Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another week goes by...

I posted a separate post about an FAA question in case anyone has some ideas for me. I also posted another comment on the pilot mental health post, just because I'm a stickler for organization and keeping like with like.

Father's day came and went. Kidzilla's dad came out from CA to shuttle Kidzilla back to his place for 5 weeks. For the first time in the nearly 5 years since we split, Kidzilla, his dad, A and I all went to breakfast together. I don't think that we have ever all been in the same room together before. It went well, we all got along, there were no awkward moments and we all said how pleasant it was. I don't know if something has shifted in all of our lives or simply enough time (distance and crap) has passed, but I hope that it's the start of a new trend. Now we just have to work in Dad's girlfriend if we ever all happen to be in the same place. I miss Kidzilla, but I don't worry about him because I trust his dad to take care of him. And really, it's nice to be able to hop in the car and go to a nice dinner or the bar with a friend and not have to think twice about it once in a while.

We finally got our apartment assignment for Tallahassee. It's going to be a pain because we can't move in until 3 days after our lease is up at our current place, but we're working on that. So now we are leisurely packing things up, making daily trips to the storage unit and still finding masses of things to get rid of. We just moved LAST YEAR, how can we have accumulated so much MORE stuff? The hotter-than-normal temps don't really help motivate us at all. Imagine unloading a UPS truck full of stuff into a full heat sauna. That's about what it feels like.

My father is coming to visit us in early July. This is an amazing event. My parents are both retired and as my dad retired from an airline, they have flight bene's that give them a higher priorty than current employees. I am their only child. I am the mother of their only grandchild. Seems like they would be out here visiting all the time right? In truth, my mom hasn't been to FL since our wedding 2.5 years ago. I haven't even seen her since I went to CA in Jan 2008. My dad came out 3 times between March and June 2008, each time for an overnight while shuttling Kidzilla back and forth from CA. I haven't seen him in a year now and they haven't seen Kidzilla since last summer. They always give these vague reasons for not being able to come out, usually related to their cats and/or being busy. My dad is coming for a conference in Orlando and is going to come a few days early to see us. I guess I should be happy that he's coming at all, but nothing makes a girl feel special like being the tack-on visit instead of the purpose.

What's the deal with FAA denials?

Last week I posted this question to an AME on a forum about official FAA denials of medicals. I didn't really get the answer I was looking for. What I want to know is- do you HAVE to get one? Are there some pros or cons to getting one? What I got was- have your AME write a letter. So, if you have any insight, please comment or send me an email through the address on the right.

My pilots been off the line since Feb 08 with Thyroid Cancer. He had a second round of treatment in April 09 and is riding out the waiting period until Feb 10 to do another test. He never got an official FAA Denial or even reported it to the FAA; grounding himself and submitting all of the necessary paperwork to the company LTD insurance was enough.

One of the insurance companies has now requested a copy of the official FAA Denial. It's for something we won't be eligible for for another year and we hope not to use at all. Is it true that getting the official denial will make it more difficult for him to get reinstated and back in the air when the time comes? Is there a benefit to getting it or not? Do we have to get it?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why is it?

I keep hearing in the news media about "low time pilots". As in, " oh those low time pilots at regionals are dangerous", "regional airlines are full of low time pilots" and the like. I'm sure you've heard it too. What they seem to NOT take into account is that a) with all of the furloughs that happened, most regional pilots now have at least two years and several thousand hours under their belts (except maybe Gulfstream, but they are a whole other mess) and b) there are plenty of senior pilots at regional airline that have MORE seniority than pilots at major carriers. Consider the pilot who chose to make their career at a regional due to the shorter trips and seniority afforded great schedules and had been there 10 years vs. the guy who spend 3 years at a regional and recently bumped up to a major. Sure, the bulk of the pilots at regional airlines have less time, but there aren't any 250 hour wonders out there anymore. And who can quantify how many hours makes a "safe" pilot anyway? It's not like it happens when the tick of a particular hour goes by.

Are all pilots hypersensitive about mental health or is that just my perception? It seems like every pilot I've spoken with or seen post about tries very hard not to appear to ever have any kind of mental health issue. I know that a prior ADHD or depression diagnosis can end a pilot's career, but by refusing to acknowledge that some counseling might be useful aren't they actually doing themselves a dis-service and potentially making things worse. I've talked with people who won't talk to anyone regarding their mental health in fear that it will go on a record and eventually be used against them by the FAA in the future. Really? Is the FAA going to revoke your privileges because you talked to a therapist about your divorce or your child's chronic illness or your wife's infertility? Does talking to a mental health counselor make others preceive you as so weak or unstable that you won't be able to command a cockpit in an emergency?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Getting back in the swing of things

Last week I spent 55+ hours volunteering at Kidzilla's Cub Scout day camp. It was me, twelve 7 year old boys, 4 youth helpers with absolutely no leadership skills and one half assed helper who showed up 2 of the 5 days. It was heaven and hell all roped into one. A selection of my tweets from the week:

Whooohooo. First day of cub scout camp. Me and 17 new second graders in the woods

The sweet smell of camp- layers of boy sweat, sunscreen, bug spray, chlorine, and wet dirt.

12 mosquito bites, hands tie dyed blue and a 10 pound backpack. Its day 2 of camp.

Its 3 o'clock and I can't remember the last time I washed my hands. Its definitely camp season.

Today at camp I sang songs about donut shops, the army, mosquitoes and milk. And painted with bubbles.

In my previous life, I was a day camp director and prior to that a resident camp counselor, counselor in training and camper. I have a lot of experience with camp. But this was my first time with all boys and learning the "Boy Scout" way of doing things. We swam, we arched (archeried?), shot bb guns, did arts and crafts, played flag football and most of all, I herded boys around. It was much like herding cats. We had the kid whose behavior markedly improved when he showed up with glasses on on day 4. We had the kid who could spot an insect at 50 feet, pick it up and bring it to you- alive. We had the kid who wanted to reapply bug spray every 30 minutes (he didn't return after day 2). The whole experience really reminded me of why I loved and hated my previous job. I'm actually looking forward to volunteering again next summer. I will have to rewatch all three seasons of SurvivorMan and brush up on some awesome outdoor skills to impress the kids next year. I love Les Stroud!

I feel like I have pretty much let go of the aviation wives world for a bit. I haven't been on the forums lately and don't really have any desire to do so. I can only tolerate so much whining and jabs about who's husband is gone the longest and who's got the most desirable job. I am reading Ralph Nader's book Collision Course, about the industry. It's outdated (1993) and makes references to rules and regulations that aren't correct (at this point any way), but it's an interesting read. I will post more about it once I've finished it.

Kidzilla leaves next week to spend the summer with his father in CA. It's a bittersweet parting every year.