Browsing Tag



Sterling Pacific Review – A day in the life of a cargo pilot

Flying with the Sterling Pacific 35L Carry On Travel Case: A Cargo Pilot’s Perspective

Eva with the Sterling Pacific 35L Aluminium Travel Case

My name is Eva, and I have been flying the Boeing 747 freighter (-400 and -8 versions) for 5 years. The Boeing 747 freighter is the variant with the iconic nose cargo door. From my home base Hong Kong I fly all around the world as a senior First Officer. The first fact about flying as a cargo pilot: no two days are the same! There is no typical day or typical week. It is a lot of fun. 

Join me on my trip

Today you are joining me on a day in my life as a cargo pilot. It’s Friday afternoon. I have just completed a simulator session at my airline’s training centre in Hong Kong. I am in the simulator every three months, for proficiency and training sessions, where all kind of scenarios get trained and checked; from multiple engine failures to cargo fires to landing in low visibility conditions. After completing my simulator session I check with ‘crew control’ for any changes in my schedule. There are no changes, so tomorrow I have an early morning report time at 05:30 AM. It is not a very typical duty in my not so typical schedule: I get to operate to Mumbai, then stay in the crew hotel for a couple of hours, to return back to Hong Kong as ‘positioning crew’. It is not a turnaround flight, as is often the case. In a turnaround flight we return directly back to Hong Kong after cargo has been offloaded and loaded in usually under two hours.

How I pack my Aluminium Travel Case

At home I pack my bag for tomorrow; I bring the Sterling Pacific 35L Carry On Travel Case. The case is absolutely perfect for shorter trips and for those cargo turnaround flights, where I would normally bring some items along with me for an ‘unexpected overnight’. It easily stores toiletries, sleepwear, gym clothes, a clean uniform shirt, and my laptop. I prepare for an early night. 

Let’s fly to Mumbai!

It’s Saturday morning. In order to make my early report, with the Hong Kong Express Train not running yet, I have booked a taxi to pick me up at 04:45. I get ready and put on my uniform. Then I have my first cup of coffee of the day, while downloading the flight plan and the weather information on my company iPad for my flight. In the taxi to Dispatch I review the flight. Today I am scheduled to operate a Boeing 747-8F. I slightly prefer the -8, as it is a bit more advanced, with for example electronic checklists instead of paper checklists. The flight time is 6 hours, and the weather in Mumbai is very hazy, so the visibility for landing is quite reduced today. 

Cargo on board

Boeing 747 nose cargo door

At Dispatch I meet with the Captain. He offers me the sector, which means that I get to be pilot flying, including take-off and landing. We discuss the flight, the weather, aircraft status and required fuel. We have a lot of freight on board today, and will land at Mumbai at almost our maximum landing weight of 346,090 kgs. Our scheduled departure time is 06:55 AM. As pilot flying I set up the flight deck, and the Captain completes the external inspection of the plane. The loading has already been completed when we arrive at our airplane; lots of high stacked pallets. The nose door stays closed today; it is only used for very big and bulky freight, which would not work for the side cargo doors. As we are ready early, we are able to depart a few minutes ahead of schedule. With freight there is less pressure when it comes to keeping the exact schedule: when you are ready to fly, you can often go if it works with Air Traffic Control. Also, there are no passengers to complain in case of some delay. 

6 hour flight

The Captain and I have flown together before, but it has been about a year since we last operated a flight together. We catch up and have a very pleasant flight to Mumbai. There is no turbulence, so we enjoy a smooth cruise phase. As we fly to Mumbai, we enjoy our breakfast (which we prepare ourselves in the galley) at Flight Level 360 in Vietnamese airspace. We discuss more interesting cargo each of us has transported: from priceless racing cars, to dozens of horses. 

It is late morning when I get to land in Mumbai; this is my favourite phase of flight! Then follows taxiing, parking and shutting down the engines. Our plane is scheduled to continue to Germany, and a different crew is ready to operate the flight to Frankfurt. The Captain and I disembark the plane, making sure we have our belongings with us. I grab my Sterling Pacific Case from the Upper Deck, and then we need to pass the security in Mumbai, and take our transport to the crew hotel. 

More about the Sterling Pacific 35L Travel Case

At the hotel it is time to unpack. I already got several compliments on my shiny Sterling Pacific Travel Case today; from my colleague, and from a couple of random passengers at the airport. It is beautiful and elegant indeed, and it does not go unnoticed. The two wheel design proved robust going over bumps; the wheels roll smoothly. ‘Click click!’, as I open the spring loaded latch locks. A fun avgeek fact: the aluminium used for the case (5052 and A380), are two alloys used in the construction of aircraft and in aerospace engineering. This luggage is built to last.

Sterling Pacific Travel Case: elegant design and built to last!

Returning home

Sterling Pacific 35L: compact size and durable.

We only stay at the hotel in Mumbai for a couple of hours; in the evening we return to Hong Kong on a Boeing 777 passenger flight. We are traveling as ‘positioning crew, which means that we don’t get to operate, but travel in the cabin, because we need to return to Hong Kong for other duties.

So that same evening, after a nap, a gym session and freshening up, we meet with the B777 crew in the hotel lobby. We travel back with them to Mumbai airport. On board, I stow the Sterling Pacific Travel Case safely in the overhead bin. The 35L case complies with the allowable major airlines carry-on size limits. I change from my uniform into my pyjamas and sleep the whole way to Hong Kong. We land on Sunday morning at 10AM. I make my way home, and the rest of the day I am off. 

The next evening, Monday night, I need to operate the Boeing 747 to Alaska. This is a 9,5 hour flight, crossing the Pacific Ocean, and it is a route I operate very frequently. I am scheduled to fly in the USA for 6 days, and operate between Anchorage, New York, and Toronto. I am hoping I get to see the Northern Lights on one of these flights! (Spoiler alert: I did get to see the Northern Lights 🙂 As I said, this job is a lot of fun!

In conclusion: Sterling Pacific Luggage Review

Thank you Sterling Pacific, for letting me try out the 35L Cabin Travel Case. I look forward to take this stylish and high-quality aluminium case on many more trips. I am also excited to try out the 80L Check-In travel Case in the future, for all my longer cargo trips. With its sleek design and robust construction, it’s the perfect choice for pilots who require reliable luggage on their many trips around the world. If you’re a pilot looking for the perfect luggage, consider Sterling Pacific for your next journey!