How I became a pilot III

How I became a pilot III
04/12/2016 pilotpatrick
how i became a pilot

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


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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  1. anetaciechanowska 3 years ago

    Hi Patrick, your results were amazing, congrats! Great effort gave great output 🙂 I would love to have my flights in Croatia, it’s wonderful place from the ground, so from the sky it has to be incredible! 🙂

    Do you think is it better to take a course like you did, or maybe it is also good to go to the university? I have an opportunity to start 2 years university degree in Flying Operations with frozen ATPL[A] in the end. I can also continue in private aviation academy my course for CPL[A] but….too many options and I don’t know what will be the best 😉

    Blue skies!

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hi there! thanks for your comment. It i really incredible. I would like to fly there more often.
      I did an integrated course. At the time I started did not have the chance to go to university. (No availability) I am studying at a far distant university right now. If I were you I would go with the university. It is always an advantage to have an additional degree. I hope I could help.
      Happy landings!

  2. Author
    pilotpatrick 3 years ago

    Hi Angel thanks for your comment. Yes I was the best of my course. My efforts paid out in the end 😉 Unfortunately I am not allowed to fly helicopters with the license I have. I wish I could because they are a lot of fun to fly. Thanks for your great questions yesterday. Happy landings!

    • Angel 3 years ago

      Of course you are the best! ;] it was fun watching your live! And I’m looking forward to reading your post about hotel gym! :] #healthyandhandsomepilot

  3. Author
    pilotpatrick 3 years ago

    Hallo Martin,
    sehr gerne. Es ist mir eine große Freude meine Erfahrung mit euch zu teilen!
    Soweit ich weiß kann man insgesamt drei mal zum LBA fahren. Alle bestandenen Prüfungen (mind. 75%) werden anerkannt. Bitte erkundige dich beim LBA über die genauen Gegebenheiten. Mit viel Fleiß ist es durchaus machbar Alles beim ersten Mal zu bestehen. Es gab zwei Flugschüler die in meinem Kurs abgebrochen haben, weil Sie nicht für die Fliegerei gemacht waren. Deshalb empfehle ich ein paar Flugstunden zu machen bevor man mit der Ausbildung beginnt. Ich hoffe ich konnte dir helfen!
    Happy landings!

  4. David Amarilla 3 years ago

    From Canada here. Your blog is amazing, thank you for giving your readers a look inside the dream so many share – myself included. I was wondering : How did you build your flight experience (hours) before being hired at the company you’re now in?
    Best regards,

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hello David,
      thanks a lot. I really appreciate your kind words. The only flight hours I had before I started for a company were those of my flight training. Around 220 flight hours in total. I hope I could help. Greetings to Canada! Patrick

  5. abautista777 3 years ago

    I followed you in insta and didnt pay much attention on your site. But now I have a nice time reading your blogs… Keep it up.. 🙂

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      That’s really great to hear. For deeper content I built this website. Only Instagram was not enough for me 😉

  6. Author
    pilotpatrick 3 years ago

    This is part III. Part IV will come soon! 🙂 About which other topic would you like to read.

  7. Author
    pilotpatrick 3 years ago

    Hey Musa, I know! But at the moment I am super busy and I hope I can publish this blog post soon. Many greetings Patrick

  8. Jan 3 years ago

    Hey Patrick!

    Ich finde deine Blogs einfach klasse! Ich freue mich schon auf den nächsten Teil:) Derzeit gehe ich noch zur Schule und möchte auch gern in der Luftfahrt arbeiten… Am liebsten als Pilot, wie du;) Hast du deine Ausbildung selbst finanziert? Ich hoffe das ich Chancen bei Lufthansa habe, da dort ja ein Großteil der Kosten übernimmt wird. Warst du in der Schule eigentlich auch immer einer der Besten? Welchen Abiturdurchschnitt hättest du damals?

    Bin gespannt auf weitere Blog und hoffe das ich irgendwann genauso sein kann wie du, da du ein echtes Idol für mich bist:)

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hallo Jan,

      freut mich zu hören, dass dir mein Blog und meine social Media Präsenz so gut gefällt!

      Ja ich habe die Ausbildung selbst finanziert. Das steht auch alles in der Blog Reihe ‘How I became a Pilot’!

      Lufthansa bildet leider auf unbestimmte Zeit nicht mehr aus. Man kann die Ausbildung so wie ich nur noch als selbstzahler bei LH absolvieren.

      Nein war nicht der Beste in der Schule, hatte eine 2,1 im Abitur!

      Liebe Grüße

  9. Farzana 3 years ago

    Reblogged this on Farzana and commented:
    So inspirational!!

  10. Mehdi 3 years ago

    Hello I’m a medical student but I like to be a pilot ,can I star around 24 or 25yrs old when I ended my university??

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hey Mehdi,

      depends on the company or flight school, but 25 is not a problem.

      Happy landings

  11. Edin 8 months ago

    Sir,can you please share a few aviation and aeroplane blogs and links that would help a teenager who is aspiring to be a pilot. hope you would☺️

  12. Louis Ostertag-Hill 6 months ago

    Hey Patrick,
    I was wondering what flight school you went to? Because you said in the blog post that you went to Pilot Traning Network, but in a different blog you said you went to Inter Cockpit.

    Thank you, and happy landings!

  13. I think this is one of the most significant info for
    me. And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few general
    things, The site style is great, the articles is really great :
    D. Good job, cheers


  1. […] in my next part about the rest of the flight training in Zadar, a drink offer after landing in Slovakia and the […]

  2. […] Part III: First fight training phase including first solo flight in Zadar (Croatia) and ATPL theory phase including final theory exam […]

  3. […] in my next part about the rest of the flight training in Zadar, a drink offer after landing in Slovakia and the […]

  4. […] Part III: First fight training phase including first solo flight in Zadar (Croatia) and ATPL theory phase  […]

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