pilot life vs private life

Pilot life vs. Private life How does this work together?

In my last aviation related blog post "How I became a pilot part II" I told you about my first flight training phase in beautiful Croatia. Now I want to show you how a pilot life and private life work together. 

Pilot life vs. private life

In the past many of you wondered how I can have a social/private life as pilot when traveling so much and being absent from home a lot. Especially those of you who strive to become a pilot in the future asked me this question and told me their concerns-

Here are examples of two snapchat users.

This solely depends on you dude. But do not worry if you want, you can have both options. ;-) 

It is true that I am absent from home for about half of the month. Usually I am on duty for a  maximum of eight days in a row. The operation in the Business Aviation requires to overnight at those locations wherever the last flight of the day takes you to. Whereas the flights of many low cost airlines end at their home base, which equals basically to a 9 to 5 job. At this moment I would not be a fan of this kind of operation since one reason for me of becoming a pilot is to travel and get to know new places. But I could imagine that an operation, which allows you to sleep at home every night, can be a big advantage once you want to build a family.

As you can see it really depends on the type of operation and airline how many days in a month you actually spend at home. A minimum of 8 days are granted by the aviation authority.

I have arranged myself with the absence from home quite well. I have a social life with friends and private activities like everyone else. Unfortunately I can not attend all events (like birthdays, concerts, parties and family events) but due to good organization skills I get the best of my free time and I never have a big feeling that I miss out on something.

Enjoying my off days! Here on top of Montserrat mountain in Catalonia, Spain

Pros and Cons of my pilot life:

PROS

  • Getting payed well to travel, to see new places and to fly airplanes
  • I leave work behind in the airplane and so I can use my off time at the fullest 
  • More than 3 days off in a row without taking leave (sometimes even 6 days)
  • Per diem are paid for every hour I am being away from home
  • I do my paper work during my work so I can enjoy my off days without distraction
  • Hotel gyms are free of use and I do not have a contract for a gym at home
  • I have more off days than a full time job (about 12 days)
  • Some passengers pay a tip to the crew for the flight and inflight service

CONS

  • Great flexibility expected and the schedule might change at last minute 
  • I only have either Christmas or New years off at home
  • For important events and appointments I have to take leave 
  • I can not attend classes or courses which take place on a regular basis
  • Irregular working hours and sometimes only little sleep during busy months
  • It is hard to keep a special diet while traveling 
  • Especially in the Business Aviation there is a lot of waiting time

Those are my subjective impressions about my life as a First officer and other pilots would definitely mention different aspects.

Ready for boarding the VIP passenger at the pole position in Olbia

As much as I enjoy being at home, after a couple of days at home my wanderlust kicks in and I want to go on a journey again. Striving for a position of a crew member you have to make sure that you have this desire as well. If not you might not be happy in the long term.

Which aspect would you do not like being a pilot? Comment below.

Please have a look on my aviation related Links, which may you find helpful!

Your Pilot Patrick

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my healthy breakfast

My healthy breakfast recipe

In my blogpost "I am a Foodie Pilot" I told you a little bit of my special diet. As many of you have wondered how I prepare my daily breakfast after seeing it on my Instagram and snapchat account I decided to reveal my self created recipe.

My healthy breakfast recipe

Over the years I have changed the ingredients many times to develop the best breakfast I can imagine. I only use organic products.

I would call it the ultimative breakfast bowl consisting of cereals, fruits, toppings, powders and almond milk.

  • Rich in fiber
  • Good carbohydrates 
  • Rich in vitamins
  • Rich in protein
  • Dairy free
  • Vegan
  • Sugar free
  • Good fats

Positive side effects of the ingredients:

  • Easy to digest 
  • Cholesterol lowering 
  • Energy boost
  • Helps the immune system
  • Sustainable 
  • An much more...

For my breakfast I produce almond milk myself. It is not a mystery and you will be surprised how easy it is to prepare. Disadvantages of buying almond milk in the supermarket are the added sugar and the low percentage of almonds used.

