how i became a pilot

Letzer Teil: Wie ich Pilot geworden bin

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Herzlich Willkommen an Board mein Aviator! Lehne dich zurück, entspanne und genieße den letzten Teil der Serie wie ich Pilot geworden bin. In meinem letzten Beitrag habe ich über eine Schulung zur Instrumentenberechtigung in Vero Beach, Florida berichtet. In diesem berichte ich über mein Training auf ein mehrmotorigen Flugzeug bei Pilot Training Network und einem schockierendem Absturz.

Wie ich Pilot geworden bin

In meinen letzten Teilen habe ich über folgendes berichtet.

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Being the back seater on a flight lesson with the PA44

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Zurück in Zadar

Die letzte und wichtigste Flug Training fand wieder in Zadar statt, wo meine praktische Flugausbildung im Sommer 2008 mit Pilot Training Network begonnen hatte. In diesem Stadium musste ich mein Wissen und Fertigkeiten, die ich in den letzten 1,5 Jahren gesammelt habe, abrufen und auf die letzten Ausbildungsflüge übertragen. Es war die schwierigste Trainingsphase, da ich ein kompliziertes Flugzeug mit zwei Kolbenmotoren fliegen musste. Die Piper PA44 ist ein mehrmotoriges Flugzeug mit vier Sitzplätzen. Alle Flüge haben unter den Bestimmungen des Instrumenten Fluges statt gefunden. Zu Übungszwecke sind wir meinst mit einem Propeller geflogen um ein  Triebwerksschaden zu simulieren. Dies verlangte, dass man sehr präzise fliegt und genügend Ruderausschlag benutzt, um das Flugzeug auf den gewünschten Flugweg zu halten.

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Losinj island in the Adrian Sea with a 700m runway

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PA44 cockpit with Avidyne avionics (glass cockpit)

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Am 31. August 2009 wurde meine praktische Abschlussprüfung von einem Prüfer der deutschen Behörde abgenommen (LBA). Ich war sehr nervös, da ich unter allen Umständen diesen Check Flug bestehen musste um Pilot zu werden. Dieser Flug ging von Zadar nach Pula und zurück über Losinj. Er dauerte ungefähr 2,5 Stunden und in dieser Zeit wurden verschiedenste Szenarien durchgespielt. Zu dem Program zählte unter anderem ein Startabbruch, ein simulierte Triebwerksschaden und ein Durchstartemanöver. Neben den Flugfertigkeiten wurden meine Kenntnisse über die EU OPS getestet. Dies ist eine Bestimmung, die die Sicherheit Standards und Verfahren der kommerziellen Fliegerei festlegt. Ich war so glücklich darüber, dass wir mit unserem Piloten Overalls in die Adria gesprungen sind.

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Celebrating the passed check with a jump into the Adrian sea with my flight overall

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Piper PA44 seminole aircraft

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Der Absturz

Kurz nachdem wir zurück in Deutschland wieder waren haben wir ein Geburtstag eines Flugschülers gefeiert, als uns schockierende Neuigkeiten uns erreicht haben. Ein PA44 Schulungsflugzeug, das ich erst vor wenigen Tagen selbst geflogen bin, ist über der Adria abgestürzt. Das Rettungsteam hat zwei Tage gebraucht um das Wreck zu bergen. Das Wrack lag in 68 Meter tiefe auf dem Grund der Adria. Bis zu diesem Zeitpunkt wusste niemand was mit der Crew gesehen ist. Leider haben der Fluglehrer und Flugschüler nicht überlebt. Es war so schockierend für mich und ich konnte es anfangs nicht glauben. Normalerweise werden diese Flugstunden mit einem extra Flugschüler als Beisitzer, der hatte aber zum Glück an diesem Tag verschlafen. Wie Ermittler rausgefunden haben ist das Flugzeug nach einer Demonstration der Vmca Geschwindigkeit ins Trudeln geraten. Technisches Versagen konnte als Absturzgrund ausgeschlossen werden.

