fear of flying

Fear of flying - My 10 tips to become a more relaxed flyer

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Hello my Aviator, it makes me really sad to hear that many of you are anxious to fly and cannot enjoy traveling by plane! That is why I want to give you an update on my fear of flying blog post. I actually could write a whole book about this subject. I am passionate to help you to feel more comfortable on board. Hopefully, my 10 tips to manage this anxiety will help you so I see you much more relaxed up in the sky. 

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Fear of flying

In fact, a survey suggests that 43 percent of people have at least some fear of flying and around 9 percent are so afraid that they would not go on a flight. Now I understand why I receive so many comments and messages asking me what they can do against their fear of flying. In this article, I want to help you as much as possible to get over that fear which is also known as aviophobia. I hope that my personal words as a pilot are more persuasive than of a third person who is not involved in the aviation industry as much as I am.

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Clouds are an indication for an area of turbulence

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There is no reason to panic!

During my research for this blog post, I found out that the most common reason for the fear of flying is the fear to crash. But the probability for that is vanishing low. Let me mention them again to get an idea of how safe flying really is.

It is the safest means of transportation but also the most dangerous one at the same time.

Flying through the air with over 800 km/h with tons of ignitable fuel. In the first place, this does not sound really comforting. And because of that, we took all measures to make it to the safest way of travel.

The probability of your plane going down is around one in 5.4 million. (according to The Economist) It is more likely to be attacked by a shark or even killed by the flu. Traveling in a car is 100 times more deadly than flying in a plane. Despite the high profile plane crashes in the past, it has never been safer to fly. So are you also afraid when driving in the car?

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Flying: the safest means of transportation!

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Anxiety originates from ignorance!

I think the anxiety can originate from ignorance not understanding the complex system of aviation. This might trigger "what if?" catastrophic thoughts.

This starts with the ignorance of the systems of the airplane. Certain noises and normal flight maneuvers can already cause unease. For example noise of the brakes, landing gear, the flaps, and the engines. Especially during takeoff, you experience a lot of different ones. The engines run at a high thrust setting, the runway might a little bumpy and the landing gear retracts with a loud "bang". Trust me all those noises are normal. Most of you are scared of turbulences and think that they are dangerous. Please trust me they belong to the normal path of flight. Aircraft are built to withstand turbulence with ease.

Pilots always try to avoid turbulence and in case we encounter them we try to find a different level to escape the area of turbulence. This causes a spool up or down of the engines and a climb or descent to a different level.

The regulations in aviation are really strict. The authority requires that the aircraft are maintained at fixed intervals. Airlines could not afford to operate a badly maintained aircraft, which could cause them to lose their operator certificate (AOC) and of course their reputation.

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Aircraft are made to be flying and not sitting on the ground!

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Redundancy in all aspects of aviation!

Even when there happens to be a malfunction of a system, that does not mean it will end in a disaster. The aircraft are built to be flying in the air and constructed to be redundant. That means if one system fails, the airplane will still be safe to fly and a different system will take over it. For example, if one engine fails, the second one will keep the airplane in the sky and a safe landing will be possible. This is trained on regular simulator flights many times.

Maybe you have heard about the swiss cheese model before. This model of accident causation illustrates that, although many layers of defense lie between hazards and accidents. Only if there is a flaw in each layer, if aligned, can allow the accident to occur. A single mistake in one layer will not lead to an accident!

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Let's enjoy the beauty of flying together

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My 10 tips against the fear of flying

  1.  Choose an airline you feel save with or you know they have a good reputation, do not book just because the ticket is cheap
  2. Arrive at the airport with enough time, so you do not get stressed additionally. Minimum 2 hours prior departure.
  3. Book a seat with more space, e.g. at the emergency exit
  4. Try not to drink alcohol and caffeine this might intense your anxiety
  5. When boarding let the cabin crew know that you are a little bit nervous, a short chat with them can help
  6. Recall that you are safe and probability is on your side
  7. Control your breathing inhale deeply and exhale slowly: Relaaaaax!
  8. Use noise-canceling headphones, recall that flying and systems produce loud noises, listen to relaxing music and do things that distract you (food, beverages, books, music, sleeping mask)
  9. You are not alone! Millions of people travel by plane at the same time
  10. Keep in mind that the airplane is built to travel through air, turbulence is a normal path of flying,

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Flying in Busines Class can help as ;-)

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Am I going down?

