Friday, August 29, 2008

It's Finally Over

After a wait of nearly two weeks I would finally be finishing up with my international line checkout.

The plan was for me to deadhead to Miami and then work a revenue trip over to Madrid.

I had been to Madrid many times as a First Officer and I was looking forward to going over again.

Our plane had just arrived from Santiago, Chile and was getting all it's necessary maintenance items tended to when we arrived at the gate. We were planning to carry a full load of passengers tonight (223).

Takeoff weight was 390,000 lbs at liftoff but the 767 climbed out remarkably well in the hot and humid conditions in Miami. By 20,000 ft the relief pilot had already gone back to the cabin for his rest break. The crew rest seat is a first class seat. Our 777's have crew bunks but not the 767's. The relief pilot almost always has to take the first break. He or she doesn't get much rest since the cabin crew is doing their meal service and it's pretty noisy...but that's the unfortunate result of being the junior crew member in the cockpit. The two flying pilots get to choose between the other two rest breaks.

We climbed out to the northeast and leveled off at 34,00 ft for the Atlantic crossing. I had no problem staying awake as the check airman had plenty to talk about all night long. He was one of the most competent check airman I have ever flown with and I enjoyed learning from his vast experience on the 767.
The crossing would take us only up to about 49 degrees north latitude. That's pretty common for a Europe bound flight from a departure city as far south as Miami. I ended up taking the last rest break. It was about 2.5 hours worth. When I went back to the cockpit the sun was rising and Portugal was just starting to come into view. Soon after that we started our descent with Madrid Control. Barajas Airport was reporting clear skies and calm winds...perfect conditions for the check airman to make a smooth landing. (I wondered why he took the first leg, but the next morning when I flew the return leg it all became clear.)I didn't really do too much on the layover. Madrid has become unbelievably expensive for Americans (as has most of the rest of the world). None of the other crew members wanted to go out and sightsee so I ended up just going out on my own for a few hours and took in a few sights.

For dinner the three of us pilots ended up having Chinese food!! It was relatively inexpensive and tasted good with our cervezas.

The next day it was back to work again. My turn to fly. The departure procedure from Madrid is one of the most convoluted and demanding procedures I have seen. It is a very noise sensitive area and flying it requires some very precise maneuvering. Attention to headings, altitudes and required turn points are mandatory. If you mess it up you can expect to get a violation notice from the local authorities.

This is why the check airman wanted me to fly the return leg. He wanted me to experience the "joy" of flying the departure procedure. Well apparently I didn't mess it up because I haven't received a violation notice yet.

The westbound leg took us much further south than the eastbound leg. We flew right over the city of Lisbon, Portugal then continued west towards the Azores. Further along we passed well south of Bermuda and then right over Nassau before starting downhill for Miami. The water in the Bahamas sure is clear. I made a really nice landing right before a line of thunderstorms rolled in and messed up AA's schedule for the rest of the day. But my line check was complete and I was officially done with training.

So now it's back to flying the line with new adventures to come.


ProPilots said...


Wooowhooo! Back on the line and all checked out. Must be a good feeling. Enjoy the new ride. Sounds like a fun one. I look forward to hearing about your adventures. Maybe I'll hear you over the Atlantic someday.

Stay frosty,


JP said...

Congrats on completion of your 767 captain rating!!

Looking forward to more great posts from international locations.


Len (Barfbag) said...

Thanks JP and Darren.

I'll have a few more posts to offer before too long.


KLIT said...

Congrats on the checkout!! I'm happy to see that you're updating regularly... keep 'em comin'!

I'm just getting my first taste of departure procedures (I'm 17, got my private back in June and I'm working on my instrument now). Fun stuff :)

Tom said...

Congrats Len,
I definitely look forward to reading more about life on the line with the 767...

Len (Barfbag) said...


Little Rock I assume? Keep at it. Many aspiring pilots tend to lose interest during instrument training since it can be pretty demanding. I always enjoyed it seems to make you a better pilot IMHO.


Len (Barfbag) said...


Thanks for the kind words. I'll be posting a little more often now that the hard stuff is over with.


KLIT said...


You got it... Little Rock. Been training with the FBO here from the get-go. It's pretty cool to me, to train at an airport with (relatively) high airline traffic... that's what I'm really into. The instrument flying is the stuff I've been waiting for... shooting an ILS following an RJ doing the exact same procedure... love it!

Did you ever make it out here much? We get AA Mad Dogs here occasionally...

Len (Barfbag) said...


Looks like this week has been a good one for some actual IFR with all the rain and IFR conditions you've been getting.

I haven't been to LIT since I was a MD-80 first officer. That was about 20 years ago.