how to become a pilot

How To Become a Commercial Pilot - My 10 Tips To Suceed

“How to become a pilot?” Probably the most frequent question I’m getting asked throughout my social media channels and also in real life. I am here to inform you, so I am more than happy to answer you again and again. 

Dear Loyal Aviator, 

Welcome on board my blog. Besides my series “How I became a pilot”, I want to give you 10 personal pieces of advice if you are hoping to become a commercial pilot.

how to become a private pilot

So Many Pilot Licenses 🎟

First of all I want to clarify the different types of licenses:

PPL: Private Pilot License. As the name suggests this license is solely used for private operation. (e.g. flying in a small piston engine, non-commercial)

BLOG: “How To Become A Private Pilot Fast

CPL: Commercial Pilot License. This license grants you to fly aircraft commercially (passengers and or cargo) as a First Officer. 

ATPL: Aircraft Transport Pilot License. This license is granted to those who fulfill certain flight hours and are holding a CPL with ATPL theory. This type of license is needed to become the commander on board.

how to become a private pilot

My 10 Tips On How To Become a Commercial Pilot:  

1. Your Health Status 👨🏼‍⚕️

Make sure you are fit to fly and you meet all medical requirements to pass the class 1 examination. The visit to the doctor should be one of your first steps when thinking about becoming a pilot. After having passed the initial examination, you need to revalidate your Medical every year which requires you to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercises and a healthy diet will tremendously increase the chance to pass every medical check throughout your career. This job is not made for lazy people even though being a pilot requires sitting a lot.

 

2. Your Genius Level 🤓

Be efficient in mathematics and physics. You do not have to be a genius, but basic knowledge in these subjects is necessary when you want to become a pilot. Your sense of space should be well developed, which will help you originate quickly when flying in a 3-dimensional space. Check the requirements of airlines and flight school as to which kind of graduation level they expect. Some airlines only hire pilots with a high school/ A-level graduation.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Patrick Biedenkapp | Captain (@pilotpatrick)

3. Find The Right Flight School 👨🏼‍🏫

Find the flight school which suits you the best. There are many flight schools which all promise to make a pilot out of you. Attend “Open Days” or info events at the flight schools to gather as much information as possible. Try to talk to graduates to get genuine, truthful feedback. Consider the location of the school, training devices and length of the entire education. Here you find a list of flight schools for example.

 

4. Pilot For a Day 🛩

Go for a short test flight lesson with an instructor. This way you will find out if you agree with Leonardo Da Vinci’s quote:

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return“.

I think it is a smart idea to invest this money to get a better indication as to whether your imagination of flying an airplane matches reality.

5. Who Pays For It? 💸

Flight training with an airline. This would be the best and financially, least risky way of becoming a commercial pilot. Usually airlines give you a training loan and offer you a cockpit position after graduating successfully. A certain amount of the training cost is paid back with your salary. (differs for all airlines of course). I have not heard about any scholarships for cadets and the pandemic has changed a lot in the aviation industry as well.

6. Self-funded Training 🙋🏼‍♂️

Consider the high education costs of a private flight school. I was lucky that my parents were able to support me financially. The costs were around 70.000€. Depending on the school and country, the prices range from 50.000 to 150.000€. Additionally you have to consider the costs for daily living and accommodation. It will be quite difficult to work part time since integrated training is very time consuming. Even when you get a loan to pay for the training there is absolutely no job guarantee in the end.

7. Modular Training 🛸

In case you do not have the financial background, it would be a more safe way to do the training step by step. This type is called modular training. I do not want to scare you, but there are students who took out a high loan to afford the training. This can be quite risky when you do not get a job right away and/or the salary turns out to be not as good as expected.

8. No professional education 🤯

A pilot license is not an official professional education. In the event of losing your medical for whatever reason, you can only show flight hours in your logbook. That is why I decided to attend a distant university after becoming a pilot, but then social media became a major part of my life.  Maybe think about going to college or learn a profession before becoming a pilot. Sounds strange, but it is always good to have a Plan B.

process of becoming a captain

9. Pros And Cons 👈🏼

Think about what the pros and cons of a pilot life could mean for you. Especially at the beginning of your career, you should be quite flexible in terms of your home base location. During your training you might be forced to move to different places which can be extremely difficult when you have a family. Always take all possible options into account. 

BLOG: Pros And Cons Of Being a Pilot

10. Go to exhibitions ✈️

I recommend going to exhibitions, where flight schools introduce themselves. For example: The ILA (Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung) in Berlin. At the career center you have the chance to get to know different flight schools and chat with them. I am sure there are career fairs near you. Do not hesitate to use google search 🙂

how I became a pilot

I hope you find my updated article helpful. Please do not forget to like the blog post.