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Heart shaped island in the vicinity of the crash - RIP

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Was ist Trudeln und Vmca?

Vmca ist die minimale Geschwindigkeit in der Luft bei der sich das Flugzeug noch steuern lässt. Bei dieser Geschwindigkeit lässt sich das Flugzeug noch gerade ausfliegen auch wenn ein Triebwerk ausgefallen ist und das andere aus volle Last gesetzt ist. Das Seitenruder (vertikale am hinteren Ende) steuert in diesem Fall gegen die asymmetrischen Kräfte an und ein Steuerkurs kann bei behalten werden. Wenn das Flugzeug langsamer geflogen wird gerät es ins Trudeln. Trudeln ist eine spezielle Form des Strömungsabrisses um einer Rotation um die vertikale Achse. Ein Strömungsabriss bedeutet das keine Strömung mehr am Flügel anliegt und kein Auftrieb generiert wird. Beim Trudeln dreht sich das Flugzeug automatisch um die Vertikale, da der Schub und Widerstand asymmetrisch ist. Um ein Absturz zu vermeiden muss eine spezifische Abfolge an Steuereingaben erfolgen.

Während meiner Ausbildung wurde diese Geschwindigkeit in einer sicheren höhe demonstriert. Dieses Manöver ist wenn es richtig geflogen wird absolut sicher. An dem Tag des Absturzes haben daher viele verschiedene Faktoren zum Absturz geführt. Falls du daran interessiert bist kannst den kompletten Absturzbericht hier lesen.

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The three axis of an aircraft

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Conventional instruments on a Piper PA44 wit the basic T (speed, attitude, altimeter, heading)

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MCC

MCC steht für Multi Crew Koordination. Dieser Kurs ist eine Voraussetzung, um letztendlich die CPL Lizenz zu beantragen. Während diesen Trainings geht es weniger ums Fliegen, vielmehr um die Koordination und Verfahren zwischen Cockpit Besatzung. Bis dato habe ich die Schulungsflugzeuge selbst gesteuert, gefunkt und Entscheidungen selbst getroffen. Der gesamte Kurs findet im Simulator statt. Ich konnte zwischen der B737 und dem A320 wählen. Ich habe mich für den A320 entschieden, da ich wissen wollte wie es ist ein "Side stick" zu fliegen. um sich für

Der MCC Kurs bestand aus fünf Sessions, die jeweils über vier Stunden gingen. Wir mussten uns mit den Standard Betriebsabläufen des A320 vertraut machen. Es war ein außergewöhnliches Gefühl so ein großes Flugzeug zu fliegen, auch wenn es zu diesem Zeitpunkt nur der Simulator war. Aber wich ich schon in meinen Beitrag My Airbus A300 type rating berichtet habe, lässt sich ein Full flight Simulator kaum noch von der Wirklichkeit unterscheiden.  Nach der Beendigung des Trainings war ich noch erpichter bald ein Flugzeug von der rechten Seite aus zu steuern. 

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MCC flight training in the Lufthansa A320 simulator

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Abschluss Veranstaltung

Im Oktober 2009 kamen die letzten drei Kurse zusammen um den Abschluss an der Flugschule zu feiern. Ich war auf der einen Seite sehr froh über meine Leistung und auf der anderen war ich traurig darüber das die tolle Zeit als Flugschüler vorbei war. Es war eine sehr anspruchsvolle und harte Zeit. Ich musste sehr viel lernen, hatte sehr wenig Freizeit und ich musste mit viel Druck umgehen. Mein Fleiß hat sich aber am Ende sehr gelohnt.

