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What is it with me and Rain?

•June 14, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Quite stunningly, I’m rather taken agasp- since once again I come to a part of the world usually graced with beautiful sunshine during the summer and like my arrival in Jerez all those ‘years’ ago it hasn’t really stopped raining.  Still though can’t complain- I had a pint of Portugals’ finest Superbock beer yesterday which cost me the equivalance of a share in Rangers Football club… so yes things must be going well.

Two months down the line here in Porto, you can’t get away from the fact that people are generally happy in this part of the world.  The country like much of Europe may be in Economic gloom- but the simple skill of smiling and being generally welcoming is one never taken for granted… something Southern England is still in many cases has yet to answer for.  You’ll all be pleased to know that our dire situation without electricity, water and gas lasted no longer than a few days but oh my word they were a long few days… just imagine for a moment hearing the alarm go at 4am, having to get up with the dim light of the marvellous iphone ‘flashlight’ app, then having a cold shower using a mear bottle of water before getting changed and then leaving for work… it was a long few days.  Sure though, a tremendous spirit eventually proved more than enough to get the two of us through.

So far the flying out here has been great, with the general atmosphere in the crew room here in Porto just being fantastic.  Currently theres a cocktail of around 21 Captains, with a truely international selection of cabin crew all of whom are a really good laugh and make flying enjoyable right across the spread of destinations.  Of the many routes, stretching from the extremely organised set ups in Germany with Memmingham, Dusseldorf to mention a few before heading to the ‘others’  in the likes of Madrid and Barcelona.. I guess the latter could be described at times as ‘Fawlty Towers on Ice’ yet strangely they all seem to work in their own unique way..

Generally the flying has otherwise been superb.. coming back over the Pyrenees for example say a month back we we’re treated to the most incredible light show as a consequense of a collosal battle with an Atlantic Front, bringing cool air against the dry arid contential mass engulfing central Europe and many British lobsters in the med with sunshine.  The nightsky was lit up all around for the best part of one hour, and sitting nicely above the tropopause at that stage the view from the top was just spectacular.. Theres times when you sit there looking out the window when all that mammoth hard work during the sims, IR,CPL not to mention that mountain of books at the start of FTE all just seem like the most satisfying achievement that anyone could work for.

Currently the lifestyle out here at the moment, when I’m not flying, weather permitting its a trip to the beach (/or the pool… the appartment has both!).. If its niether of those two the tremendous Captain Carlos will then suggest go karting, or if none of these are the case it will be the Stansted home and spending a few days off indulging in Roast Beef and Green and Pleasant Land.

This brings me towards the end of this episode, but I shall briefly comment on the magnificent events in London whereby flying the Union Flag and celebrating a glorious 60 years brought back an identity that maybe the UK was loosing or perhaps was assumed lost.  We we’re lucky enough to get a reasonably front row seat overlooking the Thames during the River Pageant- but what a truely awesome sight… I didn’t realise that a British Transport system could hold more than a thousand moving objects at a time, and if the M25 is anything to go by they’re probably going to get stuck at some point.  Still though it was a real display if colour and pride culminating with our Rousing National Anthem sung in the rain underneath a physically drenched tower Bridge.. I guess it proved to the world one thing more than anything: If it rains during the Olympics; we’re still going to have a laugh.

If it snow’s on the other hand- well we’ve had it.

Adios for now- will be back in a bit.

🙂

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Before Door Checklist.

•April 11, 2012 • 1 Comment

So: Ham, Spicy Chorizo, Beef, Bread, Local Cheese, Poached Egg, all in a fishy cheesy sauce. I’ll be honest It wasn’t always my idea of traditional 5* Cuisine but sure enough the advice on trying the local hoo haa come restaurants was worthy of hearing… my stomach may beg to differ on the other hand but after my dinner this eve I can be sure that the Francesinha really has welcomed me well and truely to Porto.