I found an app “Am I Going Down?”, which claims to calculate the odds of a disaster on a particular flight. You put in three variables: the departure and arrival airports, the airline, and the type of plane used. For example, a flight from San Francisco to London Heathrow has a probability of 1 to 3.646.151 to go down. You would have to take this flight every day for 9.989 years before it crashes. Knowing the probability, which is not even worth mentioning for your particular flight, may help with your fear of flying.

I hope you will be more relaxed on your next flight, so you can enjoy the beauty of flying. Recall my 10 tips when flying next time. You might even save them on your mobile device. Now sit back, relax and enjoy your flight!

What causes you unease on a flight?

Your PilotPatrick

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business aviation exhibition

Luxurious jets at the business aviation exhibition in Geneva

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Hello my Aviator, 

welcome on board of the most exclusive branch of aviation: the business aviation. I take you to Geneva in Switzerland to the EBACE, which is an exhibition solely for private jets. Normally only aircrews and their VIP passengers have excess to the cabin of those luxurious jets. But this event grants me to give you an insight view of the business aviation. Are you ready for departure? 

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Cabin of the Cessna Citation Longitude

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Business aviation exhibition

I started my career as First Officer on a private jet. I used to fly the Cessna Citation XLS+, which is a medium size jet for up to 9 passengers. The operation and the daily pilot life is a lot different compared to any airline operation. The flights are tailored to the passenger needs in regard to departure time, catering and even crew composition. Most airports have an own stand-alone terminal which is dedicated for private jet passengers only. So if you do not work either for a handling agent at the airport or as aircrew you will not get any access those business jet.

Except you are the passenger or when the EBACE opens its doors in Geneva. You have the chance to have look inside the cabin and cockpit of all kind of different jets.  If you want to find out more about the Business aviation check my corresponding blog post.

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EBACE static display

I was most excited to visit the static display, but the exhibition also offered a huge hall with all different companies which are connected to the business aviation like handlings, fuel supplier, air charter companies and supplier for technology.

One of my favorite transport manufacturers is Bombardier. You may know this company from the commercial aircraft C-, CRJ- and Q-Series and their trains. But they also build luxury business jets

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static display /source: EBACE

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Cessna Citation Latitude (first Cessna with flat cabin floor)

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Geneva airport exhibit hall / source: EBACE

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Bombardier

When most people think about private jet they come up with the name Learjet. This originates that Learjet was one of the first companies to manufacture a private and luxury aircraft in the 1960‘s. The first jets were built in Switzerland but the production was moved quickly to Kansas in Wichita (USA). The first business jet was born and a whole new era of air travel begun. In the 90‘s Bombardier took over its production.

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Luxury cabin of the Global 6000

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Bombardier Global 6000

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Their portfolio of aircraft ranges from medium size to large jets. I was really excited to visit one of their flagships, the Global 6000. A beautiful jet from the inside and outside. State of the art flight deck and a luxury cabin which feels like a 5-star suite. Up to 17 passengers can fly 6000 NM which is for example from Berlin non-stop to Singapore. At the EBACE they also presented the Global 7500 which is the world's largest and longest-range business jet.

It is really a hard decision if you rather want to be the pilot or the passenger of this jet. Luxury and quality have their price tags. Find it out in my YouTube Vlog and take a look inside.

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The new flagship of Bombardier G7500 / source: EBACE 

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How I became a private jet pilot?

