Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas as a Pilot's Wife

                                                   Merry Christmas from Disney!!!!

I will be the first person to say we are extremely lucky this year that dh is home.  That being said there have been many years when he wasn't, and that's the normal.

Let's start with the year that I met dh, he was in upgrade training in Houston (we had moved down there) and we didn't come home for Christmas.  My family was very understanding of this, especially considering I had known dh for 6 months at this time and it included a move across the country with him.  However dh's parents didn't understand this and I was blamed for him missing Christmas.  Great way to make an impression on future in laws right?

Fast forward to a few years later he was actually home for Christmas and his good friend (pilot) had an overnight where we lived at the time.  It was great even though it wasn't a long overnight there is nothing better than helping a pilot have at least have a little bit of home on the holiday.

Then there were the Allegiant years.  Which brought a whole other level of crap to the holidays.  My absolute favorite was the year they let him trip trade off Christmas, which was great we were so excited!  Until two weeks later, after we had already bought our tickets home it "magically" appeared back on his schedule, a lot of screaming ensued which resulted in the company (basically) telling us "too bad so sad it's on your schedule now."   The joke was ultimately on them though, due to their fantastic maintenance program dh had super scary emergency landing.  This in turn gave him Christmas off, even though he had to sleep in the airport after his flight and told the schedulers to go pound sand.  Communication was stellar the chief pilot gave him and the CA  (coincidentally one our best friends these days) and dh the time off because of the nature of the emergency, but didn't tell scheduling.  So scheduling kept calling dh asking where he was, he finally turned off the phone.  I picked him up at the airport Christmas Eve morning and the only thing he wanted was breakfast somewhere with a bar, it was bad.  Then there were the years I drove from ABQ-ORD by myself in the truck with the cats and dogs because dh couldn't any time off around Christmas (or Christmas).  Every Christmas has a story it seems in those Allegiant years.

Then there was last year, dh had just switched companies, which in and of itself was a fantastic Christmas present.  But we also knew that because of that he would be working.  Dh was home on Christmas Eve and I dropped him at the airport Christmas Day morning at 6am.  And my day went on from there, Christmas with his parents, and later in the day my family.  While dh got a nice turn to LGA.  Every year we make it work, some years are better than others no doubt, so I will leave you with a poem I wrote one year.  I was supposed to drove to Chicago but I got a hundred miles away and something was wrong with the truck so I flew at the last minute with a giant box of presents and a cat in a snow storm, it was fun...or something....also VERY expensive!

Christmas Time Pilot Wife Style (Night before Christmas)

T'was the trip before Christmas and all through the house
 everyone was stirring perhaps even a mouse.
The truck had been packed with less than a care
in the hopes that I would soon get the hell outta there.

The animals were snuggled all safe in the back
while visions of sugar plums danced while they yacked.
While me in the front along with puma the cat
had just settled down to drive forever at that.

When out on the road there was such a shudder
I turned back home before the truck went a flutter.
Back to the computer I ran in a dash
hoping to book tickets that wouldn't cost me much cash.

Success with free tickets, send me away
only to turn out at the airport I must stay.
And to what did my tired ass eyes  appear?
the snow of the century that all airport passengers fear.

When I spy a poor old F9 driver so sad and quick
I knew in a moment he must work for the "Revered  St Dick."
More rapid than a hare he said they went missed 4 times
and this will no doubt cost you another dime.

On Delta on Airways, American, and Continental
and whoever we could ride on without being judgmental.
 Into the line you must rush
to see how to get out of all this fuss.
So I call my pilot who flies in the sky
to shout about what is happening and why.
 Up to the front of the line I flew
to find out my ticket was book on American anew.
Then in a twinkling I heard on my phone
my husband calling to let it be known.
That I would be staying the night in a hotel,
because the roads to my house had closed...what hell!

 I schlepped all my bags, boxes, and cat
onto the hotel with all of my crap.
 In the morning I got free breakfast for my trouble,
and back to the airport where American charged me double.

By the time I arrived in Chicago I'm not merry
and want to beat the shit out of the Christmas fairy.
Little did I realize my fun was just beginning
back to the airport I drove to pick up my husband who was grinning.
Two days I got to see my husband before
he flew off to Ft Lauderdale once more.
Then quick as flash back  to the airport I drove to get him
and on Christmas Eve even by now I'm quite grim.

