Monday, July 21, 2014

Hi there, since my blogstats are showing there is no longer that much visiting "traffic" on this blog for the past few months now, I think I may be putting the updates overhere on hold for a while. After all, I have reached that milestone now of which I was talking & dreaming at the very beginning of this story. However, before just shutting down: a last update. After 8 months in de United States I must admit that life is great and I discovered many new horizons both in aviation and in meeting quite some interesting people overhere. I am so happy I could finally quit my previous (non-aviation) job and fulfill part of my (American) dream overhere. Meanwhile, close to 10 written exams and checkrides later, I am the proud owner of a double CPL rating (EASA/FAA) and flight instructor rating (EASA FI/FAA CFI). On top of that: finally getting paid now to fly instead of pay to fly feels like a relief! I know I am lucky since many of my former colleagues and people I know in Europe are still having hard times getting enrolled. I had tough times too in getting hired so I truly know how sad that feels ("been there, done that"). But finally and luckily I now live the dream. So, I sincerely wish all those still out there the best in finding that cockpit seat waiting for the professional! I hope those "better times ahead" they keep talking about will be quickly coming true. Who knows I maybe may be (re)training you in a near future and would in that case really look forward to learn you through drill and skill to become one of those to whom the skies are not the limit but their second homes!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The update long waited for...

Dear blog-followers, I kept many of you waiting again for too long. However, I have quite some news to tell you and after all that's just the rewarding part for your patience I guess! It all started back in February when I applied for a vacancy as a Candidate Flight Instructor for CAE Oxford Academy... and got hired! Since I graduated from a FTO with comparable but still different SOP's, I was trained according their standard operating practices. Just as like a drivers instructor, a flight instructor - and certainly one in the first flight familiarization programme - is used to getting people next to him with very little flight experience.
During training I discovered that - just as it happens to be when driving a car - one gets easily used to the "art" of flying: an engine power setting is no longer nervously looked after but just heard (and finetuned), it doesn't almost require any effort to trim for straight and level and just sit back and relax, ATC is like your second mother tongue, etc. However, a good flight instructor should be aware of the mistakes made in the earliest stages of a professional pilot's career. And that's what I was trained for during the 160+ hours of both practical & theoretical training I received from pro's. If I tell you "30hrs of VFR-training" and combine that statement with "Belgian meteo"... you will immediately make the link to "far more than average time required to finish such training". Flight cancellations and marginal weather than smooth weather & good outside references for like 60% of the year? Affirm thát! Although, that's what I have had for the last 8 months. However, it has been worth the patience. Only a few weeks after obtaining my EASA Flight Instructor Licence, I found myself aboard a triple-7 inbound Phoenix, AZ. It might not be my final destination but for at least the next 2 years, I am looking forward to train young and motivated guys and girls towards high level & quality standards they will need in their future careers as airline pilots. I still remember myself, staring at the wall maps & floor globe during geography classes... dreaming about how it would be to fly over vast & remote areas, how I admired those captains out there that started their career teaching pilots in the USA... and look where that all ends up for me so many years later. But before I forget: first things first. I am currently in my small office somewhere in what used to be the Arizona Desert about 100 years ago, studying hard to obtain all FAA ratings needed to be able to instruct over American territory. Next step will be obtaining my CPL & IR ratings, both preceded by a few theoretical tests as well as some local & crosscountry dual & solo flying.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Return to paradise...

I remember quite well a sunny summer's day in 2010... after a few hours of cruising in a "greenhouse"-glasscockpit DA40 on a training flight along the coast of Normandy, I finally set foot on what seemed to be - from the cockpit at least - a very cosy Channel Island! However, since flight planning had rostered another crew on the same plane in the late afternoon that day, we didn't find ourselves strolling along the happy people on Jersey beaches. It was more like a RyR-style quick turnaround with just enough time to have the wingtanks filled again as well as our empty stomachs with some fresh coca-cola and a cheddar sandwich. But I left the island that time fully determined: I wóuld come back... and it would not just be for a quick turnaround! So, June 5th 2013... finally me and my crew were waiting... packed and sacked... for a VFR-flight... with splendid weather over Normandy... intense IFR at my ADEP & ADES... I was hoping that the seafog would keep its promise, as stated in the 6h TAF, to disappear. Idle hope it seemed... and to experience that the Channel Islands are as prone to seafog as they are to subtropical sea currents. However, next day, things looked a lot better: CAVOK from start to end, a firm tailwind... in the destination runway axis! As Jersey is a non-Schengen zone, we had to pass customs in Belgium, what made me decide to ferry the plane to Ostend Airport earlier that week. After a smooth takeoff in the reliable PA28 Cadet we found ourselves, coated in bright yellow life vests, soon leveling off at FL45 before traveling across the French border abeam 'Dunkerque'. On it went to Boulogne, next Abbeville (a stable and straight leg, perfectly well suited for an inflight lunch ;-)), overhead the cliffs at Etretat, Deauville... and finally, after checking the ATIS, requesting Brest Info for a QSY to Jersey Zone, where, near St-Germain, we were welcomed in 'posh' English to enter via the Island's Southeast corner, as expected with RWY 09 in use. A splendid opportunity for the crew and myself to have some real sightseeing already on places we would visit the next hours & day. After unloading the "cargo-hold" :-p, refueling & securing the plane, completing the paperwork and calling home to tell them we were all safe and alive... I soon found myself jumping from left- to right-seat steering in the rental car to have some splendid time discovering the beautifull scene and delightfull Jersey Island seafood. I was quite speachless about the stunning panoramas discovered and so happy to have finally made it quite a bit further now than just the coca-cola-with-sandwich at the bar in Jersey Aeroclub a few years ago. As usual... the time to return comes much quicker than expected. On the way back... the favourable tailwind had turned into a nasty headwind... and despite a few shortcuts enroute, it took me about 10' more of engine time to have us back in Ostend. Nevertheless it was a short hop onto the island, sure I will remember it as an amazing trip to paradise! And you, no inspiration so far for a summer trip to the sun? Well, I hope you do have now!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