Positive mind, positive life and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick


why should you not become a pilot

Why Should You Not Become A Pilot?

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Dear Aviator,

Being a pilot is a dream job and will always be one. Unfortunately, Covid-19 not only turned our lives upside down but also many branches. The aviation and travel industry has been suffering tremendously from travel restrictions and quarantine safety measures worldwide. Consequently, there are now more pilots than jobs on the market.  Corona has not diminished the dream of becoming a pilot for so many. Should you aim to become a pilot and why should you not become a pilot? Is it a good time to pursue your dream despite the current situation? Here I give you a more extensive answer to help you in the process of finding the right decision for your future. Be prepared for the cold truth.

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Manu (Professional photographer & plane spotter)

The Dream Of Flying

The dream of flying is as old as mankind itself. But the possibility for everyone on earth to fly like an eagle through the skies is only a few decades old. Aviation, as we know it, is still in its initial phase when considering that the desire to fly freely has always existed. Thanks to great legends and pioneers who helped make aviation what it is today, we can feel quite fortunate that we live in a time where the job as a pilot exists.

A Fast-Paced Industry

Aviation is a moving, but also a really volatile industry, with lots of ups and downs, as Corona has proven. As fast as aviation develops and changes over the years, the job of a pilot has altered as well. We still fly aircraft, but nowadays with a high level of automation, under economic pressure, an increasing number of regulations and a sky that does not seem so free anymore. I would not say that the job lost its glamour over the years, but it is a different glamour and not all jobs have it.

how risky is flying

Would I Become A Pilot Again?

Yes! Yes and Yes!

In a recent Instagram post, I stated that you should choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. For me, it is still the best job in the world and it does not feel like work for me (most of the time). Of course, the job also has negative aspects. It can indeed be tough, unglamorous and hard work. But in the end, the negative aspects fade behind all the positive sides of the job.

More about the pros and cons here

What Would I Have Done Differently?

I definitely chose the harder way to become a pilot. The entire flight training (about 70,000€) was self-funded and it did not have any guarantee after finishing my training, to get a position in the cockpit. This was quite risky because you never know how the demand for pilots will look when you complete your training; it can happen a lot in the aviation industry. In my case, I was lucky to start flying as a First Officer on a private jet, but I know about other graduates who did not find a job right away. My advice is to get into a cadet program of an airline, so you do not put yourself at financial risk.

 

Have A Plan B

I would advise that you go to college to further your education and possibly gain a degree. This would enable you to seek further employment, even in the airline industry. Especially in aviation, a plan B is essential since you depend on your license.

becoming a commercial pilot

Why You Should NOT Become A Pilot?

Good salary, layovers, free flights, job security – these are probably aspects of why you may like to become a pilot. But the opposite applies. As I mentioned before, the job of a pilot has changed and the conditions in the airline industry have deteriorated tremendously. In the competition with low-cost airlines, major carriers had to reduce costs in all departments including the salary of aircrews. But the requirements and the complexity of the job has not decreased.

The days where you spent one week of a layover in the Caribbean, are also over. In the case of you having a layover, it is now the minimum time required at the destination before your next flight. Low-cost airlines always return to the home base to save money. For me, the pilot job is linked to travelling and layovers. That is why I could not imagine sleeping every night at home. Even though I work in the aviation industry I do not have the privilege or benefit of discounted or free flights. As the high number of bankruptcies of airlines in the European market has shown, job security is not a given.

becoming a commercial pilot

No Air Travel Like Before Corona 

At the moment it is very difficult to assess how the aviation industry will look in the future. But I am very sure that the general demand for flights will not reach the same level as before the pandemic started. Firstly, lots of people are suffering from the crisis which means they will simply not have the means to go on a vacation. Secondly, the whole business trips scenario will change or has already changed.

Companies will think twice and decide if the budget for the business trip makes sense, or if the meeting can be done online instead. In general, most companies have been weakened throughout the crisis, which means they will have a reduced budget for travel in general. The business traveller who books expensive business class tickets will fly less, which will seriously impact the airline’s revenue.

becoming a commercial pilot

My Honest Advice

Do not enter flight training right now!

If you are leaving high school and you want to become a pilot:

I recommend those who are leaving high school at this time, to get experience in another profession or a degree. Once completed you can reconsider your plans of becoming a pilot. This way you postpone your start date to a time where there will be a  much clearer picture of the aviation industry. Additionally, some pilots will be leaving because of retirement or a new profession. This will guarantee you a full back-up plan, in case you do not manage to get employment as a pilot.

