The Brits I ended up flying around on the Conoco contract were conducting the gravity survey portion of the job. If I remember right, they were Petty-Ray Geophysical employees, a crew of young guys who weren’t all that keen on actually doing any work.
Our afternoon shift began at 1400, after the mid-day break. We’d fly back to pick up the line where we left off earlier in the day, before lunch. At around the 1500 or 1530 mark, the gravity crew would start making noise about wanting to get back to camp. Always one to try to keep the customer happy, I obliged and returned the crew to camp, usually by 1600, and sometimes earlier.
After a few days of this, the party chief called me into the mess tent and asked me why I was bringing the guys back so early. They were supposed to be working until 1700, which – given the insistence by the crew that they should be back an hour before then – came as a complete surprise. During our discussion it became obvious to me that he had talked to his crew of lazy Brits, and they had sold me down the river by telling him that I was the one who was insisting on their early return to camp.
Once I got that straightened out to his satisfaction, the party chief was going to tear the boys a new asshole. Rather than let him do that, I suggested that I could handle the situation and keep peace in the camp. The party chief liked my idea, and for the following few days I did what I was being paid to do, plus a little extra.
Daylight didn’t last much past 1800. And sunset – like sunrise – came at exactly the same time every day. If we weren’t on the ground by 1820, it was dark – right now. I wouldn’t have a lot of leeway to get the lazy British bums back to camp for the night after stretching out their workday to make up for lost time. Nevertheless, when the crew started making noise about heading back to camp for the day, I ignored them and continued flying them on to their next survey points, as far past quitting time as I could manage.
For three or four days I kept them out late, and managed to arrive back in camp about a half hour before the sun set. I did that for several days, and they eventually got the hint, stopped sniveling, and did their jobs. I can imagine that after hours, the bitch factor in camp was pretty high among the gravity guys, at least for a few days.
We must have made up for the lost time, because the party chief never brought up the subject again.