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Roar from 44...2006...The story of Roscoe


Roar from 44...2006...The story of Roscoe

Old 06-19-2016, 11:15 AM
Gets Weekends Off
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DogWhisperer's Avatar
Joined APC: Nov 2008
Position: MD-88 F/O
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Default Roar from 44...2006...The story of Roscoe

Came across this in my files...interesting information. Article "A Recollection of Barney"...I think all new hires need to read it to learn about the legend...

Wish I knew how to get the whole newsletter on here...its extremely enlightening for the situation that we are in now...a little history of how we got here...

In the midst of strike talk and the possibility of a
Chapter 7 filing, I suspect that you are not particularlyI suspect that you are not particularly
interested in a ramble about the past. But certain ones
of you have asked, and I have tried to oblige.
The last piece of flight engineer training in 1969 at
Delta required that you be observed in the airplane
handling various problems not readily presentable in
the simulator. The check was done by an instructor
from our Training department but observed by the
FAA. These were the days too when pilot proficiency
was checked in the airplane at least once per year.
The day I got my flight engineer rating on the CV-
880, I was being observed by the notoriously
capricious but thorough FAA inspector, Gene
Raymond. I think Bill Doonan was the instructor
administering the check. Also aboard were Captains
Dick Tidwell, Ed Stewart, and Floyd Davenport.
I was to fly a lot with Floyd in the later
months. Dick Tidwell and Ed Stewart were instructor
pilots and chief pilots in the office. They were
to give each other proficiency checks, and Tidwell
was to check Davenport. The scenario was to leave
Atlanta, do the high work, including stalls and
Dutch rolls, and then do an emergency decent into
Augusta for the pattern work.
A Recollection of Barney
It was a cold, clear, early Georgia morning in late
March when we got to the brief in the basement of
the G.O. The 880 was parked out back having
undergone an overnight check of its own in the
Hapeville hangar. Floyd Davenport was a salty old
four-engine captain with plenty of seniority. He had
a million little sayings that he would spout at
anybody about anything that wasn’t behaving to his
standard. He was complaining this morning about
the weather being cold enough “to hair-lip the
Pope.” We were chuckling about this as we went
about our business.
The first part of the check went well. I got us to
altitude and through the stalls and Dutch rolls and
down with the emergency decent. At the bottom,
Tidwell gave Floyd a simulated electrical fire and
advised that he might want to hurry over to Augusta.
As I started through the convoluted electrical
fire checklist with the mask and goggles on, Floyd
pointed to the airspeed that he had buried behind
the barber pole. He twinkled his eyes and pulled the
mask back and said, “I got her throbbing like a cut
thumb.” We got on the ground in Augusta. Then we
went back out for the pattern work. Floyd breezed
through his V1 cut and engine-out work. (The 880
took all the rudder for this.) He came back around
and flew a nice hand flown engine out to a miss.
The FAA said he had seen enough. We did a quick
visual landing, rolled out, and pulled off to change
seats. As the famous Gene Raymond was writing
out my ticket, Floyd accused me of “grinning like a
mule eating briars.” I got tickled.
I couldn’t help but remember the old mule that a
workman had on the family home place in Alabama.
The mule’s name was Barney. Barney would
be tethered in the shade during lunch by a little
corpse of trees next to the big field that we were
plowing. He would inevitably try to browse on any
foliage he could reach. He was a big, black-brown,
long eared, wile old animal. He was unusually
mischievous and inventive. But because he was
well-tethered, mostly all he could reach was a few
strands of the blackberry thicket that stuck out and
were bowered close to his head. When he bit in to
these, he would nervously flick his lips all around
and show his teeth. I suspect Floyd’s description of
my nervous smile about then was nearly perfect.
Comes now another cold morning in Atlanta
some 30 years later, and I have a 9:00 a.m. show
for a 10:30 go to Narita. I no longer live close to
the airport. I leave home at 6:30 a.m. to be assured
of getting through the Atlanta rush hour
snarl to comfortably make sign-in. I am the
senior captain who is to sign the clearance outbound
on Flight 55 to Tokyo on my MD-11. I
knew when I got up that morning at 5:30 that it
would be at least 21 hours before I saw the inside
of my hotel room in Tokyo. But this morning, I
am not worried about myself and my rest. I know
that I can sleep almost anywhere. I have a full
relief crew on there, and I will be afforded plenty
of opportunity to get some naps that give refreshing
renewal to crew life on the track.