If you have started your flight training already:

I think in this situation it makes sense to finish your course with the pilot school in order to receive your license and use every possible resource to find a job and be open to relocating.

becoming a commercial pilot

Post Corona

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that air traffic will have doubled within the next few years. The long term trend for the demand for aircrews exists. We as passengers, customers, and staff of the aviation industry have the power to change and shape it for the future.

Become a pilot if you have the passion and fascination for aviation. It is important to know about the negative as well as the positives, when considering becoming a pilot. Downsides exist in all industries – but with one huge difference – you become part of a world full of energy and enthusiasm, which is hard to find in any other jobs.

becoming a commercial pilot

I hope you enjoyed my honest blog post: “Why should you not become a pilot?” Do not forget to like it and leave me a comment below.

Happy and healthy landings

Your PilotPatrick


how to become a private pilot

How To Become A Private Pilot (fast)

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The dream of flying is as old as mankind itself. I fulfilled my dream of flying airplanes as a pilot and it seems that you have the same desire. In this blog post, I will tell you what it takes to obtain a private pilot license and share with you the steps necessary. How long does it take? How much does it cost and how to become a private pilot FAST? It definitely ain’t rocket science and if you have the same excitement for flying as me you will easily fulfil our dream. (All requirements and regulations are based on the European aviation authority)

how to become a private pilot

Flying The Small Birds

In my latest question and answer videos on my Instagram page, I noticed that so many of you had questions on how to become a private pilot to fly small planes just for fun. I am currently operating piston-engine aeroplanes regularly since I completed my flight training to become a flight instructor. My flight students train VFR flying to obtain the PPL (private pilot license), the LAPL (light airplane pilot license) and the ATPL (airline transport pilot license). You probably have heard of the PPL but the LAPL might sound new to you. It is a way to fly light airplanes faster. I will share more information about this license later in this article.

Check out this blog post in case you are interested in How To Become A Flight Instructor”.

how to become a private pilot
how to become a flight instructor

The Private Pilot License

The license of PPL(A) (EASA-FCL), which stands for Private Pilot’s License European Aviation Safety Agency Flight Crew Licensing. I am glad that we have so many abbreviations in the aviation language. This license allows you to fly two  and four-seater aircraft (such as our Cessnas C-172) in Germany as well as abroad, whereby it is valid only for one-engine aircraft which have a maximum permissible gross of two tons. The license can later be expanded by further licenses or class ratings. (like Instrument flying or multi-engine ratings.)

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Patrick Biedenkapp | Captain (@pilotpatrick)

Requirements

  • Sec. 23 para. 2 Air Traffic Licensing Order (LuftVZO): minimum age to start training is 16 (license qualification with age of 17)
  • Aviation medical class 2
  • Declaration of pending criminal proceedings (Sec. 24 para. 3 no. 3 and 4 Air Traffic Licensing Order)
  • Extract of German Federal Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Drivers (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt) (Sec. 30 para. 8 of Road Traffic Act (StVG))

The following documents are needed in the course of the training:

  • Radio Telephony Certificate (BZF) – (is being acquired in parallel to the flight training)
  • Security background check

My insider tip: Before searching for a flight school in your preferred location, I would do the medical examination first so you know that you are fit to become a pilot.

how to become a private pilot

Find A Suitable Flight School

Finding the right flight school is probably the most difficult task on the way to becoming a pilot. The quality of your training highly depends on the flight school and their instructors. Let Google do the job for you to find flight schools at your preferred location.

My insider tips:  

  • Talk to former flight students and ask them for their opinion on the flight school
  • Visit them personally before signing a contract. Maybe they have an “open day”  to get to know the flight school.
  • Check the size and state of the fleet of aeroplanes. A small fleet could cause your flight missions to be cancelled more often because of technical issues.
  • Take your first flight lesson as a test to see if you like it and feel comfortable with the school.

Pricing for a private pilot license (flight school around Berlin):

how to become a private pilot
how to become a private pilot

Theoretical training

The theoretical part of the training contains 6 training subjects. In addition, there will be the theory for the Radio Telephony Certificate.