Zu diesem Zeitpunkt war ich der Flugschüler, der die theoretische Abschlussprüfung am besten abgelegt hatte. Ich wusste davon nichts bis ich von ausdrücklich bei dem Abschluss Event dafür ausgezeichnet worden bin. Meine Flugschule schenkte mir ein Beobachtungsflug mit Swiss Airlines. Ich durfte im Cockpit einer Avro von Frankfurt nach Zürich mitfliegen. Das war wirklich ein krönender Abschluss. Es dauerte leider noch knapp drei Wochen bis ich dann endlich meinen ersten Pilotenschein in meinen Händen halten konnte.

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Intercockpit course E308 Graduation dinner in 2009

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Insgesamt hat meine Ausbildung knapp zwei Jahre gedauert. In dieser Zeot bin ich 210 Stunden geflogen und 258 mal gelandet.

Der Absturz in Zadar hat mir gezeigt wie verletzlich sind und wie schnell ein schönes Leben vorbei sein kann. Deshalb ist es so wichtig jeden Tag zu genießen als sei es dein letzter. Positive mind. Positive life. Happy landings.

In welchem Cockpit würdest du gerne mal mitfliegen?

Dein Pilot Patrick

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how i became a pilot

How I became a pilot III

Welcome on board of my series of “How I became a pilot". In part three I will talk about the flight training with Pilot Training Network in Zadar and the theory phase back in Frankfurt. Find out which drink was offered to me after landing in Slovakia and which malfunctions I had during one of my first solo flights.

Fleet of Diamond aircraft DA20 and DA40 models in Zadar, Croatia Beautiful views over the Adrian sea during flight training

The structure of the training:

  • 8 weeks of PPL theory classes in Frankfurt (How I became a pilot II)
  • 10 weeks of SE VFR (single engine, visual flight rules) flight training in Zadar
  • 30 weeks of ATPL theory classes in Frankfurt  (ATPL = Airline Transport Pilot License)
  • 8 weeks of IFR flight training in Vero Beach, Florida  (IFR = Instrument flight rules)
  • 4 weeks ME IFR flight training in Zadar, Croatia  (ME = Multi Engine)
  • 1 week MCC course in Frankfurt  (MCC = Multi Crew Coordination)
Younger me as a student pilot with my instructor "Wolle" in Zadar

The entire training in Zadar lasted about 10 weeks. I already had my first solo flight after 11 flight hours with an instructor. On 24th of July 2008 I lifted off the ground in a DA20 all by myself for the very first time. It was really exciting. At first I was nervous, because I wanted to do everything safe and correct. The first flight went really well and after 30 mins I landed safely. It was awesome.

Returning from my first solo flight DA 20 VFR flight training in Zadar (LDZD)

During the first couple of missions we always stayed either in the traffic pattern of Zadar (airport) or in close proximity. In dedicated training areas we practised special flight maneuvers to improve our manual flying skills. First lesson in aviation: aviate, navigate, communicate! Flying has always priority before everything else.

During the aerial work over the Adrian sea we did stalls, steep turns and slow flight. An aircraft being in stall means that the wings do not produce lift anymore, because of the angle of attack being too big. If not corrected may lead to a crash.

Steep turn (45 degrees) in a DA20 aircraft! Like a roller coaster!

Cross country flights

After being familiar with the procedures, the aircraft, the flight patterns and the communication with air traffic control we started flying cross country. Those flights took place between two points (e.g. airports) using navigational techniques. Some missions were flown in a DA40, which is a single piston four seater. One fellow student pilot as observer in the back and the instructor and me in the front. Usually we flew to more distant airports, where we landed and switched seats. Like one day when we flew to a small airport in Slovenia. After landing we were guided by a small motorbike to our parking position to refuel for the next flight. ;-) Before departure the handling guy offered us his self brewed liquor. I guess he wanted to fuel more than the aircraft. This guy was just too funny.

DA40 flight mission - Crew change in Solvakia

The flight training was a lot of fun. Nevertheless the pressure to be a good student pilot was high and the program did not leave a lot of space for deficiencies. This required additionally studying when on ground. Everything was new to me and especially at the beginning I had to take care that I fly the airplane and not the airplane me.

