Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Enjoying Christmas

As someone once said “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

Having arrived home last week there was little time for rest. We moved home on Thursday meaning I spent the first few days of my time back here in the UK packing boxes and then come the 22nd move to our new home. It’s not the best time to be moving so close to Christmas day but it’s nice to be somewhere new.

It’s also been great catching up with family and friends including a couple of late nights and rough mornings! What has been most interesting has been the lack of change here – it really does feel like I haven’t been away!

The biggest shock has obviously been the weather. As I mentioned when landing in Manchester, it was clear to see the UK wasn’t enjoying the delights of Florida but as crazy as it sounds, it’s nice to be out of the sweat box for a few weeks. Another downside of being home and moving house is the fact we are without the house internet for some time – it’s almost like losing a limb. 

Apart from Christmas day and catching up with numerous people I’ve also been to Old Trafford to watch Manchester United demolish Wigan Athletic. The ground is somewhere I used to spend a lot of my weekends and many a weekday evening and it was thoroughly enjoyable going back to somewhere I know so well.

The ATPL results were released last week but as I’m not in the US at the moment I will have to ring up tomorrow to obtain my results. Having spoken to a number of fellow students who have been lucky enough to already have got hold of theirs it’s great to hear of so many good scores – hopefully mine will be something similar!

So as the 25th has now passed it’s time to continue to demolish the remainder of the food in the cupboards and look forward to the new year.

I started this blog early this year before starting my training out in Melbourne. The main aim was to keep family and friends updated on my progress but it seems to have grown a bit bigger than that with over 13,000 views from 85 countries and over 850 cities. It’s something I enjoy updating and hope to continue doing so in 2012.

Speaking of 2012, the year will hopefully bring the end to my initial training and switch over to airline job. I have three more months is Melbourne, two spent completing the final set of ATPL exams followed by the CPL course which should last just three to four weeks. Following this I shall travel to Ireland, more specifically Waterford, to take on the Instrument Rating before heading to the Irish capital to complete the training in the simulators. Following this it is will be time to await the airline’s word as to when and where the training will continue!

It’s going to be a busy twelve months but at this moment in time I’m more looking forward to new year’s eve and to whoever has been reading this blog I hope you have all had a good Christmas and are looking forward to a prosperous 2012.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Whether it be in the centre of a bustling city or down a quiet country lane it’s always the same – it’s home.

We now live in a world where we can travel with ease across boarders at costs unimaginable twenty (even ten!) years ago. As the world becomes a smaller place and business moves ever more quickly ; the phrase “leaving the nest” has become a lot more distant than ever before.

There are certain times of year, different in different cultures, where those, wherever they may be, come together to celebrate or simply to reunite for old time sake. For those in the Christian world, this time of year is more prominent than any other.

Over the past seven months away from home I’ve worked pretty hard. Through long days and short nights it has been a rollercoaster of emotions and something twelve months ago I would never have dreamed of encountering. It’s almost been surreal but here I am, back to spend three weeks with family and friends over the festive period.

Having concluded the short stay in Orlando we headed to the airport for the flights back to our respective countries and more particularly cities. The flight to Manchester was delayed by one hour due to snow the previous day here in the UK; having a knock on effect on the airline’s schedule. As predicted the plane arrived sixty minutes late into Orlando International and the operation got underway to turn the aircraft around as soon as possible.

Plane fed, cleaned and refreshed we took off into the night sky and headed north east bound out into the Atlantic Ocean. Thanks to some impressive tailwinds the flight time was reduced to seven hours meaning an on time arrival into the northern city.

Living in a climate that would feel embarrassed below twenty degrees Celsius, landing in Manchester where a frosting of snow covered as far as the eye could see was a bit of a shock to the system. The first time I’d seen the white stuff since I was last at the airport in January!

Touchdown was particularly impressive after a smooth ride. To add to a very good flight, spending only twenty minutes from disembarking the aircraft to leaving the terminal it was impressive to see the new passport chip system in operation – fantastic idea!

So here I am. Back at home. It’s been seven months; and it’s most certainly been worth the wait…

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Round two complete - countdown to home begins...

So the exams are finished and it's almost time to return to the UK for Christmas.

Monday through Wednesday saw everyone here at PTC who are currently taking the ATPL exams sit their respective subjects.

For myself, all five tests went well and I'm hoping to receive the results within the next few weeks.

Since we finished on Wednesday I was hoping to relax until returning home this weekend however on Tuesday evening I became aware that I would be having my mock-check ride on the Thursday morning. So, having completed however many hours sat in my room learning about the relevant ATPL subjects I now had less than twenty four hours to cover a number of different subjects relating to the aircraft we fly, US airspace, pilot performance and much more.

So, up at 6am the following day. Slightly tired and a head ready to burst with information I arrived at the Flightline slightly after 7am. The weather was looking good - almost cloudless and a cool (well...21 degrees Celsius) morning in eastern Florida. I started to prep for the oral and the following flight.

Due to a number of reasons the flight was cancelled in favour of rescheduling it in January. It was disappointing, especially with the amount of effort that went into preparing, but was completely understandable.

The rest of Thursday was spent resting the brain and starting to look forward to the journey home.

Awaking today (Friday) I became aware of  how little I had done to prepare for the journey home. A list of jobs needed to be completed before finishing off the packing.

This evening a few of us had dinner in the local Irish bar before heading up to Orlando to spend the rest of the time here in the US before the festive season in the villa of my roommate. En route we made a detour and headed towards a place known as 'Celebration,' a small town off the beaten track. It's known for it's perfection and cleanliness. It was quite an interesting site to see!

With all the Christmas decorations on display and the inability to spot an imperfection in the entire town it was something to behold.

Anyway, it's now time for bed and it will be the last time I post from Melbourne for a few weeks. Home bound begins soon - the countdown continues...

Friday, 9 December 2011

So close...

It's Friday 9th December. In just over a week I'll be on a flight back to the UK for the Christmas period. Between now and then there are many hours of revision and five IAA ATPL examinations.

Starting on Monday the exams take place over three days at the local Hilton hotel.

Monday afternoon involves General Navigation encompassing fifty four questions over a two hour time period. Tuesday morning is IFR Communications followed by Radio Navigation later in the day. The first is twenty three questions in thirty minutes while the latter is much longer with fifty nine questions over one hour and thirty minutes. The final day involves Flight Planning first thing followed almost immediately by VFR Communications. The former consists of fifty six questions over a large time scale of three hours while VFR mirrors the IFR test.