ALMOND MILK

For about one liter of almond you need:

  • one hand full of almonds (non roasted)
  • dried coconut flakes (non roasted)
  • 8 dates (non sugared)
  • 1 liter of cold water
  • strong blender like this one

First blend the almonds and coconut very WELL then pour slowly the cold water into the blender. Blend well until it reaches a milk like consistency. Now add the dates. This will add some sweetness. Depending on your taste you decide the amount of them. Blend it again. DONE! One liter of almond milk lasts about 2-3 days depending on the size of the bowl.

Ingredients you need for the almond milk Quick and easy selfmade almond milk

FRUITS

You can choose all different kinds of fruit to add. I start out with a banana and a small apple. Depending on the the season I add berries, peaches, pineapple, mangos, etc.

Happy and healthy meal choose the fruit you like

CEREAL

Here is the list of cereal I add to my breakfast bowl. Of course you can add and leave out ingredients.

  • Oatmeal (as base)
  • Buckwheat flakes
  • Amaranth (popped)
  • Kamut flakes (rich in protein)
  • Wheat bran
  • Flax seeds
cereal, seeds and toppings filled in glas jars

POWDER

Additionally I had two kinds of powder:

  • 1 x small spoon of wheatgrass powder
  • 1 x big spoon of hemp powder
  • cinnamon
Hemp powder wheatgrass powder, cinnamon and dates

TOPPINGS

Those are the toppings I use:

  • Chia seeds
  • 2 dates
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Goji berries
  • Chocolate drops by XUCKER (healthy chocolate but not organic)
Toppings: Chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chocolate drops and goji berries

Put all ingredients in a big bowl and add the almond milk. Now enjoy your super healthy breakfast bowl which gives you energy to start the day.

My tip: Buy the ingredients in big seizes this saves money. Fill them in glas jars which makes the preparation easier.

In the morning I usually drink a green tea. My favorite is "Morgentau" of Ronnefeldt and a glas of grapefruit juice.

My favorite tea " Morgentau" by Ronnefeldt

What ingredients would you add? (Please comment below)

Have a look at this video about a game. It shows the sad reality of the industrialised food production of today.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUtnas5ScSE?rel=0]

Your Foodie Pilot Patrick

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I am a foodie pilot

I am a Foodie Pilot

In my last blog post "A busy day of a Private Jet Pilot" I gave you an insight view of the daily private jet business and I already showed you a little bit of the food I am eating.

I am a foodie pilot

I am not vegetarian, not vegan, not anything particular. The best way to describe me: I am clean eater foodie pilot. I love food and I am always hungry. On my journeys I use the app "Happy Cow" to find organic supermarkets, healthy restaurants and cafés.

People have asked me how can you be so fit while traveling and sitting so much? As I noticed during my career most pilots are rather unfit. This is maybe caused by the unhealthy catering or not enough sports during their free time.

Besides my good genetics I am conscious about what I eat and take care of the quality of the food. Unfortunately the food at airports and on board of airlines is still rather unhealthy that is why I always travel with my own food bag. This consists only of organic products like whole wheat bread, almond milk, bananas, eggs, avocados, raw snacks, nuts, dried fruits and rice protein. (Riceprotein of piowald) At breakfast in the hotel I am the king because I can pimp my breakfast with my own food.

My healthy meal on top of the clouds

There are still hotels in Europe which are not prepared for people who take care of the food they are having. I stayed in hotels where I only took the hot water for the tea from the buffet.

But why do I take care so much about my food? First of all I want to stay in shape and secondly I am convinced that you have an influence of the health of your body. Several severe diseases within my family also changed my way of thinking.

It is not a special diet I am following it is rather an eating concept that personally improves my well-being. And for sure I never have the feeling that I miss out on some food. Sometimes the desire is greater than my will (who does not know this) In this case I have a cheat day, usually Sundays, to eat whatever I want to and it usually still healthy.

My healthy breaky. Self made almond milk with fruits and cereal

Clean eating

Here is my personal clean eating guideline:

No refined sugar, no white wheat instead Xylit sugar (Xucker.de) and whole wheat. Why? Refined Sugar is the main reason for cancer (excluding fruits) white wheat contains only little fiber.