White-out, fly in! ;-)

Hi there! No things more relaxing than a layer of stable and cold air to fly in, enjoying a snow-scaped surface below. That's what I thought last weekend. So I didn't hesitate to call a couple of friends for a long time begging me to have them taking a few shots of their homes and neighbourhood from my plane near sunset. And guess what... they were so happy! But I have to admit I also was, to get back to were I belong - or didn't I tell you yet that the sky feels like my second home? Four-leaf clovers are known all around the world for giving the finder good luck and fortune... I have found mine! And I wish forrrrr... many job openings in commercial aviation in 2013!

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Best Flying Wishes for 2013!

First of all, a happy new year to everyone tuning in here for the very first time in 2013! With all counters reset and a new start being given, I would like to wish all those desparately looking for a job mileshigh best of luck this year! I was told 13 is a lucky number... Agreed, it has been quite a while since the last time I spent a few moments to updating my blog. But - right guess indeed - no big revelation in aviation occured to me ever since. Except being found medically fit to fly for another year last september, yet another savings investment into a couple of IFR-hours on the Twinstar, some local VFR flying in scarse CAVOK weather over Flanders and reading about aviation theory, not that much happened. Busy times however in my job as a teamcoach/engineer. Since my company is releasing a new product around april this year, I have been busy preparing my department to cope with the proces-milestones and project deliveries. So I did spend quite a lot of time brainstorming on the jobfloor, in project meetings, at my desk... Apart from a huge amount of (re)engineering flows that also included recruiting quite a lot of new profiles and promotions of coworkers under my lead on the right time/place. Are we still speaking about a jobcrisis in Europe? ... however... in European aviation, it's not a big deal at the moment, unless you were elected as a 21-year-old to work for Ryanair to find yourself next to a 25 year old captain. But as air traffic is booming in evolving new markets (Asia, Africa, South-America), I hope one day soon these markets will open opportunities in Europe or abroad to quality pilots with sufficient experience in life. Meanwhile, apart from studying these new market's foreign languages, I may start to focus on a flight instructor course this year as to keep in close touch with quality flying. I'll keep you guys updated on that item. But so far it only comes to tasting commercial aviation, as I did very recently on the jumpseat aboard a regional commuter to southern Europe, which was a great experience and an apotheosis to another great year of flying! Picture up left has been taken at the start of the decent to our destination airport.

Friday, August 17, 2012

About: still alive and kicking, still hoping & being re-rated

A few weeks ago I was sharing a table and a drink with a few captains that I use to meet at the flying club from time to time, wondering what stops airline companies from hiring young potentials. Modesty is a good virtue off course but I can say experienced people I am flying with do appreciate both my (cockpit) management skills and safety behaviour. And I am far from alone... a large group of highly qualified but - alas - low houred pilots is desparately looking for a job, putting a lot of money into staying current both in practice and knowledge. Nevertheless, there ís a market with quite a lot of job openings for cockpit crew... but one has to manage to gather a few hundreds or thousands of hours "on type" first. So, whatever time you spend on board of a well equipped glass cockpit plane or just the basic IFR trainer that you can afford as a jobseeker doesn't seem to count anymore these days. If only a decade ago I would have graduated, I would currently quite certainly be amongst those happy guys cruising airways many thousands of feet above from where I am writing this post on my blog. However, these captains whom I was sharing a table with, did encourage me not to give up since there are signs of revival in some parts of the world and larger companies start to lower their high hour-limit, which may be a sign of an increasing demand for crews. I wouldn't mind to move to a remote area or a booming new market... a good pilot "acts locally but thinks globally", isn't it? So, uncertain yet when or where a chance might be popping up, I did leave the captains' table with a slight feeling of hope and pinned a date to perform my ME/IR recheck which I successfully performed last week during a cross-border exam flight. Off course, and fellow blog-followers would admit, a post here on this blog wouldn't be a good post if it didn't come with a stunning picture as a finishing touch. This one was taken during the return trip of an IFR flight to LFAT, where my crew and myself were enjoying a magnificent sunset at flight level 090. As much as many of you, I do hope to return with some good news on this blog one day, although meanwhile I do keep enjoying good times in general aviation off course!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

IFR to Hamburg

... besides some little airwork, mainly to stay current and save some money for the larger trips to be done this year, last months have been quite calm if it came to flying. Nevertheless, last weekend I took the Diamond 42 on an IFR-trip to EDDH (Fühlsbüttel airport, Hamburg, Northern Germany), where I shot this overhead picture of EHAM (Schiphol) while repositioning for Echo Echo Lima VOR. No job in aviation so far after almost 2 years of graduating and spending another pile of euros into remaining current... The longer it lasts, the more regrettable it gets... and it sure did hurt hearing all those lucky commercial guys on the frequency again. If even splendid references & a flawless track through the ATPL training @ flight school while doing a fulltime job do not seem to count nowadays, I wonder if it's still worth the effort investing all my savings into just remaining current... However, so far... the call of the skies and a slight hope for better times ahead in commercial aviation do prevail.