But my fun was not over, because I got sick myself
what better to visit an ER on Christmas day...when else?
After receiving two shots which I dread
the rest of the day passed in my happy floatly head.

Lucky for me I had a few days to shirk
before following dh to Ft. Lauderdale for work.
Could barely stay awake till midnight on New Year's Eve
then my one day at the beach it was 30 I was  peeved!

Then back to ORD I went like a missile
and waited for Dh to appear looking official.
The next morning again to the airport for our O'Dark thirty flight
And we finally made it back home before midnight!


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Great Expectations

I don't know if it's the Christmas season or what but recently I have talked to, and heard of pilots bemoaning the fact that they have been at their regional for X number of years.  Depending on what X is depends on whether I want to tell them to grow up and welcome to the real world or not.  Here's the truth, in the regional world there is no magic number of years to be there before you can go to a major.  Some in the military go straight to a major, some go to a regional and then move up, but there is no hard fast rule about how long one can plan on being at a regional.

A bit of background here might help.  Dh started flight instructing, worked charter for 2 years, was at his regional for 10 (and furloughed for 2 of those 10 years) worked corporate while he was furloughed.  Then he went to a LCC, he was there for a three years, of which we mostly wish he had never left his regional as it was far superior to the LCC.  And now he's at Spirit.  While we are extremely happy to be at Spirit and  it's worked out better than we could have ever planned, this wasn't how things were suppose to go when he started.

You see when he started at Continental Express (yes it was still owned by Continental) and they had a flow through, he was going to be at Continental in 5 years flying across the pond.  But what? What's that? 9/11 happened and the Continental guys flowed back to the Express side which pushed dh into a furlough.   So you think this is just the way the game is played right?  He got furloughed but will then sometime flow up to Continental right? Wrong. Continental then sold Express to pay for their pensions and killed the flow through in the process.  So pretty much there went his thoughts of going to Continental.

Now I'm not saying all this to be sad and upset, it is what it is, it's the airline industry and quite frankly it sucks.  If you expect anything out of this industry you are in for a rude awakening.  Sure everyone knows someone, who knows someone, who got hired at Delta as an FO, but it's so infrequent you are probably better off playing the lottery.  It makes me laugh (if I didn't want to hit them) when I hear guys say "I've been at my regional for 3 years I wasn't supposed to be here this long, I should be at Delta/AA/ect.  I'm not sure why they haven't called me."  This annoys the crap out of me, I'm sorry that someone somewhere told you that you were special and you wouldn't be there for more than three years, but there are a lot of guys worse off than you.

The guys I have met that seem to have every reason to legitimately complain about the airline industry (but don't) are the 50+ year olds who are in new hire classes.  Some of these guys have had the absolutely crap beaten out of them.  Case in point one guy in dhs new hire class was at DHL then went to World/North American and was furloughed when he was over 50.  You want to start complaining about your three years at a regional when you're 28, get a life.  I give these older guys a lot of credit most of them have an upbeat view on life and are happy to be anywhere that there paycheck doesn't bounce.  Maybe it's a generational issue more of a "me" generation vs. boomer and generation X (though I have met a few younger guys who were furloughed from Comair who are very nice and down to earth).  Regardless of the case I would ask you take a minute and think before you start complaining, not only because it makes you sound spoiled but also people are less likely to help someone and write them a rec, when they are complaining.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Being a Pilots Wife

There are a lot of things non-aviation folks just don't understand, after all how could they? Here is a list of my top "misunderstandings."

1) Holidays - At some point in their aviation career your pilot will not be home for the holidays.  This means any holiday Birthday, Anniversary, Christmas etc...And it won't be just one year they will miss these, it will be many years of missed holidays.  Last year when dh started his new job he worked every holiday, even the hallmark ones (Valentines day, St Pattys day, etc...) and this year he is working New Years Eve but that's ok we knew that would happen when he took the new job. The family though...lets just say over the last 10 years they have gotten used to it.

2) Free Flights! Those "free flights" you get when you marry a pilot will at some point allow you to sleep in a crappy airport.  I'm not talking a nice airport like DEN I'm talking crappy like CLE. Those free flights are great, if there are empty seats on the plane, but these days its harder and harder to find a plane that isn't stuffed to the gills. So while it's not impossible to fly standby these days, its a far cry from what ever your friends and family think you do.

