Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Final day of the classroom and then onto Online Flying, lots of time in the virtual books

The final day TAG in Farnborough was one of the most interesting days of training I have ever done
The day was based around CRM (Crew Resource Management) we were able watch and listen to incidents and accidents that have happened over the passed decades in aircraft and look at the reasons for them and question what could have been done differently to avoid these types of incidents.
Some of it really was quite eye opening as its easy to put yourself in to these pilot's places and see how these situations can occur.
There were quite a few practical aspects during the day and one was particularly good. We were paired up as pilots and given a bag of children's lego.
We were given a selection of direction cards more than a dozen, to follow to create a lego model. The thing about each card was that it was possible to interpret the cards slightly differently depending upon how your brains work.
The theory being that all of us as pilots should be able to follow a check list. Therefore half a dozen pairs of pilots should have meant half a dozen identical models at the end......... were there ?
Absolutely not. There were half a dozen different models. Gets you thinking a bit as to how we all follow checklists, how we communicate, and how we work as a team.
I am really chuffed that my new employers have sent for as I have learnt a lot and can't wait to now get into the cockpit.
The final part of my theory training is internet based now that I am back home. I have a day of studying for each of NAT HLA (High Level Airspace), RVSM Reduced Vertical Space Minima and finally Dangerous Goods Awareness.
I have sat each of the exams over the passed few days and chuffed to say I have passed them.
Next step will be to head out to the base where the aircraft lives and get to meet the team there.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fire fire and security briefings. And a quick flight

The last days of training have been great. A lot of work but really good work too.
Yesterday was all about about fire and smoke on an aircraft, something that as a thought is really very serious and needs swift and correct actions if ever encountered. We practiced the various situations and putting out fires in a mock up of an airplane on the ground, filled with smoke and fire.
We were also privileged to see many case studies on incidents, accidents and fire that have happened over the years. Most of which are very thought provoking.
After fire and smoke training it was time for first aid which was in depth but quite light hearted with the other guys on the course especially when it came to dealing with child birth mid air !!!!
Today it was airport and airplane security and dealing with the myriad of incidents that can occur with aircraft and the expected responses with the various security agencies around the world.
I can't really go into too much detail over the procedures and things involved but some of what were learnt about was enlightening.
Once again we were privileged to see some of the case studies for incidents which have happened over the years, some which have been publicized some not and the see the counter measures which protect us all on a daily basis.
The other very good part to the security briefings we received a lot of good of advice for when we are abroad ourselves and how to keep ourselves secure and safe in some of the far flung corners of the world that we travel to.
At the end of the day one of my colleagues on the course had a chat with me and offered me a flight with him this evening to move an aircraft from Farnborough to Biggin Hill, the aircraft being owned by some well known people in Formula One racing. It was a great opportunity for me as the aircraft is quite similar to the one which I will be flying with my new job.
It wasn't a very long trip but it was certainly a good one.
All in all another good day in Farnborough.........

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Splish Splash...... and a bit of Bear Grills

The alarm went off at 6am and it was day one at TAG Aviation in Farnborough today.
On the agenda was water safety and survival techniques for the morning and then fire and emergencies in the afternoon. Exams were to be taken for each section.
I met the other students in the waiting area, Nick , Brian and Simon and after a cup of tea I realized how small the world of aviation really is, as Nick has been flying with the Captain of my new aircraft for the past 5 years and knows him well and speaks very highly of him too.
Back to the training and after an hour in the classroom learning about the various styles of life jackets and life rafts we jumped on a bus and were off the local swimming pool to get wet.
Initially there was a swim test of a few lengths to make sure we were up to it and then it was testing the life jackets in the pool, these are the same as you get on any commercial flight and it was quite nice to actually pull those toggles that are always shown in the pre flight safety briefing and see the jacket burst into life as I hurled myself into the pool as gracefully as ever........
Then it was time to practice what to do if they don't inflate and also putting them on in the pool and manually inflating them.
All went well so it was time to get the life raft out and in the water. Imagine an 8 man tent with inflatable sides, inflating in a couple of seconds and then having to get into it with an inflated life jacket on.........  I only wish i was allowed to video it as I was laughing so much it hurt, looking like a large salmon trying to swim up stream and jump through the air. Infact no, I was nothing as graceful as a salmon.
Once we were all on the raft we had to set it all up and go through the survival kit onboard as we would in a real incident. We were all puffing and panting a bit by the end but it was great to put theory in to practice.
The morning was completed by sitting for a survival in the wild lecture, with lots of bear grills style information (which i loved) and then an exam on what we had learnt through out the sessions.

