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Location: Massachusetts, United States

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Airline pilot... almost

The Saab behaved beautifully all the way down the localizer and we broke out of the clouds at minimums, only seconds before a decent touchdown. I moved the power levers into beta range and the deceleration pinned me to the harness as the airplane soon came to a stop.
"Don't forget to fast for your medical tomorrow," said Bill, the simulator instructor.
Elated, I left the amazing full-motion sim and made my way back to the hotel shuttle through the maze that is the American Airlines flight academy in Dallas.
A week later, the call finally came.
After clearing the six-hour "astronaut medical", a captains' board and a government background check American Eagle offered me a job as a First Officer on the Embraer regional jet out of Boston's Logan Airport.
Words can hardly describe the feeling of having achieved a boyhood dream, something that I hadn't ever thought possible until a year ago.
Today was my last day instructing and as my student and I made our way back from the Connecticut shore on his dual cross-country, I secretely hoped for headwinds.
Bidding goodbye to the little piston airplanes that have occupied the bulk of my life in the past 9 months was a little sadder than I had expected. The last year has been tough. First it was the three months away from home as I worked to earn my certificates. Then came the challenge of learning my job as a flight instructor and with it the paucity of the profession. But it has been an incredible journey and as I turned to look at the line of aircraft on my way home tonight I smiled with a mix of elation and melancholy.
The late afternoon flight from Connecticut was pleasant and my student graciously allowed me to take the controls in the setting sun for one last landing. I savored every precious second of it and it wasn't even a good one!
"Left at Golf, contact ground point seven and have fun Mark," said the controller.
Anyone who's been around me in the past weeks will attest to the fact that I can't wait to get my hands on the funky-looking ERJ control wheel but I have to admit: I'll miss the Cessnas, Seminoles and Arrows that have taught me so much.
When I launched into this last winter, one fear persisted. What if making a living out of it saps my passion for flying? While I'm only a year into the new profession, I'm glad to report that I love flying just as much as I did stepping out of the airplane on that cold February day in 2004 following a discovery flight.
I just can't believe I won't be flying for six weeks!!!


2 Comments:

Blogger ERJ Driver said...

good luck Mark! I did the eagle interview but we were in the atr. It was a good time. I got hired at express jet. Just finished training in the erj. Have fun. The aircraft is amazing. Its easy to fly....heavier than you are used to but you get to use both hands. The ram's horns are totally un-ergonomic but you get used to it. Keep us posted and get ready for the firehose. Itll be grueling but oh so sweet when you are done.

-sean

9:19 PM  
Blogger Berenice said...

Hey there how's it going? I really enjoy reading your blogs. I thought you might be interested in checking out my flying diary. I post videos and pictures of all my flights. It is great. People have been adding their own videos, experiences, and pictures. I was wondering if you would like to contribute to my flying channel on Kyte tv.
Check it out
www.kyte.tv/flying

ciao! much luck in the clouds!

11:54 PM  

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