As mentioned last week, taking the mock examinations gave us all a good indication of what we need to work on before the IAA arrive this weekend.

Since Sunday, bar the below, there has been very little activity over here. I've done some small amounts of revision but now as the weekend arrives it's back to the studying for most hours of the day and reacquainting myself with the four walls of my room.

The weather over these past few days, bar yesterday, has been fantastic. It's quite odd being in an environment of 25°C+ at this time of year. The Christmas songs have now slowly started appear and will no doubt play a major part during the study this weekend!

I had said last week that I was hoping to get my mock FAA PPL check ride complete yesterday however unfortunately this didn't take place. The next best thing was to back seat a flight.

Although we have had cloud free skies for quite a while now, yesterday was the exception as the clouds hung over Melbourne for the entire day. It looked unlikely that we would manage to get airborne for the trip up to Daytona. Arriving early at the Flightline the visibility was looking promising. It was decided between the instructor and student that the lesson would at least be given the opportunity.

Paperwork complete, forms, binders and documents collected we headed out to the plane. The plane was prepped and we headed out to the run up area. 

As the relevant checks were being conducted by the student the instructor contacted the ground frequency here in Melbourne and asked for the latest visibility reports. A Delta jet had just departed and the controller was waiting for a pilot report from the flight crew and would report back.

"FIT 40, the Delta jet departed to the south and was therefore not able to supply a relevant PIREP, I'm seeing clouds broken at three thousand."

It was decided we would try the flight. 

"Melbourne Ground, FIT 40 is at the FIT run up area, departure to the north west with information C, ready to taxi."

"FIT 40 taxi Runway 5 via Victor, hold short Runway 5 at Victor."

Due to the short taxi distance and how quiet the airport was at that time we were in the air within a couple of minutes and heading towards the north west.

As we climbed it was evident that weather wasn't improving and the instructor made the decision as we passed two thousand feet that it would not be beneficial for the lesson to continue and as such we returned to Melbourne's airspace.

I would imagine most would think the eighteen minutes we spent in the air were a waste of time however one could argue it was good experience in airmanship in knowing when and when not to make the go or no-go decision.

"FIT 40, cleared to land Runway 5." 

Back to the books...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Consolidation complete

Five exams done, five exams thankfully passed.

Consolidation exams took place over the past week in the Babcock facility here in Melbourne. All fourteen were conducted over four days.

Four long nights since the end of ground school interrupted by Thanks Giving and Black Friday proved fruitful as the results came out all above the 80% mark needed to be allowed to sit the real IAA exams which will begin next Monday (12th) running for three days.

All of the consolidation exams are designed to give each student not only a good idea of how each test will be set but also an understanding of their current knowledge level in that particular field.

Since completing consolidation I have had a few days off spare a couple of hours of Radio Navigation whilst watching the Manchester United game on Saturday morning. It is hard to describe going from constant hours of revising to almost 'slobbing' within a matter of hours.

Tomorrow is where the work starts again as I slowly get through the material again and again before the all important tests in seven days time. Having said that, having the ten days between mock and real examinations is more of a time to buffer and fine tweak the knowledge already gained over the previous five to six weeks. If it is possible to score highly with only four days of intense study before consolidation then the extra ten days are a great way to tune the already embedded material. Having said that, I am hoping to get a number of hours in daily.

I'm also hoping to get back into the air this coming week with the mock check ride. I have been waiting a number of weeks to finally get towards the FAA PPL and although it maybe touch and go (no pun intended) I am hoping to have this under my belt before departing the country for the Christmas period.

Talking about the festive season, it is great to be able to start organising to meet up with friends and family when I'm home for three weeks. Having started in May it has been almost seven months here in Melbourne and although we are living in a fantastic climate, doing something that thousands (if not more!) would love to do it; I know it will be nice just to return to a sense of normality for a short time and what better way to do that than over Christmas.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Consolidation and Thanks Giving

This week we concluded our five weeks of ground school for this module. We now have one week of Consolidation starting tomorrow followed by a study week and if all goes well during the mock exams the real IAA sitting in just over two weeks time.

This week was also a time for the United States to celebrate one of it's biggest holidays. As someone who lives in the UK we are well aware of the tradition but not a nation who takes part was a whole. So to be here in the US on such a day, I was hoping for an insight into the 'pre-Christmas' holiday - something a number of us certainly got! More on that later.

The time comes again where we must spend many an hour sat in front of the computer and books revising for the forth coming examinations. Round 2 is almost upon us as General Navigation kicks off tomorrow morning bright and early at 9am.

As it was eight weeks ago we all sit Consolidation exams to determine whether we are indeed ready to sit the IAA tests. We will be put forward for any or all of the subjects we achieve a score of 80% or above on.

The Consolidation papers take place over one extra day compared to the IAA running from tomorrow morning (Monday) to Thursday afternoon. All three modules will sit any of their respective fourteen subjects they're currently studying for. The results are usually distributed pretty swiftly within hours.

This week I have General Navigation on Monday, Radio Navigation on Tuesday, Flight Planning on Wednesday and the two Communication papers on Thursday.

Following this, assuming all are passed, we will have ten days to swat some more before the finals the week before leaving for Christmas.

As mentioned above, Thanks Giving is a big day on the American calendar where all families come together (maybe for the first time in twelve months) to say thanks, whether that be to their family, their friends or through their beliefs. 

Eight students from my class including myself were lucky enough to be able to attend a real traditional Thanks Giving in the home of a big American family. With what must have been over forty people coming in and out all afternoon the food production was run like clockwork. It was great to meet so many different people from so many different backgrounds who had all come together at one time.  

The evening was concluded by all gathering around in one room (I'd never imagine a family being so big!) to each say what they were thankful for. Overall it was a fantastic day and I can't thank enough the family for their hospitality.

The day following Thanks Giving is known over here as 'Black Friday.' Another national holiday (for those who don't work in retail anyway!) where the nation almost comes to a standstill...outside of their nearest superstore anyway. The country goes into lock down with consumers snapping up what I as a European can only describe as eye-watering cheap deals. Seeing people camping outside of Best Buy on Thanks Giving with tents it's the extent some will go to to make big savings and get their early Christmas shopping done. 

Needless to say I also took part in this tradition - it would after all be rude not to!

So...back to the books I go - less than twenty four hours to go...


I'm not wanting to make a habit of these bottom post-blog comments but I think it's only right to highlight the sad news today of the death of one of the Premier League's all time greatest players; Gary Speed.

