A five day spell had come upon this sleepy town of stereotypically visible cultures. The preceding week bestowed upon those without a better guess five days of sun, the light of which we had not seen in months. I had forgotten the feel of warmth, of how the world looks under the pure luminescence of sunlight.
The days here keep rolling past, one day into the next in seamless overlap hemmed in by fatigue and the enormity of the facts that I must catch up on by reading manuals that are a sure cure for insomnia. I peruse through the pages, and I feel I get just half the story from the abominable meanderings of a manual translated from French into English. The words of a friend I turned to when at the crossroads between leaving general aviation and plunging into the world of offhsore flying keep ringing in my head: "This is the learning phase. You must suffer as all of us did."
But frankly, the confluence of his words and my initial struggle in Marseilles congealed to paint a dark and foreboding picture of the offshore flying world.
Now that I have cleared my line check and am released to fly no more with training captains but with any operational captain, the dust has settled somewhat. There is no real "mystery" about flying offshore, as long as self-education remains a skill that has not been lost in the inertia of clocking extensive hours at the controls of the aircraft you are familiar with. Now as I peruse the manuals, I go slowly instead of the hunting and pecking for muddled information like poultry in the feeding trough. I may have a long way to go yet, but as I see even my training captains reading through their manuals even after three decades in this business, I know that being a hot shot is no ambition to cling to.
I also recall my Flight Operations Manager's words when he tried to talk me out of leaving the previous company: "I don't want you to regret joining offshore flying. It's monotonous." Right. Twist my arm was more like it.