Less milk products more alternatives like almond, kamut milk. Why? I had problems consuming too many milk products and I had a blemished skin. The human being is the only mammal which consumes milk of a foreign species longer than the infancy. That is natural! I do not drink soy milk, because it is heavily processed.

Less meat more fish. Why? The quantity makes the poison. Meat is full of antibiotics which the animal may have been taken during their life span. I try to eat only 300g a week and preferably organic products. I do not eat pork at all.

Less soda and "wanna be juices" instead more mineral water. Why? Most of the beverages are sweetened. I take care that it is a direct juice and not from concentrate. I drink from glass bottles as much as I can. No tap water, even in Germany! It´s contaminated with residues of medicine, pesticides and hormones.

More raw products! I am a huge fan. Why? Because this way you consume as much vitamins of the food as possible. Because they are not processed!

My tip

Always check the label for the ingredients! I have been surprised many times about products which contained unnecessary sugar. The industry is trying to fool us. Try to avoid convenience food which contain more than seven ingredients.

One of my most favorite german websites to inform about food/ healthy lifestyle is: https://www.zentrum-der-gesundheit.de/

Eat well and you feel well.

Your Foodie Pilot Patrick

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private jet pilot

A day of a Private Jet Pilot II

Welcome back on board and enjoy reading about the rest of the day. Be sure to sit back, relax and have read the blogpost: "A day of a Private Jet Pilot Part 1" before continuing.

Departure London

Holding Point Runway 26 in Luton. We are ready for departure. Two minutes left until we have to be airborne. No problem for a german crew being always on time. At 08:20 we are finally airborne for our flight to Malta. The airspace in London area is quite dense especially during rush hours. You have to be really concentrated to comply with the instructions and not to miss a radio call of the super fast speaking british ATC (Air traffic control). We need to level off several times before receiving the clearance to climb to our cruising altitude of 13.000m.

Healhy snack above the clouds to be a fit pilot

After crossing the Street of Dover we are handed over to a french controller. Our route takes us southbound overhead Eastern France. The flight conditions are really smooth so the passengers can enjoy a delicious breakfast served by our flight attendant Victoria. She offers us something to drink. As always I have a green tea with honey.

Cruise flight

During cruise the autopilot is activated. This a requirement otherwise we are not allowed to fly in this upper airspace. We continuously monitor the aircraft systems, we keep track of our fuel consumption and we have a look on the weather en route. After having crossed the french and swiss alps we reach italian territory. CIAO! says the controler. From now on the quality of the ATC deteriorates with every mile flying southbound. Our route takes us between Corse and along the west coast of Italy to Sicily. Our final destination this evening will be Naples. We already can see a huge build up of clouds in Southern Italy. This is caused by a low pressure area. We are hoping that those thunderstorms will not effect us later on this day.

Weather build up in Southern Italy

Shortly after passing Palermo we start our descent towards Malta. We expect nice weather with winds coming from the north and temperatures around 30 degrees. Runway 31 is in use which means we have the fly past the airport to start the approach after a 180 degrees to the left.

Malta is in sight. Descending for Runway 31

Touchdown on Luqa airport after a flight time of 03:08 hours. A short taxi takes us to our parking position on Apron 8. My captain leaves the aircraft first to take care of the luggage in the cargo compartment. I say good bye to my passenger and thank them for flying with us. I will see them tomorrow again when we fly them to Cannes. A small bus of the handling service picks them up.

A long turn around

Due to the slot in London we have a delay of almost one hour. Which means we should be airborne for our ferry to Malaga within an half an hour. But we still need to print out fresh weather, pay the landing fees and most important we need fuel for the outbound flight. Since we are in a hurry I start the APU (Auxiliary power unit) again to prepare the cockpit and to have air condition in the cabin. But then the phone rings. Our operations informs us that the flight with passengers from Malaga to Naples is not yet confirmed. It seems like that there is no proof of payment by the broker. As long as the flight is not confirmed we stay on the ground and use this time to have a coffee inside the terminal. That is how the charter business works. Flights can be cancelled our booked at last notice.

Waiting on the flight confirmation

We finally receive the GO of our company. Now everything has to been done as quick as possible. Fortunately my captain printed the new flight documents already saving some time now. We also filed a new flight plan since the old one would have taken us overhead Northern Africa. Our decision is to fly a more northerly route to be one the safe side. In aviation always safety first.