The Welsh football (soccer) manager was this morning found dead at his home, believed to have taken his own life.

I grew up with the Premier League and the entertainment it has brought to billions around the world. Up to only a couple of years no other player had contributed more playing time to the spectacle that is the greatest sporting league on the planet than Gary Speed - he will be a great loss to the game.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

"The holidays are coming..."

Made famous by the drinks manufacturer the unofficial start of the Christmas period now seems to begin with the first showing of their adverts on TV screens across the world. Going by Facebook, during last week's X Factor the festive season was well and truly kicked into life.

Since the summer the majority of students have had their flights booked to return to their homelands for Christmas. A chance to catch up with family and friends and take a well deserved break from what, although it maybe enjoyable, quite stressful times along the Florida coastline. Something to look forward to at the end of this module in a few weeks time.

These past seven days saw the end of week four of the ATPL ground school for this module. We're now in full flow with all five subject and we again took another three weekly tests to help determine our credibility for the Consolidation exams coming up in only eight days from now. Thankfully all went to plan.

This weekend is also a landmark in that we are exactly half way through the whole ATPL programme. Twelve weeks down, twelve to go.

There is not much else to report actually. I'm currently awaiting a date to go flying with one of the senior flight instructors before my FAA PPL check ride but other than that the head is now solely focused on the forthcoming exams.

This coming week our timetable changes bringing forward the lectures by two days due to the holiday of Thanks Giving on Thursday followed by 'Black Friday' where all shops seem to drop their prices exponentially for only hours. A bit of Christmas shopping maybe a necessity...

Finally, I've had a few emails over the past few weeks about people who are planning to take the assessment day with PTC asking advice etc. I have added a page which can be found on the navigation bar at the top giving a bit of information on my assessment day and the weeks following that if that is of any help to anyone.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Three weeks gone and a day to remember

Yesterday we finished week three of the second module. We have this week begun the two Communications subjects and moved locations to the new Pilot Training College facility called the Babcock building.

As mentioned before, this module is over three days of the week. Monday was mainly spent revising and a little bit of downtime followed by an early night due to a solo flight on the Tuesday morning.

Getting up at 5am was not something I had done for some time and wasn't exactly what I was looking forward to! Weary eyed I arrived at the Flightline around 6.15am. In the USA (and maybe other countries over this side of the Atlantic, I'm not too sure...) the clocks switch back an hour later than those in Europe. This meant on Saturday evening/early Sunday morning the clocks stood still for sixty minutes (sort of...) and has led to lighter mornings. So, on Tuesday as I walked out onto the ramp at 6.40am the sun had already reared it's head ten minutes previous. Another difference from previous months is the weather. During the summer, as explained before, the weather is like clock work. Fantastic clear skies early in the morning and horrendous thunderstorms in the afternoon. However this seems to have changed quite dramatically and it is now almost impossible to predicted the weather without the help of the official channels.

My solo flight was the last time I would be up in the air on my own before my FAA PPL check ride. It is one hour long and designed for the student to go into the practice area to practice different maneuvers that would come up during the exam.

"Melbourne Tower, FIT 37 is ready for departure, Runway 5 at victor."

"FIT 37, cleared for take-off Runway 5. Make right downwind Runway 5 and depart on course."

"Cleared for take-off Runway 5. Make right downwind departure, FIT 37."

After a couple of maneuvers in the practice area I returned to Melbourne airspace and entered the pattern for a few landings before getting back to the ramp.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were back in the classroom for ground school in now all five subjects including IFR and VFR communications. These two are the smallest of the fourteen ATPL examinations each consisting of only twenty three questions to be completed in a thirty minute time frame. We also did three class tests on each of the other three subjects.

On Thursday we moved to the new Pilot Training College Babcock facility. The building has been open for a few months now and houses all operations staff as well as offering facilities such as classrooms, self study areas and a canteen. I personally find it much better than the Annex which will continue to be used for ATPLs for other module classes I believe.

Anyway, last night a few of us went to Smokey Bones for something to eat before spending today watching some of the England game and generally having a rest. Tomorrow it's back to the books before my last flight with my instructor on Monday before the FAA PPL check ride!


Separately, yesterday was a day for a number of countries to remember those who had fallen for their country.

In the UK we call it Remembrance Day and is honoured by a two minutes silence at eleven minutes past the hour of 11am. Something that has also become a custom is to wear a plastic red poppy as a sign of respect in the days and weeks around the 11th November.

Here in the US it is known as Veteran's Day and it was something out of the ordinary for myself to see the President of the United States aboard one of America's many aircraft carriers which had been turned into a basketball court with four stands around the centre of action. 

A game was played between two high school teams to mark the day.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Two weeks down and a broken laptop

Well...we're now two weeks into the second module, in fact as I type starting week three! Of the eight weeks we spend on each group of subjects the time just seems to get shorter and shorter and Christmas nearer and nearer.

Sitting here thinking back to when we first started in May the time seems to have flown by (please excuse the pun) but the work must continue and the weekly tests this past week again reared their heads. In all three subjects I seem to be making steady ground. It is very clear that this module is highly theory and maths based which, for me, is far better than the previous.

This week in Radio Navigation we have covered the properties of different tools for aircraft to use when navigating using their instruments such as VORs and NDBs; focusing on the characteristics and properties associated with each.

General Navigation covered different conversions from a whole list of measuring terms such as US gallons, imperial gallons, metres, feet, nautical miles, litres etc. A lot of time spent on the calculator and the cool little old-school computer known as the CRP-5.

The CRP-5 is now outdated with the scientific calculators we can all now buy from our nearest WH Smith (or any other stationary store...) however the actual theory behind it and how it's put into practice is quite superb.

Although I would love to explain it's every function it's quite apparent that I'm hardly aware of half of them as I am much more at home with the Casio sat next to it however for wind calculations the CRP-5 seems very logical, easy to use and provides very quick and accurate answers. 

Flight Planning was mainly focused on map and graph reading as well as fuel calculations.

Outside of the classroom I haven't been back into the air yet although tomorrow I hope to fly an hour solo, a requirement before the FAA PPL check ride. 

On Friday evening as a class we went to TGI Fridays for something to eat to finish off the week. Earlier that afternoon my laptop broke which means I spent a good three hours on the bike on Saturday afternoon touring Melbourne to find another computer. Alas, I returned at 6pm with new machine in tow. One thing I have found over the years, whether you're getting a new laptop out of choice or because the previous was simply getting too old it's quite frustrating having to spend time moving things across and setting everything into place. Maybe it's just me...