I arrived here last week,  via another practical connection (on the other side of Europe) Bologna in Italy following what has been the best part of 120 days living and working from Brussels South in Charleroi.  It was fitting perhaps that flying me from Charleroi for the last time was the terrific Marc Mahieu, an LTC who did so much to help in my training alongside an FO who was very helpful on various occasions during the thrills and spills of the LT.  In a way I was a little disappointed as it was only towards the end that I really started to get to know both Flight and Cabin Crew alike, and I must say what a fantastic group they are too.  The vibrant friendly buzz in the crew room even at stupid o clock in the morning makes the CRL Ryanair set up what it is- and goes a long way in making each working day enjoyable from the flight deck.

The training department at CRL has got a fantastic reputation and I can only comment that the quality of line training I received was as outstanding and professional as it gets anywhere in the world.  One thing I admired was the commitment and dedication of all the LTC’s to get the most out of every flight making quick but thorough progress through the training.  I was lucky in Charleroi, as by chance I was able to move into a house run by the renown and absolutely fantastic Joceline, alongside around 6 F/O’s based from Brussels.. To be honest I would have been lost without her- and living alongside Michel, Elias, Johnas, Nicholas as well as Garret, the whole experience of being in Charleroi was made all the more enjoyable..
Looking ahead now and I have a rather mammoth task ahead in the form of getting to grips with a whole new country (this is only my second ever Trip to Portugal after the Seneca in FTE), a whole new language, and to be honest (excuse the pun- at no point is do I refer to the 737 as a flying carpet…) a whole new world.  A big bonus of living in Belgium was the opportunity to speak and practice French, one of my favourite languages but my goodness in comparison Portuguese takes some getting used to!  My housemate, the infamous Captain Carlos has been a vital asset in the art of translation but sooner or later I guess yes I will actually have to learn something..  The lovely Silvia in Charleroi was terrific in educating ‘Bom Dias’ and ‘Cerveja Por Favor’, two of the most important phrases I have in fact remembered. To assist this vital knowledge, the remarkable ‘Learn Portuguese in a Week’ to the contrary of its name left me after a month with my understanding of the local Dialect not exactly stretching a million miles beyond ‘Bom Dias’ and ‘Obrigado’.. Unlike French the thought of doing a Portuguese PA is joined by a dark monotonous howl in the dark of nothingness, still though- by the end of the August I will have done one how is that for a deal?

Since having lived here just over a week I decided to make the short trip yesterday into town and experience the city of Porto for the first time.  Together with a vibrant Old Town, and a rich history of distilling Port the city certainly lives up to its reputation and thats before we’ve come to its Football! On returning back to the house I then of course realised that I did remember to put the keys in my pocket didn’t I, with the net result being that I was locked out of the house for 7 hours until Carlos was to return at midnight later on.
There is now a checklist on the front of my door which includes amongst other thing: ‘Keys’.

For those of you at home in the rain (in fact I understand to my horror its been sunny in the UK recently?) I can tell you that the beach is a mere five minute walk down the road and I’m surrounded by some of the most fantastic restaurants and Brassieres… Walking back from the Port in the evenings the smell of a fresh catch coming off Atlantic can’t be much more inviting to any poor First Officer living abroad.

I guess it could be worse! Right am off (incidentally to Stansted for the afternoon!), back in a bit…

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🙂

Can you really learn Portuguese from an iphone?

•March 6, 2012 • 3 Comments

Unbelievable.. since the last sincerely distressing update I was on the flight deck a month back and one of our marvellous cabin crew popped in for a few minutes for the standard chat accompanied with the most gracious delivery of some tea and coffee.  Anyhow cut long story short one of questions that she did as is where I was from- before commenting ‘ well… I don’t think your from England’.. I mean honestly, I don’t want to ride to work in shining armour perhaps on a horse proudly flying the St. Georges flag, but for goodness sake I was most unimpressed.

