One year on

We who fly do so for the love of flying. We are alive in the air with this miracle that lies in our hands and beneath our feet.

— Cecil Day Lewis

It has been exactly one year today since I completed my first commercial flight and in that year, I have learnt so much and developed a lot as both a pilot and a person.
In the last year, I’ve completed almost 530 sectors at a total of just over 750 hours. To put that into perspective, I’ve been in the air for the equivalent of over a whole month!

When you look back at all of those flights, you can reflect on the ones which stick in your mind. The times that it doesn’t always go to plan, the times you remember having a good laugh with the crew and, most importantly, the days that you never forget.

For me, the one which sticks in my head the most is when I took my family from Manchester to Aberdeen and back.
The captain on the day was really accommodating with them and made it a day for all of us to remember. And, even though it’s been almost a year since it happened, they still talk about it and how proud they were to be flown by me.

I have also been lucky enough to get trained to fly into London City airport. With it being right in the heart of Canary Wharf, extra training is required to complete the approach as it’s almost twice as steep as a normal ILS approach. Because of this, it is a captain’s landing every time but it means I can do a little bit of sight seeing as we fly low over the city.

VIDEO0041_0000184170(This picture is a video still and at no point was control of the aircraft impeded or awareness reduced)

This is the view from 2000ft coming into London City and at this point we’re just above Canary Wharf having just flown over the centre of London. As you can see, on a clear day, the views are amazing.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet some really fantastic crew over the last year and had a good laugh with them and spent some very good nights in hotels across our network whilst out night stopping.
It’s not just crew that I’ve got to know either – ground staff, air traffic controllers, refuellers and even the spotters. All of these people make your day go better when you can have a good chat with them.

It’s with thanks to Alex (@GreenAlex_) and Jonathan (@flyhellas) that just the other day I managed to finally get a picture of me actually flying

Photo courtesy of Alex (@GreenAlex_)

Photo courtesy of Jonathan (@flyhellas)

So, having looked back at everything that has happened in the last year, where to now. Well, I’m pleased to say that I’ve been given a fleet transfer and I’ll be moving onto our Embraer jets by next April. The timings haven’t been confirmed yet but I’m hoping to be on a type rating course by April 2017. I’m also going to be moving base to take up the jet position and therefore in October, I’m moving back south of the border to start flying out of Manchester initially on the Dash and then moving onto the jets there once my type rating is complete.

To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home.

— anon.

Passenger flying around the network

It has been almost two months since I provided you with an update to how things are going with my flying, so be prepared for quite a long update and a few photos which have made some of my friends quite jealous of my job!

When I last wrote on my blog, I was part way through the sim sessions at Flybe’s Training Academy. I’m pleased to report that everything went to plan during the sims and I passed my Licence Skills Test and a big thanks to the Captain who I was with for the test for helping me through.

After finishing that part of the training, all that was left to do before being allowed to fly passengers was base training. In this session we take an aircraft and a few trainees to a quiet airport and each of us do six takeoffs and landings. Unfortunately, my first session was cancelled as we ran out of time but on the rearranged session we flew over to East Midlands Airport (Nottingham, EGNX) and had a good day doing the circuits.

With all of the type rating now complete, I was in a position to start flying passengers around the network. However, there was a delay in the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority, the UK’s flying governing body essentially) processing my application paperwork and my licence didn’t turn up on time for me to do my first days of flying.
IMAG0211However, all was not lost as I got to do a few more jump seat flights observing all the procedures I’d learnt during the sim sessions and I think it was definitely a benefit to see it all be used in real life flying.
Overall, it was a good couple of days and a very nice day during the turnaround in Amsterdam.


Once my licence did arrive, I headed over to Belfast to carry out my first day of proper operational flying. I must admit, I was slightly nervous about it, but the excitement was there as well. My first revenue flight with passengers was BEE415 from Belfast to Birmingham. (Pictured above from FlightRadar24)

It went quite well and left me with a huge smile on my face! Since that first flight, I’ve now done 24 flights and I am getting to feel slightly more confident with the aircraft but, as always, there’s a lot of work still to come.


One of my favourite moments from the last couple of weeks flying was flying to Leeds Bradford from Belfast. The routing takes you overhead Blackpool and then down past Preston, Blackburn, Burnley, Nelson, Colne and onto Leeds. As this is where I grew up, I was able to spot all the places that I visited when I was younger and, more importantly, got to fly over the family home in Barrowford.

So, what does the future hold? I still have a minimum of 20 more sectors to do with a training captain and I’m off to Manchester and Birmingham in the coming days to do more flights and the end of the month sees me doing my first flights out of Aberdeen.

Until next time, I’ll leave you with this image taken coming back into Belfast of the sunset at 25,000ft.

Getting hands on with the Dash

My type rating continues and has now progressed onto getting into Flybe’s Dash 8 simulator and starting to learn exactly how to fly the aircraft. So far we’ve had five sessions and have been taught various normal stages on flight with an emphasis on honing our existing flying skills and getting used to the specific Flybe operating procedures and what to do when things start to fail.

It’s been a really good experience so far and it feels good to finally be putting all of the training over the last two years to use and even more so with the thought of my first flight being less than a month away, but more on that later.

However, there is still more work to be done and we still have six more sim sessions before our licence test at the end of the month. Between now and then it will be back to having my head in the books to get all of the manoeuvres learnt and the SOP calls committed to memory.

ScreenHunter_0096As I spoke about just before, I have now been told where and when my first flight with passengers is going to be. I’m going to be taking passengers from Manchester to Southampton and back again for my first flight.

After that, I have an action packed month where I spend nights in Manchester, Southampton and Belfast and a map of all my flights can be found on the left. More detailed stats about my roster can be found by visiting my Roster Buster page.

Technical Ground School

I’m now two weeks into my training with Flybe and so far it’s been very good! Our first week involved getting to know more about Flybe and embracing the ‘Purple Way’ – when they said that joining Flybe was going to involve a lot of purple, they weren’t wrong! Our course also undertook our wet drills which involved getting into the swimming pool and learning how to use life jackets.

The last week has been all about learning more about the Dash 8 Q400 which I’m going to be flying. It has been very similar to ATPL study but a lot more condensed and all about one specific type of aircraft. Personally, I’ve found it a lot easier to understand, especially as I can reference it all to one specific type of plane rather than the theoretical ones you use during the ATPLs.

The next two weeks will see me complete the ground school element of the course and also look at some operational procedures that Flybe use. Our simulator sessions have been scheduled for March and hopefully our first flights will be in early April.

We also found out this week that we’re getting some jump seat rides at the start of March and for me, this involves heading over to Belfast and spending the day with a crew over there. I can’t wait to see everything actually in action!

Away from the studying, we have been going out for meals as a course and treating the non Brits on the course to proper fish and chips at the beach in Exmouth despite it being bitterly cold on the coast!