughed. That is the current situation at my airline. We still have over 2400 pilots furloughed however, the recalls have begun and many of them are starting to return to their old jobs here.

So that is how I progressed so quickly up to the left seat. It was purely good timing and luck. We have many FO's that have been here for up to twenty years and still don't know when they will make it to the Captain's seat. That is the nature of the airline world for a pilot.

Along the way, I was lucky enough to fly multiple varieties of aircraft during my position as an A&P and Flight Instructor. I also obtained Seaplane and Glider ratings as well. Then in the late 90's I decided to build an experimental aircraft. I chose a Kitfox. I kept it for a couple of years and then sold it. The very next day after I sold it, the buyer crashed and totaled it!! He didn't get hurt too bad but the plane was nearly destroyed. I was all set to build another one but the manufacturer went bankrupt so I ended up buying an already built Kitfox. Those are photos of it you see on my site. That plane was sold and I am now without an airplane. Someday I plan to build another experimental.

So that's about it. Come back soon as I begin to post my day to day experiences and photos from my life in the cockpit.

Thanks for reading.....Len


mlesser said...

Nice blog!

Im currently flying in Australia, hopefully moving to twin engine planes soon!

Would love to fly the conquest!

Len (Barfbag) said...

Thanks for the kind words....Good luck with your flying!