  • Technics (aerodynamics, aircraft knowledge)
  • Navigation
  • Meteorology
  • Air Law
  • Human Performance
  • behaviour in exceptional situations
  • Radio Telephony Certificate (BZF) theory

Practical training

The practical part of the training contains 45 flight lessons, 10 lesson hours of which have to be flown without a flight instructor (solo), whereby again at least 5 lesson hours of which need to be cross country flights. One of these cross country flights need to have a minimum flight route of 270 km containing two stops at foreign airports. Furthermore, controlled airports have to be approached as part of the training. On top of that, the training contains instructions in instrument rating and radio navigation. You also practice different airwork flight patterns to get to know the behaviour of the aeroplane in critical flight conditions.

Examinations

The training will be completed by a theoretical and a practical examination. For logical reasons, the theoretical examination will be taken after the student pilot’s first solo-flight, whereby all subjects of the theoretical training will be examined by means of multiple choice. The practical examination will be taken at the end of the training when you will fly together with an examiner for about 60 minutes.

how to become a flight instructor

How To Become A Private Pilot (fast)

There are a few ways to become a private pilot a little bit quicker. In general, it takes a minimum of two months for flight training. Once you have passed your examinations you have to apply for the license and your aviation authority in charge. This can take another few weeks. It took the German LBA over 6 months to issue my flight instructor license.  This is definitely not acceptable in our faced-paced aviation world.

  1. Easing of training restrictions

If you have a license for gliding, it is possible to reduce the flying time by 10 %, whereby a maximum of 10 flight hours can be accepted.

  1. Pick the right time of the year

Your VFR flight training highly depends on the weather. If the weather is below VFR minimums, you will not be able to fly so the flight mission needs to be cancelled. So pick a time of the year for your location in which you have the best flying weather. In case you are in doubt, ask the flight school for the best starting time.

  1. Have all your papers and documents ready

Before you start with your flight training, make sure that you have all the papers on board and requirements fulfilled.

  1. Light aeroplane pilot license

The LAPL allows you to become a pilot quicker. The downside is that you will not be able to add class ratings like IFR or multi-engine. Additionally, you are only allowed to fly within the European Union with a maximum of 3 passengers on board in aeroplanes that weigh below two tons. The advantage is that you only need 30 flight hours in total and the costs are reduced by about 25%, so a total of 8,000€ approximately.

My insider tip: GO for the full Private pilot license which allows you to fly globally.

how to become a private pilot

I hope you find my blog post on “How To Become A Private Pilot (fast)” helpful and could clarify some uncertainties. Make sure to like the post and share it with others who might be interested in this topic.

Drop me an e-mail to flightstudent@pilotpatrick.com, in case you are searching for a flight school in Berlin. I am happy to help you out and maybe I will even be your flight instructor.

Always happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick


how to become a flight instructor

How To Become A Flight Instructor

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Dear Aviator,

Welcome back on board my blog. It has been a while since the last time I posted here. I have a viable excuse for this. For the last two months, I have been busy with the training to become a flight instructor. The 10 most frequent questions regarding the training will be answered in this blog post. So buckle up, sit back, relax and enjoy my insights into the flight instructor rating. 

how to become a flight instructor
how to become a flight instructor

1. Why did I become a flight instructor?

You never forget your education and skills when working in the aviation business. Obtaining the pilot license sets the foundation for different ratings. Whether it is a type, examiner or in my case, the instructor rating. There are many ways to upgrade your pilot license and your personal proficiency. Becoming a captain was my biggest goal once I started flying as a First Officer. Once this was accomplished, I quickly noticed that I enjoyed passing on my experience and knowledge to my younger colleagues on the ride side. Before getting the 4th stripe on my uniform I was seated in their position and I expected from my superior that he/she would guide and teach me so that I could become a captain one day. 

To be in the position of a flight instructor on a regular flight, which I enjoyed very much, led me to become a flight instructor.

It must be a great feeling to pass on my passion and knowledge and to be able to teach people how to fly!

how to become a flight instructor

2. Which does the flight instructor rating grant?

ATPL(A), Airline transport pilot license: that is the pilot license I am currently possessing. This permits me to fly commercially in a two-man cockpit both as a First Officer or Commander.

The flight instructor for fixed-wing aeroplanes (FI(A)) gives me the qualification to instruct future pilots (flight students) on single piston aircraft to fly VFR (visual flight rules). Basically, when you decide as a pedestrian (that is how aviators call people who do not fly) to get a private pilot license (PPL) I could be your instructor. A PPL as the name suggests permits you to fly private so non-commercially. I am not only entitled to train up in the air but also on the ground during theory courses.