Anyway, it's now less than six weeks before going home for Christmas. In between then and now is another eleven class tests, five consolidation exams and hopefully five IAA examinations. Sorry this week has been a bit of a boring update - not much to say! Back to the books and the CRP-5 I suppose!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

ATPL exam results - 1st module

Just a quick post.

Today we received our exam results from the IAA in Ireland here at PTC Florida. After completion of the examinations here in the US the invigilators return to Dublin to mark the papers and sort out any discrepancies in the paper, markings and/or results.

Today I got hold of my first set of four exam marks which go towards the total of fourteen ATPL sittings.

In Aircraft General Knowledge I scored 96%, Instruments 88%, Performance 94% and Principles of Flight 93% giving me an average of 93%.

Overall I was satisfied with the results however I was kind of expecting to score a little higher in three of the papers yet with regards to Instruments, which I believed to be an extremely difficult paper, I am more than happy!

Hoping to increase the average come the end of the next module...another update at the weekend!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Module 2, one week down as Australia comes to a stand still

It seems only days ago that we travelled to the Annex on the bus to our very first ATPL lesson however I now sit here nine weeks on having completed our first week of the second module. The five subjects before Christmas cover General Navigation, Flight Planning, Radio Navigation, IFR Communications and VFR Communications respectively.

This module involves ground school over three days of the week and self study for the remaining four. The classes start at 9am and on certain days run through until 6.30pm in the evening. 

So far we have had General Navigation, Flight Planning and Radio Navigation as the two communication courses are much shorter in length than the other three and will come into the module in the coming weeks. The set up is exactly the same as previous. We have five weeks of ground school with weekly tests in each subject followed by one week of Consolidation exams, a revision week and then the real IAA exams. 

With a three day week we didn't begin proceedings until Wednesday which meant we had Monday and Tuesday off. Having seen Manchester United fall to the hands of the noisy neighbours quite emphatically on the Sunday morning I was very much looking forward to the flight on the Sunday evening.

Having arrived at the Flightline my instructor told me that he was to run out of hours before we would land back in Melbourne later in the evening. Therefore it was decided we would plan a shorter route north to Sanford, an airport north west of Orlando International and is mainly used by low cost and European charter airlines. 

The sun started to fall below the horizon as we departed waited for taxi clearance from Melbourne Tower.

"FIT 42, taxi Runway 5 via victor. Hold short Runway 5 at victor."

Pre take-off checks complete.

"Melbourne Tower, FIT 42 is holding short of Runway 5 at victor, ready for departure."

"FIT 42, cleared for take-off Runway 5, proceed on course to the north west."

We lined up with the smallest runway here in Melbourne. Part of the line up checks are to check that the heading indicator (HDI) is corresponding with the small compass placed midway up the cockpit window directly between the two pilots. With the Avadine glass cockpit that a number of FIT's aircraft are fitted with this isn't necessary as there simply isn't a manual HDI thanks to the many computers taking care of figures and representations we see on the screens in front of us.

"Ts & Ps are in the green (temperature and pressure gauges); airspeed is alive...55 knots, rotate."

The little Warrior lifted into the autumn sky as I pitched for the most efficient climb speed of 79 knots. She had recently been fitted with a new engine and the effects were quite noticeable as she climbed quite impressively, turning on course to our destination.

We soon left Melbourne's airspace as we powered on through 1900ft, aiming our sights on our cruising altitude for the thirty five minute flight of 4500ft. 

We made contact with Orlando Approach who guided us through to Sanford where we completed one touch and go before departing back to Melbourne. With a small amount of time remaining we asked to enter the pattern at the home airport and completed a few more touch and go's before calling it a night.

The flight to and from Sanford was my first flight in over a month but it was good to get it under my belt and get back into the swing of things. I wouldn't say the landings were anywhere near textbook but I was satisfied all the same.

The glass cockpit on board the Piper Warrior

Monday and Tuesday were spent relaxing and not having to think about anything to do with theory work however come Wednesday morning we were well and truly back into the swing of things.

General Navigation is very much focused on maths theory and we have been working this week on calculating changes in coordinates based on different factors such as speed and varying latitudes/longitudes - something I am finding quite interesting.

Flight Planning is pretty much exactly how it's named. We have so far covered basic map reading and different fuel requirements for different trips - something very relevant for future commercial piloting. 

Finally Radio Navigation, something I have yet to see the joys of. For me it is like picking the worst areas of high school physics and putting them into an intense course. This week has been very theory based however looking further into the course areas such as instrument approaches and navigation are covered which will hopefully ease the boredom that has started to creep in.

All in all a very good week in the classroom which I be matched with good results in the coming week's tests. We shall see I'm sure...

On another note, I started writing this at lunchtime yesterday (Saturday) and after reading the news it was quite shocking to see what is happening out in Australia, in fact unprecedented. 

For the national airline, a well known iconic airline to make such a move is outstanding and I'm sure it will do only damage to the name of company. Not good for the industry...

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Operation Module 1: Complete

So they're done. Four exams and two hundred and ten questions over four and a half hours.

The exams were all taken at the Hilton Hotel in Melbourne over three days. They were conducted by the IAA examiners and concluded on Wednesday afternoon.

Overall I thought they were as expected although the Instruments exam was something else and I'm more than interested to see what that particular result will be! Having spoken to a number of people who have taken the exam in the past the majority seem to find it the hardest to swallow of all fourteen.

Anyway, since Wednesday afternoon it's been four full days off from any form of aviation theory...well almost. In the evening I went out for something to eat with the rest of the class before getting a well earned lie in on the Thursday morning.

Thursday was spent relaxing and just enjoying not having to look in any books! Friday however was a bit different. I was in fact hoping to get a flight with my old instructor in the morning however having arrived at the Flightline there were no planes available.

Instead, we did ground school which was a little embarrassing. When becoming engrossed in the European material it is amazing how much of the American stuff I have come to forget! We covered different subjects regarding airspace, map reading and aircraft equipment - subjects I should really know!

Anyway, in the afternoon I was again hoping to get in the air and back seat a flight to Lakeland but again due to aircraft availability we were grounded. More ground school! I was kind of hoping that I would be able to avoid all forms of aviation related thinking over the six days off however I think it was invaluable to actually get back into it and realise how much I really do need to brush up on!

This morning I woke up early to watch the Manchester derby. Since Manchester City have seen unparalled investment over the past couple of years the team finds themselves the holders of the world's oldest cup, in the Champions League for the first time and making their way towards real title contenders come May. Thirty minutes or so into today's game I fell back to sleep and woke after the full time whistle - thank goodness I didn't want the entire game!