On the ground with the metal bird in Malta FMS set up for the next flight - 940 Nautical Miles

Leaving Malta

Take off in Malta. Now I am the pilot flying and my captain is doing the ATC communication. The responsibility still lies with the captain no matter who is piloting the plane. Scheduled flight time is again around three hours. To make up some time we cruise at max speed of 0.75 Mach and try to get some shortcuts on the way. Mach 0.75 is definitely not the fastest but for the short duration of the legs you would not save a lot of time flying faster. Our advantages are good takeoff and landing performance and a max flight level of 450 (13.700m). Even flying flight level 410 to Malaga today we have to request headings to avoid weather. Flying through an area of thunderstorms or even flying too close to them can cause severe turbulences, icing and hail could damage the aircraft. We would never take the risk.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9VF-y5waF0]

Good bye Malta - hope to be back soon.

During this long flight without passengers I stretch out in the cabin for a while. I have a chat with Victoria while I am having lunch. It is 15:00 by now and I have not really eaten. I drink a green tea and a freshly squeezed juice to boost me with some energy. It is still a lot of flying ahead.

I hope you have enjoyed flying with me so far. In my next blogpost "A day of a Private Jet Pilot Part III" you will read how this day finally ends and which scary event happens during the final approach to Naples.

Your Pilot Patrick

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Private Jet pilot

A day of a Private Jet Pilot I

In my last blogpost I explained what I exactly mean with the Business Aviation. Now I want to tell you how a busy day of flying in this aviation branch can look like.

Welcome on board of a day of a private jet pilot

Hilton Hotel Luton Hotel 05:00 my alarm goes off. Time to get up! I question myself why so early? I snooze and sleep for another 10 mins. First thing in the morning I check my messages, my instagram and then I refresh my flight schedule. Unfortunately the take off is still early at 08:00 to Malta. I check the weather at the destination, alternate and en route. Smooth flying conditions during cruise and we might encounter some turbulences during the descent to Malta airport.
I catch a glimpse outside the window. It is still dark and it looks cloudy. The fact that I will see the sun in a couple of hours and that I will cruise at Flight level 430 (approx. 13.100m) motivates me.

Before I do anything else I turn on music on my portable Bose speaker to wake me up. I pack my suitcase, iron my fresh pilot shirt, take a shower and I jump in my uniform.

First breaky

Fortunately this hotel starts quite early to serve breakfast. Me and my crew captain Sven (32 years old) and flight attendant Viktoria (28) meet up at 06:00 to have breakfast before our taxi picks us up at 06:30. Today we are quite young crew. Through this job I managed to be hungry no matter what time it is. On this morning I have some hash browns, eggs and cereal with fruits (I always take my own almond milk) I drink a green tea with honey.

Even that early the atmosphere is really good. We talk briefly about the upcoming day of flying. Three legs with two different clients. It will be a long day! We depart from London Luton (EGGW) to Malta (LMML). Then after a quick turnaround to Malaga (LEGM) ferry to pick up passengers to fly them to Naples (LIRN). Final landing is scheduled to be at 19:30 Local time.

Beautiful sunrise at the airport

Pick up

A short taxi ride takes us to the VIP Terminal of Signature Handling in EGGW. After having our passports get checked, we proceed to the crew reception and lounge without any security check!! We have an espresso, print our flight documents and do a flight briefing to get everyone in the loop.

Now it is one hour prior departure and we walk over the parking position of our Citation XLS. It is only a hundred meter walk. Those short ways are awesome in the business aviation. I open up the entry door, stow our luggage in the aft hold and remove all red covers, which protect the engines and flight sensitive areas of the aircraft. The sun slowly rises and the temperature is pleasant. Luckily no rain!

The VIP catering of Air Culinaire is being delivered together with hot water and freshly brewed coffee. Rush hour in Luton. This airport is used both by low cost airlines and high cost airlines, the Private Jets ;-) The airport situated further outside the city than Heathrow. But since the ways on the airport are really short, you safe time in the end.