If a flight instructor is licensed according to EASA-FCL, his license will be titled FI(RP) during his first 100 hours of training. This abbreviation means “Restricted Privileges” – one restriction is, for instance, that a FI(RP) is not allowed to declare a flight student to be permitted to perform his/her first solo flight.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Patrick Biedenkapp | Captain (@pilotpatrick)

3. How long does the training last?

In the aviation business, you always need to be ready for last-minute changes and amendments, which may lengthen the training significantly. Especially when you need VFR flight conditions in Germany during spring, it may take a little bit longer. All in all, it took me 7 weeks to have the entire training including the examination completed.

4. What are the costs of the training?

This depends immensely on the location and the flight school. The cost for a flight instructor course is around 12,000€ in Germany.  Flying is not inexpensive.

how to become a flight instructor

DA20 and C152 for the practical training

5. What are the minimum requirements?

1. Minimum age of 18
2. Valid PPL(A) EASA Part FCL, CPL(A) or ATPL(A) license
3. Valid aviation medical of at least class 2
4. At least 200 flight lessons, including:

  • holding of ATPL(A) or
  • holding of PPL(A) at least 150 hours in command + CPL(A) theory course (e.g. Distance Learning + Classroom instruction) und theoretic CPL(A) test at the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt or another authority
  • at least 30 flight hours on an one-engine aircraft with a piston engine, at least 5 flight hours of which must have been passed within the last six months prior to pre-examination, which is performed by the flight training school
  • at least 10 flight hours of instrument flight training (IR or CVFR), maximum 5 hours of which may be passed on the ground using a simulator or FNPT II
  • at least 20 hours cross country flights being the pilot in command, including one flight, whose flight route is at least 540 km long and which includes at least two landings on airports that differ from the start airport

5. Evidence of CPL(A) knowledge according to EASA Part FCL.915.FI b) (2) i)
(this may be provided by a passed theoretical exam at CPL(A) or ATPL(A))

6. Pre-examination: has to be passed within six months and at the latest one week prior to the start of the training examined by a FI(A) who has been licensed according to EASA Part FCL.905.FI i), based on the proficiency check according to appendix 9.

how to become a flight instructor
how to become a flight instructor

Outfitted with accessories of Porsche Design by Brics

6. How is the training to become a flight instructor structured?

The training is decided in a theoretical and a practical part.

Theoretical training

125 lesson hours of classroom instruction of the subjects:

  • the learning discourse
  • the process of a lesson
  • basics of training
  • applied learning methods on theory and practise
  • evaluation and examination of flight students
  • development of training program
  • human performance with respect to flight training
  • dangers simulating breakdowns during flight training
  • night rating
  • administrative task during the training

Practical training

30 flight lessons on an one-engine aircraft, 25 hours of which have to be flown together with an apprenticeable FI instructor, including 5 exceptional flight conditions on an aerobatic aircraft. 5 flight lessons being part of a team with another applicant for FI(A). The applicant is flying the aircraft sitting on the right-hand side, the FI-I is simulating the student pilot.

how to become a flight instructor
how to become a flight instructor

Closed Tegel airport TXL

7. Which ratings can you add to the flight instructor license?

FI(A) IR Flight instructor aims to teach instrument flying rules (flying without visual references)

FI(A) ME Flight instructor aims to teach on multi-engine aeroplanes.

IRI (A) – Instrument Rating Instructor aims to qualify you as an instructor for training in instrument flight.

CRI SE SPA – class rating instructor single engine single-pilot aircraft has the aim to qualify you as an instructor for single-engine airplane training.

CRI ME SPA – class rating instructor multi engine single-pilot aircraft has the aim to qualify you as an instructor for multi-engine aeroplane training.

MCC Instructor – Multi-Crew Cooperation training is to improve the cockpit coordination between the crew members. The MCC training course is the bridge between the ATPL course and the future workplace within the cockpit environment.

Just to mention a few options on how you can upgrade your pilot license. The foundation sets the flight instructor rating.

how to become a flight instructor

8. When are you going to instructor your first flight student?

TBA announced on my social media channels. In particular on my Instagram channel @pilotpatrick. So make sure to follow me and have the notifications turned on.

9. Which aeroplanes do you fly during the training?

It was back to basics. Instead of flying big birds, it was those little birds we trained on. Flying is costly so the training primarily takes place on two-seater piston engine aircraft like the Diamond DA20 and the Cessna C152. This does not only keep the costs down but the environmental footprint as well. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the aircraft the higher the fuel consumption.

10. How does the examination look like?

Once the theoretical and practical training was done, I was ready for the examination. The examination consisted of three parts. In my case, it took approximately 5 hours to complete. 

