The Aviator | Student Pilot Blog

Follow my journey as an airline pilot cadet

Hello, I'm James, and I'm a First Officer flying for a UK airline. The aim of this website is to share my journey through integrated pilot training, and to hopefully inspire other future airline pilots to follow their dream.

A little more about me: I started training when I was 19, I'm originally from Cheshire, UK, and I was a member of the seventh airline-mentored MPL course at CAE Oxford Aviation Academy. Our team of eight met together for the first time on 28th June 2013. During ground school we were joined by fifteen other trainee pilots, making us part of the AP351 course. Whilst we completed all of our flight training in the UK, the AP351 members of our course completed their flight training in Phoenix, Arizona.

My aim was to keep my friends and family up-to-date with my training through periodic updates to the The Aviator Blog page of my website. I always welcome questions, suggestions or contributions at any time through the Contact page. You can now also Subscribe to my blog, to receive an email when an update is posted.

Disclaimer: Personal thoughts and views expressed on this website are entirely my own, and not those of any company I may be affiliated with. Any sponsored links or advertisements on this site are managed by a third-party and are computer generated, they are not endorsements by myself or any company I may be affiliated with.

All Content Copyright © 2017 The Aviator Blog Unless Stated. All Rights Reserved.

A Change of Scenery

With Spring just around the corner, my logbook is beginning to notice the welcome effect of an improvement in the British weather. My flying hours are increasing by the week, and there are exciting times ahead.

I've recently flown what I'm sure will be one of my most memorable flights; my first solo. Following sufficient dual training with my flight instructor, the time came for me to take to the skies under my own command. The flight was an incredible experience, which I'm sure many pilots can relate to. Since my first solo flight, I've now flown just over three solo hours as PIC (Pilot-in-Command), and it's safe to say the smile you can see below returns after every flight!

 "Lima Echo" - The aircraft I first took solo.

"Lima Echo" - The aircraft I first took solo.

An additional aviation milestone for me recently was the successful completion of my first of four Progress Tests during the Core Phase of flight training. These are flights conducted with a flight training examiner, who will assess several aspects of my flying including:

  • Pre-flight planning
  • General handling of the aircraft
  • Controlling the aircraft in alternative configurations (such as glide and flapless landings)
  • Maintaining situational awareness
  • Communicating effectively with Air Traffic Control

Following my progress test I was also able to complete my first landing at an airfield other than Oxford. Around 30 nautical miles (35 statute miles) to the North-East of Oxford lies Cranfield Airport. Cranfield offers a large runway and a relatively quiet Air Traffic Zone, providing an ideal alternate airfield during circuit and navigation training, and also in the event of a diversion. Being able to land at Cranfield also gave me the chance to prove to myself that I could land the aircraft at more than one airport; a beneficial asset in any airline pilot!

With our combined relief, each member of EZY07 has now passed Progress Test 1, and is moving forward into the Navigation stage of our training. This phase will consist of detailed pre-flight preparation of routes and the flying of various sorties (both dual and solo) around the country to practise our navigation skills. With some co-ordination with the cloud base, my first solo navigation sortie will be planned for next week.

 The local area around Oxford Kidlington Airport shown on a CAA aeronautical chart.

The local area around Oxford Kidlington Airport shown on a CAA aeronautical chart.

In another important phase of our flight training, I flew my first Unusual Attitude and Recovery Training flight recently. This is where an experienced flight instructor guides us through several advanced manoeuvres in the Zlin Z242 aerobatics training aircraft. These included steep turns (with over 60° of bank angle) and stall recovery from various configurations. This flight was also an excellent opportunity to gain an introduction into aerobatic flying, something the instructor loves to teach! Other manoeuvres we practised therefore had to include aileron and barrel rolls, stall turns and loops. It was definitely one of the most exciting flights I've ever flown! We fly 5 hours of training in the Zlin during the course, and I can't wait for the next hour.

The objective of these lessons is to increase our confidence and ability to control the aircraft in unusual attitudes, and has become an integral part of training since the Air France Flight 447 accident in 2009. An interesting article on why this type of training is important for student pilots is available on the EAA website.

 The Zlin 242L as used in our aerobatics training, sporting it's personalised registration!

The Zlin 242L as used in our aerobatics training, sporting it's personalised registration!

I'm aiming to keep my blog up-to-date through monthly updates, although as always I'll happily reply to messages at any time through my Contact page. You can now also enter your email address below to receive your own copy of my blog update direct to your inbox whenever I post one; how's that for a personal service! My April update will include details on my navigation adventures, hopefully more aerobatics, and possibly even some night flying. Stay tuned!

In other pretty cool news, I've recently made it onto a travel blog about Commercial Airline Pilots on Twitter. Have a look, and why not follow a few of us! 30 Commercial Airline Pilots that Tweet from 30, 000 Feet by TravelStart

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