I've arrived in Saudi Arabia. Last night we flew in from Europe and it was quite an experience for me. I had a very hard time understanding the controllers on the radio. Bob told me that I will get used to it making it a lot more easy. A few times they told us to do something and I would think to myself "Are they even speaking English?" Other than that, it was a great couple of legs. We flew from London down over France then along Italy on our way to Cairo. I could visibly see the boot that is formed by Italy. Unfortunately there was no stay in Cairo and we had to reposition the airplane down to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The airplane had a small issue once we were on the ground which actually has us grounded here until we can get a mechanic to fly out to check it out. There was a small amount of smoke in the cockpit while we were cleaning up. Today we started it up and everything operated properly with no smoke so I'm thinking that this one may be a head scratcher for the mechanics. I'll now have a few days to get used to the surroundings. Sorry that I have no pictures to post, I will take some tomorrow.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
I had my first succesful trip in the Challenger today. We flew to London Luton airport to pick up four women and flew them back here to Paris. The airplane is very nice to fly and has no strange sounds or oddities...That may sound funny but it is true, there are so many planes that I have flown that have some weird thing going on with them. This plane feels very solid. Tomorrow we will be flying back to London and then down to Cairo. I am excited about this trip since we will be in Cairo for a bit. I have always wanted to see the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Anyway, here are a few pics from today.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Well Bob and I went out to see the plane today. I wanted to see if there was much similarity between this plane and my old one. It stays in the air a little longer do to an extra fuel tank in the tail and it looks a little bigger on the inside because the seats are smaller than my last.
I still didn't go to the Louvre Museum today, I think I'll have to save that for another time I'm up this way. We are going to be flying to London and back on Sunday, Then to a few other places like, Cairo, Riyadh, Dubai (excited about that), Amman, and Jeddah. I've received my itinerary and I am glad that I've had a chance to relax because it looks like I'm gonna start working quite a bit. Here are a couple pics of the plane. The plane will be going into maintenance next month so I will be spending a lot of time in Germany as well. This all seems like one big paid vacation.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Bob and I went to a cemetery today that he had been wanting to visit. Initially I wasn't sure if I wanted to go, but am glad I did. We had a great time exploring. Jim Morrison and Chopin were among the many grave sites. On the way back to the hotel we snapped a picture of me next to a big thumb and stopped McDonalds to see the French menu; "Royal w/Cheese". It was true too that they have a mayo dipping sauce for the fries :-D. We have a flight on Sunday to London and back, then I think there will be more hanging out until the next trip.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I was very sleepy so pilot Bob suggested walking around Paris to keep me awake and try to get a handle on my sleep schedule. Here are a couple of pics...I think we will be here for a couple of days so tomorrow I may go to the Louvre museum and see the Mona Lisa, art and sculptures.
I've met my crew and they seem very nice, which makes piloting easy having everyone getting along. In the picture the man to my far right is Jim, he is the Captain that I will be replacing, then our attendant Chanel, and Bob my copilot, he and I will be flying together for the next few days until yet another pilot comes out to fly with me. Jim handed over all of the airplane petty cash, the key, the airplane cell, and some expense sheets, then pretty much told me that she's all mine. I've found a couple pics of the plane online so I'll post one aswell. I'm on my way to see some sites around Paris so au revoir
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I was anxiously waiting for the guy that had my passport to bring it back to me. It didn't feel very comfortable without identification so I just hung out in the hotel. My flight to Paris was at 3:30PM and the driver told me that he would be there to pick me up at 2:00, already cutting it close. The driver finally showed up at 3:00 to bring me to the airport. On the ride, I told him that I'd never make it and the flight was already boarding...He said nothing. At the airport I was escorted through security to check-in, but of course everyone was already gone...I had missed my flight and was now stuck at the Beirut airport. I asked about the next flight and found it wasn't until 2:00AM. I just sat down and accepted the fact that I was probably going to be sitting in that seat for the next ten hours of my life. The man that arranged for my SA Visa, brought a woman (Eliane) over that flies as attendant on a 727 for the same guy I'll be flying... She was in Beirut for the same purpose. I have no idea why they did not hook us up in the first place since she spoke Arabic and was such a help with the locals (possibly because she is Muslim and they have all those pesky men and women rules). Eliane made a few phone calls and a driver was on his way to bring me to the hotel.
I made the later flight and took a huge breath of fresh air at 5:45AM when walking off the plane in Paris. As you can see, the scene outside this hotel is a little more inviting than the last. I am enjoying this experience so far and can't wait to meet the crew and see the airplane today. For now I'll let them sleep in.
Monday, July 23, 2007
My flight out of Sea-Tac to Beirut that connected through Cincinnati and Paris didn't go quite as planned. An old lady on the plane had a heart attack causing us to divert and miss the connection. I arrived in Cincinnati to overnight and take the Paris flight the next day. At Applebee's I saw one of the passengers also heading to Paris. She was a nice Russian woman from Vancouver B.C. named Tatyana who invited me to eat dinner with her. She was on her way to Russia to visit her family. We met the next day and waited the few hours in the terminal for our flight. Because we sat in two different classes on the airplane, it was the last time I saw her. It was nice to have someone to chat with during our layover.
I arrived in Paris and made my connection to Beirut. I had planned on taking a picture of the guy holding my name on a piece of paper but felt it would be inappropriate seeing the environment in Beirut. I am going to head back to Paris today with my new Saudi Arabian Visa, and meet up with the other pilots (one of which I will be replacing).
I am posting some pics of Beirut taken from my Hotel...Not exactly the vacation hot spot, but it is visible that they are putting the city back together. My room was nice which was a surprise after driving through the neighborhood to get to it. I was supposed to stay at a very upscale hotel called the Metropolitan but my driver said "No, I am going to the Marriott" to which I replied "The Marriott it is" :-). Jim asked me if I felt any different being so far from home but I don't, at this point it feels like any other trip I've had to Mexico...I'm sure that will all change in the days ahead.