  1. Check flight: An examiner checks your flying skills, knowledge about the aeroplane and the regulations. Overall he checks your capability to operate a single-piston aircraft from the right seat and your competency as an instructor. The examiner simulates engine failures, aborted take offs, navigation through landmarks, simulated emergency landing in a field, airwork like steep turns and stalls. Even though it was a check flight, I saw those flights also as training, and there is always something another experienced pilot can pass on to you.
  2. PPL theory: The examiner checks if you are familiar with the entire knowledge a private pilot should possess. He/She may ask you questions about aerodynamics, navigation, meteorology and so on.
  3. Theory class: The examiner checks if you are capable of holding a theory class in front of flight students. He/she basically wants to see that you have the ability to convey knowledge comprehensively.

how to become a flight instructor

Overall I am very happy that I followed my excitement of becoming a flight instructor and I can absolutely recommend getting this rating as well. I could upgrade my airmanship and my proficiency in flying small aeroplanes a lot. I hope you enjoyed my article on how to become a flight instructor. Please do not forget to like the blog post.

It would be fantastic when one of you will be my flight student in the future.

Happy and healthy landings!

Your PilotPatrick


busting aviation myths and answering your top questions

Busting aviation myths and answering your top questions

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Hello my Aviator,

time flies! My blog is now online for already one year. It has been an exciting journey to share my adventures, tips and travels with you. At an early stage, I noticed that you are interested in more than just cool photos and videos on my Instagram. Therefore I launched www.pilotpatrick.com. The biggest motivation is you, my Aviators. I am not only an inspiration for you but also you are an inspiration for me. To celebrate the anniversary of my blog I will give away an original A380 model of Airbus. Additionally, I will answer the most common questions. On top, I will bust some myths about pilots and aviation in general.

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Oh! You are only the First Officer. When will you fly the plane?

I love to hear this statement. Imagine all First Officers would not be allowed to fly. How are they supposed to become a captain one day without having the experiences of flying an aircraft? Before each flight, the decision is made which duties each pilot has. This is split apart in Pilot flying (PF) and Pilot not flying (PNF). PNF means to do the radio communication and to support the PF in his task of flying. The responsibility has the commander at all times even when the first officer is operating the aircraft. The first officer is allowed to take off and land the aircraft like the captain from the beginning on. Restrictions apply when the weather is marginal or other circumstances like special airports require the commander to fly.

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Boeing 747-800 of Lufthansa in Frankfurt (FRA)

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Can travel the world for free as a pilot!

I wish I could! In my past seven years as a pilot, I paid for all my flight tickets the regular price. So far I never had the privilege of staff traveling. It would be great to have the possibility to book ID tickets. This way I would be even more spontaneous to travel to new places. The fare is much cheaper than the regular ticket price. For example, a flight in Business class from Germany to New York (round trip) would only be around 500€. The tickets are only standby so there is the risk of not getting a seat, but on the other hand, they grant you great flexibility.

As a pilot, I have to commute to my home base and the location of the aircraft a lot. Especially during my time as a private jet pilot, I traveled with airlines a lot. For those flights, I am wearing my uniform as well. Most of the time I can use the fast track at security checks or I get free drinks and food on board. I even have been upgraded to Business Class several times. Aviation is like a big family and crews help each other out and make traveling as much as comfortable as possible.

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You are a pilot. You must have good eyes!

Contrary to popular belief, you can fly commercial aircraft wearing glasses or contact lenses, as long as your vision is correctable to 20/20. For the initial Medical class examination, you have to meet a lot of different requirements. In case you are wearing glasses, they need to be in the cockpit and you also need a to bring a spare one. Each year you have to revalidate your examination and proof that your vision is unchanged.

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Pilots earn a fortune! What do you do with all that money!

Pilots make a fortune and for their job, they get paid too much. This is not correct! Especially the first years as a first officer are not paid well. For example, I started as a private jet pilot and for a full-time contract, my wage was 2,800€ a month. I would not consider this a fortune! A big benefit of being a pilot is the extra allowances. I get paid extra for being a way from my home base. Some of the surcharges are tax-free, so it helps to boost the net salary. Just so you know in Germany you have to pay about 50% tax on your salary.

Over the last years, a lot of airlines practiced some kind of loan „dumping“. To be able to offer cheaper flight tickets and to be more competitive they save on the costs of staff. There has been an oversupply of pilots for a long time and that is why companies reduced the salary of their crews. They even developed a „pay to fly" models, which means that the pilot pays for his work and not the employer the employee. I also know about a pilot of a big German charter company, who still lives at home with her parents because she can not afford moving out. With the upgrade to a captain, the world can look different. Most of the times the salary is almost doubled.