Anyway, having seen Chelsea lose and the thought of going to Tampa this evening (after I finish my flight plan!) on a night cross-country flight I am trying to stay positive.

Hope to have a post up about tonight's flight later in the week - back to ground school come Wednesday!

Monday, 17 October 2011

They're here

As I write it's 21:11 local time. Just short of fourteen hours before the first of the four real IAA ATPL examinations.

Tomorrow morning we take on Performance followed by Principles of Flight and Instruments on Tuesday. We round off with Aircraft General Knowledge on Wednesday.

The difference between those in consolidation week and those this week coming is quite obvious. The previous were conducted internally by PTC themselves and this week will be under the jurisdiction of the Irish national aviation authorities. In short - these are the four that will count.

The revision has gone quite well over the past seven days. I have found it quite difficult to get motivated but I am hoping I've done enough.

Other than revising this week the news is pretty dry with little to report. It goes as far as saying I've watched a couple of films and seen Manchester United fight out quite a drab draw at Anfield.

One other event that took place on Friday was something I haven't really covered before which is the monthly student meetings organised to allow the students to meet on mass with the management, instructors and anyone else involved with the training college to discuss events, problems, developments and most importantly feedback. Personally I think it is a very good idea to help both progression of student learning, life in Florida and PTC as a whole. Obviously I will not be mentioning anything that goes on in these meetings as I personally believe that they should be respected for their internal privacy however I will report that the meeting last week was positive for the students to see where the company will be going in the near and distant future.

Finally, I mentioned a few weeks ago about a bizarre weekend of events here at PTC and a subject that I did say I would hopefully be able to cover more in depth in the future. Well, a student indeed had an unfortunate accident which put him in a serious condition. It was great that during Friday's meeting to see that he had made a full recovery and will be continuing with the course.

Time for an early night.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

It returns...

The four consolidation exams of our first module are now complete. The four consisted of Aircraft General Knowledge, Instruments, Performance and Principles of Flight. They were all conducted from last Monday to Thursday at the local Hilton hotel, similar to how the real IAA ATPL exams will take place next week.

The idea is after finishing each exam the results will be distributed within a small time scale so each student knows whether he/she has gained the 80% they need to be allowed to take the real assessment or whether they need/want to take a resit during the study week.

I'm happy to say I got through all the exams with an average of 92% and hoping I can increase this average by quite a few percent next week.

Since the exams finished on Thursday I've had a bit of down time that I really haven't had for a while! As I've explained before, the weather during the summer is very predictable with glorious sunshine during the morning and then mid-afternoon the thunderstorms arrive. As October and November arrived the weather extremities should start to ease and cooler (albeit still late twenties) temperatures and more calm afternoons arrive. Since Friday this hasn't really followed the trend.

The standing joke "it's almost like home" has been banded around quite a bit but in all seriousness I would imagine the weather at home to be better than this at this time of year! It has been extremely cold for Florida over the past few days (I even had to get my coat out yesterday!) and it's been three days now since I've seen blue sky above the sunshine state.

So, these few days of having a break from revision have been pretty limiting with the weather we have had to face. However, on Friday evening/Saturday morning I watched (with approximately 25-30 other people) the Ireland v Wales Rugby World Cup quarter final followed by the England v France game - it would seem a bad night for most people here studying at PTC Florida!

Yesterday I was due to fly just after lunch but because of the weather I was again to cancel my flight. After two hours of ground school, preceded by lunch at the local Irish bar it was back to the apartments to again hide from the weather.

Last night a few of us went to watch the Lion King in 3D at the cinema. An epic film (for any age I might add!) and I think Disney have done a good job in not going overboard with the three dimensional effects. This was followed by the UK Xfactor which I certainly thought was a mixed bag although there are a couple of early favourites!

Having woken up this morning, again the weather is not what is to be expected of Florida and as I speak the rain has been beating against the window. So the plans for today look pretty bleak...

Anyway, tomorrow it's back to the books for a few hours a day as we all prepare for the IAA ATPL exams starting Monday 17th.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Consolidation - Round 1

Since Thursday we have had three and and half days to revise the work done over the previous five weeks which will conclude this week in the Consolidation exams.

Consolidation exams are very similar to mock exams however the major difference being that in the tests this week, each student must attain a a score of 80% to be allowed to sit the real IAA exams in two weeks time.

Tomorrow morning is Performance. A subject which covers the basics in take-off, climb, cruise, decent and landing of commercial airliners. The exam consists of 34 questions, some with more than one mark per question, and will last for one hour.

Tuesday is Principles of Flight which focuses mainly on the physics side of how a plane flies, the pros and cons to different flight conditions, what makes those flight conditions the way they are and what designers and pilots are able to do to manipulate those conditions to the aircraft's advantage. It consists of forty four questions over one hour.

Wednesday is Instruments. This is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. The subject covers everything from how and airspeed indicator works to the very latest in auto land technology. This exam is a little longer at one hour and thirty minutes with fifty six questions.

Finally, on Thursday we have Aircraft General Knowledge. Similarly to Instruments this is pretty much as read. It covers everything from gas turbine engines used on the most modern of jet airliners to the use of a fire axe within the cabin.

Following this, and assuming passes in all four subjects, we will take the real exams starting the 17th October which will be detailed in a future post.

As you can imagine the revision has taken up most of my time and when I say that the highlight of the weekend was a trip yesterday to the local Walmart you can appreciate the amount of time is spent between these four walls.

Having said that there have been a couple of things I have been able to fit in over the past couple of days including the football at Old Trafford on Saturday and then the XFactor over the last two evenings.

Something of note. Over the past couple of days the weather has started to cool down - unlike at home! I'm hoping the current climate remains for the remainder of my stay here in Florida as it seems a little bit more bearable than previous! I heard that last night even got down to 17 degrees Celsius!

Not a long post this week as there really hasn't been much going on and the other fact that the books are again waiting for me!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


A surreal weekend - one I'm going to find hard to describe; certainly the most difficult post to date and most likely the most difficult for some time...

Since the last update six more days have passed and I'm guessing it's getting a bit boring me repeating the usual "it's going so fast" comment but it really is! We finished ground school last Thursday and headed out for a meal on Thursday night to celebrate the birthdays of two on my course - benefit being two cakes!

