02 September 2011

Work. Off. Work. Off. Work

I'm at work. I work 12 hour shifts from 7 P.M. until 7 A.M., seven nights in a row. My shift starts Wednesday evening, so the following Tuesday night is the last night of my shift and I'm headed home for seven days in a row on Wednesday morning.
The four pilots at this base have a sort of love/hate sentiment about working this schedule...

We don't need to take much vacation because of the seven day break every other week. But stress factors involved with the job can make this schedule tough-
More flights than normal or other work stresses, and we can begin to feel a little draggy by the sixth or seventh night of our workweek.

Our company doesn't care about our schedule so long as the work gets done safe and efficiently. We've tried other schedules and the four pilots at this base have decided we like this one best.

Our schedule, no matter whether it is four-on, four-off or seven-on, seven-off means we all spend a quarter of our lives at work, not counting extra days covering for someone bein' sick, and vacations. So we all work a couple hours more than the normal wage-earner out there who works 40 hours per week:
There are 268 hours in a week (7X24). 268 divided by .25, (the 1/4 of our lives we spend in the air or waiting for the call to go fly, equals 42 hours (average, obviously).

Summer is harder than Winter. Our clientele are more active and are more likely to need our services. Weather is generally more conducive to aviating. Inclement Winter weather can sit on you for days at a time, and it's then that we frequently E.M.S.-
Earn Money Sleeping.


This summer has been stressful for another reason-
It has been hotter than normal and that puts added stress on people and machines. We had record high temps today (102 or so) and the forecast is for similar weather tomorrow. I had difficulty sleeping today because my upstairs bedroom was too warm. Still, I was glad I wasn't here at work waiting on a call to go take off in a "flying greenhouse" in above 100 degree temps.
(My counterpart didn't get a call today so the helicopter was still sitting where I left it last night when I parked it.)

It's an interesting job, different in almost all ways from the way most folks make a living...
And interesting almost every day because of the many ways people find to hurt themselves.
I love it. And I'll miss it like crazy when I can no longer do it.
And that day may be just around the corner.

6 comments:

The Old Man said...

Amigo, you're lucky enough and skilled enough to have a job you'd think about doin' for free. But as you know, everybody has got to hang 'em up sooner or later. Preferably l8er...

Just think of the bike time.....

wv - "froker", as in "got NO money, honey, jest freedom"

Capt. Schmoe said...

Greybeard,
How do you guys cover for time off, vacation sick leave etc?
Thanks in advance

Greybeard said...

We try to cover vacation and sick time with the two "off" pilots, Cap. (It's at least time-and-a-half.)
If that's not possible, the extra days are offered to other pilots within our company. Virtually ALL of the time we cover shifts with our in-house "off shift" pilots. The only conflict we sometimes have is covering that first day shift. There's just one guy that can do that one....
The previous night guy obviously cannot work that day. Other than that, we're a pretty greedy bunch, in addition to realizing we all want coverage when we need time off, so we better be showin' a good attitude to our brothers!

Old NFO said...

LOL- I don't know of a single aviator that is 'normal'... Nor do I know any that actually 'enjoy' a straight 9-5 job...

Beau's Mom said...

What do you do when you're on duty, but no flights going out? On the fire department, we scrubbed the apparatus, kissed the Chief's "shiny blacks" (shoes) and watched TV after he left to go home.

Greybeard said...

Similar stuff Joe, except we occupy a remote base and there's no Chief to worry about, just us injuns.
After we make sure the machine and base are clean we watch TV, surf the 'net, and do our best to mildly irritate one another.

Hard work, but someone has to do it.