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Welcome to my office!

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Do aircraft have a horn?

I alway thought they do not have a horn but they actually do. But this horn is not used to alert other aircraft, it is used to inform the ground crew that the cockpit asks for communication. In the Airbus this button is called „Mechanic call“. Once the engines are operating you will not be able to hear this horn anymore. The private jet I used to fly did not have this feature.

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What do you do during a long flight?

My longest flight so far was from Teneriffa to London. We had a strong headwind and the aircraft was heavy. The flight was almost 5 hours and this is about the maximum the Citation XLS can do. This flight felt like an eternity because there is not much space in the cockpit. Honestly, I do not know what pilots do when they fly 10 hours straight. On short flights below one hour, you are busy from the beginning to the end of the flight. In cruise flight, the workload is really low. The auto pilot flies the aircraft and the crew monitors the systems. The PNF (Pilot Flying) fills out the flight plan and does fuel checks. The PF (Pilot Flying) checks the weather en route and of the destination. Besides such tasks, I fill out my pilot log book, eat, drink read and take some short snaps for you.

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What do your three golden stripes mean?

The stripes state the rank of a crew member. Three stripes are for first officer and four for captains. At some airlines, first officers also fly with two stripes to indicate their junior status. There is no difference between gold and silver!

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Below the wing of an Airbus A300

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How did you become a pilot and how much did the training costs?

At the European flight academy, formerly called Intercockpit, I became a flight student in 2008. I chose an integrated route which is a full-time course othat takes a student from complete beginner to a position of becoming a pilot at an airline. The course was really intensive at there was not much free time in between practical and theoretical flight training. The training facility organized everything for you and provided you with a monthly schedule. The theoretical phases were quite enduring, which made the practical flight phases even more exciting.

The ground courses took place in Frankfurt and my flight training in Florida and in Croatia. Even though the time was quite stressful and paired with a lot of pressure, I had one of my best times in my life. Already after 18 months, I completed the training. Like everything in aviation, flight training is expensive too. In total, I paid 64,000€ to the flight school. (This did not include housing transport administration fees at the authorities) In case you are interested in an extended version of how I became a pilot, I suggest to read my series on this blog.

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Do pilots sleep during flight?

The simple answer is yes. Certainly not on all flights. In pilot terms, sleeping is called controlled rest, which is taken in the operating seat. Of course only one pilot at the time. This procedure has been proven to improve safety because it improves alertness. The idea behind is that a pilot gets a sleep up to 30 minutes like a power nap and to be more fit afterwards! 

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Do aircraft have a key like a car?

Smaller aircraft do big once do not. The Citation XLS+ has a regular lock and I had a key for every aircraft in the company. You probably think that those were super fancy for a 12,000,000€ private jet. It actually looks like a simple key of a locker. The major reason why smaller aircraft or business jet has a lock is that you could enter the aircraft from the ground without any aids. On a big airliner, the picture looks different since the door is so high up that it is sufficient to remove the stairs to guarantee that no unauthorized personnel gets access.

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Give away of an original A380 model of Airbus (1:400)

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To celebrate the first anniversary of my blog, I am giving away an Airbus A380 model in the size of 1:400.

To have the chance to win the model you need to:

  • Be a follower either on my Instagram/ Facebook
  • Subscribe with your email to the newsletter of my blog below
  • Leave a comment below with the questions which is aviation, travel or lifestyle related. I will answer your questions in a later blog post.

I am looking forward to sharing my adventures as a pilot. Good luck and happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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my first 100 flight hours on the airbus A300

Checks completed - my first 100 flight hours on the Airbus

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Hello my Aviator, after an extensive flight training on the ground and in the air, I finally had my initial line check on the Airbus A300. Thanks a lot for crossing your fingers for me. The check flight ran smoothly and I passed it very well. In this aviation related article, I am sharing my experience of the first 100 flight hours on the Airbus and I inform you how the training to acquire a new type rating looks like.

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First step Type Rating

With my CPL(A) license, I am basically allowed to fly all aircraft type as long as I am specially trained for the specific type. This training is called type rating and takes place in a full flight simulator and can cost about to 60,000€. The first type rating I did was on the Citation XLS in 2010. Back then I paid about 20,000€ to receive the training and to begin as a first officer on a private jet.

In the beginning of this year, I switched companies. I had to undergo an extensive training to be licensed to fly the Airbus A300. This time the employer paid for the costs of the type rating at Lufthansa Aviation training. In one of my previous articles, I explained how this training looks like in detail.