But lately the new breed of managers that has taken
over my airline has reconfigured my MD-11 without
asking anybody who uses it. They have ruined the
service and the marvelous well-thought-out galley.
They have stuck a little DC-9 galley in the R1
doorway and abbreviated the other galley and storage.
They did even worse to the rest facility. They
took the little railroad roomette that sat in the first
four rows of center tourist and threw it away. In its
place, they had installed a melamine compartment
that telescoped out from where a forward lavatory
had been in a manner that would block the L1 door.
This melamine contraption had two torpedo tube
bunks in it. A person had to sit at the head of the
bed, crouch, twist, and turn to insert oneself into it.
This head of the bed was right behind where the
primary jumpseat was. The upper bunk was very
close overhead the lower bunk. There was little
ventilation and no insulation from cabin noises.
Neither the pilot crews nor the flight attendant
crews liked this new configuration. I personally did
not think it was safe. I had wondered how they had
gotten this arrangement certified for the evacuation
of a full ship with the L1 door blocked. I was so
appalled that I railed against it in a piece I did for
the Roar called “Life Over the Big Ocean.”
At that time, I had no idea how much claustrophobia
was prevalent in the population. It turns out that there
are a lot of those folks out there. I found that there
were many crewmembers who would not go into the
rest facility under any circumstances. I don’t believe
you could hold a gun on them and make them go in
there. They could certainly never relax enough to get
any sleep in there. I became more alarmed.
A full month went by. I had three trips to Narita with
the new rig. Each time I found myself in the pattern
at Narita with a cockpit full of zombies. Narita is a
one-runway operation that is closely slot limited. If
it ever stops, you will very quickly have a sky full of
whales being controlled by very well technically
qualified controllers who have shaky English. You
will have to decipher your clearances through a
heavy accent. It gets interesting in a hurry. Often you
arrive there having been recleared en route. You will
then have no more than 30 minutes of loiter fuel
before you need to be going to an alternate.
After the second of these trips, and nearly having to
divert, having very little help because of sleep
deprivation in the rest of the cockpit crew, I went to
see the boss. In 30 years I had the very best chief
pilot I had ever had in George Wilson. He listened
to my concerns and then said that I should exercise
my best judgment. He said that knowing me, what-ever that best judgment might be—it would be fine.
I was somewhat relieved by his remarks and stated
that I would not allow myself to be put in that
situation again. But I did, on the very next trip.
This hardened my resolve.
I went off on a vacation. When I came back, I had
several of these Narita trips as a relief captain. I
was not in a decision-making capacity about the
full conduct of the trip. Nevertheless, the operation
was continuing to deteriorate. And even though by
now they had tried to help the facility with sounddeadening
blankets and Velcro curtains, I was
further resolved.
We come now to April 7, 1999, and I am the “A”
captain on 55 outbound to Narita. I have arrived and
signed in for my flight a little before 8:00 a.m.
because of the aforementioned driving problems in
Atlanta. As the other crewmembers drift in, I assess
who I will be working with. All are most capable.
My copilot is Randy Young, a copilot with whom I
had flown many times and for whom I had great
respect. My relief captain is Bob Pfister. Bob was an
MD-11 check airman as he had been a check guy on
nearly everything at Delta. We had worked together
many times in the Training department when I was
over there. He was also a two-star in the AF reserves.
His copilot was Steve “Petro” Petroski, a
young hotshot naval aviator from San Diego. His
fleet exploits and reputation had preceded him.
We complete the flight planning and briefing phase
of our duties, and as a crew, we go down to the
flight attendant briefing room and introduce ourselves
to our cabin crew. I note that the “A” line is
Brenda Savage, a lady of great competence. Unlike
some of these trips that I have been on, today we
have plenty of language-qualified flight attendants.