The afternoon session was to be SEP and SOP (Standard Emergency Procedures & Standard  Operating Procedures).
This was to be quite informative about all of the onboard procedures in case of emergency landing, ditching in water and crash landing, ending with a little about fire equipment on board the aircraft that I will be flying. (Tomorrow will see us putting out some fires)
The day although long at 10 hours has gone pretty well, I've passed each of the exams and am now a bit pooped although I have online e-learning each night of the week.
All in all a good first day and ready for some fire fighting tomorrow.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Getting my feet wet...

With all of the flight training I have completed over the years, I have yet to combine the skills of swimming , scuba and flying........
Thats what I am anticipating tomorrow.
Picture the phone call......:
Flight training starts on Tuesday Stuart.......
"Excellent" I say.
There will be 5 days in Farnborough.
"Great" I say.
Never been to Farnborough airport before I was thinking and I'm always up for something new.
"Oh, don't forget your swimming trunks Stuart"
"Of course not" I say......
"Hang on, what ?"

"Day One of  training will be emergency rafts and life jackets"

Chocs Away........

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Going Global......And so it begins...... 

The training is booked in, the security clearance sorted so it looks like I'm off to the desert in June. Oh hang on that's going to be a pretty warm time to be in Dubai. 

I have to go to Farnborough first for an intensive week of training on general procedures in business jets such as Fire on board, first aid on board, water procedures and survival. 

After a week in the UK it's time to check out the new base in Beirut and meet the new people whom I will be working with and also get to meet the new plane. 

It feels pretty strange to think what the next phase of flying will bring. Going through many years of teaching, with some jet time mixed in to full time business jet flying on a plane with an endurance of 11-12 hours and can fly from London to Los Angeles without refuelling is a whole new bowl of fruit buns. 

The month long type rating to get me there is going to be a tough month of graft sweat and new grey hair, but an exciting month of discovery at the same time. 

I'm also chuffed to bits that today I've managed to get myself through another annual medical after a long drive to London ......

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Typing about studying for a type

It's been a while and there have been many things going on in life.

Since moving back to the UK and flying on King Airs, Cessna Citations and CJ's from the right seat the time has come for a huge change.

It's with huge Thanks to my friend Julian who runs Julian Storey Aviation that I will soon be off to Dubai to start studying for my Type Rating for a Global Express XRS which I will be flying for a private owner as my full time job. 

For those who don't know what a Global Express is I enclose a picture below. 

The type rating is no mean feet and means 28 days at flight school learning ever aspect, moving part and procedure involved in flying this $55million airplane .

To say I'm excited is an understatement, the thought of going back into learning mode is a tough one but necessary. It's going to mean a lot of time in the simulator which I'm really looking forward to.

I will do my best to keep my blog up dated over the coming weeks and months with this new chapter to the flying journey.

The aircraft itself will be based in the Middle East and as per its name suggests it's truly global. Able to fly 11-12hours non stop or 6000 nautical miles. So Dubai to New York in one hop or London to Los Angeles without refuelling will be a part of normal life in the coming months. 

Watch this space.......

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I can't believe it's May already !!

I really can't believe where this year is going, we've had Easter already, it doesn't seem like five minutes ago I was packing my bags and getting out of Africa and heading home.

A lot has happened since then and now things have settled down a bit it's time to get my thoughts together and I suppose let everyone else in on where we are at.
Since back in November Roger has become a valued part of the team in Limoges and has taken to teaching in France like a duck to water, the students have enjoyed his teaching, professionalism and most importantly his love for flying, as things have gone so well and and the fact that Roger has done so much flying he became an unrestricted instructor in just 3 months and has now also has his first two students pass their PPL's with him.

 A huge well done from me to Roger with students Jason Bartner and Yury Stasyuk , Jason from the USA and o Yury from Russia. A proper international flavor.
Whilst Roger was teaching our international students I have been able to welcome back some of the more familiar faces of Herman and Barry , two former students who've been coming back to enjoy some more flying in Limoges post PPL.

It's always hugely satisfying to have pilots return here when they have gained their licenses with us.
With Roger doing so well in Limoges it's allowed me to pursue some of my personal flying ambitions over the passed few months, and it's with a lot of gratitude to two flying friends Julian and Karl who've helped and supported me over the passed couple of years that I've been able to take the next step in my flying.

