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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reason why I became a pilot

My reasons why I became a pilot - still a dream job

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Hello my Aviator, one of my first article on my blog was about the "reason why I fly". I thought it is time to give you a more extensive update. Of course, when I started as flight student I could only imagine how the job of a pilot would be. At the beginning it was my fascination and passion which strove me to become a pilot. Therefore the reasons I am listing here rather tell you why you should become a pilot.

Unfortunately, the economy gives a lot of reasons why you should not become a pilot. But like in every branch there are ups and downs. But it is for sure that air travel will expand. According to Boeing, there is a requirement of 617,000 pilots in the next 20 years. The glory days of flying are not over yet. It just has changed a lot over the decades. In my opinion, it is still the best job in the world and there are many great reasons why you should become a pilot.

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Avporn and cloudporn in London ;)

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The view

You are leaving the hotel and it is grey and rainy weather outside. Don’t worry! An hour later you will be up in the air wearing your sunglasses because the sunlight just became too bright. One of the few jobs where you can wear sunglasses 365 days a year.

"An office with a view beats a desk job any day!"

It is still spectacular to see the world from above even after seven years of flying. The beautiful views from the cockpit during sunset and sunrise are priceless. When flying I sometimes get the impression that I am alone in the world since you are so far away from the happening on the ground. Especially during night flying when everything is black outside except the moon and stars shine really bright. I really like this feeling of de-connection to the rest of the world.

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Office view - the world from 12,000 km

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Faszination

Aviation is fascinating. Already as a small boy, I was attracted by airplanes and I figured that it is probably a lot of fun to fly. Yes of course it is. Getting behind the controls of a huge machine which weighs several tons is an amazing feeling. Especially when you push the thrust levers forward and the moment you take off is a blast. It is always a sense of accomplishment when you land safely after each flight knowing that you were behind the controls of a powerful machine.

"It is contagious!"

Have you listened to a conversion between pilots? They always have to tell a story about places they flew to and other things that happened to them. It is really contagious. When I meet up with my friends from flight school the first couple of hours is only about flying.

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From a private jet to this big bird - Airbus A300

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Flight training

When I finished high school with the age of 19 I did not have the big desire to go to college and continue studying for years. I rather wanted to get into a job as quick as possible and earn money myself to be independent. With the financial back of my parents, I followed my passion of flying. After finishing my civilian year I already started with flight training.

The next two years were a big adventure. Even though the training was not easy and I had to face a lot of challenges they turned out to be the best ones of my entire pilot career. To be with a crew of other flight students who had the same goals was motivating. We always supported in every way. During the training, you knew that the effort will pay off in the end with a seat in the cockpit whereas studying a degree is not necessarily linked to a certain job. If you are interested in my full story of how I became a pilot start with part one of my series.

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Returning from my first solo flight in 2008

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Knowledge

Flying makes you smarter. The knowledge you gain as a pilot you can impose on your everyday life. You will become an expert in planning, staying organized and a good decision maker.

Aviation requires you to be up to date about new procedures and regulations. Even after flying an aircraft for thousands of hours you will find out something new about it. The adrenaline rush at the beginning of your career gets less and so does the nervosity. Actions become automated but flying to new places, flying new approaches and even learning a new type of aircraft makes this job so diverse.

I had to face a new challenge when learning a new aircraft type at the beginning of this year. I was busy several months with training in the simulator. This was a great occasion to improve my skills and knowledge.

 

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Office with a view shot with a GoPro Hero 4

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Great crew

Becoming a pilot means you become part of a big family. As a new pilot, you will be supported by the more experienced colleagues and they will never make you give up.  Every pilot is unique in his own way but all share the same passion. The past seven years I flew with lots of different captains and you will learn from every single one.

"You will have a hard time to fin this energy and enthusiasm in other jobs!"

Rarely you will find a colleague using formal appellation even if he is your superior. In my opinion, this would be hindering a good resource management and would impair communication and safety.  Since this industry is actually quite small everyone is somehow connected with each other. Especially in the business aviation in Germany, I had the impression that everyone knows each other.  