Our brief to them was on the fact that today’s trip
would be very long. To avoid the big headwinds,
we would be going due north out of Atlanta over
Knoxville and Detroit, over Churchill Falls in
northern Ontario, and on over Point Barrow in
northern Alaska. We would be spending about five
hours over continental Siberia in Russian airspace.
The weather in Narita would be somewhat iffy with
occasional showers. However, I concluded, as I
usually did, that if they got me there safely, the first
round would be on me.
I began to relax. This was going to be a great trip.
All of these guys were really sharp and nothing
could possibly happen to spoil our day. This attitude
persisted throughout the brief. We went out to
the airplane, and a familiar mechanic was there to
see us off. He assured me that we had a clean book
and our steed looked very good on his preflight.
As we put our bags away in this now impossibly
cramped cockpit, Bob Pfister mentioned to me that
he had been up much of the night with a sick grandchild
that had been visiting in his home. This gave
me some pause. I knew that Randy Young had
commuted in from his home in south Florida on an
early flight that morning. He could not have gotten
much sleep either. I turned suddenly and asked Petro
where he had slept the night before. He said that he
had come in on a late flight from the West Coast and
that he had not been able to get a hotel room and had
spent the night in the black chairs. I began to have a
nagging twitch of things impending.
We commenced our preflight. I loaded the box, as is
customary as I was to take the first leg. The “B” crew
would take the first break. There would be roughly 12
hours in cruise, which would be divided into four
three-hour breaks. Each crew would get two breaks. I
reasoned that surely these guys will be able to sleep
on here, and all will be well. I was to discover later
that all three of these guys were claustrophobic and
could barely be forced into this new cramped rest
facility. But this was not discussed.
We took off using all of 27R and were somewhere
north of Knoxville when we leveled off at the first
cruise altitude. The “B” crew began to talk about
starting their break. I noticed that they made no
move to assemble the “bunkroom vampire coffins.”
I asked them to accomplish this, and they did
before both of them went back to open seats in first
class. The weather was nice and smooth, and I
assumed that they would get some rest back there. I
noticed too that the wind was a little more than
advertised. Almost four hours into the flight, these
guys came back from the first break. We were about
an hour west of Churchill Falls and headed toward
Barrow. We had developed about a 3,000-pound
deficit on the fuel burn.
I asked how their break had been. They said the
lunch was wonderful. “Did you get any sleep?” I
asked. Both reported that they had not slept a wink. I
became alarmed. I knew the “A” copilot, Randy
Young, was tired. He also had confided in me a
reluctance to use the new rest facility. I straightaway
asked the “B” crew if they had difficulty sleeping in
the new bunks. They both reported that they had no
intention of using them in the present configuration.
That is a busy service conducted in business class on
the Tokyo flight. In 14 hours, they come by and feed
you something nearly every 40 minutes. It is always
hard to sleep soundly in the midst of it.
I began to relay to them my previous experiences. I
expressed my trepidations about this situation. The
three of them were already tired. We had more than
10 hours of flight left. We were already 3,000
pounds behind on the fuel burn. The weather in
Tokyo was iffy and slot limited into one runway.
We were to be five hours over Russian airspace
working Russian controllers on HF. People had
gotten shot down with these guys. It can sometimes
be stressful. When we get to Tokyo, we will need to
be on the top of our game. Will we be on the top of
our game? Is this a safe operation?
When I looked into the eyes of each of the others in
the crew, I had my answer. None of them thought it
was safe. The decision-making process was easy
then. Our chief pilot, George Wilson, had told me
that if I ever decided to abort a trip like this, that I
ought to try to go to Portland. We have crews there,
and we originate Narita trips there. It will be a
much easier handoff. So I had told Randy to get me
a clearance to Portland.
The controller was startled, but quickly agreed to
a clearance down direct airways to Portland. I
called Flight Control on the Sat Phone, but up
there we were beyond the horizon of the satellite.
I finally got an HF patch to Flight Control. When I
explained that we were diverting to Portland
because of a crew rest problem, it became very
formal, very quickly. Then I called Brenda Savage,
our “A” line, and explained what my decision had
to be. She agreed and went back to tell the others.
I then made a brief PA to our passengers explaining
that what we were doing was the safest procedure.
We went to Portland, dumped about 25,000
pounds of fuel, and landed to the west on the long
runway at its max landing weight.