It’s certainly been a busy month, as line training progressed and reached a final conclusion accompanied with the most astounding sense of relief at its end.  No question at all its been hard work, but I can comment on the fact that all the Line Training Captains were absolutely fantastic in Charleroi, all with absolute dedication in getting the students to the best possible standard before releasing to the line.  It took me roughly 80 sectors to reach the check standard before getting through, the journey being extremely busy and stressful.  However one thing for sure I really enjoyed every minute of it, with each flight and each landing the job seems to get better and better.  Since january new destinations including Lapeenranta (Finland, whereby I experienced a new personal low of -32 degrees C and a new high 1050 QNH- for real!!), Bratislava, Kaunas… Barcelona I guess is always a challenge… most fantastic approach but all the time whilst taxying around with lots of aeroplanes everywhere..  One place I seem to be spending a lot of time at the moment is in Ireland on when connecting to fly back to the UK from CRL, and I have to say I absolutely love it over there in Dublin… I mean I often wonder how it is that a whole nation can be so fantastically friendly, the welcome as soon as you get through passport control it is just terrific I only wish at times the ability for the English to be so remarkably enthusiastic was more noticeable in the arrivals hall at  UK airport..  Perhaps a daily flashmob of street dancers with a musical entourage performing a scene from Joseph and his Amazing Dreamcoat, together with Jeremy Clarkson standing on a podium reciting a shakespeare novel I’m not sure… all these marvellous ideas I should get in touch with BAA Stansted haha..

After the completion of the check I was then plunged into the base lottery, the result of which to determine my permenant base for the indefinite future.  I put in a variety of requests, all outside of the UK mostly along the guidelines of Different Language, Good Food, Nice Beaches, Interesting Culture… etc.  It wasn’t until Thursday last week, after a few days of holding my breath when on the Eurostar heading towards the channel tunnel- thanks be to thine Iphone I was alerted to an Email which henceforth signalled the next hurdle in my life.

I’ll be honest, Portuguese is not a language to which I’m familiar.  Quite apart from the total confusion to which I found myself with Super Mario on our night stop in Faro with FTE, I’ve always found it ‘similar to Spanish… yet completely different’…  However, one thing I was to remember from Faro, was just how delightfully friendly all the Portuguese were (The dispatcher who got out of the car with DT, Tom, myself and Mr Tonna in the seneca that morning of relevance here…)… This all lined up with fantastic food, endless beautiful Atlantic Beaches, Beautiful scenery, nightlife and a real thriving culture to be honest I’m not sure theres many better places than Porto.

In the time since, I have decided to accommodate myself with ‘Simple Portuguese Phrases’ iphone app, in the hope of educating my brain with at least a few bits and bobs of significance I guess time will tell…! I’m due to start over there at the beginning of next month- to be honest I can hardly wait… The flying that I’ve had from Charleroi however has been absolutely awesome and there really is so much that I’ve learned from it, but now however I’m frankly buzzing at the prospect of spending next few years in Portugal.  I guess now this job has come into its own- an oppertunity of a lifetime, & can tell you for a fact that (still keep in regular contact thanks to the worlds greatest online bookcase) chatting with my TR course at East Mids,  there is not a single one of us who takes this job for granted with the vast majority all more than delighted with their base allocation.

Up to this point, this blog has told about the journey to get to where I am now- But at long last (and it has been a wee while eh?) I’m finally line qualified on a Commercial Airliner.. Let life begin 🙂

How on Earth did you know I’m English?

•January 29, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Ha.. whilst jotting up the total 73 time now in the logbook this afternoon, I have noted that I have now spent 113 hours and around 20 mins at the controls of the mighty jet… and thats a lot! considering I only started flying on the 13th of december.  I wouldn’t say the excitement of each morning is waring off as that would be horrifically untrue yet the flying ‘routine’ albeit lack of one (considering every single week is different!) is starting to set in becoming now the norm.

