I just completed a few ‘firsts’ this week. Considering I’ve been doing this for more than 13 years, this is somewhat remarkable. I left the house at 0545 Wednesday morning, and walked back in about 5:15 pm Friday evening. That’s a total of just under 60 hours. In that time I flew from BOS to MEM and started my official pre-trip crew rest. At 0315 Thu morning we launched for NRT (New Tokyo International Airport – Narita)
The route is displayed here: http://is.gd/8w8J This is roughly the path and the speed we flew. While on a map, it appears to be that we ‘curved’ north – perhaps to follow a route close to land, the fact is, this is a ‘great circle route. If you were to take a piece of string and lay it on a globe from MEM to NRT, this is the path the string would show as the shortest distance between two points.
It was about 13:49 air time, (average 80 knots headwind) and 14:30 block time. As we landed in NRT on Friday morning (local time) the visibility and ceiling were unrestricted, thus allowing for a fabulous view of snow-capped Mount-Fuji shortly after sunrise. This is the longest flight I can recall doing since I’ve been flying. The other long flights I’ve operated are Paris to Manila, and Osaka to Memphis. I then waited in NRT about 4.5 hours, and took the next flight home… NWA 12 from NRT to DTW then BOS.
From the time I left MEM at 0320 and arrived in BOS at 1520 was about 36 hours. In that time, I spent about 28:45 on moving airplanes. OUCH! The big trick to surviving this is 1. Hydration. Lots and lots of water. 2. Good rest. While I can’t and DON’T take anything as an operating crew member, as a passenger on NWA, I did take a ‘simply sleep’ and managed to get about 7.5 hours straight sleep on the flight from NRT to DTW.
While this type of flying is ‘once in a lifetime’ for many people, it’s just part of what I do. I frequently ride passenger carriers to Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, Frankfurt, Delhi, etc and get paid to do it. I try to always remain conscious of how special it is, and how lucky I am to get to do something that many people would love to do, but will never or only rarely have the opportunity.