We taxied in. We parked right next to 51, the MD-
11 flight preparing to depart for Narita. They were
able to accommodate all 143 of our passengers.
They would go on to arrive in Narita no more than
about two hours later than originally scheduled.
Our cockpit and cabin crew went downstairs to
Operations. There was a message that a Captain
Mike Quiello wanted to talk to me. We stored our
kits and looked in the computer for a reroute.
There was one, a very punitive one, we thought. It
was a minimum break at the hotel then a ferry down
to LAX in the middle of the night and a deadhead
home. Yuucck! But Mike Quiello came into the
room. He crisply asked the details of our experience.
I told him. But I said that if he wanted a full debrief
that I would need to see him in the office when I got
home. Right now I needed to get to the hotel to get
some rest to cover this onerous reroute.
He looked at that, picked up the phone, and got us
out of that and onto a deadhead home directly the
next day with a nice rest. I was delighted. Then I
asked what he was doing in PDX. He said that all
of Flight Ops management and the top brass were
over at a local hotel for a road show. He looked at
me strangely when he said that.
I was also to learn later that most of that management
team had thought I had done this PDX diversion
strictly as a stunt and that the news of it had
had a spectacular effect on the road show crowd.
They give me too much credit. I am not that smart,
nor am I that fine an actor to have pulled that off.
I was also to learn that there was a definite movement
afoot to have me terminated. And that possibly
I had been removed from flying the late night
ferry to LAX because they did not want me to
touch the controls of a Delta airplane again. That
news was very disquieting, but I was not to learn of
it for several days.
Meanwhile, as soon as we got to the hotel, Petro
went out and rented a van and we took the wholecrew to Jake’s downtown for happy hour and a
nice dinner in the back on linen. I say we took the
whole crew; we took those who wanted to go.
There were several who had a distinct distaste for
what had happened. They were going to lose
money on this reroute and did not approve of the
decision at all.
I was unprepared for the explosion that awaited my
return home. The news of what had transpired
preceded me. There was an outpouring of goodwill.
Reporters from all of the wire services and the
local papers called my home wanting my side of
the story. I was advised not to talk to any of them. I
didn’t. But in a few days, the Wall Street Journal
had a middle front page story about the incident
that was not unfavorable.
The more that public goodwill grew toward me, the
frostier my relationship seemed to be with Delta
management. We, the cockpit crew, were called in
for a full debrief. I chose to go with an ALPA rep,
Randy Worrall, who offered excellent advice and
accompanied us into the belly of the beast. The
debrief took place in a big conference room right
outside of Charlie Tutt’s office in the Operations
center. It was conducted by Mike Quiello, but
Charlie was in the room.
Captain Quiello had put together this beautiful little
book with all of the pertinent information and
personnel interviews in it. This thing looked like it
had been produced for a presentation to senior
management. It turns out that they had interviewed
almost everyone on the airline who had any connection
with our flight. They also seemed to have
turned over every rock in my past. They looked
very hard at everything.
We told them what happened. Charlie told me in a
very friendly way that the disposition of our case
was way above his pay grade. Later, by his actions,
I was to learn that, had it been up to him, I would
have been fired. I also was to learn that Bob Pfister
was asked in a separate questioning in an informal
atmosphere, as a check airman, why he had not
relieved me. Pfister had snorted at them that he had
agreed with the decision. He was grinning like a
mule eating briars when he was telling me about
this a few days later.
That was a nerve-racking week. I wondered
throughout it whether my career was over. In
retrospect it might have been better. I could have
taken a 100% lump and participated in the tech
bubble. Naaaah, I would have let it all ride and
would have had very little now. As it is, I have my
application in to greet at Wal-Mart.
Anyway, I was delighted to find myself outbound to
NRT on April 16 on my next scheduled trip. Randy
Young, Petro, and Dave Waldrop had had plenty of
sleep this time, and we went all the way to Tokyo.
I was dismayed then at how really out of touch with
the line our managers were. I see nothing that
makes me think relationships have changed today.
The departments are still stove-piped and guarding
their turf. Nobody with wings has any real horsepower.
