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9 Months to go with Capt. Joe

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This series chronicles Capt. Joe’s journies during his last year as a Southwest Pilot. 

December 

Well December 2012 is about over and 2013 is just on the horizon. So just about nine months to fly for Captain Joe.  December started off on the heels of a great Thanksgiving and all of the hectic Christmas shopping kicked into high gear.

The first trip of the month was to Jacksonville FL, (JAX) a beautiful city in northeast Florida.  It was on the way to JAX that a spry and pretty feisty lady in her nineties, I’m sure, looked me up and down as she boarded and said, “How long have you been flying sonny?” I smiled and laughed as I said “Since Richard Nixon was President.” She gave me a smile back and said, “Okay,” as she walked down the aisle. I guess she was satisfied that I could fly her there, but just barely.

JAX was fun and the weather was gorgeous. Our hotel is right on the St. Johns River and the view was terrific.

 
Jacksonville
 

This is The Landings, an area right downtown with shops and restaurants overlooking the river, not to mention a live band is often playing in the main courtyard.  Christmas trees even show up there.

The Landings

The best part of the overnight was having breakfast with my cousin Carmen who lives in St. Augustine and made the drive north for our get together.  I not only flew the 500th Boeing 737 built, but also Colorado ONE, our aircraft paint scheme that is a tribute to the Colorado State flag.

WN 500

On the way out of JAX we headed back to Texas via HOU and SAT. I didn’t know until a few weeks later that there was a couple onboard who were pretty nervous fliers. I know that many of our customers like to fly on us for a safe, quick trip to their destination, but a lot of them don’t really love to fly the way I do. So I try to make a few PAs (public addresses) to the passengers so they can sight-see along the way. I pointed out Panama City, the beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola, Mobile Bay and New Orleans. I had no idea I would receive a “LUV Report” from a gentleman and his wife saying how much that put them at ease just knowing where they were and getting a good view out the window. Nice to get the positive feedback and know that you can make someone’s flight a little easier for them.

Well, Happy New Year!

All the best in 2013!

Colorado One

November

Well, it’s the end of November, so almost 10 months to go for Captain Joe. A month in which  to give thanks and enjoy a Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends

It’s been a great month with wonderful flying weather, crisp temperatures and more traveling around the country to see family. We had our usual early departure from Love Field, but always an opportunity for a good sunrise photo.

Captain Joe

While fall flying weather is mostly clear and blue skies, that doesn’t mean we don’t see a few storms and rain showers that we always fly around.  This weather can be 80-100 miles away, but from the airplane looks fairly close.

Stormy Weather

An early morning arrival into STL started the month, with a gorgeous view of downtown STL and the Gateway Arch. Built on the St. Louis side of the Mississippi River, the arch represents the “Gateway to  West,” a memorial to the westward expansion of our country by wagon train pioneers of the 1800’s.

Captain Joe

This view is to the south as the Mississippi winds to the Gulf of Mexico. 

Mississippi River

Passing through Chicago’s Midway airport we spotted Maryland One, our 737 with the Maryland State flag paint job. Very striking livery for this Boeing!

Maryland One

We headed out west and left SFO with some great views of the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Our passengers had a spectacular view, but we have the best seats on the airplane!

SFO

The incredible Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge

We headed east for an overnight in Tampa, Florida and a wonderful evening with family.  As it was a long overnight, I was able to meet my wife, Kathie, who arrived the day before I did, and spent time with her 82-year-old Dad, Don Stoeckle.  Dad is better known to his six kids, 15 grandkids, and one great grandson as “Papa Don.”

Papa Don

That evening it was dinner with Kathie’s brother, Michael, his wife Kory, and my niece, Holly. Great food at Bella Bella near downtown Tampa.  Italian, of course!

Bella Bella

It was time to wrap up this terrific trip and head west to Dallas. Kathie got to fly home with me from TPA-MSY-DAL.

Nothing like coming home to Dallas and that beautiful skyline after being on the road a few days.

Dallas

Thanks, see you after Christmas!

October 

Well, Halloween has come and gone, and so has my last October in the skies as a Southwest Airlines Pilot. 

This month, I had the chance to fly one of our new 175 seats 737-800s! Another great Boeing aircraft that will be a big part of our future. 

800 Joe

In October, I traded two of my trips to double up on family visits, with two overnights in BOS and two in BUF. My son, Adam, is a second year Masters student at Boston University School of Music as a trumpet performance major. As a proud Dad, and former trumpet player, I can easily say that he is an amazingly talented musician. On every BOS overnight, AJ has taken me somewhere different; Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, Fenway Park, USS CONSTITUTION (Old Ironsides), plus visits to Harvard and MIT campuses. When he’s not playing or practicing his trumpet, Adam composes, sings, and plays his guitar as AJ Adams, and has a CD out:

Heart to Givewww.ajadamsmusic.com

Visits to BOS are always a great time, a historic and fun city.

Joe and Adam
Me and my Son, Adam

In BUF, where I grew up in the suburb of Williamsville, I get to stay with my mom, still living in the same house that we moved into in 1955—I think it’s paid for by now!  I have borrowed my mother’s car and picked up the Crew at the hotel to take them around town or over to Niagara Falls.  At my age, I still have to listen to mom tell me where not to take the crew in Buffalo.  Of course that’s exactly where we go; “don’t forget to lock the car,” she says, and “watch where you park!”  She’s a riot!

Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls, 30 minutes from BUF Airport!

In the Village of Williamsville is the Eagle House Restaurant, a local watering hole that was established in 1827 and holds the longest continuously held liquor license in New York State!

Eagle Food

There is a lot of neat American history in the Western New York area, from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Erie Canal. The cities of Dallas and Buffalo both share the stigma of having had a President assassinated there:  John Kennedy in Dallas in 1963, and William McKinley in Buffalo in 1901. For a time Mark Twain and his wife also lived in Buffalo. I always enjoy flying back to W. New York and visiting family

Now I have to see where I can go in November—Countdown Capt. Joe!

September

Greetings from Norfolk, VA or ORF. This September trip marks the last one for the month in 2012 and one year until I will retire from Southwest Airlines in September 2013. With the end of my flying career at SWA in sight I wanted to take an opportunity each month to blog about what flying for this terrific company has been like.

Every pilot I fly with at SWA has a story about where and how they started flying. Each one has an interesting path on how they ultimately came to be flying here. Mine is a little different, in that after flying in the Navy for 6 years I got out of aviation, except for flying in the Navy Reserve, and started a business in SAN. After two years as a business man I decided I missed flying too much and got back in the game.

I earned my Certified Flight Instructor rating, taught flying for two years, and earned many additional ratings. I flew a some charters, freight, commuter and finally got my break in the business with a corporate gig in LAS for three years. That led to another corporate job in DAL for ten years, with many SWA pilots to-be, and then to the best flying job I’ve ever had, Southwest Airlines.

Many of the Captains I flew with when I was hired are still flying for SWA and will be after I leave. They got here at a younger age and sooner, lucky guys and gals. Lucky, because if you like to fly, like the people you work with, like your company, and as highly skilled professional pilots like your hourly wage, this is  the place to be. For me, there’s no better place to be flying than Southwest Airlines. 

I’m going to make the most of this last year and enjoy every trip as a Southwest Airlines Captain, every trip in the left seat that took me so long to get to. I’ll include a photo each month from the airplane, because if we’ll admit it, every pilot loves the view, and we have the best seat in the house!

See ya next month.