Cockpit Chronicles: Take your kid to work day!

Cockpit Chronicles takes you along on each of Kent’s trips as a co-pilot on the Boeing 757 and 767 out of Boston.

“We’re going to try a new place to eat,” Doug, the captain said as I walked into operations.

While he waited for the dot matrix printer to spit out the twenty feet of paperwork needed for our flight, he filled me in on what was the plan was for Paris.

“Mike (the co-pilot) and I read a review on a New York Times blog about a really small restaurant up near the Arc de Triumph called Le Hide. I figured we’d give it a try.”

Crew members tend to have their own favorite places that they frequent. Sometimes it’s easy to get into a rut and not venture out very far to experience anything different. Not so for Doug. He’s on a quest to try a new restaurant almost every layover.

“This is my step-son, Mack. He’s coming with us tonight,” Doug said, as Mack stepped forward to shake my hand. “Mack has just turned 21 this week, so what better way to celebrate the occasion than to bring him along.”

I was starting to get flashbacks of Michelle’s daughter almost getting bumped from the last trip.

“Are we weight restricted?” I asked.
“Not at all. It’s wide open there and back.” Doug explained.

Doug gave Mack a tour of the cockpit while I did my FB duties, since I was again the relief pilot. I went outside and looked over the nose, landing gear areas including the tire pressures and worked my way clockwise around the airplane. Wings, engines, lights, wheel wells, tail skid, rudder, elevator–it looked like everything was all there, with no leaks or damage.

It’s easy to get complacent after looking at hundreds of airplanes that have nothing wrong with them. I try to challenge myself to catch something out of place, but everything looked fine.

After the obligatory pictures of Mack in the cockpit, I showed him how we set our airspeed bugs manually on the airspeed indicator. Each ‘bug’ represents the point where we can retract our flaps to the next lower level.

So after takeoff and above 1000 feet we nose the airplane over slightly and select climb power, which is a bit less than our takeoff power setting. As the speed accelerates we can then move the flaps, which change the shape of the wing. This allows us to go from a wing that’s optimized for the slow speeds needed at takeoff to a shape that would allow for a cruise speed at MACH .80 or 80% the speed of sound.

Departing at flaps fifteen, we’d then ask for flaps five, then flaps one and finally flaps up. At around 2500 feet above the ground, we’re all ‘cleaned up’ and ready to accelerate to 250 knots, which is the maximum speed the FAA allows below 10,000 feet.

Passing through 10,000 feet we can then accelerate to our climb speed, which would be around 320 knots tonight.

Since Mack already has a few hours under his belt, and he’s even soloed a small airplane, he quickly understood the concept and he even helped me to reach over and set Doug’s bugs. May as well make him useful.

The departure was uneventful, and I did my relief-pilot duty of dividing the flight into three parts of about an hour and fifty minutes each to divide up the breaks.

I was fortunate to be back in the cockpit during Mike, the copilot’s break, when we passed just south of Ireland as the sun was rising. I couldn’t help thinking how Lindbergh may have hit this exact part of Ireland, near the Dingle Peninsula, on his solo flight across the Atlantic.

I also thought of Ruthann,, who lives in a tiny village in Western Ireland. She’s been reading my blog almost since the beginning and she’s the one responsible for editing and proofreading everything I’ve written since coming over to Gadling.

Since the age of eleven, Ruthann has gone to sleep while listening on a VHF radio to Shanwick Air Traffic Control give out clearances to airplanes passing just above her house.

She still catches our flight every now and then, using a VHF or HF radio. I suppose you could say she’s an aviation nut–just take one look at her flickr pictures to get an idea. She plans to start flight training this fall in Florida.

After arriving in Paris, we went down the stairs near the top of the jetbridge and down to the waiting bus. After swinging around to pick up Doug’s step-son at the front of the terminal, we were on our way to the hotel.