Following the last update, Mr Keating himself may as well have been around to sum up life as a rollercoaster, and tbh while I had a cup of beautiful tea with Lisa in Dublin on a stop over back to STN- it was delightful for his Mrs to drive up in front of us in a rather extravagant BMW 4×4.. hence forth I wasn’t shy to suggest the driver was of VIP nature.  One thing that is beginning to hit home, is that this is extremely tiring, trying to adapt your body clock onto an alternating shift pattern with each set of flights.  Shortly after my last ramble on here, the roster transformed itself and I learned that for one week I would be stationed from the awe inspiring place that is London Stansted, and as a result with the sister supremely located in Battersea Park it made sense to spend the two days off in Londres and chill before life of STN was to begin.
Living in London for a few days was a rather surreal experience for various reasons- not just that I had to put up with the sisters mindless natter with her lovely housemates.  I was also supremely disappointed, whilst connecting at Duty Free in Dublin I decided to get a little gift for her kitchen shelf, in the form of little bear in emerald green with a Shamrock- I thought it would go nicely with the Norwegian Troll I got her for Christmas from Rygge.. but she refused to accept this endearing bear with much enthusiasm.  Deary me.. living in town however did make me consider just how far out of the real world this job actually is.. the prospect for example of being conscious at 4am is a matter for the girls is often at the end of a long (and probably expensive) night out in London hence forth to suggest that it is an hour to be journeying to work is an idea of shear madness.  It is a great lifestyle down there though no doubt about it, with the theatres, restaurants and the bustling streets just on your doorstep.  Faced with the prospects of earlies however I contacted the extremely useful Rob Hothi, a landlord with multiple properties mainly for the benifit of Ryanair employees around EMA and STN, who at short notice was fantastic and arranged a single room in the same neighbourhood as my sim partner Chris, Merjit and Jesse just up the road from STN.

In contrast to Charleroi, Stansted is massive.   Extremely busy, plenty of aircraft and airspace just frankly overflowing with traffic… but I must say I loved every single minute of it.  I guess was lucky with the weather, as each day clear skies graced northern Europe resulting in frankly the most Stunning views of London and Southern England.  Among the destinations, (London)Derry(as you prefer!), Rome Ciampino, Kerry, Kaunas, Malmo & Ancona.  These routes were superb, especially first thing in the morning across the Alpes but by far the most rewarding view is the arrival into London from Northern France.  To see the Thames winding through our magnificent Olympic city from 15,000 or so.. ahhh was just marvellous haha!  On the last day the vis so was clear you could see the blinking light of Canary Wharf over the Airport of Paris Plages Le Touquet.. quite astonishing.  Equally as incredible are the folk working at London ATC, who somehow separate effectively hundreds of aircraft at a time around the busy airports in London.  One thing that is becoming apparent is the vast amount of FTE students in the skies, as often getting home after a day in the office you find that theres always one who heard you on frequency and the decides to publicly announce it to the world on the http://www.  A small world though, but what an incredible world it is too.

The week in Stansted concluded, before life continued back in beautiful Charleroi a few days later.  I feel that the LTC’s are starting to crank up the pressure now, and quite unbelievably my Line Check is really not far away from here and then it won’t be training anymore.. it will be a job.  A notable highlight of the last week.. a departure from Rome Ciampino heading out towards the West and the point Gosly.  The point on the SID marking the end is in fact an Island to the same name.. perhaps is now reknown for the wrong reasons in the form of a large boat, clearly visible from 40,000ft.

Life for the last few days, I will be honest- the flying has been tiring.  The three days off have come at a good time and together with Industrial Action from the Belgians tomorrow is now a standby with the whole country apparently coming to a halt.  Being in Belgium, and unable to get home for a few days I jumped onto a train and went to the Fairy Tale city of Bruges in the north of the country in hope of some way just getting a bit of fresh air from Line Training.  What an absolute Gem, the most beautiful city and a fantastic secret that Europe doesn’t give up as easily as other more popular destinations.  I swear that every street was different and opens a different surprise around each corner, connected by low bridges across the picturesque narrow canals.. Not to mention the most marvellous selection of chocolate shops.  However I wasn’t too impressed that in each one the charming young girl behind the counter seemed opened the conversation in English with ‘What can I get you?’.  Do I really come across an tourist?- i know the French isn’t spectacular but that wasn’t fair.