3) Day Tripper - Along with #2 is that your relatives may not understand going to Disney World for the day.  To people who don't fly a lot it seems like a big effort to go for just one day, but for you the well seasoned nonrev it's just another adventure.  Hell I've driven to the airport just to meet dh for dinner if he had a few hours sit, fyi DEN is great for this as they have a lot of stuff outside security.

4)Scheduling - your relatives won't understand this, especially to start with.  For me after all these years in the in industry it's second nature and I forget that people have no idea that words I'm using sound foreign. For some reason I am having a difficult time describing reserve lines right now (you would think it would be self explanatory right?) I think it is confusing people that sometimes he flys and sometimes he doesn't on reserve.  I keep getting questions of when is his next trip? And do you really have to fly on reserve days or will you be around?

5) Loneliness - Here is one of the most undeniable truths about being a pilots wife, you WILL be lonely.  I'm not saying all the time, or every time he is on a trip, but there will be times when you're sick, or when you want to go out that you will be lonely.  This is not meant to be a "poor me" cop out, but it will happen, and probably more than once.

6) Being by yourself - This goes hand in hand with #5 you will get used to going places/doing thing by yourself.  This can mean anything from going out to dinner, going to the zoo, going to a wedding, or going to family Christmas by yourself.  You will get used to this, and hopefully after a few years your relatives will either understand your pilot is at work or at least stop asking about it.

7)  Pilot Wife the Great Fixer - In the spirit of #5 and #6 you will get very good at fixing things yourself.  It never fails the minute the pilot walks out the door something breaks.  Oh and it's almost always after normal "business hours" so you can forget having someone come fix it!

8)  Training - The world stops for training.  Training is critically important every year its "you bet your job" in the simulator. I can't count the number of things I haven't told dh while he has been in training; dogs sick, dog died, I'm sick, somethings broken, I say nothing when he is in training. Training is so stressful to start with I won't add to that unless absolutely necessary.

9) Unions -  Depending on your relatives they may or may not understand Unions.  Some people love them, some people hate them, but they are very present in the airline industry.  Usually if some starts bashing on them we stay quiet, its hard for folks outside the industry to understand how important they are in the industry.  Having been at both a union and a non-union airline, we (well dh) will NEVER fly at a non-union airline again if he has a choice.

10) Rich Pilot - The best for last, all your relatives who think that dh is a pilot and is rich. I know many a pilot families who qualify for state aid us included when dh was on first year pay. Yes, if your pilot is a mainline widebody captain he's making a decent living, other than that he's probably not rich, unless he made his money somewhere else.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful Thursday

                      And here is a fun one for tbt circa 2005!!!

I know a lot of times in the airline industry we complain, and sometimes with good reason. However, in reality I have A LOT to be Thankful for tomorrow.

1) First off I am thankful for both our families, they both have helped us out a lot (and continue to do so) is so many ways, I am forever grateful to them.

2) I'm grateful for our house and where I live.  I love having a little bit of acreage but being able to get to one of the country's busiest airports in 45 min is priceless.  It's a good mix of country/city for us.

3) Thankful for our health, no really I am, it could be a whole lot worse. Also glad to have our super good health insurance!

4) I am super thankful dh has a job, and that it is a good enough job that I don't have to work.

What are you Thankful for?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Attitude Affects Everything

                                      My favorite pic after the marathon,
                                 I refuse to let any illness/surgery stop me!

So I just hit a milestone with my last hip surgery, maybe not a good milestone, but that was my 10th surgery!!  That's right 10 surgeries (of various nature, most related to endometriosis) and these are just the ones that I have had general anesthesia for, I figure local and twilight don't count.

My hip surgery wasn't bad by my standards, the kidney surgery a month prior was WAY worse.  It was horrible, and I ended up spending 4 days in the hospital.  Comparatively hip surgery was a breeze, I woke up and my first thought was, Why is it so late? We are going to hit rush hour! Turns out my hip was worse than they expected so it took a lot longer, that seems to be a common theme in my surgeries.

