Time: 1730 local
Location: Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport
The crew and I have just arrived at the gate from our overnight in Montreal. Today is a special day, one I’ve been looking forward to for a few months – my last flight with JungleJet Airlines!
We arrived to Montreal late last night, after 0100. I wanted to make the most of my last trip so I slept fast and was up at 0700 to go explore. It’s feeling like spring in Montreal, and even the morning temperature was a mild 8 degrees Celsius. I walked uptown to a park that overlooks the city before getting on the metro to meet a friend for breakfast. As we chatted at the restaurant I felt the same feeling I’ve been experiencing the last few weeks: apprehension. I’m excited to be moving on and furthering my career, but my fondness for JungleJet has engendered a bit of sadness to be leaving. It’s the first job I truly enjoyed showing up to work for – leaving feels bittersweet.
At the gate in Montreal the agent advises us that Newark is in a ground stop and our expected departure time isn’t for another 3 hours. I think to myself that it’s kind of a fitting end to being based in Newark! We board the plane and radio the tower to verify the delay. There’s a line of weather just west of New York and it’s blocking arrivals and departures at all 3 of the major NY airports. The controller says an update will come out on the hour. Normally I would be irritated and anxious to get going so I can make my commute, but today I am content to wait a bit longer.
1800. Air traffic control issues the update that the ground stop is cancelled. Clearance gives us a wheels up time at 1830, so we board quickly and and start towards the runway. Things change fast in the NY airspace system and sometimes luck is on your side.
1830. Positive rate, gear up. We lift off from runway 24L with a light load of 32 people. The sun has just set on our right, but with altitude the sky brightens and turns a deep orange color as the light is filtered through the shade of stratus clouds. I sometimes wonder if I’ll ever tire of these picturesque scenes I am treated to so often.
1845. In cruise the captain and I enjoy easy conversation – something I have truly taken pleasure in throughout my time at JungleJet. Meeting interesting people, both in the cockpit and on overnights, has been an unforseen benefit of this job. The flight deck becomes host to many interesting conversations – sometimes hilariously funny, sometimes deeply personal, and pretty much everything in between.
1910. I call for the In Range checklist as we descend through 18,000 feet. We reset the altimeters to the local setting and I give an arrival briefing for runway 22L at Newark. The storms have all moved east now and the field is reporting calm winds and VFR conditions. The airspace is relatively quiet and the controller clears us direct to Teterboro airport for the visual approach. The lights of New York City are easy to spot arriving from any direction. I move my gaze a bit closer, finding both the Teterboro and Newark airports before disconnecting the autopilot to hand fly the approach. A few minutes later the controller asks us to slow to 180 knots and I call for Flaps 9 as I bank right to line up with the runway.
1920. The mains touch down on 22L and I click the thrust levers back to deploy the reversers. Leaving the runway I run the after landing flow, thinking how natural these movements have become. After so many hours a plane starts to feel like an extension of your own body. All the levers and buttons are right where you expect them to be.
1935. After the engine shutdown checklist is run I take one more look around the cockpit before gathering my bag, saying goodbye to the crew, and leaving the JungleJet for the last time. I then unceremoniously scramble over to terminal C and catch the last flight back home. Making it home takes precedence, even over nostalgia.
I created this blog in 2011 when I was hired at my first airline job. There were a number of aviation blogs I followed at the time, but none of them were written from the perspective of a beginner in the industry. The bottom of the seniority list as a Newhire First Officer is a scary place to be, and I thought it of value to document the experiences I was having seen through this beginners lens. I know I’m not always the most diligent at updating this blog, but I do hope at least to some extent it has served as a source of both entertainment and information, for any interested reader, but especially for the new First Officer on the very bottom of the seniority list wondering what they’re in for. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that I’ve been in the airline industry for almost 5 years. I can still clearly remember my first days in San Juan flying the ATR – new experiences pouring in at an overwhelming rate. For me, it’s time now to once again be that FO at the very bottom – learning a new aircraft, a new pilot contract, and new routes and destinations. It’s both daunting and exciting, but like most of life, it is best experienced when savored for its uniqueness.
I’ll be back in the coming months with more posts about my new job and updates on training. For now, I’ll leave the reader with a few of my favorite pictures from my time at JungleJet Airlines.
Houston Bush Intergalactic Airport – my base for the first year and a half at JungleJet.
Sometimes the line between airline pilot and street-walker is a thin one.
Probably the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen. Over central Mexico heading towards Houston.
My Captain and Flight Attendant were both sick on this trip. I was about to go on vacation and was desperately trying to avoid illness.
A true “crew life” portrait. This was my flight attendant trying to stay warm in the Washington Dulles crew room. The base was closing and they had already turned off the heat.
My favorite time to fly is early morning just as dawn is breaking. I love the soft colors, the smell of hot coffee in the flight deck, and the clarity of mind that comes with it all.
Overnights were often fun! This one was in Knoxville, TN and I borrowed a friends motorcycle to go for an afternoon ride.
Our pod in Newark, NJ. Many crew members loathe Newark, but I found it to have a bit of charm. And the best crews in our system.
Sometimes the plane feels as frazzled as we do.
Any airline pilot will tell you that they “have” to work holidays. I at least like to enjoy myself on these occasions. This was Festivus eve 2015 in Norfolk, VA. A sushi restaurant was the only thing open. We made the best of it by participating in some traditional Festivus feats of strength.
Turning final for 22L into Newark affords a great view of NYC. It’s one I never got tired of.
This was about a month ago on an evening flight from Chicago to Montreal. A front had just passed and the visibility was outstanding.