Unbelievable.  Right I hope that wasn’t too demanding to read.. Busy week from now but then around 5 days off from weds and will be home to catch up again.
A

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What makes a Legend?

•January 8, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Its a word thats flung about the place particularly often, and many people would argue that it is an integral part of our magnificent language in which we communicate.  In recent weeks however for many people (I say many people I think the actual figure would be far higher than we could ever predict), the word Legend has maybe at last lived up to its true definition.

Since the last defeningly tedious update life has continued to be nothing short of manic, yet at the same time enjoyable whilst making dare I say even progress through the incredibly steep learning curve that is the Line Training.  Its slightly memorizing, perhaps is the correct phrase to see the logbook which has for so long lay stagnant on my desk start to spin through the pages as line under line is logged with another epic adventure in the magnificent 737.  So far destinations include the likes of the Canaries, Cyprus, Norway and Scandinavia, the Baltics as well as Spain and Northern Africa.  I think in one day last week I managed to clock travelling to 5 countries in about 14 hours (the latter as a passenger going home) resulting in an unsurprising 48 hours in bed following on as a result!

Looking out from the window last week, I couldn’t help but to enjoy the stunning panorama on offer out the window and whilst a huge amount of hard work goes into getting there-  there is no doubt that there are people who I couldn’t have got here without, many of whom with such passion and love of aviation have inspired so many to go out and achieve.

If you look hard enough back through this desperate drivel on here, you’d find a quote in one of my first few ground school posts from FTE, where as a young timid newcomer to FTE I see an instructor pondering his way across to the bar and ask what is the easiest way to get into town.  The reply came something along the lines of ‘you lie in the middle of the road, get hit by a car, call and ambulance and that will take you into the town.. that is the easiest way’.  From what I’d heard from Mr Wood I almost guessed that it might have been Vic and even by the quote itself people around the school were quick to agree that it could have been none other than Mr Swanepoel.  Sure enough they were all not mistaken, as a few days later he gracefully walks into our first Principles of Flight Lesson, in silence inspecting each course member before coming to our Norwegian counterpart’s name badge proclaiming ‘SOPHUS……….. WHAT THE F…..!’

Vic, a South African (a veerrrry proud one too) was never too slow to pick up on the fact that globes are the wrong way up.. with that tiny little island at the bottom of the world being totally insignificant in contrast to obviously South Africa at the top of the world…  Being an ex Helicopter pilot, he was never afraid to answer most questions in POF with a simple ‘we’ll I can but you can’t in your fixed wing limited s…’! Vics’ reputation, was largely based by students on the fact he openly criticised one out loud to anyone in a crowd and was always there in lunch to approach (normally me in particular!) and openly humiliate in front of the entire room!

It was ironic last week, as coincidently I was rostered to fly with an old friend from FTE no less than Mr Ackerley himself as my acting safety pilot across to Bratislava and Zaragoza for the day.  During the course of the day, the LTC was explaining bits and pieces about the aircraft but at various points I couldn’t help but smile as I could almost hear Vic in my ear teaching it, as he did those very points to us back at FTE.  Nonetheless the topic in question I think for both Steve and myself was a mild shock to the system!  The only difference with the LTC is that the standard ‘You b. English are useless..’ did not conclude the explanation on the flight deck!

Vic Swanepoel died on Boxing day, following almost a year long battle with cancer in his home country South Africa ending the life of a greatly loved & hugely well-respected gentleman.  His inspiration spoke for itself, when the news came out even from the www, his very own ‘Appreciation society’ became rapidly swamped with tributes and condolences from the many hundreds whom his life had touched.  Much of them, looking back on his life reflecting on the many quotes from hilarius lessons and general sense of humour, which broadly speaking just simply doesn’t exist in the same way!  A passion for quality (Italian Engineering, I never told him but he was right!), Style (The Alfa is a nice car), the finest on Wines and the most marvellous jokes delivered to the utter abyss of political incorrectness yet with the faith of a heart of gold.  Perhaps most of all, the ability to inspire people into this most fantastic career- passing over unbounding knowledge and experience with a smile, whilst always going out of his way to ensure that his Students knew they were wrong! The many hundreds who he taught (potentially thousands?), have almost all gone out into the career now and are flying aeroplanes of varied descriptions right around the world.  One thing they have in common however, is to have known Vics’  great character whilst all at the same time each have been utterly humiliated for certain by Vics most marvellous jokes.

