Fortunately, I have planned for this moment. I
have craftily compelled the first officer, Frank, to fly
this leg. By long-standing tradition, the captain flies
the first leg of a trip. From then on, we alternate.
Knowing my own dislike for late-night flights, I have
maneuvered him into this leg.
Eight hours ago, at the beginning of this trip, I
carefully counted the number of legs on each day of
this four-day trip. The first day has an odd number
of legs, the second and third days an even number.
Perfect! “Why don’t you start out flying today,” I
had casually offered, knowing I had just dangled
catnip in front of a tiger. First officers seem to perceive the offering of the first leg as some sort of
tremendous confidence in their flying ability, but in
this case, it was only my desire to avoid flying when
I would normally be in bed.
Regardless of who exactly is flying this leg, for
now, we wait. After a suitable period of time sitting
around, the last of the passengers show up, on the
run, from some far off corner of this massive airport
terminal. At least they look sweaty and disheveled. It
makes for a better show for those already on board if
they appear as if they have made an all-out effort to
get here as quickly as possible. The agent hollers the
count through the cockpit door and slams it shut.
Why do they always feel they have to slam the door?
It closes very quietly with the proper technique.
“Brakes released, cleared for push-back,” I
tell the unseen ramper on the tug, and we lurch
Somewhere over the dark
vastness of Vermont’s Green
Mountains, as we are descending
through 30,000 feet, the clock
As we begin to move it is time to awaken the two
Rolls-Royce Tay engines that will propel us to our
destination this evening.
Frank reaches up and punches the start button
for engine No. 1. At the appropriate 20 percent N2, I
bring up the fuel lever. Nothing. We wait…we wait
some more; no light off.
“Fuel lever cut-off,” I call as I move the fuel lever
to closed. “Keep it cranking,” I tell Frank, as if he
would forget. He knows his job better than I do.
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