Two weeks ago there was a chief pilot meeting here in Dallas, where all the chief pilots from all of the bases gather to talk about the changes that are going to start taking place here at American. While I was unable to sit in on the meeting; that evening two other interns and I actually got invited to go out to dinner with the chief pilot from Miami and Los Angeles. Getting the chance to sit down in a relaxed environment outside the office with these guys, talk about the industry and how they got where they are now, was a great experience.
The next evening after work, half of the interns, including myself, had the opportunity to travel to Seattle for a tour of the Boeing assembly plant in Everett, Washington the following day.Leaving the night before thetour gave us a chance to look around Seattle a little in the morning. After making our way down to the bay and fish market area we found where Star Bucks originated. What better way to start your day on a cold wet Seattle morning that a cup of hot Star Bucks coffee? After walking through the market, we met up with the rest of the interns that flew out that morning and traveled north to Everett and the Boeing facility.
The tour we received is not the regular tour anyone off the street would have. Meeting our tour guide, an employee of Boeing, we took the employee shuttle to the back of the assembly building. It should be mentioned that this building is the largest building by volume in the world. Entering through the doors where the 777 is made we spent the most time looking at how this huge plane is put together. From wing assembly, fuselage assembly, interior “guts” of the aircraft, we got to see it all. For a pilot, getting to stick your head up inside the wing of a 777 is quite a rush. Just to put into perspective how big this plane is, the circumference of the engine of a 777 is the circumference of the fuselage of a 737! The horizontal stabilizer on the 777 is only 6 feet shorter than the wing of the 737! This is a big aircraft! Then after going through the assembly you find yourself standing in an area where there are 4 fully assembled 777’s around you, and you are still inside!
After looking all around the 777-assembly area we made our way over to take a look at the new 787. With one already in static testing there were three more on the assembly line. The first two on the line will be used for other testing and the third will be the first 787 to ever fly. To be able to see the plane, which will be the first ever of its kind to fly, was a pretty cool experience. After looking at the 787 we got to look at the 767 and 747 assembly areas. There we were standing next to a fully assembled 747 inside. It is hard to put into words what walking around this assembly building is like. After getting done at Boeing we made our way back to Seattle and the fish market for dinner. Picking a completely random restaurant, as we waited for a seat I sat down on a stool and looked down to find a plaque that read, “Tom Hanks sat here for Sleepless in Seattle.” No one in the group could remember the scene from the movie but nonetheless it was cool and the restaurant, situated with a view over the bay was a great cap to our Seattle experience.
Taking the redeye back to Dallas that night, I arrived back at my apartment at 7:00am and was at work at 8:00am. This is where things got crazy. During lunch we were looking at where we wanted to go for the weekend and where the loads looked good. Traveling as a D2 standby, if you want to get somewhere you need to make sure there are a few open seats. So where did we want to go after being in Seattle not more than 12 hours ago? San Juan, Puerto Rico of course! So 5 o’clock rolled around and we ran home, packed our bags and headed for the airport. Of course, all direct flights were full, so there we were headed to Boston to connect. Arriving in Boston just after midnight we planned on sleeping in the airport until our 6:15am flight to San Juan. However, at 2:30am we were awaken to security telling us we had to leave outside of security because the airport was closing. A few hours later we were back in the airport and sitting first class on a 757 to San Juan. In 48 hours we went from 40-degree temperatures and rain in Seattle to swimming in the Caribbean in San Juan getting a suntan. San Juan is really cool! I completely recommend old San Juan and the fort there around sunset, it was awesome. Spending Sunday getting back to Dallas ended our five-day travel experience.
Monday morning brought around more flying though, this time in the form of a 737 simulator. For four hours another intern and myself got time in the left seat of a 737. From taxi, takeoff, and approaches we got a chance to do it all. Shooting about five approaches into San Francisco we got a chance to try our best to land the 737. My first landing was anything but smooth, with solid contact with the ground the 737 simulator rocked and rolled. We were then given a chance to land the 737 using the heads up display or HUD. This is an awesome piece of equipment and produced a very smooth landing, even in adverse weather. The coolest part though, was landing in 000/000 conditions, feeling the wheels touch and never seeing the runway was very interesting. The HUD even has rollout runway centerline guidance so after wheels stopped our instructor removed the weather to reveal that we were perfectly centerline on the runway after never even seeing it, that is incredible.
This week we also got the chance to meet with an American Eagle recruiter. While American Eagle isn’t currently hiring, the recruiter gave us a lot of good tips on interviewing with any airline and told us what she expected in the next year for American Eagle. She told us that even through they aren’t officially hiring right now, we still might be able to interview at the end of our internship and that they could hold our file until they start hiring again, which would be at least good interview experience.
This past weekend, another intern from Purdue and I headed out to Salt Lake City on Friday after work. Finding some comfortable chairs we slept in the airport and then rented a car and drove up into the Rockies to a ski resort called Snowbird. Yes, we went snow skiing in the middle of June! While the snow was late spring conditions, there was still plenty of snow on the top of the mountain and on the backside of the mountain for skiing. After a solid morning of skiing the snow started to soften up quite a bit by midday so we went back down to the car. Jumping on the internet, we looked at flights and decided we could ski for another hour and then catch a flight to Chicago and connect to Dallas. Doing just that we skied for a little bit longer and then raced across the country flying on the 777 from ORD to DFW arriving back in Dallas just 24 hours after we left. It was hard to believe that last week we were laying out on a beach in San Juan and here we were this weekend snow skiing, this summer has already been a once in a lifetime experience.