They still refuse to put the cockpit crews
together with the cabin crews and marry them with
the equipment through the hubs. Every time it
clouds up, there are scores of misconnects. The
least experienced crew schedulers are manning
reroute. There are no crew schedulers close to
flight kits on the system. The flight and ground
equipment looks very tired.
Our spreadsheet managers tell us that, even at
today’s reduced labor costs, these options are too
expensive. As anyone with any line experience
knows, no airline can afford to generate the
misconnects that we have in ATL. Therefore, you
cannot afford not to put these options in place.
One has to wonder whether this management is just
trying to spiff up our carcass and trying to sell us. Are
they outsourcing everything, and polishing the remainder
to sell it to somebody in the next oil price
valley? Are they just shills for GE Capital and GATX
and the other leasing companies? Will they be here
down the long corridor of time in the future when we
go to airline heaven and are solidly profitable again?
Or do you think they just want to take the equity that
they may accrue in such a transaction and sweep it
into a carpetbag and go on down the road?
You need to define for yourself who your long-term
friend is in this profession. I know from experience
continued on page 36that had there not been a strong union standing
there next to me, that I would have been fired. And
the firing would have been for exercising my very
best judgment in the discharge of my duties.
There may come a time when you are asked to stand
up for this profession and for that friend that you have
now in ALPA. I hope you make the right choice. Stay
close to your union. Participate in its decisions. If you
do, ALPA will not lightly lead you into this Hobson’s
choice. In fact, I suspect that a strike would never
come about on our property except and unless we had
our professional backs to the wall.
This is a very thoughtful leadership. It also has guts.
I have heard the stories about your chairman going
into a ghetto neighborhood and confronting a young
hoodlum in a crowd there to retrieve his child’s
recently stolen bicycle. That takes moral fortitude
and decisive action in the knowledge that you are
right. The rest of the leadership is just as worthy.
I hope you will follow their lead. And if you say
you will strike, you had best be prepared to fight
these folks to the finish. They will marshal every
facet of the federal establishment against you.
Believe me; I have seen this movie before with
that other Bush in the White House. I know what I
am talking about. That other fight was just as
justified and just as mean and pernicious as the
one that seems to be brewing here. Their ship
burned to the water line.
I also recollect being in the Navy unit out at Dobbins
in the very late ’60s with all of those Southern pilots
who had been on strike a decade before. Their
harshly bitter strike was the longest in ALPA’s
history. It was not over until JFK was elected in
1960. By then their airline was more than 50 percent
scabs. A decade later the scabs were all but gone. No
scab could ever drive anything he cared about to the
parking lot. He could never leave luggage unattended
in the lounge. He had to fly every checkride
flawlessly. They all carried lists of who was who.
Nobody but a robot could stand up under that fusillade
of hatred and tension in the work place.
The one thing that the leasing companies do not
want to happen is to see the meters turned off on
this equipment. They will get mean and nasty
before they can be made to make a deal, but they
will deal with the devil himself to turn that meter
back on. The government will be on their side. If
you decide to go out on the bricks, you will have to
stand there like that brave Confederate general at
Manassas—stand there like a stone wall and take
all sorts of enfilade and defilade fire.
There will be casualties. Count on it. But you will
have friends out here in Flowery Branch. I will
carry your water and try to help wherever I can. But
you, with that meter in your hands, have the real
power. It will be up to your resolve. They will test
it to the depths of your endurance. But if this
leadership decides to take you out, you will be so
resolved that you will not fail.
Be well and don’t be a stranger. I am about six
miles above Womac. Come by and enjoy an adult
beverage. There might even be a feast for the soul
and a flow of reason. In any event, I will be grinning
when I see you like a mule eating briars.
Your brother,
Roscoe McMillan
ATL, MD-11, (ret)
DogWhisperer is offline  
Old 06-19-2016, 12:47 PM
Runs with scissors
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Joined APC: Dec 2009
Position: Going to hell in a bucket, but enjoying the ride .
Posts: 7,535

Great find DW, and a great trip down memory lane!
Timbo is offline  
Old 06-19-2016, 01:26 PM
Gets Weekends Off
Joined APC: Jun 2015
Posts: 300

Hmmmmm. WWRD?
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