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At the beautiful airport of Oslo

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You are probably wondering why I did not mention the travel aspect for example.  This should not primarily be the reason why you want to become a commercial pilot. With some companies, you only operate from and to your home base and do not get stay overnight.

As a private jet pilot, I did mostly sleep at a different location every day. But this did not mean automatically that I had always had time for sightseeing and to spend a mini vacation.  It was quite the opposite most of the times. In this case, you really don't care about the location you just want to get sleep. Luckily this was not always like that. I had so many nice rotations where I had time to discover new cities, relax at the beach and meet friends. This is a really nice side affect of the job. They are aspects why you shouldn’t become a pilot for. I will address them in a different blog article soon.

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As a pilot, you will experience so many of awe-inspiring moments that you are left with no choice but to fly! 

What makes aviation for you so fascinating? Please comment below!

Always safe travels and happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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flying a propeller airplane

Flying a propeller airplane

Yesterday I went flying and I could leave my big suitcase at home. Instead of operating a private jet through Europe, I used my time off to go flying in a small Cessna 172 of ARDEX flight school.

Lets go flying - C172S with 180HP and 4 seats

Lucky it was a sunny day in Berlin and the flight conditions were excellent. The newspaper Bild was interested to do an interview with me. Since everyone can do an interview on the ground, I invited the journalists to join me on a flight to do an interview up in the air.

Additionally the interview was live on my official Facebook page @PilotPatrick, so everyone could watch me flying from take off up to landing. For some action I flew a steep turn with 45° bank angle. Use this link or scroll down to the flying interview and watch if the journalists, Anne and Celal, enjoyed it.

Back to Kyritz Airport - Shutdown checklist complete

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1220076041391323

Besides holding a valid type rating for the Citation XLS+, I possess a SEP (single engine piston) rating as well. This grants me to fly aircraft, which are driven with one propeller. I did most of my flight training on this type of aircraft. A big part of my SEP hours, I flew by myself without an instructor in Croatia. But like all licenses and ratings in the aviation industry, I have to revalidate the SEP rating every two years with a couple of flight hours.

Visting Ardex flight school for a flying interview in a Cessna C172

But why should I fly a small aircraft besides my job as pilot?

There is a big difference between flying a jet and a small piston aircraft. The flying itself and the input to the control surfaces remains the same. One major difference of course is the speed and altitude I operate at. Yesterday I flew a maximum speed of 180 km/h at an altitude of 650m. In the Citation jet I usually fly a speed of 800 km/h at an altitude of 12.000m. 90% of the flight time of a commercial jet aircraft is operated under instrument flight rules (IFR), whereas a small Cessna is primarily flown under visual rules (VFR) in VMC (visual metrological conditions). This requires a constant look out for other traffic and the navigation is made through visual guidance on the ground.

VFR + GPS chart for navigation (upper left blue circle indicates Kyritz)

A big issue in aviation is that the many pilots loose their manual flying skills over the years. Even when flying up to 900 hours in one year, the high level of automation and company procedures prevent pilots to fly manually more often. Usually only take off and landing are flown by end. But especially those manual flying skills are needed when there happens to be a failure or abnormality of a system. Read this report about it.

That is one reason why I decided to practice my manual flying skills once in a while. Additionally I enjoy flying at a moderate altitude to have a great view of the countryside and to choose the destination myself. I would say it is purer way of flying since everything feels closer without numerous systems and automation aids.

Sunny day in autumn with temperatures around 2 degrees - on the way to Runway 14 Live interview with BILD up in the air via Facebook live stream

ARDEX Flight School

This was definitely a special day of flying in my career, which I will remember for a long time. Thanks again to the flight school ARDEX for sponsoring and making this event happen. In case you want to become a pilot or want to charter a plane, this family owned business is situated only one hour from Berlin. They offer courses to a acquire a private or even a commercial license so you may become my first officer some day.

Flight School ARDEX in Kyritz (close to Berlin)

Have you flown in a small aircraft before? Please comment below.

Postive mind, positive life and happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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The Bild interview in full length:
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=366609890348612