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Simulator in Berlin at Lufthansa Aviation Training

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Touch and Gos

After the completion of the type rating in the simulator, I had to do nine take offs and landings on the real aircraft. To be more economical the procedure is to touch down on the runway, then configure the aircraft again (flaps and trim) and to take off again without stopping. Usually, this base training is flown visually in a traffic pattern in the proximity of the airport. Unfortunately, the cloud base was too low on that day so we were forced to fly under IFR conditions.

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First landing during base training on the A300

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Flying the simulator feels almost like the reality but flying the real machine for the very first time was an overwhelming feeling. Up to this point, I had been flying an aircraft with a maximum take off weight of 10 tons and I was about to fly an aircraft with 170 tons. The first take off gave me goose bumps. Half of my landings on that day were nice, but about the second half, I do not want to talk about;-)

Practice makes perfect!

Those landings are a requirement of the aviation authority and have to be completed before flying commercially with passengers. During my time as flight student in Zadar, I had the chance to be aboard of a Lufthansa aircraft, which did touch and go training. I even sat in the cockpit during one approach. This was definitely one of my highlights as a flight student. I remember that one landing of a flight student was a little bit too hard, so a small panel inside the cabin came off.

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Zadar 2008 as flight student

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Observer flights

After the completion of the type rating and the touch and gos, the application for the issue of a new license was sent to the LBA. To bridge the waiting time I was scheduled as an observer on four flights. Additionally, to the regular crew, I was sitting in the cockpit on the observer seat. The intention behind is to get to know the working life and the line operation. It was fun watching my colleagues flying but I wanted to get behind the controls myself again.

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Annunciator light test during preflight preperation

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Line Training

It took about seven working days until I received the new license. I not only bridged the waiting time with the observer flights but also with a vacation in the Caribbean. This was the perfect spot to flee the winter and to have a short time out.

The first flight was scheduled on the 1st of March. The first leg was to Vitoria and the second to Sevilla in Spain. The next 80 flights were under supervision which meant I was only allowed to fly with qualified line training captains. Additionally, the first eight flights were with a safety first officer to support me in my tasks.

You fly the aircraft and not the aircraft you!

Flying the simulator is one thing but flying the real aircraft is a completely different world.  At first, I had difficulties managing the numerous task in a structured way before each flight. But from flight to flight, I got more confident and structured with the set up of the cockpit and the handling of the aircraft.

My first approach into Sevilla felt like I was flying supersonic. Everything was going so quick! Even with my experiences of 2000 flight hours, everything felt so new. Of course, I did my best to impose my knowledge and skills to the new operation.

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First layover in Sevilla

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Supervision

The type rating in the simulator was the first step to obtain the skills, procedures, and knowledge to operate the A300. In the supervision phase of 80 sectors, the training continued on the real aircraft:

  • Every flight is evaluated and during a debriefing reviewed
  • Captain shares his experiences and knowledge about the aircraft
  • Improve standard operating procedures
  • Discussions about aircraft systems, procedures, regulations
  • Use of electronic flight bag (approach charts and manuals)
  • Simulated automatic landings

The line training ended with the initial line check. I had to prove that I am operating according to the aircraft manuals and the standard company procedures. The check flight comprised of two parts. One as pilot flying and one a pilot non-flying. I am now released to "fly the line" but this does not imply that the training has ended. There is still lots to learn about the Airbus.

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Initial line check grading

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My 100 flight hours on the Airbus

The Airbus is compared to the Citation XLS a more challenging aircraft. This is not only because it is a more complex aircraft with more systems, but also because of the sensitivity of the control wheel. Minor inputs into the control wheel have a great effect on the control surfaces. The A300-600 is equipped with powerful Pratt and Whitney engines and through the wing mounted position they produce a pitch moment during power changes. This means you have to counteract this moment with your controls. Additionally, the set up of landing gear makes it difficult to do smooth landings.

In relation to my 1800 hours on the Citation, I already experienced a lot during my 100 flight hours on the Airbus:

  • Thunderstorms with lightning strike in front of my cockpit window
  • My first crosswind landing with about 25 km/h wind from the side,  it was easier to handle than on the small Citation Jet
  • Hard landing due to gusts at touch down and wind shears during final approach
  • St Elmo’s fire on the cockpit front windows due to a charged atmosphere

I am looking forward to the upcoming flights and challenges on the Airbus.

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St Elmo's fire on the cockpit window

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Have you been on a flight which did not run as smoothly as usual? Maybe you were flying in adverse weather or something extraordinary happened on board. Please share your experience with me below in the comment section.

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Your 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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