It was definitely not a conventional way how I got my first pilot job. Since I got frustrated writing many applications and not receiving a feedback, I took my application to a personal level. In my new Vlog about the Ebace, I also explain how I become a private jet pilot. You may also find a series of blog posts about "how I became a pilot".

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innovative cockpit with sidestick, head up display and touchscreens

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large business jet / source: EBACE

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The size of jet I used to fly

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Do I miss the business aviation?

Yes and no! The exhibition was some kind of flashback to my time as a private jet pilot. There are a lot of aspects I really miss, like the luxury crew lounges, catering and a diverse flight schedule. But there also many aspects, which I really do not miss like endless waiting times for VIP passengers or cleaning the cabin after a long duty day. One side I have a crying end, but all in all, I feel much more comfortable with an airline. My flight roster is much more stable and I can plan much better in advance and I have more time for my Aviators.

What do you think suits me better the airline operation or the business aviation?

Safe travels and happy landings

Your PilotPatrick

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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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private jet pilot versus airline pilot

Private jet pilot versus airline pilot

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Time literally flies. In 2010 I began my aviation career as a first officer on a private jet and it is already a half a year ago that I started my new job on the Airbus A300-600. My line training is not yet over and continues for another 40 flight sectors. I take the upcoming Labor Day as an occasion to share my first impressions about the new cockpit job.

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„The bad new times flies the good news you are the pilot“

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Private jet pilot versus airline pilot

Last December I revealed my new aircraft type to you and explained my reasons switching to a different employee. As much as I love the General Aviation, I decided to move on and to accept a new occupational challenge with a totally different operation. It was definitely a hard decision but in the end, I have to say that I decided correctly. As I promised to I will compare both types of operation and show you the differences of a life as a private jet pilot and airline pilot.

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Flight hours

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Airline

  • approximately 450 flight hours a year

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Business Aviation

  • 250 - 500 hours

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Usually, airline pilots fly more hours over the year. At my first job in the business jet company I only flew about 250-300 hours a year. This is about the average for this branch. Later I flew about 500 hours in one year on the Citation XLS+. (not common for this type of operation) Now I will fly about 450 hours in one year even though it is an airline. Especially low-cost airline pilots fly up to the maximum of 900 hours a year. This is great to gain flight hours in a minimum of time. The total flight hours entirely depends on the type of operation (private, charter, commercial) the airline is doing.

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Citation XLS+ Private Jet

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Destinations

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Airline

  • network primarily within Europe
  • fixed routes and destinations

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Business Aviation

  • flight primarily within Europe
  • always varying destinations
  • no fixed routes

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As a private jet pilot, I got to know a lot of different airports within Europe. I have been to over 100 different airports. Since the performance of the smaller business jets allow landing at shorter runways you get to approach many more destinations compared to an airline pilot. The customer decides which route he wants to fly and where he wants to land. I think almost every duty block I flew to a new airport I have not been to. The advantage to a have a limited network is that you become much more familiar with the airport, which helps a lot during adverse weather and high workload conditions.

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Sunset at Tivat airport

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Schedule / Roster

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Airline

  • Fix monthly roster with exact flights
  • Duty days stay but flight schedule may change
  • Publication of the new roster one month
  • ahead
  • Off days are your off days
  • Off request system
  • Additional off days over the year
  • Extra duty days are paid
  • Switching flights with colleagues possible

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Business Aviation

  • Monthly roaster
  • No fixed flight only either duty day or off day
  • High flexibility expected
  • Publication of the new roster only shortly prior
  • Off days may be changed last minute
  • Off requests are possible
  • Company phone so they can reach you anytime
  • Ad hoc flights and daily flight schedule changes

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Working in the business aviation requires you to be highly flexible during your duty days. You have to expect Ad hoc charter flight and last minute changes. The schedule itself is usually not as stable as the one of an airline. Now I have a monthly roster which shows me my flights and exact times and destinations. Previously I only had a roaster showing only stating duty or off.  Like in my previous company I am working maximum 7 days in a row. But I know from other business jet company where pilots work up to 20 days in a row. To sum it up you can plan your social life much better with an airline.