I was in fact hoping to fly early on Friday morning but having checked the internal scheduling system on Thursday evening nothing was showing hence I stole a few extra winks the following morning. Waking around 9.30am I found a few messages both in my email inbox and on Facebook. Quickly reading through the information in front of me it was clear that all students at Pilot Training College (PTC) had been grounded by Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) Aviation until further notice. So whether I was to fly that morning or not - we shall never know!

With hundreds of students out here now not able to continue the training in the way that they would have liked to, the rumours in turn obviously began both on line and off. A statement was quickly issued to ourselves via PTC's internal portal and we were told it would be resolved as soon as possible. Come early evening another statement was made that we would indeed be able to return to the skies first thing on Sunday morning. I don't think it is my place or indeed necessary to go into the details that we have been told concerning the grounding other than that it was a disagreement between the two respective companies which was quickly resolved. I am aware that a joint press release will be issued by the companies in the coming hours - something I will hopefully be able to attach a link to.

Friday was therefore spent revising and trying to avoid the rumour mill as much as possible.

Saturday was again a day of revision interrupted by FIT's Aviation Day. I didn't in fact attend although arrived as the proceedings were coming to a close to conduct ground instruction with my flight instructor. Along with ATPLs and flying I'm still (slowly!) working towards the American FAA PPL which I'm hoping to attain in the coming weeks. This involves covering quite a bit of theory material with my instructor for the oral part of the check ride before the flight. A couple of hours later it was back home to the books.

The same evening over twenty new students arrived from both Kazakhstan and Europe to start their training here in Florida over the next ten to twelve months.

After an 'eventful' Friday and indeed Saturday; Sunday was certainly the worst day since we have been here in America.

The day again was full of revision (I hope you don't get bored of me saying this over the next four months as it continues!) and then I had a cross country flight planned in the evening. Come 3pm I set off for the Flightline. The weather wasn't looking promising and I was almost certain the flight would be cancelled. As expected, the weather was not playing the way it had been over the past couple of weeks and it was time for more ground school with my instructor.

With regards to what happened later that evening back at Southgate I do not want to go into any detail whatsoever yet as it would be very unfair of me to say anything. However what I will say; what did happen certainly puts life into perspective.

I would also like to point out, as stressed in the replies to emails I received, this blog is very much the experiences that I personally am experiencing during my training. I try not to make political points and focus mainly on what the course of instruction is like here at PTC Florida and in the future Ireland. What has happened over the past few days is for those who use forums to discuss, squabble and argue over. I want this to be a place for those wanting to know about what life is like for a 20-year-old training to be a pilot with PTC here in the US.

Yesterday class was cancelled this morning due to the previous evening and started promptly again at 1.15pm in the afternoon.

Today two of the final weekly tests were complete in AGK and Performance followed by the other two tomorrow. Today was also the last Performance lesson ever (I hope!)

Yesterday evening we received two emails detailing both the consolidation exam timetable and the real IAA exam timetable for three weeks time.

Soon they'll be here - just one more hurdle in each subject to reach them...

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Apparently time flies when you're NOT having fun!

It's amazing how another week has already passed. It's 21.30pm as I sit here on a Tuesday evening. Two days down, two to go before the end of week number four.

The weeks are starting to become very repetitive. Get up, lectures, lunch, lectures, dinner, revise, go to bed. Get up, lectures, lunch, lectures, dinner, revise, go to bed and so on...That's not to say however that I'm not getting time in to do other things as well.

The great thing about this course structure is that in line with studying we are also expected to continue flying. Last Friday I managed to get into the air to do a bit of time building with my instructor. Having been focusing on the run up to the FAA PPL recently it was quite refreshing to be able to relax a little bit and I found I actually learnt more in the more mellow environment than I normally would!

Saturday was spent revising and then Sunday I was able to get into the air once again. This time however was a bit of a different story compared to the flight two days previous.

As the week before, the Sunday afternoon is something I am still becoming accustomed to and it wasn't helped when I found out, with a big smile on his face, that my old instructor would be joining us for the flight. Being someone who doesn't shy away from a sarcastic comment or two and someone who gets on well with my current instructor I knew if nothing else this flight would certainly be interesting.

Aircraft ready for departure we headed to the active runway. Five minutes later we were leaving Melbourne airspace and heading into the practice area. A few manoeuvres under the hood and visually it was time to be diverted.

"First find out where we are, then I want you to take me to River Ranch (an airfield next to a small town in the middle of nowhere)."

Location found, route calculated and we were off. En route a bit of light hearted (at least I hope!) banter broke out between instructors before we entered the pattern at River Ranch.

Trees on three sides of the airport

The airport is quite peculiar in that it is surrounded on three sides by trees. On previous occasions this had been great as it would cut out all wind components close to touchdown aiding nice smooth landings. However these were no very calm days and although Sunday was not exactly windy there was a significant amount of mechanical turbulence, something I hadn't experienced before, which made landing much more difficult.

Two landings and then we headed back into the practice area for a couple more manoeuvres. Having completed the 'S-turns' it was time to try turns around a point.

Turns around a point involves pretty much what it says. The idea is to remain at one thousand feet, manoeuvre speed (approx. 90 knots) and the same distance from a point on the ground. This sounds pretty easy but taking into account the winds it can become quite difficult, especially when the two instructors decided they should make it a little more 'challenging.'

Usually we use static structures such as buildings or barns but no - I was to do turns around a cow. Cow found, I began the procedure. I thought I completed it within standards but both were unsure as to which cow in the field of hundreds I had chosen so we agreed to disagree and as the sun started to disappear over the horizon we headed back to Melbourne.

Having both instructors was at first the sign of a nightmare but in fact I thoroughly enjoyed the flight and great to get feedback from both.

Monday morning came as a bit of a shock as the alarm went off at 6.30am. Up I got and again headed into ground school for one full day (until 5.45pm) before again heading to the Flightline for another flight.

Since starting flying here in Melbourne all I have wanted to do is night flying. There is just something that attracts me to it. Maybe it's the tranquillity, the sense of knowing where you are but not being able to see it...or maybe it's just all the fancy coloured lights everywhere...

Whatever it is I arrived nice and early for my flight to get a bit of extra revision in. It was also great to bump into my old instructor who was happy to help me with a few questions!

We finally got airborne at 8pm and headed once again, yet only briefly into the practice area to complete two unusual attitudes and one steep turn before entering the pattern here in Melbourne. What I found most surprising was how much easier it was to land the plane. There are apparently a number of different reasons for this that I'm not 100% hooked up on yet but for one thing I'm sure I want to get back up into the night sky at some point in the near future!

