Aviation News

Upward Mobility, Entering the Pattern, Part 2 , by Nathan Carriker

by on Mar.13, 2010, under Articles

Upward Mobility


I took this cherished picture, which I call “Upward Mobility,” with my cell phone (yes, while stationary) from an O’Hare taxiway a few summers ago after a squall line had just passed. I use it for my background on my Twitter profile page.

We were about number eighty for takeoff, and this 757 blasted off right in front of us, with that moon and clouds kissing softly in the afterglow of a fantastic storm, in the background. It was a rich metaphor for how I was feeling about my career in its sixth post-9/11 year: stuck. Idle. Utterly stranded with no credible hope, but with a front-row view of the rest of the world moving on with their lives as if nothing had happened. In that same frame of mind, I later wrote “The Terrible Teens” and “First Officer, Second Fiddle” about our career’s stagnation.

Then out of nowhere, just before Christmas last year, I got a call from my company, asking if I’d be “willing” to come to an International 767 class on short notice. I finally understood what Einstein was talking about: the speed of light really didn’t seem all that fast as my brain dispatched, then recalled, a “Hell, yes!” then actually allowed my mouth to speak the far more considered, cool-airline-pilot-like, “Well, I’ve got a trip on Christmas Day, but I don’t guess I’d be legal to do that and the class, so, yeah, I guess that’d be ok.” Another call from my union’s Professional Standards committee averted.

I reported for class after one of the happiest Christmases ever and was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually had a little spare time to write my previous post about AQP (Advanced Qualification Program) training, Simulating Excellence. The hardest part was being the only pilot in the training center who was moving up; that, and watching the news about how many people are suffering through job losses and bad economic times, which, of course, those of us in the airline business have known nothing different from for nearly a decade now.

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