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A300-600 cockpit

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Layovers and Hotels

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Airline

  • Hotels and transport organized
  • Fixed crew hotels with discounts on food
  • Hotel room available for your entire stay
  • Usually only one night at a destination
  • Fixed duty check in times

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Business Aviation

  • Hotels and transported organized by crew
  • Had to stick to check in and check out times of the hotel
  • Consecutive nights at one destination
  • Early crew reporting times

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At first, I was a little overwhelmed that everything is already organized for you. Hotel and transport are booked by the company and after a flight, you leave the aircraft already 15 minutes later. This is quite relaxing if I compare to my previous job. After a day of flying, we had to book a hotel within in a budget ourselves.  Not easy during summer at a hot spot location. On the other hand, I liked it to decide in which hotel I was going to stay. This way we could decide if we stay in the city center or stay rather close to the airport to have as much rest as possible.

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Layover in Helsinki April 2017

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Aircraft and Training

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Airline

  • Wide-body Airliner (170t)
  • Complex aircraft
  • Extensive training
  • Extensive documentation
  • Regular Simulator flights

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Business Aviation

  • Small business jet below 10 tons
  • Less complex systems
  • Training on type

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I am feeling honored having the chance to fly the legendary A300-600. The aircraft is complex with its numerous systems. An extensive training including a type rating is necessary to be able to fly the aircraft. The airline puts a lot of emphasis on well-trained cockpit crew. Therefore every pilot goes to the simulator two times a year. I have the impression that the documentation is more extensive and all guidelines are written down.

At the beginning of my career I did all my checks on ferry flights, so the company wanted to save on expensive simulator flights. But the training effect was definitely not as good as in the simulator. As I mentioned before the weight category of aircraft is important for one's aviation career. That is why accepted the new occupational challenge on the big Airbus. The A300-600 needs to be flown very precisely. Especially the landing feels different since you sit up much higher and approach the runway at the faster speed.

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A300-600 engines

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Conclusion

I have to emphasize that I am only talking about my personal impressions and opinions. The operation of another airline might sound totally different and fellow pilots would share with you a completely different opinion.

For planning reasons, an airline pilot life is the better choice. Your duty schedule is more consistent and you can plan with off requests days better ahead. This gives your social life a better quality. In the business aviation, I liked the fact that I flew to much more destinations and that I sometimes did not know where will be on the next day. I really loved those surprises.

On the other hand, a much more stable roaster lets you plan your rest time during layovers much better. In 6 years business aviation I only visited downtown London only twice, even though I stayed there 100+ nights. Either there was not much time or I did not know when the next flight was going to be, so I was on standby in the hotel. Now I know my exact departure time which already allowed me to do sightseeing in Paris and London.

There is a lot of waiting time in the business aviation. Either for the passengers, the fuel, for the hotel room, next flight, or the taxi. This can be quite tiring. I liked the fact that you could wait and rest in VIP lounges. The preparation time in the private aviation is much longer and after the last flight, you can not leave the aircraft straight away. You still need to get everything back in shape again and maybe refuel this can take up to an hour. Additionally, in the business aviation, you have to go on many more commercial flights to start your duty where ever the jet is currently located.

In my opinion, an airline makes you a better pilot, since the training is more extensive and the standards are set to a higher level. The operating procedures are laid out in detail so every pilot operates the aircraft in the same way. In the business aviation, I have seen pilots which were not strict about procedures and interpreted regulations their own way.

In my opinion, the life of an airline is much more relaxed since a lot is already done and organized. Honestly speaking I can not tell which operation I favor because they are so different, but I admit that I definitely miss some aspects of the business aviation.

Let's see how my point of view will be a couple of months later.

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Which operation would you prefer? Airline or Private jet?

Happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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my way into the cockpit

My way into the cockpit + My 10 application tips

The blog posts of how I became a pilot have become to one of your favorite ones. So far I have published four parts in this series and yet there is more to come. In this blog post, I want to move up to one step further. I received a lot of questions asking me how I managed my way into the cockpit. I am going to explain exactly that and additionally, I want to give some general tips when applying for your dream job.

In Dublin with the beautiful business jet Citation XLS+

My way into the cockpit

In the end of 2009, I graduated from flight school. The training at Intercockpit was independent of any airline so I was able to apply at any company I wanted to. Unfortunately, the market situation at this moment was not the best. There were some jobs on the market Germanwings and Lufthansa City Line were searching for first officers at this moment. Those jobs were highly embattled. But for a good reason, I did not have the big desire to work for the Lufthansa group.

Unlike to my fellow flight student, I still was pretty much open to fly either for a big carrier or a small business jet company. But I felt that I was more willing to fly a private jet and to experience this kind of operation. I did not want to be the kind of pilot who does not have any layovers and returns to his home base every night. Moreover, I desired to be away from home to discover new places and new cultures.

Application

I applied at many airlines throughout Europe. Most applications to german operators I send as hard copy in a nice application folder. But the majority I send per email or filled out online which is the standard procedure. I found out that more than 50% did not send any feedback and that most airlines required flight experience on a certain type of aircraft. That became quite frustrating after around 40 applications. After a couple of months finishing flight school, I became impatient, because I wanted to be in the air and not on the ground waiting. In November 2009 I received my CPL(A) license by the authority, but the Muli Engine Instrument rating would already expire in July 2010 again. This rating is required for job applications and would cost around 1.000,-€ to revalidate.

pilot patrick in new first officer uniform in berlin
My new uniform for the career on the A300-600

I thought about doing something else besides writing applications. Unfortunately, I did not know anyone in the aviation branch, who could support me getting a job. So my idea was to get to know somebody who could help me. That is why I visited the aviation fair "Aero" in Friedrichshafen in April 2010. This fair is specialized on general aviation with numerous business jet companies attending. It was the best decision to go since I found my job that way. On a small booth, I got to know my former employer. Then things started to happen very fast.

I was invited to an interview in Berlin and a second time to do some kind of screening on a Cessna 172. The idea behind this was to show my practical flying skills. Everything went well in order to begin my type rating on the Citation XLS in the beginning of July 2010. The only down point was that I had to fund my type rating myself. The costs were around 20.000,-€. Fortunately, the german authority for employment sponsored 50% of the costs. I was lucky to be at the right spot at the right time.

Seven years ago during my first rotation on the Citation XLS in Nice, France

It has become quite common that pilots have to compensate for their type rating in the beginning of their career in the cockpit. In the end, it took me eight months to find a job. This was quite fast considering that 1/3 of my fellow student pilots are not in a First Officer position until now.

Backup plan

It is always useful to have a backup plan. Mine was to go study to the university of applied sciences in Bremen. I was already accepted as a student to start in the winter semester of 2010. I would have done a bachelor in aviation management and system knowledge. Then everything changed with the job commitment.

Links I used in the past to find job offers:
latest pilots job
carrer. aero
pilotjobsnetwork.com

My 10 application tips 

Over the years I gained many experiences writing applications to numerous companies. I am definitely not an expert, but the following tips are useful for any dream job you are longing for.