As well as flying I've also been able to get in a couple of sports games including watching the Ireland v Australia game at 4am on Friday morning with a number of over excited Irishmen. The real business however happened on Sunday as the Theatre of Dreams, Mecca, the home of the Premier League saw another world class team shot down by a lethal Manchester United side.

My post title says 'not having fun' and as I've typed I've started to think less and less of that. It has actually been an enjoyable week, a week of learning lots of new things, watching some fantastic sport and getting into the air more than I was expecting. Please don't get me wrong, the course is going great. The ATPLs are not as challenging (yet) as I had fully intended them to be however when I sit here in my room with the weather outside being thirty degrees minimum, an airport down the road with aircraft there I could take to the very corners of Florida and beyond; sitting here with books, questions and a cup of tea is not exactly what I'd call fun.

However it could be much worse...I could be an Arsenal fan.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A rather weird Sunday...

Week three of the first ATPL module began on Monday morning bright and early, as usual at 8am. Another class test (AGK) was quickly completed followed by one covering Instruments. The tests included mostly material from the previous week but also that from week one, helping to slowly build up the knowledge.

Today we completed the Principles of Flight test which, not knowing the score, I feel went quite well. In between these tests we have indeed been in the classroom for the entire two days covering new material.

This afternoon we reached the halfway point of the five weeks of ground school of the first module. In two and half weeks time we will have only four days to prepare for the Consolidation exams (mocks). Although only just over two weeks in it really has gone very quickly and the next fourteen weeks leading up the going home for Christmas I am sure will pass just as fast.

Sunday afternoon. Flightline, Melbourne International Airport, Florida.

I for one am neither a fan or regular of afternoon flying; being able to count the number of times I've been up in my little Warrior on one hand.

Sunday's general aviation flying in the mid-drift of Florida is quiet. It's a surreal feeling being one of only a small percentage of the students that regularly fly from KMLB actually in the Flightline. Adding to the fact it was indeed an afternoon and I truly felt outside of my comfort zone.

The weather was looking very good with a bit of precipitation further south of where we were heading. In fact the weather has been superb ever since Sunday.

After an extremely long taxi down to Runway 9R we departed to the south west into the practice area. It was the first time I'd flown in three weeks with the start of ground school and instructor availability both playing parts.

It was mainly a refresher flight to get back into the swing of flying the aircraft and fine tuning before the FAA PPL which I'll hopefully complete by the end of this month.

Two hours later we descended back into the Class D airspace and shortly after we were back in the Flightline.

The debrief complete swiftly, both my instructor and myself very happy and then onto the bus for the fifteen minute journey back to the apartments.

I was messing with my flight documents in my bag and as I finished I looked out of the left hand window just before we set off. The American flag I've seen almost everyday while I've been here has always flown high above the car park at FIT Aviation. Sunday it sat at half mast. It was at that point I realised I had indeed completely forgot about such an important day in America's and indeed the world's history.

I had just completed a full flight in US airspace without the first thought of what happened those ten years ago. Maybe that's the way it should be...

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Two down, twenty two to go...

Come Thursday evening we had fully completed our second week of ATPL ground school here in Melbourne. Twenty four hours of classroom based work over three days was finally finished.

Monday was Labor Day here in the US. It celebrates 'the economic and social contributions of workers' (thank you Wikipedia). It's exactly the same as a bank holiday in the UK. The only difference I noticed was that it gave me another days worth of revision before the four tests we completed this week.

This module we are covering four subjects and in each we must take a weekly test to make sure we are up to date with the constant flow of new information. To be allowed to sit the mock exam (consolidation) I must attain a weekly test average of 65% in that respective subject. The goal then is to get as high an average in the early weeks of the tests so as to avoid having the problem of adding extra pressure in the latter weeks.

So... Tuesday morning, 8am. First test of the week. Aircraft General Knowledge (AGK). The test consisted of twenty five multiple choice questions covering the subjects we had studied the previous week in class and privately over the weekend. The papers are quickly marked and returned: 96%.

The same afternoon we took the Instruments test which again was twenty five questions long and lasted for 30 minutes. Results came out again very quickly with a score of 92%. Although still way above the average I need I was a little frustrated at how I'd misread the two questions I'd got wrong.

Wednesday was Principles of Flight (PoF) and I'm pleased to say I got a score of 100%. Performance followed the next day with a result of 95%.

I'm currently finding the work very manageable. There is very little of grave difficulty however the sheer amount of information that needs to be taken in over such a short period of time is certainly the most challenging part of these six months. It's trying to find a balance in the evening of covering the days topics as well as revising the work done the week previously and then in future the week before that etc. however by becoming immersed in the subjects it does help considerably.

The difference between only three weeks ago and today with regards to how I fill my time has massively changed. Before the days could be (and were!) filled with flying, flight planning, spending time by the pool, shopping, eating etc. Now this has completely changed and the majority, nay in fact all of my time is spent either in a classroom or my bedroom studying for the exams. It has been a bit of a shock but as people keep saying - it's only for six months and the end product is well worth it!

Yesterday, having not been in an aircraft for some time I thought it be wise to get a back seat on a flight. It was really good to get back up again and just try to remember everything that had clearly disappeared in my mind. First flight since the progress test tomorrow afternoon as I slowly dodge the ATPLs in working my way to the FAA PPL.

In other news today is my birthday (which was spent partly revising I must add!) and tonight we're off out for a meal. I managed to get in the United game today which was fantastic only made sweeter by Liverpool falling to the hands of Stoke City. 

All in all; not a bad week...

Sunday, 4 September 2011

And so it begins...

Monday saw the start of the dreaded ATPL examination process.

Over the next eight (now seven) weeks we will take on four of the fourteen subjects under the JAA ATPL programme. The idea behind the high level of ground based theory is to reduce the amount of time needed in the air before being worthy of an airline transport license which we are all working towards. The two following modules each contain five subjects.

The four subjects I am studying in this first module are:

  • Principles of Flight (Principles)
  • Aircraft General Knowledge (AGK)
  • Instruments
  • Performance
The past week's ground school has run for four days with different timings from 8am in the morning until 5.30pm in the evening. The course is very intense and involves taking in a serious amount of information in such a short time frame. Leading up to the start of this part of the course we have been warned of it's sheer magnitude however so far so good. I find it all very interesting (well...maybe not so much principles...) and the work load so far seems manageable. However, I cannot stress enough the words "so far." Having had a little look ahead in the four subjects each seems to get more in depth about more complicated and complex mechanisms from graphs and calculations to electrics and gas turbine engines.

