I was only a moment I had this evening in a typical day, looking through the best office windows of any job in the world. I was able to savor it and contemplate for a few seconds, then we came in to land. Don't fret, I was the PNF (pilot not flying).
We were on approach in mostly smooth air to White Plains, NY, home of some of the wealthest folks in the USA, and home of the most crowded small airport terminal I know of, bar none. My fine First Officer, with six years (almost) service to our regional airline, was smoothly flying our fully configured for landing CRJ on final approach to runway 34 (towards the north). The beads of water kept sliding past on the windscreen. Light raindrops falling were being interrupted at one hundred sixty miles an hour, and rolling back on the 'rain-x' treated windscreen. The visual of that led me to shift my near focus to the scene outside. The still lush green lawns and golf course below. The broccoli tops of the trees now starting to turn to autumn colors. The dusky yellow light on the horizon, breaking through where gray clouds and scud blocking the view weren't. The points of light lit up in a vertical rectangle growing larger, quickly on the ground up toward us, - the bent strip of metal shaped runway that make this place one of the more challenging airports we fly into.
FO Josh was configured, on speed, on glideslope. The center landing light was on and that meant the Control Tower had cleared us to land. He reduced thrust and flared right where I would've, in fact he was doing it as I was thinking it. Then he didn't flare enough. Or did he? The runway underneath us had just made the switch from a slightly uphill grade to a pretty steep grade, for a runway anyway. With the jet losing speed and lift, and the sink rate apt to increase without an increase in yoke back pressure, the runway was 'rising' to meet us faster than normal. More back pressure was needed to avert a firm touchdown. I saw us sink that last three feet and it was a nice plop to terra firma, not the firm touchdown I was expecting. I was impressed. Josh had a nice touch and didn't land long either, or gyrate the jet too much.
Leaving the runway I knew, I felt, once again, that I was right where I needed to be, wearing this uniform (as much as I complain about it), doing these duties, performing these tasks, being with these people (co-workers), all with pride, honor, and excellence. At least for this moment.
I used to hear that to be an airline pilot for a career, and to stick with it, you have to 'really love flying'. Easy to understand until you think long and hard about what one has to put up with to endure an airline pilot career. The sacrifices that everyone makes do not stop. Not everyone gets the six figure plus salary, their desired airline, or a quick upgrade. Not everyone keeps their first wife or first house (but that is great advice). Not everyone flies till retirement. To get into it, sure, you love it, but to put up with all the negatives, you better love it still. I'm still flirting with getting out, somehow, to be honest.
But the beauty of the sights to be seen, the moments of camaraderie and achievements to be had, and the opportunities to share my testimony of Jesus with others, still give me a real sense of receiving (outside of pay and benefits) something valuable for what I sacrifice - the precious time I spend away from my wife and family.
I still hope to write more in the future. I am currently still trying to juggle my side business better. I feel that three balls are in the air again, so to speak, and the focus is there. God bless you, and thanks for reading my blog!