  • Contact Person: Find out the person, who receives and reads your application. This name should be stated in the cover letter. A direct appellation is better than 'Dear Ladies and Gentlemen'.  To find out the name give them a call and ask. You might even have the chance to talk to the person in charge. In this case, you can assign to this phone call in your cover letter. This gives the application a personal touch.
  • Requirements: Always check you if you meet the requirements of the job offer. If you have any doubts drop a line via email or give them a call.
  • Paper or digital: Check which form the employer prefers. Nowadays most companies prefer the digital form via email.
  • File format: The file format is of uttermost importance. This can already decide if the human resources department prints out your application and if they are even able to read it. I recommend sending your documents as PDF in one single file. Check that the file size is appropriate. Not more than 10 MB.
  • Photo: Use a clear, friendly and professional portrait for your application. It is worth the money to go to a photographer to get a nice shot. Wear clothing which suits your further job. I recommend attaching a full body photo if you have a lot of personal contact with customers.
first officer application tips
Application of 2013. Example of my cover page with my hard facts at the bottom
  • Appearance: The design and the formatting of your application are really important. Use the same font and a common layout throughout the application. Make it special through a design that sticks out. Use the colors of the company and try work with their motto.
  • Cover letter: Keep it short, precise and interesting. You should surprise your reader and you should try to arouse his curiosity, so he is willing to continue to read your application. Remember you are not the only applicant and there is only a little time available to read yours.  Use correct grammar and spelling!
  • Hard facts: Consider writing your hard facts on a cover page with your portrait photo. Mention five to seven facts about which really speak for you. (see picture above)
  • Call: If you have not received any feedback within 7 working days, I would call and ask for it. This shows that you are really interested in that position.
  • Be patient: Sometimes it requires a lot of effort and time to find your dream job. Do not get frustrated when you receive many denials in a row. Always believe in yourself and do not give up!

A dream is like a private jet! It only waits for you!

It is the combination of a good application, perfect timing and a little bit of luck to get your dream job. For all future aviators, I have 10 tips for you when you consider attending a flight school.

Happy landings and good luck!

Your Pilot Patrick

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revealing my new aircraft type

Revealing my new aircraft type

HAPPY NEW YEAR MY AVIATORS!

Welcome on board of a new year full of new challenges, adventures and hopefully many happy landings. I am really sorry, that I have not published a blog post for a while. But I have a really good excuse for that. As I mentioned in my previous post "Christmas greetings with big changes" I started 2017 with a new aircraft type and a new employer. This has been keeping me busy for the last couple of weeks. In this blog post, I will reveal my new aircraft type I will be flying in the near future.

Hard decision

You got to know me as a first officer for private jets. In 2010 I started flying for a german VIP charter company on the Cessna Citation XLS +. I became a big fan of the exclusive operation since the everyday work was always very diverse. During the last six years, I met really interesting and famous people and got to stay in many different cities throughout Europe, Russia and North Africa. The working atmosphere on board was great and it sometimes felt like being on tour with friends.

With the Citation Business Jet on Malta

After six years of flying a small jet, it was time for a new occupational career. In the first place, it meant for me to fly a bigger aircraft type. In the end of 2016, I received a job offer by a big german air carrier to become a first officer on their A300-600 fleet. At the same time, my former employer wanted me to upgrade on the Legacy 650 aircraft. At this point, I had to decide for one or the other. This was a really hard decision for me. One the one hand I could stay in the private operation, flying a big business jet around the world and on the other hand, I got the one and only chance to fly the legendary A300. (read more about this type of aircraft below)

In the end, I decided for a new employer with a very good reputation and the bigger aircraft. Many pilots are a big fan of the A300 because the level of automation is less than on other modern jet aircraft. Flying this jet takes me back to the roots of aviation and the flight hours on this type of aircraft will allow me to operate on any other aircraft in the future. As much as I love the General Aviation, I decided to move on to accept a new occupational challenge with a totally different operation. But I do not spurn that I might return back to the business jet operation as a Captain on a private jet.

Welcome to my new office! Currently in Simulator training at Lufthansa Aviation Training

Revealing my new aircraft

The A300 is a twin jet airliner and is the first aircraft ever manufactured by Airbus. Development of the A300 began during the 1960s as a collaboration of different European nations. Its first flight was already on the 28th of October 1972 and was at that time the first twin wide-body aircraft of the world. (two aisles in the cabin) It typically seats around 266 passengers with a maximum take-off weight of 170,5 tons. This is 17x the takeoff weight of the Citation Jet I used to fly.