The Saturday morning van ride took only 35 minutes–a far shorter ride than the hour and forty-five minute ride that’s common on weekdays.

Since this was the first trip of three 3-day Paris trips in a row, I figured I’d catch up on some sleep, so I arranged to meet Doug and Mack at a pub after a nice five hour ‘nap.’

Doug and Mack toured all over Paris, going all the way up to Montmartre, north of the city and finally ending up at a wine tasting event that’s held at the Dernier Goute, a wine store in the Latin Quarter.

I worked my way toward the pub where we’d meet up, stopping at my favorite creperie for a crepe Nutella. For me, it’s not an official Paris trip without a crepe Nutella.

Doug found a nice Irish pub right off the Seine called “Le Galway.” Since we both have GSM cell phones that work in Europe, he was able to send me text messages to let me know exactly how to find this pub.

Mike managed to find the meeting point as well, so we worked our way to the metro station where we’d eventually come out in front of the Arc de Triumph.

Doug had read some great reviews about a restaurant that was moderately priced, especially considering the quality. Le Hide is described by Alexander Lobrano of Gourmet magazine as “a fantastic new bistro run by genial Japanese chef Hide Kobayashi. I left looking forward to my next meal here, and since I’m not alone, make sure to reserve, since word is getting around on this one.

We chose our appetizers and entrées, and left the desert choice for later. The prix fix meal was 29 Euros, which was great for such a prime location. As I’ve mentioned before, a pr
ix fix menu is made up of your choice of one of the starters, one main course and often a dessert.

I played it safe and ordered the Lyonnaise sausage over mashed potatoes, while Mike and Mack went for the escargot. Doug’s appetizer was the pan fried foie gras.

Doug and Mike insisted that I try their appetizers. I may have made a mistake in playing it safe, since I sampled a bit of Mike’s escargot and Doug’s foie gras, which were both out of this world.

For the main course, I had the pan-fried fillet of sole, and the others had either saute of chicken or veal chops in a butter sauce. That was all I needed to officially crown the French as having the best food in the world.

And we hadn’t even had desert by then.

Unfortunately, the battery in my camera died during our time in the city. Luckily Mack came to the rescue with some nice shots along the way. Thanks, Mack.

The next day, Mack came up to the cockpit once again during boarding to pose with Doug and Mike. I was busy doing the preflight, of course. I think he had a great time on his second trip to Paris with Doug.

Doug bought enough supplies to have a Parisian picnic in the cockpit on the way home, sans wine of course. We enjoyed some baguette and cheese, and some deli meat that had to be eaten before we arrived in Boston since the U.S. agricultural department doesn’t allow these kind of food items into the country.

We usually end up racing Air France flight 332 into Boston at the end of the leg. We generally beat them into Logan, which is important because U.S. customs occasionally prevents our passengers from deplaning until the crowd of people from other flights has cleared the customs area.

But this time, AF332, was just passing 2000 feet overhead as we prepared for our descent. Even though they managed to get a few miles ahead of us, Boston center decided that they’d give the Air France flight a 30 degree heading change to properly space the arrivals. That meant we’d be in the lead.

As I went to get my camera and take a picture of the second-place Air France jet, it slipped into the melted bucket of water that was once full of ice. I immediately yanked out the battery to prevent anything from shorting out.

Perhaps it’s just payback for taking the lead away from the faster Air France flight. But I’m happy to report that after drying out for 24 hours, the camera works fine.

Anytime you can take a family member or close friend on one of your trips, it hardly feels like work. I’m sure Doug was excited to bring Mack along. It was fun for all of us to experience the city through his eyes. I’m hoping that Mack continues flying, as I’d love to have him as my co-pilot someday.

Cockpit Chronicles takes you along on each of Kent’s trips as a co-pilot on the Boeing 757 and 767 out of Boston. For the months of May through July, he’ll focus on Paris almost exclusively. If you have any good suggestions for Parisian activities, feel free to leave your tips in the comments.