Monday, 22 November 2010

The Wings Ceremony

The hard work of the last 12 months was finally rewarded today at the AP308 Wings Ceremony, where we presented with our OAA wings and 2 gold bar epaulettes. It really is a reminder and a reflection of everything we have achieved in becoming Commercial Pilots License holders, and though the hard work is just Wings Ceremony 019beginning, it feels good to enjoy what we have achieved. Following the ceremony we we treated to a few drinks ‘on the house’, and then finished the evening off by a few of us going to the pub to celebrate together. We now get to walk around school proudly showing off to the Ground School kids with our new epaulettes; it feels like just yesterday we were there ourselves!

Because we arrived back quite late from Arizona, I was only able to spend a few days at home before the move up to Oxford. It is nice to be back here, and the house is amazing, but I have to say it is quite something to go from the baking heat of Arizona to waking up to de-ice the car! It will hit home even more once we step into the aircraft, and turn theWings Ceremony 043 heating and de-icing equipment on!

Last week was a week of presentations and lectures as the final part of our First Officer Fundamentals course. It was a fascinating week, learning about everything from airline economics to air crash investigations. Plus we were lucky to have talks from the recruitment guys at British Airways and Ryanair, which have really started us thinking more about our future careers. For now though, the Instrument Rating begins in earnest, and we are due to have our first meeting with our instructor tomorrow. The hard work begins here…!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Goodbye Arizona

Goodbye sunshine, palm trees and cacti, and welcome back to windy, rainy, cloudy Britain! After passing my CPL skills test on Friday afternoon, it was a rush to hand all my manuals in Seneca 024and get my paperwork signed off, and then to beg a lift to the airport, hoping there would be a seat available. Luckily the plane was not full on Friday, and I was able to get BA288 back home to the UK. It was a slightly shorter flight than when we came out due to tail winds over the Atlantic. On arrival in the UK, my parents were waiting to collect me from Heathrow T5, and then the 3 hour journey back to Norfolk. And finally, a well earned meal and some serious sleep!

My skills test in the end was spread over a few days. I took the test initially on Tuesday, but DSC00301only passed 5 out of the 6 sections. My navigation and diversion exercises went really well, as did most of my general handling and instrument work. However, the examiner was unhappy with my landings, which were a lot firmer than usual, so I had to go up again on Friday to retake that section. Unfortunately we did a flight in the morning but the traffic pattern was so busy that we had to land and try again later in the day. That flight went really well, and the landings were some of the best I have ever done. And as soon as those wheels touched the ground, I could officially start calling myself a commercial pilot!

What next? Well, as I finished pretty much on schedule, I have just one week before we start back at Oxford. I already have a house arranged with a couple of guys from my course, so after a few days of catching up with family, I will be heading up to Oxford on Wednesday to PC190221get settled in to my home for the next few months. The next stage of our training is the Instrument Rating, said to be the most difficult thing you will ever do as a pilot. All the work we will do now will be with screens fitted in the cockpit so we are unable to see outside, meaning all our flying will be done on instruments (at least we don’t have to wear those hoods any more). We will be flying up and above the clouds to practise tracking along airways, and flying departure and arrival procedures into a few of the UK’s passenger airports. Before all of that we have one week of First Officer Fundamentals training, in other words a week of presentations, and finally the presentation of our wings and gold epaulettes.

Arizona may be behind us now, but the adventure continues…