The production ceased in 2007 with 561 aircraft built. Another world first of the A300 is the use of composite material to reduce overall weight and improve cost-effectiveness. When it entered service in 1974, the A300 was a very advanced plane. Its state of the art technology influenced later airliner designs. As far as I can tell from the simulator the handling capabilities are excellent for such a big aircraft. I am fascinated by the advanced  I am already looking forward to flying this oldtimer, which sure is already a legend in aviation.

My new aircraft type: A 300-600 copyright: widebodyaircraft.nl

Flight training

In December I started with ground courses and online based training for my new employer. I studied hard to pass the technical skill test last week. All efforts paid out because I passed the exam with 94%. That qualified me to continue with the practical flight training. All complex aircraft require so-called type rating to become familiar with the systems and how to operate the aircraft according to the books.

I currently get trained at Lufthansa Aviation Training in Berlin in a full flight simulator. The type rating started one week ago and will last until the first of February. Yesterday I finished session number four. It is quite demanding, but also a lot of fun. I am totally in love with the new "old school" cockpit and I am really looking forward to flying the real aircraft soon.

Flight Simulator at Lufthansa Aviation Training in Berlin A300 cockpit of the full flight simulator

I am looking forward to sharing my future adventures with the Airbus A300 and to write about my first impressions. It will be really interesting to compare both operations to find out their advantages and disadvantages.

I know you have been waiting for the next part my series "how I became a pilot", but I am really busy acquiring my new type rating. Please stay tuned!

Are you an Airbus or Boeing fan?

Your Pilot Patrick

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what is in my bag

What's in my bag? - My packing tips

In my last blog post I shared my experience in Lufthansa’s Business Class to Cape Town with you. On this flight I was allowed to have four pieces of luggage. But who takes so much on a journey? You will be surprised about the number of pieces private jet customers take on a flight. One person with eight suitcases is no exception. In this blog post I will show you what is in my bag and additionally I will reveal my packing tips.

My home is where my suitcase is!

My Rimowa luggage 'Topas' in front of the Private Jet Citation XLS

Now I want to show you what I have in my bags and give you some advices when packing!

Through my profession as private jet pilot I became a professional traveler, who knows who to pack correctly. I am usually on duty for about seven days in the row and I sleep 15 days in a month in different hotels. Everyday I have to unpack and pack, unload and load and carry my luggage from one place to another. That is why the quality and the weight of my suitcase it vital.

Travel in style - aluminum case during a stay in Wildlife Reserve in South Africa

I am really convinced of the products of Rimowa. It is a German company founded in 1898. They put a lot of emphasis on the quality and practicability of their luggage. Especially their products with four wheel are handy. I currently use two products of the ‘Topas’ series, which are made of aluminum. They are little heavier than the once out of polycarbonate, but I prefer this design and they are almost indestructible.

In my hand luggage:

My travel essentials

My checked luggage:

  • Clothing (essential clothing which are easy to combine)
  • Wash bag (organic products of Lavera and Speick)
  • Two pair of shoes (one for sports)
  • TRX suspension trainer (perfect tool for a quick workout in the hotel room)
  • Cocktail shaker to prepare rice protein shakes
Home is where my suitcase is - What's in my bag?

My packing tips:

  • Use the space between the handle bar on the bottom of the suitcase, perfect to place socks or underwear.
  • Do not put valuables in your checked luggage to prevent them from theft. For example electronics, which can be easily detected by the x-ray.
  • Put important documents and essentials for the first day in your hand luggage in case your suitcase gets lost.
  • When taking shirts, I suggest to put them folded in a plastic or fabric bag. This way they stay flat and you do not need to iron them again
  • Put your wash bag in a plastic bag, so in case something leaks your clothing stays clean.
  • I take testers instead of heavy perfume flacons to safe weight.
  • I fill up small containers with the organic shampoo from home so I do not have to take the whole bottle.
  • When packing a suit I recommend to carry it in a clothes bag so the fabric does not get crumbled. An additional small personal items, like a purse or clothes bag, is usually free in economy on all major airlines.
  • Always put your items in the same spot. This saves time when packing and searching.
  • Use a suitcase with an international TSA lock when traveling by plane.
After landing in Rostov an Don with the Citation XLS