The thing is through all these surgeries I keep pushing forward, true some are much harder to push through (kidney surgery) than other surgeries.  One of the best things my mother instilled in me was even if you don't feel good get up, take a shower, and get dressed.  Its a "fake it till you make it" type philosophy.  This has worked wonderfully well for me, well that and a handful of pain killers sometimes, but none the less I don't often miss things because of how I feel.

I don't want you to think it's all unicorns and happy pills though, I do end up in the ER, sometimes a lot.  Sometimes I end up passing out when I get to the airport to pick dh up so he can take me to the ER, but I am usually back at it the next day.  Since dh is sometimes gone 5 days at a time I also don't have the luxury of lying around saying "poor me" I still have to take care of the horses/dogs/cats and anything else that comes up when he is gone.

Are there things I would have liked to do but can't? Sure, I desperately want to run the Goofy Race (half marathon and full marathon) at Disney this year, but that's not going to happen.  The important thing is to keep your head up and keep moving forward.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

2 Short Years

2 years ago.

  That's what I am thinking sitting here tonight, while strapped into a medieval torture device.  2 years ago I first found out that Disney World had races.  You see we had just finished a cruise and were killing a day at Disney before flying home.  I had seen people walking around with medals on wondering what they were from.  I asked a nice couple and they informed me it was from the Wine and Dine half marathon, which they had run the night before!!  It was as if the clouds parted and the sun came out!

I love Disney how had I not heard of this before?  So I went home and immediately signed up for the Princess Half Marathon (which was in Feb) and then got lucky and wiggled into the Tinkerbell Half Marathon (which was in Jan) when they had a Black Friday sale. 

I had never run a half marathon before, but what the heck why not?  Turns out I loved it.  So after doing those two races and because they were each at different parks (Disneyland and Disney World) I also got the coast to coast medal!  And of course when it was time for Wine and Dine I signed up, turns out it was my favorite race, one of the few that is a night race and they keep the park open late for an "after-party" after the race, it's fantastic.

Those races it turns out were just preparation for Disney's newest race introduced this year, the Dopey.  I happily forked over the money to run a 5k, 10k, 1/2, and full marathon (4 days in a row).  By now everyone thought I was crazy, it's one thing to do a half but a full?  And running them back, to back, to back, to back?  But I did it, and had a great time doing so, and now as a sit here tonight looking longingly at my facebook page and everyone who is running Wine and Dine where I should be I'm saddened, but it has also given me a chance to reflect on t how much I have done in 2 years!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Happily Married

So in the last month I have had two different people comment on how "when they get married want to be like us."

The first was at the salon when we were getting our hair cut.  We made the appointment so mine was first then dh's.  Why drive twice?  So in our usual way we sat there and talked to the girl cutting our hair and bantered back and forth with each other, nothing uncommon for us.  That's when she remarked that "when she gets married she wants to be (happy) like us."  I thought it was a nice complement and then forgot about it.

Last week when we were at my dr's office we waited for about 2 hours, yes its a long time but I LOVE my dr.  So we were sitting there chatting and bantering, and playing rock, paper, scissors. The awesome girl that works there, commented that is was "fun to watch us and how happy we were together."  Honestly I still didn't think much about it.

So flash forward to now, I was thinking about a few posts I have seen on fb about being happily married and it got me thinking.  To be honest dh and I are pretty happy, sure the first year or so was a bit of an adjustment, but we survived it and learned from it.  Just as we survived him working at his last airline and never being home and working all the time, even when he was off.

Being happily married isn't about living in some happy land with prince charming, and if you think thats what it means then you won't be happily married.  Sure, sure when you first get engaged/start dating it will seem like all fairtales and unicorns and you will think thats what it will be like when you are married.  News Flash; it won't.  There will be times when you don't feel appreciated, and even though you cleaned the house your husband comes home and re-cleans the house.  There will be times you give him a list of things to do, only to come home and find he hasn't done any of them, or it takes him 3x as long to do something as it should.  You may disagree on how to do a project, big hint don't do them together!  The list goes on about little things that can and will drive you crazy if you let them.