Early bird - Waiting on the passengers to arrive

Flight preparation

After the completion of the outside check of the airplane we start the APU (Auxiliary Power unit) which provides electricity and air conditioning without the main engines running. While I set up the flight deck and do all required cockpit checks, Victoria prepares the cabin and creates a nice boarding atmosphere for our two passengers.

The captain is inside the VIP terminal waiting for the passengers and informs me that we received a slot 30 minutes after our filed flight plan. That means we have a time window of only 15 minutes. Only within this period we are allowed to take off. A delay on the first flight of the day is not helpful. Good news the passengers arrive on time so we might manage to make the slot.

Boarding complete! While the Captain does a passenger briefing in the cabin, I request our clearance for the route and the approval to the start the engines. Start up approved. Let's go!

A lot of checklists have to be read before we are in a queue of aircrafts waiting to depart. We are currently number five to depart, which means a minimum of 10 minutes to wait. Finally reaching holding point 26 I call ready for departure. Only two minutes left until the slot expires.

Read my next blogpost "A day of a Private Jet Pilot Part 2" to find out if make the slot!

Your Pilot Patrick

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general avaition

What is the General Aviation + what do I exactly mean with Business Aviation?

I have been asked many times for which airline I am working for. Unfortunately I am not allowed to tell you the exact name of the company, but I am more than happy to let you know what we are doing. There is a big difference to the major airlines you maybe know.

General Aviation

General Aviation (GA) is easy to explain. It is basically all traffic which is non-scheduled. In this case all major airlines like Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Swiss, etc. do not belong to the GA because they operate on a fixed flight schedule. Airlines and most of the GA traffic fly according a flight plan which as to be submitted prior to flight execution.

The GA exists of many different types of operation. This could be the hobby pilot operating his own small Piper or the flight student flying a glider he just chartered. The Business Aviation also belongs to the GA since it depends on the demand of the passengers when they fly. Thus there is no fixed flight schedule they operate accordingly. This does not mean those aircrafts are automatically smaller. Private Jets or Business Jets can be a small as a 4 seater or even as big as a Boeing 747 VIP. The major difference is that you fly alone or take those persons on board you like to.

Citation XLS +

I am flying for a german Business Jet charter company. Everyone is eligible to charter a plane and can fly with us. Once you have booked a flight you are automatically treated as a VIP. You choose your type of aircraft, the route, the times, the catering and the people who travel with you. This service is quite expansive when you compare it to a regular ticket with an airline. But keep in mind you get the most exclusive flight experience.

As a commercial airline we have to obey the same regulations and rules from the LBA (German aviation authority) and the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) like a big airline company. We are always two pilots in the cockpit. One Captain one First Officer. Additionally we have a flight attendant on board, but she is not required by regulation to fly with us.

Most owner put their aircraft to a management company to take care of it. They organizse crew, schedule maintenance and charter the plane to others when he does not need it. Just to tell you a number: yearly costs to operate a Gulfstream (fix costs) are about 400.000€ without one minute of flying.

Citation XLS +

Our daily flight schedule can consits from 0-6 legs. Usually we fly different customers on one day but it can happen that we only fly one customer to different destinations in one day. For example Business men who have a tight meeting schedule.

Who flies private with me?

Unfortunately I can not tell you exact names because discretion is most important in this industry. But I can tell you that I have flown international superstars, politicians, sports men and those you can afford a flight hour of more than 3.000€. Of course it is really exciting to have someone really famous on board but this does not change anything on my job I am doing up front. I always try to give my best and everyone is treated equally.Remember: A Private Jet is like a dream. It waits only for you!

Your Pilot Patrick

Next blogpost: A day of a Private Jet Pilot

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dream to fly

My dream to fly + why I fly

In my last blogpost "A brief vita" you already learnt a little bit about me. In this article I will tell you about my dream to fly. Exactly 22 years ago I had my first day of school. Back then I would not have thought about being a pilot of a private jet who travels the world. This was beyond my imagination.

My interests

I started early to be interested in technical stuff and I wanted to know how things work. My grandpa had garage and he used to work on cars, motorbikes and so on. I joined him many times to help him. I favored facts and figures. That may have been the reason why my grades in mathematics physics and geographic were better. But I also have a very creative side on me. I love drawing and designing new things. Back in school I used to draw cars and planes the whole time. To become a car designer was my back up in case the piloting would not have worked out.

