What Would It Have Been Like?

Today was my first day on the job. Finally eighteen months of training would be put to good use. It was a blessing in disguise when the airline agreed to employ me as a junior First Officer on their A320s. Mom and Dad honestly weren’t too keen on the idea of my ditching college and getting my CPL when I hadn’t even officially become an adult, but with Grandad’s help I finally managed to convince them. I got up 10 hours before my flight to go over all my notes. Whatever else might happen today, I would not mess up my first official flight. Exactly five hours before I was in the company car with my Captain and headed to the airport. We breezed through security with our IDs. I never thought that was possible, being on the passenger side of the line usually. We went into the briefing room to confirm the registration of our flight plan with the ATC and go over the route again with the rest of the crew. A young airhostess kept sneaking looks towards me. I wonder if I had a chance. No. No. Focus. Job was first. First flight first. Everything else later.

We headed down to the staff lounge to wait while our aircraft was cleared into a terminal gate. Captain took me aside and told me not to worry. Easy for him to say, he’d already had six thousand hours under his belt. I was a greenie with only two hundred! The pagers of the entire crew buzzed together. Our plane was docked and ready. Captain and I made our way into the cockpit and got comfortable. We went over the pre-flight checklist. I went over it twice again in my head just to be certain. Next came the systems check. There was something off with the landing gear hydraulics that set off an alarm. I freaked out, but the Captain just laughed. He got on the comms and requested for a technician to go check it out. We went on with the rest of the checks. Fifteen minutes later the techie radios in, asking us to check. Hydraulics give a green light. We’re good to go.

The Chief Purser came in to let us know that we were boarding and to ask if we’d want anything to eat or drink in flight. She didn’t lock the door behind her. Standard procedure. I got up and did it instead. Only Captain or I could open it now. Captain told me to take on the announcement, it being my first flight and all. He was silently laughing watching me stammer through it. I wonder what impression I made on our passengers. Couldn’t have been too good. All right time to go. Push back was smooth. We were waved off by the ground crew. It was our plane now. Captain guided it down the taxi way where we got in line behind a 777. I made the necessary calls to the ATC. We had runway 4/7 clear for take-off 80 seconds after the 777 lifted off. Call to confirm once in position. I acknowledged. The 777 zoomed off and Captain turned her around on the center line of the run way. He looked at me and said, “Your aircraft.” I confirmed. “My aircraft.” Captain called in to confirm. We had final clearance.

I slowly dragged the throttle-shift up. As my A320 raced down the runway, I suddenly had a mental picture of me in an engineering college typing out some assignment to be submitted on Tuesday. Hmm…Wonder what that would have been like? And my wheels left the ground.

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