Pilotsview - Croatian islands in the Adrian Sea

Technical problems

I remember one special event during a solo cross country flight. During the approach to Pula airport I encountered problems with the engine. It did not run smooth at all. That is why I decided to stay in close proximity to the airport to figure out the problem and in case the propeller stops to glide to the runway. (We actually learn this procedure and do it simulated)  Luckily I managed to fly back to the home base safely. I informed our maintenance about the malfunction. In the end the airplane was grounded for several days.

The weeks in Croatia past by really fast. Not only because of the flying, but also because of the activities our course did together. Up in the air we have already seen how beautiful the landscape was. Krka water falls and the surrounding nature reserve is a great example.

Excursion to Krka water falls - Must see

ATPL theory

Back in Germany the ATPL theory phase began. That meant studying intensively. We learned the entire knowledge to be prepared for the final exams at the LBA (german aviation authority). It would take over 8 months before being back in a cockpit flying.

The legendary DC6 visiting Zadar Airport

Most of the questions of the final exams were in a multiple choice style. Over the years 1000 of possible of questions leaked to flight schools and to training programs like Peters software. Many students just learnt the questions and the answers to them without understanding them. I thought this is quite risky method for studying and plus I wanted to understand what I am doing in the future. My method proofed me more than right. This time the LBA changed a lot on their questions and added a lot to their question bank. In the end only five students (including me) of 20 students passed the exam at the first attempt. The exam consisted of 12 subjects which could be written on three consecutive days.  

First selfies out of the cockpit

Subjects

General Navigation, Meteorology, Radio Navigation, Principle of flight/aerodynamics (my favorite subject), Human Resources, Air Law, Power plant, Instrument/ Electronics, Flight Planning, Operational Procedures, Performance, Mass and Balance

My ATPL theory results

Since I passed the exam right away, I was allowed to proceed with the second flight training phase. Surprisingly it was not going to take place in Zadar. Read the next part of how I became a pilot.

Have you been to Croatia before?

Your Pilot Patrick

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how I became a pilot

How I became a pilot II

In my first part of the blogpost "How I became a pilot" I told you about my way to become a flight student at Intercockpit Pilot Training Network.

How I became a pilot

Another requirement to be accepted as flight student is the initial medical class one examination. This examination is standardized for all pilots and needs to be revalidated every year. For detailed requirements please have a look here) For this examination I went to a special Aviation Doctor at Stuttgart airport. Of course I was a little nervous at this stage, because the outcome will decide about my future career. Not only did I pass it very well, but I also met Fabian, who later became a friend and a fellow flight student.  

Training facility of Lufthansa Flight Training (LFT) in Frankfurt

First day of school

My first day of school at the facilities of Lufthansa flight training was in April 2008. I remember it was a really exciting day, because it meant a new stage of life. The Intercockpit course E308 consisted of 20 guys and one girl. After the introduction of the team we were handed out all the training material, that we would need for our studies. I think it were around ten big binders. At this stage quite intimidating. Additionally we received a black pilot bag. Back then, I was really proud to have it.

Intercockpit course E308 in 2008

Theory classes

For the next two months we attended several theory classes to reach the knowledge of a PPL Pilot (Private Pilot License) to be prepared for the first flight phase in Zadar, Croatia. Additionally we had to pass the AZF (flight radiotelephone operators certificate), which grants the permission to communicate with ATC (Air Traffic Control). Why did the flight training take place in a foreign country? Mainly, because of the weather and the lower operating costs. Especially for VFR (visual flight rules) flights, that require a certain cloud ceiling and visibility, the weather in Croatia was definitely better than in Germany over the year.

