The Captain’s Log: To Houston After Harvey

A “Symphony of Your Life” blog with Mark Hardcastle

Captain's Log Photo

Captain’s Log: September 4th, 176 passengers, DEN-IAH.

Since becoming a fully-fledged captain on July 7th, I’ve dealt with weather issues, maintenance delays, weather issues, VIP-related airspace closings, unruly passengers, and, by the way, weather issues. Did I mention that I’ve dealt with weather since I became a captain?

I’ve had more “issues” in the few weeks that I’ve flown domestic missions than I experienced in the 15 years I worked as a B-777 first officer in the international operation. It’s been surprising, and deeply gratifying, to learn just how much influence a captain can have on the outcome of a challenging situation. Every time I go to work now I feel like a batter facing a new pitcher: “Ok, punk, show me your heat!”

A few days ago I came to work with a somewhat different mind-set.

Hurricane Harvey, the first major hurricane to make landfall in Texas in over a decade, came ashore during the last few days of August. My small part of the story began the day after it officially dissipated, literally vaporizing into the annals of history.

On September 4th I was assigned to fly the evening run from Denver to Houston. And while I’ll be the first to say that there’s great satisfaction in being able to influence a deteriorating situation for the good, I was hoping for no such satisfaction that particular evening.

That night I didn’t want to see any fastballs.

Not on September 4th, with a plane load of passengers going back to Houston to who knows what kind of devastation. The last thing they needed was the stress of a not-so-perfect operation.

That night I hoped for no need for any particular level of skill on my part. I hoped for no need to know how to deal with weather. Or maintenance. Or air traffic control. Or unruly passengers. I  hoped for clear skies, fair winds, light traffic, and an air transportation system that was operating well.

I got my wish. A good jet. Smooth air. An early arrival. I did nothing unusual.

And my passengers had no need to worry about anything related to their flight. They were at peace to contemplate and prepare for whatever they might find when they arrived in Houston.

And it was the most satisfying flight I’ve had yet as a captain.

Sometimes the “good stuff” has nothing to do with overcoming challenges. Sometimes it really is enough to simply engage. To be there. To just “do life.”

On September the 4th, between Denver and Houston, my passengers never gave a single thought to me as their captain. I was a shadow figure in their lives. And that was perfectly fine by me.

The Symphony of Your Life



Mark graduated from the USAF Academy in 1982. After nine years as a pilot on active duty, he left the military to join a commercial airline. In addition to flying B-777s around the world, Hardcastle spends time in the Rocky Mountains and serves on the artistic staff of the Colorado Children’s Chorale. He lives in Centennial, Colorado, with his wife and four children. Need some help figuring out why you’re on this planet? Want to talk about discovering your mission and purpose? Contact Mark today to schedule a free personal consultation. He can also deliver an inspirational keynote or workshop for your organization! email: 720.840.8361