Each week we will have a progress test covering the previous week's work. Over the course of these five weeks we must each attain an average in the class tests of 65% to be put forward for what is known as 'consolidation.'

Consolidation is what would otherwise be called a mock test. However, although it's what you would expect of a mock exam it is often considered harder than that of the real IAA exams. To be able to sit the real exams each student must attain a mark of 80% or higher in consolidation which takes place in week six.

Consolidation complete and passed (hopefully!) there is then a week of self-study and then week eight is the four IAA examinations held here in Melbourne.

This week we have started to build the foundations in most of the subjects and the majority is going over what we learnt in JAA PPL ground school thirteen weeks ago (it certainly doesn't seem that long!). 

Principles mainly covered the different types of forces and pressures we are going to come across over the next seven weeks and indeed the rest of our careers. The main subject covered this last week was focusing on the lift and drag ratio of an aerofoil (wing).

In AGK we learnt the different structure types of aircraft along with landing gear, brakes and anti/de-icing components. I find this subject one of the most interesting as it covers what we in the future will actually be using, working with and manipulating as we sit at the very front of our aircraft.

Instruments is very similar to AGK however it goes into far greater detail with regards to instruments in the cockpit. This week was mainly focused on how parameter measurement equipment worked such as those devices used to determine height and speed.

Performance is pretty much as said. We have been learning about how the pilots (or nowadays the computers) work out the take-off distances taking into account all relevant variables from aircraft weight, runway distances, weather, winds, pressures etc. and started to look into the performance during an aircraft's climb.

Tomorrow is labour day here in the US so we luckily have an extra day of study before two tests on Tuesday and then one on Wednesday and Thursday respectively. 

During the next six month's of ground school and exams the flying takes more of a back seat. The plan is to complete one flight a week minimum during the ground school stage so that come the end of the exams in February next year I'll have completed the required number of hours before the next (CPL) stage of the training. 

In other news, today I just watched my first game/match (?) of hurling. I'm not going to go into any detail about it because I know very little about the sport - for more information Google is your friend. I must say I did enjoy it and will be watching it again in the near future!

Back to the 'real stuff' next weekend though as the Premier League campaign continues...

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Progress Test

This week I took my JAA PPL progress test.

The actual flight is treated very much like the name suggests - a test; although when returning to the ground it is run through very much like a normal lesson would be with pointers, tips and suggestions to help the student improve his/her piloting skills.

Wednesday morning, 9am and down at the Flightline. Checking the weather there seemed to be low lying cloud approaching from the south but otherwise the weather was looking good. After a quick chat with the instructor who would be taking me for the test we proceeded out to the plane.

The flight consists of the student planning a cross country flight to a particular destination. The instructor/examiner will sit there and say very little. The flight continues in the cruise until there is a point whereby he/she will divert the student to another airfield or airport. The student then has to navigate to said destination while calculating the time en route, fuel burn and ETA. The likelihood is then that the instructor will ask for a couple of touch and go's with different landing types and then back up to a safe manoeuvring altitude to complete stalls, steep turns and emergency procedures. After this, as long as everyone is happy it's back to Melbourne for the de-brief and then the yes or no answer.

On my flight I had planned to head to Okeechobee. We got airborne and headed for my first way point. Time noted. Fuel noted. Stopwatch started. The cloud had started to approach as promised so I had to make a quick change to my cruising altitude which would affect my figures en route.

Half way through and the instructor simulated an alternator failure. The alternator in an aircraft provides electrical power just as it would in a car. It powers the radios, aircraft lights, screens in the aircraft and all other electrical systems. The battery in the piper, which is good on it's own for only around 30 minutes, dependent on the use of electrics in the aircraft at that time. Therefore having gone through the check list we diverted to Sebastian, an un-towered airport south of Melbourne and Valkaria. [Note the altenator was only switched off for a few seconds!]

A couple of touch and go's in the Sebastian pattern and then we departed to the north west to complete some stalls and then an emergency procedure which I think could not have gone any better. The emergency was an engine failure at 3,500ft. At the time we were lying over deserted streets which like in many parts of Florida should be surrounded by big holiday homes but the problems in 2008 have left large areas of street patterns with nothing but grass for company. Going through the procedure I was able to line up with the main road running through which is in fact almost as wide (and certainly longer!) than Runways 5/23 here in Melbourne!

Emergency procedure complete. Back to Melbourne. A decent landing on Runway 27L and we were back on the ramp and inside for the de-brief.

It was great to get feedback from another instructor who was able to offer different advise that those I currently train with which means over the coming weeks I'll be able to try these out and see what I find comfortable and most effective. 

De-brief complete and he informed me that I had indeed passed.

Yesterday I was able to take a flight with a fellow student who is currently taking his CPL multi-engined course, something I hope to be doing around March time next year after the ATPL exams. This involves flying the above Piper Seminole aircraft.

The aircraft is similar to that of the warrior although there are some obvious difference, not least the addition of one more engine and retractable landing gear. These aren't the only differences and having back seated yesterday it was very clear to see the amount of work involved in flying such an aeroplane.

The check list in the Seminole is almost as long as the bible, or so it feels. The number of checks and procedures needed to be done before evening leaving the ramp was a real eye-opener. Finally, we were airborne.

I found the difference in speed (although actually quite large) was almost unnoticeable in the aircraft. The most positive difference I found was the noise and vibrations. The engines are affixed to the wings of the airplane as opposed to being positioned at the front of the plane as the single engine in the Warrior is. I found this to reduce the noise level in the cabin but more noticeably the vibration level was far lower which created a far smoother ride.

The flight was progressing fine until the weather started to deteriorate over Melbourne. The instructor (my previous who moved to solely Seminole flying) took control and said we would be immediately returning to the airport.

The radios were tuned and the ATIS noted. Winds - 27 knots (31mph) gusting to 34 knots (39mph). This would be interesting. Luckily the winds were favourable to the largest runway at KMLB - Runway 27L.

"FIT 82, cleared to land Runway 27L." {A sense of "good luck" in the controller's voice}

The video above is of said landing.

The flight was not only great to just sit and watch but I learnt a lot about more advanced navigation and the course is now something I am very much looking forward to!

Today is our final day of freedom for six months. The ATPL ground school and exams have now fallen upon us and tomorrow morning at 8am we start our very first day of study. The past three months have flown by (seriously...no pun intended...) and it's amazing how it's possible to go from my first flight to where I am now in such a short space of time.

Below is a video of some of the best moments over the past three months.