Updating enlisted record brief
Time en route would be only slightly greater than usual, at six hours and twenty-four minutes. Not that I would have gotten up that early…" The junior pilot in the cockpit, Carl Fessler, who sat behind them at the relief copilot's position, laughed. I'd rather fly through a line of thunderstorms than face a camera." Mc Vary nodded. "Maybe we missed it on the screen." Fessler looked over his shoulder toward the right rear of the cockpit. Having a printout of connection updates works even better than giving them Valium." While she spoke with the Captain, O'Neil could see out of the corner of her eye that Fessler and Mc Vary were looking at each other in a peculiar way, evidently conveying some sort of signal.It was still impressive; grist for the media's mill. Stuart remembered the time he had been candid during a magazine interview. Alan Stuart was every inch the image of the competent captain, from his gray hair to the crease in his pants. "I'll suggest it to PR." He looked around the flight deck. I have to go down to the pit pretty soon to help Barbara Yoshiro." She nodded toward the service elevator that led to the lower kitchen. Terri realized that the First Officer and Second Officer were playing a game--and that she had become part of it. After everyone mumbled his thanks, O'Neil left the flight deck and closed the door behind her.The Straton 797 maintained a steady Mach-cruise component of 1.8--930 miles per hour. Strands of "As Time Goes By" floated down to O'Neil over the normal in-flight noises.The triple inertial navigation sets with satellite updating all agreed that Flight 52 was progressing precisely according to plan. O'Neil forced a smile and balanced the tray of coffees and pastry against the handrail. With each step the singing of the more gregarious passengers got louder.Yet there was really nothing, at that moment, for the three pilots to do. An hour before, they had flown over an area of bad weather. Now even the aromas were a weak imitation of what he had remembered as a new copilot. Real leather, hydraulic fluid, and old cigarettes; not the sterile aroma of acrylic paints and synthetic materials. He had flown for Trans-United for thirty-four years.Some of the towering cumulus clouds had reached up high enough to at least give any of the crew and passengers who cared to look at them something to see. "Look, I'll press the stew call button, and if fate brings you your secret lover, I'll nod. He'd crossed the Pacific more than a thousand times.Stuart had been called in to speak to the Chief Pilot about his candor. The usual mid-flight routines had laid their blue veil over the crew. The doldrums, as they were called by seamen--but this ship was not becalmed as a ship caught in the doldrums. Mc Vary picked up the ship's interphone and pushed the call button. Of the three of them on the flight deck, only Stuart remembered when everything they ate was served on real china.It was ripping along at close to the velocity of a bullet. well, you have ten left to wonder about." He laughed again, then glanced at Captain Stuart to read his mood. Flight attendants Sharon Crandall and Terri O'Neil were in the first-class galley in the main cabin below when the light blinked. After a brief exchange with Mc Vary, she hung up and turned to Sharon Crandall. It's a wonder they don't turn brown with all they drink." "They're just bored," said Crandall. Walking all the way upstairs every time the cockpit crew needs a diversion is no fun." O'Neil took out a dish of pastry and poured three coffees. The utensils then were silver and the food was a little less plastic as well.
The Total Airframe Temperature needle sat on 189 degrees Fahrenheit, closing in on the red-line mark of 198. Just beyond the glass and the aluminum-and-titanium alloy skin of the 797 was a slipstream of air moving so fast that anything its friction touched was instantly heated to over 175 degrees Fahrenheit. There was a small dot on the horizon--hardly more than a speck against the cockpit glass. He glanced at his wristwatch, which was still set to San Francisco time. Mc Vary saw the object clearly now in the binoculars. Yet his eyes wandered from the operational activities toward the men who stood their stations a dozen feet away inside the glass-enclosed ship's bridge.He had not steered the 797 manually since right after takeoff. "I bet we could find some eager young new-hire pilot to take your place. In a few seconds his thoughts had slid comfortably back to where they had been.He would not use the control wheel again until the final moments of their landing approach at Tokyo. He'd probably type faster, too." Stuart smiled, but he had been pointedly serious. They had a job that was fifty times better than what had come before, yet they seemed to complain constantly. Supersonic transports were not actually flown; they were just aimed and watched.Across seven time zones and the International Date Line in less than a working man's day. He had honestly explained the technical problems of supersonic flight at 62,000 feet, like the subtle effects of ozone poisoning and the periodic increases in radiation from sunspots. Behind Mc Vary, Fessler was typing into a portable computer--an electronic equivalent of a ship's log--with backup data from the instrument panel. Captain Stuart had waited for the coffee and pastry as though it were a special event--a milestone along a straight desert highway.The interviewer had latched on to some of his points, exaggerated others, and had written an article that would have scared the hell out of a Shuttle astronaut. Mc Vary had returned to staring blankly ahead, his mind, no doubt, on personal matters. Coffee and a pastry." "Coffee for me," Fessler said. He ate the pastry slowly, then sat back to sip at his coffee.