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.

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Solo Navigation Training

With exactly 40:00 of the 85:00 flying hours required in the Core Phase of the MPL Programme completed, the training has shifted up yet another gear.

March included 22:45 hours of flight training with 42 landings, over 25% of the phase completed in one month! This is due largely in part to the positive change of weather Oxford has recently experienced, although it's also due to the solo navigation phase we're entering. This phase is where we practise and refine our VFR (Visual Flight Rules) Navigation skills, by navigating across the country using visual references on the ground (such as lakes, towns, and motorways) to find our way around. Recently planned trips have taken me out to the West toward Hereford, and also North to Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport for a land away. Other trips have also included turns overhead the Severn Bridge, a pretty impressive sight! Whilst some of these trips are completed with an instructor, the majority are flown solo. This is all in preparation for our Qualifying Cross Country (QXC) flight, which many private pilots will remember as an enjoyable trip of over 270km and includes landings at two different airports in addition to our home base. All being well, I should be flying this sortie by the end of the week.

The heavy, dark rain clouds above Oxford are pushed away in favour of clearer skies.

There have been some pretty dramatic weather events across the country recently, and Oxfordshire has been no different. The image above shows to the left the last thick patch of rain-bearing nimbostratus cloud leaving the Oxford overhead to reveal blue sky. Below, to the left, a recent morning where we experienced less than 250m of visibility and an unmeasurable cloud base. As a rule of thumb, we're looking for 5000m+ visibility and a cloud base of at least 2500ft for our visual flights! To the right and below, another impressive scene of the sun reflecting off rain cloud with bright blue skies in the distance. Whilst most airliners can fly in nearly any weather condition presented to them, at this early stage of training we are more restricted. Although, as expected, these conditions are ever-improving and our limits are gradually being lifted as we progress through the phase.

Outside Oxford Airport, I recently visited the Royal Air Force Club in London to attend The Air League's Young Aviators' Dinner. The evening was very well attended, with over 80 Air League members in attendance; ranging from future pilots with zero hours experience, to military and long haul airline captains with thousands of hours flight time. As I've mentioned in previous posts, The Air League invest heavily in encouraging young people into aviation, through events and flying scholarships. The Young Aviators' Dinner was the first event of its kind organised by The Air League, and following its success will hopefully become a yearly event. I'd like to say a big thank you to the members of the panel involved in organising the evening, it was an excellent opportunity to see old friends again and to meet new ones. 

Scott Pendry, Chairman of the Air League, speaks at the Young Aviators' Dinner held at the RAF Club in Piccadilly, London earlier this month. I'd be impressed if someone can spot me in the audience!

On Saturday 5th April, CAE Oxford Aviation Academy opened it's doors once again for the second Open Day of the year. The open days are an excellent opportunity for future pilots to investigate the options available to them, and also to meet and talk to current pilots and cadets. Many members of my course were present at the day to assist, fulfilling roles across the school. Some were based in the CRJ jet simulator, guiding sometimes totally inexperienced pilots through their first simulated take off or landing, and others were based in the hangar, showing potential cadets around the aircraft operated here at Oxford (such as the Cessna C182T, Piper Seneca PA34, and the Zlin 242L).

In further flight training news, the easyJet MPL at Oxford has now reopened for the 2014 selection process. The entry requirements are listed on the CAE OAA website, and the application period is currently open, however, it may close at any time. Have a good read through what's on offer through the easyJet MPL, and if you decide it's for you, you can apply through the same website. Best of luck, and I'll hopefully see you here this year!

As ever, feel free to ask me any questions directly through my blog (using the link at the top of this page), or by contacting me on Twitter (@TheMrMay). You can also subscribe to my blog by entering your email address in the field below.

It's night flying soon, and hopefully my first ever night solo. I'm off now to complete my flight preparation for the night flying and my solo Qualifying Cross Country (QXC), I'll let you know how it all goes in my next blog post. There's lots to talk about! Stay tuned, and take it easy!

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