First theory part in Frankfurt (8 weeks)

The entire flight training was scheduled to last about 18 months, depending on one's personal performance. Since the planning was really tight there was only a couple of off days in between. As this was an integrated training you had to learn continuously to be ready for the exams. It sure was a tough time, but it was worth the effort in the end. Time management was super important. I found it helpful to set weekly goals concerning learning to have a good feeling and to monitor my progress.

First time in Zadar

In June it was time to head down to Zadar for the first practical flight phase. Accommodation and transport had to be organized by ourself. Most of the course stayed at the same location of a croatian women, who rented prevailing to flight students from Germany. I shared an apartment with my friend Fabian. The place was not special at all, but it was only a short walk away from the waterfront.

The historic old town of Zadar is really beautiful. It is located right at the Adria, where we enjoyed amazing sunsets. The landscape of Croatia is unique with many small islands (66 inhabited) stretching along the coastline of 1800 kilometer and the high Biokovo mountains in the back. It did not take long until we got to see the beautiful landscape from above. After a couple of days of introduction in a basic fixed simulator the first flight in a DA20 aircraft with a instructor was due.

PA44 flight school aircraft of Intercockpit in Zadar

I was super excited and also a little scared. Not of the flying itself, rather if I really like it and could imagine to do it for the rest of my life. All sorrows were gone, when I lifted off the ground for the first time by myself. I remember, that everything was going so fast. It felt like I was flying a fighter jet. Today I can grin about it, since I take off with the Citation XLS+ at a speed, which is 2,5 times faster.

Structure of the training:

  • 8 weeks of PPL theory classes in Frankfurt
  • 10 weeks of flight training in Zadar, Croatia
  • 30 weeks of ATPL theory classes in Frankfurt  (ATPL = Airline Transport Pilot License)
  • 8 weeks of IFR flight training in Vero Beach, Florida  (IFR = Instrument flight rules)
  • 4 weeks ME IFR flight training in Zadar, Croatia  (ME = Multi Engine)
  • 1 week MCC course in Frankfurt  (MCC = Multi Crew Coordination)

Read in my next part about the rest of the flight training in Zadar, a drink offer after landing in Slovakia and the ATPL theory part back in Germany. I am working on more photos of my flight training.

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become a pilot

How I became a pilot I

In my last blog post I told you "why I fly" now I want to tell you how I finally became a pilot. I haven been asked this question many times on Instagram and I am happy to give you a more detailed answer.
In general there is not THE way to become a pilot. Many different ways all lead to the same goal sitting on the right side of a cockpit. I will tell you mine.

How I became a pilot

I did not have any flying experiences before I applied to be a flight student. So as we say in aviation I still was a "pedestrian" before I started my training. Like almost all Germans I applied at Lufthansa to become an airline pilot. This was in 2006 at the age of 18. Back then they still had a demand of pilots but nevertheless I did not suceed to pass their first assessment in Hamburg at DLR. I studied so hard to pass one of the hardest tests but all the effort was not worth it. Those bad news did not stop me from my dream to fly. Moreover it reinforced my willingness to show the stupid assestemnt center that I can also fly without them.

Flight school

Through a friend I heard about this flight school in Frankfurt which is subsidiary of Lufthansa Flight Training. Attending an information day I found out that they also offer an ab initio training like Lufthansa only on different locations (ab initio= no flight experiences) The downside was that I had to finance my traing myself and I did not have a job guarantee at the end. Where as the Lufthansa pays for your training in advance and you will pay off with your loan. The costs for my training were over 70.000€!

Before I applied to be a flight student at Intercockpit, today also called Pilot Training Network, I interviewed people who were students at the moment. I wanted to get an insight feedback  making sure that it is the right facility to do my training.

To become a flight student for an ATPL course, I again had to pass tests in Maths, Physics and English. Nothing really special at this stage. After being accepted by the training facility I already started the course with the number E308 in April 2008 with the age of 19.

In the next part of "How I became a pilot part II" I will write about my first theory phase and my first flight as pilot student.

Your Pilot Patrick

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