With Julian's help I've been able to obtain my second incommand jet rating and have just completed my first flying along side him in a Cessna Citation 550 jet on some European flying. It's great flying along side Julian as there never seems to be a flight where I don't learn something new. 

Mind you everything goes so much faster in the Citation, it really takes some getting used to.

Karl is the deputy chief pilot at Capital Air based at Exeter airport. An air ambulance and VIP air taxi service and has brought me in to co-pilot on flights with them, which is something totally new. Ferrying sick, injured or critically ill passengers from across Europe to be repatriated back to the UK. 

So far I've done over a dozen flights with the pilots of Capital and once again it's a huge learning curve and something completely new, with very different considerations during the flights.

To be able to participate in the work with both Capital and some jet flying I've had to now base myself more in the UK and am now living with my partner Naomi in East Devon where I grew up and went to school.

 I will be working between East Devon and Limoges to be assisting Roger at the school as well as continuing with the other flying that I am doing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I am lucky to have some really great students

I have been here over 3 years now and according to my log book I have over 1600 hours of flying time and over 1200 of those hours have been teaching English speaking students here in Limoges.
I get to reflect sometime on some of the different characters I have had come through the doors and also the new friends I have made. Some of them really good friends who will be friends for life. Aviation can be great like that.
People whom you would normally never meet in usual social groups getting together no matter what age or origin just because we love flying.
I am lucky enough now to have great friends in Belgium, Holland, Dubai, Scotland, Hong Kong, France, Switzerland as well as local friends here, all thanks to this little flying club in Limoges.
How much fun it would be to be able to get all of them together...... as most never get to meet each other.
I have a terrific chap here at the moment, Jason who lives in Italy with his lovely wife Ashely. Both originate in the US but have taken to European life.
Jason has been here for 4 weeks and has progressed really well with his flying and has endured some of the British humour of me and Roger and has also embraced club life like so many before him.
Ashley is very creative and made a lovely video this week after coming along for a flight with jason and also putting Go-Pro cameras in the cockpit as well which I will post below...... its really made me smile and it makes me feel privileged to get to pass a nice period of time with people who are so motivated and great to get along with.


Jason should be taking his test in the near future , he has solo cross country in the next day or so and he is ready to take his PPL.
Roger has been teaching him and has done a terrific job and they've worked well together as a team.
I will update when he gets his wings.....

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Man Flueeeey flu

I think I've lost count of the packets of tissues I've gone through this week,  the aches, pains, blocked ears & sleepless nights have been a bit tricky this week and thus far has me stuck on the ground doing ground school instead of in the air.
I am lucky to have Captain Roger Sprague here who is flying like a man possessed and doing a great job whilst I whimper in the classroom.
This week has carried on being busy in-between a few bad weather moments including a few very heavy isolated hail storms which passed through yesterday. (See the video below)


This week has been an adventurous one, also an up and down one in many ways.
I have a couple who have driven all of the way from the UK to spend 2 weeks here flying and unfortunately one of their parents has passed away yesterday so they will be heading back to the UK soon.
Lovely clear skies here with some cottonwool around
Our student Jason from the US is doing really well and we've had a set back with a  few bad weather days for him where he hasn't been able to do as much solo as we would have liked but he has caught up now and managed a flight to Poitiers and back solo yesterday.
Today is a gorgeous blue sky day and we are flying back to back flights with 3 students.
The weather is forecast is fabulous for the next week with even 18 degrees being forecast on Monday, so hopefully spring will have sprung soon, although we were greeted by -2 degrees on the morning doggie walk with Dobby today.

Dobby walks are a great start to the day

Monday, March 2, 2015

A pretty crazy month of February......

It didn't take too long to get back in the saddle of PPL teaching here in Limoges.
February has gone by super fast and between Roger & myself we have managed over 84 hours of flying. Not bad for winter month here in Europe.

We have had some great fun and adventures as well with our American and Russian students.
Lost in translation had nothing on us, we ended up having games of Charades to get some of the explanations over.
Both students have done incredibly well and are both at the stage of solo cross country and should be able to go for their flight test during the next few flight hours.
2 new students have joined us today, a couple from England, a husband and wife team who both want to get their pilot licenses.

Its the first time they have been to the area and have decided to come for 2 weeks and do as much as they can......
For the moment we are just hoping the weather will keep on keeping on and keep us up in the air each day.