My FO and I agreed both that the safety of flying seven flights and seven hours in a day is questionable, and it definitely isn't doable on a day like this. DC to PIT to Philly to Toronto to Philly to Allentown to Philly to Binghamton was our itinerary. Regardless, off we went.
Very gusty winds got my attention taking off on the short runway from DC. Our CRJ juked and jived in the gusts as I turned away from the Pentagon to follow the Potomac river to the northwest, climbing out steeply while wondering how long the constant turbulence would last. It wasn't long; we cruised over to Pittsburgh at 20,000 feet above the clouds, enjoying the sunshine with the familiar blue backdrop.
In about a mile of visibility because of snow falling, I landed on an all white runway, one with a thin snow cover, highlighted by wavily shaped snow drifts. After deploying the thrust reversers to full, I applied the wheelbrakes smoothly but surely, increasing the pressure as I stowed our thrust reversers below 80 knots indicated airspeed. The 'braking action' was there, somewhat more than barely, you could say. The anti-skid was now cycling constantly, but we were slowing down, slowly, on this 11,500 foot runway in Pittsburgh. The control tower told us other pilots had reported the braking action as fair, but I though it was closer to poor, and my FO told them so. Braking action is subjective, and in my opinion this same braking action in DC on the 6,870 foot runway there would definitely been called 'poor'. I used about 6,000 feet of runway in landing and slowing down. After waiting for and watching an efficient bulldozer driven snow scooper plow our ramp area, we parked and boarded up quickly for Philadelphia.
Out EDCT (pronounced 'edict') time (Expect Departure Clearance Time) for PHL was 12:15 PM, but on our taxi out we learned they had extended it to 1:15 PM. Our Dispatcher hadn't sent us an ACARS message to 'hold our push' for some reason. We taxied to a spot on a taxiway between the snow drifts, and I elected to shut down the engines to conserve fuel. We actually didn't have much left before we would burn down to our takeoff fuel, and then we would have to either reduce our takeoff fuel by decreasing our holding fuel or go back to the gate to get more gas. We had an hour to wait as it turned out; they decreased our takeoff delay a little. I briefed the pax, and after a short wait we started up and got deiced quickly by PIT's excellent deice crew. Their setup looks like this, using enclosed control cabs on the end of booms connected to ground structures, instead of trucks.
In this picture you can see how big the 'white whale' is compared to the 737 next to it. We taxiied in and with typical canadian efficiency we boarded up a new batch of passengers for Philadelphia. I had a message on my phone from crew scheduling, but because I don't get minutes in Canada and it's pretty expensive if I do make a call, I didn't check it. It was good news (for us), however; we found out after landing in Philly that our Allentown, PA round trip and our Binghampton, NY overnight had been canceled. We were overnighting in Philly after flying four of seven legs.
I haven't written too much on spiritual stuff lately, but God is still calling me, and I'm still answering. Even when I don't answer, he still calls. What a commitment God has made to all humans through the work of his son, Jesus Christ! The problem Ahab had with Moby-Dick and evil has been solved by Jesus. We can fret and philosophize over it, but we're better off examining the life and nature of God's son, who died on the cross for all of our sins, and, well, evil. The answers to the questions of life and the true life, personal relationship with God, are found in Jesus.
What is your white whale? What is your frustration in life, that has got you in a bind, a bias, against God? What has been unfair to you in life that has influenced you to think God doesn't care? God does care. BTW I'm just assuming these things, my dear reader, I know that not everyone has a grudge against God. I have had a grudge againtst God before, myself, a few times. I likely will again in the future, but that won't invalidate my faith. Recently I flew with a good guy with a poor attitude. He appeared to have a Christian, but cynical, faith. His cynicism extended to his personal life and our airline. To you, my friend, and others, I submit one of my favorite and simple verses: the word of Jesus from Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
Until next time, thanks for reading my blog.