I thought it was fitting to put a little something up here, I am sure I speak for everyone he knew in feeling privileged to have known and be taught by him and as a result of the most evil of illness’s many more people who share that same dream are denied that very chance.

To answer the above question, for one just to wake up each day knowing that at some point during the day one would be laughing out loud, learning about the real world (not the one we just tend to accept and get on with), whilst enjoying the education of a lifelong dream- from someone who (inside!) generally really cared about your success..  Thats how I’ll remember Vic, and thats why I think that he’s a Legend.

I bet I’m not the only one.

Rest In Peace Vic.

100 Reasons for a Happy Christmas.

•December 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I guess you could almost describe it as being a bit like a job really.. set the alarm clock, join the traffic, go to work, do your daily bits and pieces, and then when all is finished you drive home again.  If one would refer to it as a  job however, it really is without question the best job in the world..

Since the last update I learnt that my line training base was to be the Charleroi, in the French Speaking area of Belgium about 60miles South of Brussels.  Whilst it wasn’t one of my immediate 3 choices, there was lots of good feedback floating around about the base itself in particular the friendliness of all the crew and pilots.  However, on the downside it is rather a mission to get to from London with no direct flights and thus the most practical option for me was the train, thus I was treated to the pleasure of the Eurostar under the channel- on one of those most famous and glamorous train voyages from London to Brussels.  On arrival I was then treated with more joy in trying to understand and make sense of the Belgian rail network, but thankfully the beauty of having one of these iphone contraptions signifies that to be honest.. you just tell it where you want to go.. and it takes you there- giving train times, platforms.. making things rather easier!

The following morning, I guess was similar to the first day of any job when you wake up..  rather terrifying but at the same time, just the most amazing drill of excitement.  It was pretty daunting walking into the crew room for the first time, especially amidst the buzz of the 5am morning ‘rush hour’ but I must say that everyone was so friendly and welcoming into the base which did make it much easier.  Having done as much of the paperwork as possible, the captain arrived- carried out a brief and then the next minute we were setting up the aircraft while in the corner of my eye.. I could see my first passengers boarding the aircraft.  For my first day, the captain was fantastic, a really nice chap and extremely relaxed on the flight deck making the whole experience much easier & have no doubt that will be flying with him again later on in Line Training.  With the checks complete, pushed back, taxied out to the hold to see the centre line racing away to the horizon and then ‘you have control’.  Throttles to 40%, then to/ga and we were off- the first commercial flight was underway!  With passengers on board the added weight is certainly noticeable when you rotate, but it really is just the most fantastic feeling as you climb away watching the altimeter soar upwards and the houses disappear below.  Being my first flight, the Norwegians were clearly having a good day and decided to kindly change the approach from an ILS to an NDB.. which was just marvellous news signifying that my first approach was to be a non precision.. I guess welcome to the job really- but a fantastic experience.  Its amazing how much easier an NDB is when you have Lnav and Vnav as opposed to flying the seneca!

I think the biggest thing which I’ve taken from my first week here now is simply that I have loved every single minute of it so far. Yes the hours can be anti-social, and it is extremely hard work.. but the view from that window is just priceless..  As well as Olso, I returned to Larnaca for the first time since the Legendary CCF camp to Akrotiri in 2008.. A long flight but with breathtaking scenery out of the window, crossing the Italian Alps, Macedonian Coastline, passing directly over Athens and then towards Turkey over the Greek Islands before getting descent into Larnaca.  It was nice also to be radar vectored in from the South of the Island, allowing the most beautiful view of Akrotiri and all the surrounding area which triggered a lot of the memories from those fantastic 10 days.  On top of Larnaca, I was back in Provence and Marsailles at the end of the week.. Marsailles a being really nice, short trip- yet I had been warned by Mr Wood for a rather complicated approach and again I wasn’t disappointed.. Perhaps the most challenging thing being the 4 Degree glide onto R31 and the runway looks very different when coming down a 4 instead of the standard 3.