My bags

Besides my two silver cases I have a food bag for my journeys. In which you will find fruits, nuts, humus, carrots, couscous salad, coconut water, whole wheat bread and boiled eggs most of the time. Some colleagues think I am crazy, that I carry all this food with me. But this way I can have good food while on duty and I can omit the unhealthy catering on board and in hotels. Read in my blog post “I am a Foodie pilot” more about my healthy eating habits.

Me packing my small Rimowa - healthy food always on board

Happy landings and a well-packed suitcase for your next journey!

Which personal items do you always pack when you going on a journey? I always pack swim shorts. ;-)

Please do don't forget to subscribe.

Your Pilot Patrick

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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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private jet pilot

A day of a Private Jet Pilot III

Welcome back on board and enjoy the last blogpost of this series "A day of a Private Jet Pilot". Make sure you have read Part 1 and Part 2.

Private Jet Pilot

Inflight having a healthy meal

The Approach

45 minutes prior our expected time of arrival (ETA) I start to prepare the approach, receive the actual weather and do an approach briefing. Runway 13 in use in Malaga (130 degrees magnetic orientated) Summerly weather conditions with only some clouds and temperature over 30 degrees. The approach is quite turbulent since the flight route takes us overhead a mountains area and thermic conditions are prevailing.
Citation XLS+ in sunny Malaga
At 17:25 after 3:05 hours flight time we reach our parking stand. The handling service informs us that the driver of the passengers told him that they will arrive in approximately 30 minutes. That means we need to hurry up to prepare everything for the next and last flight to Naples. We need the full package. Fuel, catering and fresh documents. Together we check the weather again of our destination and alternate. It looks that major parts of the thunderstorms will have moved southbound. Good news! While the captain is inside waiting for the passengers to arrive Victoria and me prepare the rest. Just in time for our passengers to board the aircraft. The couple is really happy to meet the crew since the flight was not confirmed four hours ago.
I feel good - important to stay hydrated

Flight to Naples

The flight is again really smooth. After Victoria has served a dinner for the passengers she dims the cabin lighting and helps the passengers to move the seats into a flat position for a little rest. We can see an amazing sunset overhead the Mediterranean Sea.
Sunset on top of the clouds Why I fly - sunset up in the air
Last approach of the day. Now it is really important to stay focused and concentrated. It has been a really long. As expected the weather has calmed down. We are cleared for a straight in approach which means that no big turns are required to align with the centerline of the runway. Ciao! Cleared to land advices the tower.

The landing

Watch out laser beams! Someone is pointing on us from the ground. We lower hour heads and turn of the lightning of the aircraft. Strong laser beams can harm us and cause intense reflections in the cockpit. There is the chance to loose the controls of the plane because of temporary blindness. Why and who does something like this?! It can be so dangerous for air traffic and it is a criminal offense with high punishments.
Cockpitview approaching LIRN at night
Shortly prior landing I can see fireworks on the right side. On block at 21:05 after 2:16 hours flight time. After the passengers have left the aircraft we start with our post flight duties. Finish the paper work, clean up the cabin, unload the luggage and install the red protection covers again. This takes another 30-45 minutes to be done.

Finally done

We are finally done for today. For the record: over 6.000 km flown and 8:29 hours up in the air. I think this is my new personal record! It is 22:30 by now when we finally reach the hotel. I am happy to get out of my uniform. 10 minutes later we meet as crew again to have dinner. We reflect the day and talk already about the upcoming flights.
Back in my hotel room. I answers some of my private messages and immediately fall asleep after closing my eyes!
I hope you have enjoyed flying with me. Good night from Naples!
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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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