Excurison with my mother and grandmother My first day of school

Childhood and planes

During my childhood I remember that we did lot of excursions on the weekends. Either with my grandparents, which both still live very close, or with my parents and my younger brother. Growing up in a small town close to Frankfurt am Main in Germany there were lots of outside activities to do. They could not be thrilling enough for me. Roller coaster were not high and fast enough. We often visited small airports close by when they had a special events on their airfield. I was always super excited to go. But it was also sad on the same time, because I wanted to be up in the air and not on the ground watching the small planes fly by.

One day I was the luckiest boy ever. I won a free local flight in a small propeller plane. My fascination was now even bigger and this may eventually have triggered me to become a pilot. Too satisfy my fascination we did a lot of family trips visiting technical museums and airport to watch planes. I truly can recommend the museums in Speyer and Sinsheim. You can not only visit a Concorde from the inside but also an old B747 of Lufthansa. That was back then too cool for me. Unfortunately I can not remember my first flight because I was only two years old at that time. The whole family including my grandparents went to Palma de Mallorca for vacation. After that a lot of flights to destinations in Europe and the US followed.

First flight to Palma in 1990

This all led up to the point when I decided to become a pilot during high school at the age of 18. Even tough I have never flown myself before I knew I will love it. The question "why I fly" is easy to answer it has become my passion. The flying requires good technical knowledge and constant learning since aviation is a fasted paced branch. Additionally I get to travel the world to explore and discover new places. Another reason "why I fly" is because of the support of my family. Without them I would not have this dream job today.

Stay tuned for my upcoming blog: how I became a pilot

Your Pilot Patrick

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brief vita pilot patrick

A brief vita

This is your First Officer Patrick speaking. Welcome aboard! Now sit back, relax and enjoy my brief vita!

I am a First Officer and from 2010 to 2016 I have worked for a german Business Jet. Up to that point I was flying the Citation XLS+, on which I have over 2000 flight hours. In total I have over 2500 flight hours. My home base is currently Berlin.

For my first pilot job I moved to Berlin in 2010 and in August 2016 I took a time out of three month in Barcelona. During work I have been to Barcelona many times and it was love at first sight. I decided to move there to improve my Spanish skills and to enjoy good weather and a beach at home. But then a switched companies three months later, which changed everything agin. The new employer grants me to live outside Germany as well, but since the extensive type rating on the A300-600 took place in Berlin, I decided to move back. About my time in Barcelona I wrote a blog post.

Growing up close to Frankfurt I attended high school and finished my A-levels with the age of 18. The german government used to require either to join the military or do a social year after school. Due to the fact that I prefer love over war, I decided to work at a Kindergarten in Friedrichsdorf. Fun fact here the telephone was invited by Philipp Reis in my home town.

During my social year I was accepted at a flight school to begin training. Luckily I was allowed to interrupt the social year, so I could start right away with my flight training to become a commercial pilot. The next two years of training were a lot of fun, but also quite intense and hard. I was putting a lot of effort into my flight training thus graduating with excellent results. In my series of "How I become a pilot" I share the full story. Never the less it took me about one year to find a cockpit job. I was open to all branches in aviation but I always preferred to commence my career with an executive company flying VIPs from A to B.

pilotpatrick_vita
A300-600 cockpit

Since February 2017 I have been flying the wide body aircraft A300-600 at a renominated German Airline. Currently I am in the supervision phase, which means that my training continues during the daily flight business. The conversion from a small private jet to a big aircraft with a maximum take off weight of 170 tons was not easy. But my occupational experiences helped me a lot to adapt to the new operational procedures easily.

Besides my job as First officer I study business administration at a far distant university in Germany. In my free time I love to meet my friends. I like to prepare healthy meals and to got to the gym. I work out regularly in a Crossfit studio. My wanderlust never ceases, so during my leave I spend vacations around the world. On my bucket list are Brasil, Australia and Iceland.

Read in my first blog post: "My dream to fly and why I fly"

Happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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