But if you have married your best friend it's not all bad. Honestly dh and I hardly ever really fight, sure we might disagree on something but its usually minor.  I can't remember the last time I was super pissed off at dh, it clearly wasn't important enough to remember.  Dh and I honestly don't have a ton in common. To start with dh is a clean freak and bordering on OCD, which is absolutely what I want in pilot someone who is organized.  Is it what I want in a husband?  Well its what I got; where as I am absolutely not a clean freak, definitely disorganized would probably categorize me. I can (almost) always find things but they aren't always in a "logical" (according to dh) place.  Dh is also super mechanical minded where as I think airplanes (and cars) run by pfm (pure fucking magic).  We would definitely be what you would call "opposites attract."  As the years have gone by though we've grown to like (or tolerate) each others hobbies, one of my favorite shows is Top Gear, this would not have happened 10 years ago.  Dh also tries to understand and help with the horses.  Ever relationship is give and take.

 My best advice is to ask yourself; Will you be mad about X issue next week? Next month?  If your answer is no then it's now worth arguing about.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Air France Flight 447

So in light of the article in Vanity Fair that recently came out I thought I would post about it. Seems like it's been a long time (5 years!) since it happened, but I was very happy to see this article, mostly because of how good I thought it was. Now I know you non-aviation people probably won't read a 9 page article on a plane crash, and that's ok, but if you do read one, read this one.

Coming from a standpoint of having this same exact situation happen to dh (in a different plane, and during a clear day) I find this crash fascinating, and lucky for me dh has his masters in Human factors and safety in aviation, so he finds it just as interesting. He also hates the airbus that he now flies, BUT he knows how important it is to know about scenarios like this, the more you know the better off you are.

 That's really what this article is about in a sense and is also why I like it, its extremely unfortunate that this happened, but the best thing we can do is learn from it. If nothing else this crash may help prevent another. I am sure that is of little consolation to the people who lost loved ones on the flight, but hopefully they could find comfort in knowing that it may help prevent another crash.

 My goal with this blog is not to break down the article to you, nor will I (or my dh) EVER Monday night quarter back a deceased crews decision. I know this temptation is there for a lot of people, but just remember you have NO idea what it was like, nor do you have any idea how you would react. You might think on this won't happen to me, or I would do this instead, but in the heat of the moment you really have no idea what you would do. Never Ever walk on a dead pilots grave. Instead use this as a learning process, so if it does happen to you, you are prepared.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Network, Network, Network.

So it's recently been a conversation on Facebook as well as in our personal life so I figured I'd talk about it. Networking.  You don't know how many people I see say "My husband has applied everywhere and no one is calling, he hasn't gone to job fairs and doesn't  have letters from anyone, and I don't know why no one is calling him."

While HR does somewhat run the show these days at airlines networking is still key.  We are proof of that.  When dh decided last summer that he needed to move on from his job,  he had 2 interviews in 3 months of when he decided to leave (at majors).  This is ALL because of networking, and I don't mean networking as in cold calling people you met 4 years ago for 10 minutes.  The folks that helped dh out were people we have know for at least 2+ years (and in one case 6 years).  These guys (and their wives) are our friends.  When we met them years ago our thought wasn't "how can they help us"  it was "hey these guys are cool and fun to hang out with, and we have a lot in common."  So once these guys heard dh was looking for a new job they were both happy to help out, without us even asking.  This is how networking is supposed to work.  Now we meet up with these guys every year in Vegas for Jetcareers

A tale of two Pilots

So now it's time for a real life example of networking.  We have a good friend named Dave (name changed of course) Dave and dh were in the same new hire class 14 year ago at their regional.  That's right 14 years ago.  Through the years Dave and dh have stayed in touch, we even stayed at Dave's house when I had surgery and dh used Dave's house as a crash pad.  Dave also stayed at our house on Christmas one year on a long layover.   Dave is still currently at his regional and dh want to help him out, so he takes Dave's resume to HR at his current company and Dave helped himself by going to a job fair.  Sure enough Dave now has an interview at dh's current company.

We also know a pilot named Bob (again not real name) Bob was an FO at dh's regional.  We liked Bob, Bob was fun to hang out with, we even met up for dinner a few times.  But Bob drifted off and we hadn't heard from him in 2 years.  A few days ago we got a text from Bob, Bob wanted to know if dh could help him get a the airline dh left last year.  Once we nicely told Bob he wasn't there anymore we haven't heard from him again.  Now we like Bob, but this isn't the best way to network.
So I wish everyone well in moving on, but keep in mind that networking is really important!

*Yes there will always be those few people who make it somewhere without knowing anyone, but Networking is making your own luck!