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

ABZDep170416_3
Photo courtesy of Alex (@GreenAlex_)

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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.

ScreenHunter_0099

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.

IMAG0214

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.

Well this is scary!

I now just have one more flight left in New Zealand and that’s my Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL) skills test!

The past seven months have flown by and now it all comes down to one more flight before I move onto filling in the paperwork and catching the plane home.

In preparation, this week has seen me do 3 CPL profiles which are essentially mock tests allowing me to identify where I need to work on and to improve these areas.
After my last one this morning, I now feel happy about the test and you can see a marked improvement in my flying not just compared to when I passed PT1 a few months ago but even compared to how I was flying after my first profile.

All I have to do now is stay calm, not let the pressure get to me and fly it as though it’s any other flight.

Fingers crossed!

South Island Flyaway

As promised, an update following our 5 day trip around the South Island of New Zealand and I have to say that it didn’t disappoint! Be warned, this update is very picture heavy and may cause jealousy!

The whole idea of the flyaway is for us to chase the good weather and complete all of our IFR Routes flights in the Twinstar. Clearly, we didn’t want to just stay in the vicinity of Hamilton, so we headed off towards the South Island, spending the first night in Wellington.

Passing Ruapehu
Flying down to Wellington, passing Mt Ruapehu and Mt Tongariro – the volcanoes on the North Island

WN
Wellington
Wellington
Welcome to Wellington Airport

After spending the night in Wellington, it was time to head down to Christchurch, where we would be basing ourselves for the next couple of days.
The flight down was full of amazing scenery as we went the long way round via Nelson and Westport, allowing us to see the Marlborough Sounds and to fly over the Southern Alps.

Marlborough SoundsSun setting above the clouds
Top: Marlborough Sounds
Above: Sun setting over the clouds
Left: Me enjoying the flight to Nelson
Mountains surrounding CH   Above: Looking back at the Southern Alps from Christchurch

From Christchurch, we spent the next day touring around the South Island, ending up making approaches into Timaru and Alexandra along with landing in Dunedin for lunch and a change of pilot.

The weather closed in that night, meaning I didn’t get to fly that day, but instead went up early the next morning to get my flight in. We flew over to Hokitika on the west coast and due to the inclement weather the previous night, more snow had fallen on the Southern Alps – the views were amazing! With it being so clear as well, we could also see down to Mt Cook – the highest point in New Zealand.

Central divide  Above: Looking out onto the Southern Alps with peaks covered in snow and cloud still in the valleys
Below: Looking down the range towards a snowy Mt Cook in the distanceLooking down towards Mt Cook, covered in snow

When I got back from this flight, I spent the afternoon at Christchurch Airport waiting to fly back up to Woodbourne after the other two had been up in the morning to drop one of them off. I spent the time at the International Aviation Academy of New Zealand (IAANZ) and thanks to Ryan and Adrienne for making me feel so welcome and keeping me company for a good few hours! Good luck with the rest of your training guys!

Being based at an international airport with jet traffic meant that I couldn’t go throughout the trip without taking a few photos of planes – we are pilots after all!
One of the best photos I took from Christchurch was of a Singapore Airlines 777 taking off whilst our Twinstar was waiting at the holding point (I wasn’t in the Twinstar at the time though).

You can really see the size difference between them!

The last leg of our trip saw me flying back up to Hamilton from Woodbourne, going via Wanganui on the way. It brought an end to a great 5 days worth of flying.

Flight Map

This map shows where we ended up flying on the flyaway as a group. My flights are the black lines and the grey ones are where I either backseated the route (dark grey) or the other two flew the route and I wasn’t in the aircraft (light grey).

Finally, a big thanks to our instructor, Ash, for putting up with us this week! It took a lot of work and long days to get to where we did and he was always in the aircraft, putting the long hours in every day.

With this now complete, it’s time for me to focus on CPL revision as I now have three profile flights (mock tests) before I sit my actual CPL! I should be home in just a couple of weeks now.

PS: There will be a video of the flyaway coming soon, I just need to collate all our pictures and video and then make it and CPL comes first