There is no doubt it has been the most fantastic week gone by, and I only hope that it continues that way really.  Leading up to christmas I can expect Riga, Krakow, Las Palmas and Tangier..  All of which am really looking forward to which should make for some fantastic flying.

For now though however, two days off has brought with it some welcome time to relax.. Yesterday I trekked across to Brussels and had a look around the fantastic little christmas market over there, as well as to check out the various sights…  All the little ways to get into the xmas spirit but it was such a delight to see all the little stalls and chocolate shops.  A quick mention however also to say a massive congrats to all of my 100’s in FTE now who have just graduated it goes quickly eh?  I was absolutely gutted to have missed the ceremony but was delighted that Captain Tonna could be there to record and share the gossip back in the UK!

So from a Cold, Snowy Belgium I’ll leave it there.. and wish everybody a fantasticly Merry Christmas.  For as long as I can remember, the ambition of flying a jet on commercial operations has driven the persuit of that very cause.  This week has brought with it that very result, and it has been without question the best Christmas Present that perhaps I will ever have.  I will come back with another update before the New Year…

All the Very Best

A

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The Supernumaries

•December 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Following the excitement of last weeks extravaganza, the conclusion of the Type Rating brought with it the final step before the operation of the aircraft on the line, in the form of our supernumary jump seats.  These consisted of 12 mandatory sectors sitting behind the FO and Captain on routes travelling around the network getting used to the daily routines and the procedures which will become no doubt become 2nd nature in the next few months.  For the Supernumaries, we were given the opportunity to choose wherever base we wanted, making this much easier and as such for course FR 133x we parted ways and headed off back to our local bases.  For my part however, the nearest is Stansted.. and it really isn’t very near! I therefore selected a city I greatly enjoy and have numerous friends in their final uni years at, thus Bristol became the next best possible option.  As well as being a simple train ride from Reading, the city has a unique charm unlike many in the UK together with extremely friendly people which made the whole week all the more rewarding.  A delightful and extremly welcoming B&B awaited, and I couldn’t reccomend the Laurels in Winford enough to anyone floating in BRS in the future..

During the week, I’d say the whole of the type rating course came together as we all saw the daily operation on the 737 really fit into place.  Whilst we were all just observing, it was an opertunity to put into practice and get used to little things like paperwork, ATC and basic Cabin PA’s- all of which I’ll be honest was slightly daunting at first but is now I think we’re all feeling mildly more comfortable.  Perhaps most amusingly, was to get a phone call from a certain Mr Fahy on Thursday evening, who then applauded me on not cocking up (as much as perhaps he’d expect haha) as he heard some of my first few radio calls on Dublin tower that morning, as he waited for us to land so he in turn could take off!..  It is not uncommon as I understand it,  from FTE we me all be at different airlines but we’re all on the same airwaves..

As well as Dublin this week, its mainly been Eastern Europe with the sny’s taking me to 3 new countries including Slovakia (Bratislava), and Lithuania (Kaunas)..  Even from just viewing from the flight deck with the 25min turnarounds, its evident that these fascinating places are a world apart from the day to day reality of the UK, and have no doubt that in due course in this career these opportunities will become available to experience such places.  What was nice each morning was that almost every departure took us towards Compton and then over central London towards the North Sea.. a rather nostaligic sense perhaps but the most amazing feeling to see your own house from the flight deck of a 737 at 39,000ft.

So with the jumpseats over now I guess the next step awaits.. On friday my roster will come out and the dates and base for my line training will be revealed.. Slightly apprenhensive yes.. but finally at long last I’m going to be doing that very job for real.. which all that pain, stress and work has been all about.

Best and I’ll be back with an update soon.

A