Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Dreaded All-Nighter

By the time we made the drive from HNL airport into town, it was getting to be towards early evening. Our hotel is right on Waikiki Beach. But even with the five hour time difference from Texas, I made the effort to get out and about and see a few sights.Tourism is alive and well in Hawaii. The streets and beaches are packed as are the stores, hotels, bars and restaurants. A couple of us pilots met for a beer at a nearby watering hole but we made an early night of it.

The next morning brought the usual warm weather and tropical humidity. It looked like a good day for a hike. Our flight home wasn't until late evening so off I went towards Diamond Head crater. I was told it was only a 90 minute hike.

In reality it was more like two hours with all the rest breaks I had to make. I was drenched in sweat by the time I finally reached the end of the trail. But the views were great and the return hike was all downhill.


That's a lot of hotels!!

Here's the inside of Diamond Head.>>>>


So then it was back to town and then some beach time before packing up and heading for the airport to work the all-nighter back to DFW.As usual, we were full. The faces on the passengers were decidedly different than those of the ones we brought out there. Maybe the reality of knowing they had to go back to their everyday lives and jobs was the reason for the less than enthusiastic moods I perceived. Or maybe they weren't looking forward to a seven and a half hour all-nighter! I know I wasn't.

We launched off into the night and soon leveled off at FL330. I hadn't flown a true all-nighter in years. I have always hated them. Some pilots enjoy the night flying...the fewer radio calls, less air traffic, more direct routings, etc. But most of us hate them.

I've been asked what we do to stay awake all those hours. I'll save that for another post, but most people would be surprised to know how busy some oceanic crossings are in the cockpit.

But anyhow, this night was a great night for flying. It was smooth as glass the entire night. Not once did the seat belt sign have to come on. I made a trip through the cabin during my break and found most of the passengers snoozing.
We ended up at FL350 and cruised along past LA, Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Lubbock and then downhill for DFW. Twenty minutes out I woke everyone up with a prepare for landing PA and before long the First Officer greased it on just as the sun was rising over Dallas.

So the night was over and my first "unaccompanied" trip was in the books. Not a bad one at all in spite of the return leg. Unfortunately there will be many all-nighters to come.

Maybe they'll get easier.....

8 comments:

Babs (Beetle) said...

Hello JB's dad! That was very interesting.

Mickey said...

Fascinating view from a pilots point of view.
I like the pictures as well as the insights.
Safe flying.

Hana said...

My Mom just has trouble staying away during a 1.5 hour meeting. She has no idea how pilots can do an all-nighter. Hopefully you all get a good rest before the flight!

What does "unaccompanied" trip mean?

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Hana,

Unaccompanied just means that I was flying without a check airman along with me. You see I'm new to this particular airplane and I just finished up my training on it a few weeks ago.

Len

Hana said...

Oops. I realized I had a typo in my last comment. I meant "My Mom just has trouble staying AWAKE during a 1.5 hour meeting." She doesn't know how you do all-nighters!

Congratulations on your first "unaccompanied" trip! I'm not sure what a check airman is, but I think I get the gist! Thanks!

Your photos are fun to look at. It's interesting seeing things from the pilot's view in the cockpit. Looks more exciting than my view. My view always seems to be just the wing or engine. Too bad JB and Company don't get to travel along with you to your destinations.

Otto said...

Len,
Looks like you are living it up! I had my first trip in the -10 out to HNL a few weeks back. I was dumb fat and happy at 4000ft and 250 kts expecting vectors for 8L and they found a gap and cleared me the visual about 10 miles from the field..talk about crazy..managed to get it down on the ground haha!

Anyhow, glad to see things are going well!

oli said...

Hey Len,
Was there a jetty or pier there for you to get that shot of the boogie-boarders in Hawaii?
.....and how do you get from the airport to DiamondHead and back?

Len (Barfbag) said...

Hi Oli,

Yes there was a small jetty that I walked out on to get that shot.

The airline has crew transportation arranged for travel between the airport and our hotel in Waikiki. I walked from our hotel to Diamond Head and back.

Len