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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vacation in the caribbean

Vacation in the Caribbean + My 10 travel tips

Hola my Aviators,

sunny greetings from the Punta Cana. In this blog post, I show you unpublished photos of my spontaneous vacation in the Caribbean and give you helpful tips when traveling to any place in the world.

You may wonder why I am already on vacation when I just completed my type rating on the Airbus A300-600 with a new company. Last Saturday I finished the initial training so I could apply for a new license at the authority. This takes approximately two weeks until I receive my new license. This is quite bothersome since I am not allowed to fly during this period. To bridge this time my operator granted me some days of vacation. Since the type rating was really intense and I got sick of the freezing weather in Germany I decided to use the time to escape winter.

pilotpatrick saona island caribbean sea starfish
Escaping winter in the Caribbean Sea

Last week I posted a photo on my Instagram on which I asked for an inspiration where I could travel to for sun and beach. I was so happy for all your travel tips. Two days prior my vacation started I finally booked a flight to the Dominican Republic. This was the really spontaneous decision because it was hard to find a location with a good flight connection and available accommodations when I started to search one week ago.

  • Travel tip: Read reviews and visit online hotel evaluation websites. This can help you to find the hotel that suits you best. I usually read the worst reviews first.

I flew with Air Berlin from Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL) to Düsseldorf (DUS). From Düsseldorf, I switched on the A330, which took me to Punta Cana (PJU).

pilot patrick air berlin business class punta cana
With Air Berlin in Business Class Seat 4K to Punta Cana
  • Travel tip: Compare ticket prices online. Always check the ticket prices on the website of the airline as well. I usually use google flight search a lot.

Luckily I could book seats in their Business Class. Even as a former Private Jet pilot I have to admit that their Business class product is great. Every seat has a direct aisle access and the seats at the window give a lot of privacy. The best thing is the seats convert to a fully flat bed so the vacation starts already on board ;-) The flight lasted about 10 hours. At 14:30 local time we touched down on PUJ on time. Outside air temperature 27 degrees and sunny. This is what I was longing for.

pilot patrick air berlin business class to punta cana
My business class set to PUJ
pilot patrick approaching pju dominican republic
Approaching paradise
  • Travel tip: Take your time and arrive at the airport early enough. This reduces your stress level. Reserve your favorite seat early enough. Sometimes you can use your bonus miles so it does not cost you anything. Try to travel lightly this makes your life easier ;-)

I could not believe it, but already 25 mins after we reached the gate I was outside the terminal in the taxi. The staff at the airport was super friendly and I experienced the first Caribbean vibes. It took a regular taxi to my hotel Paradisus by Melia, which I booked via my travel agency 'Thomas Cook' in Wiesbaden.

pilot patrick punta cana five star paradisus resort
First day in paradise relaxing in my private cabana
  • Travel tip: Compare hotel prices online and with travel agencies on site. In this case, I saved over 1.000,-€ because I got a last minute price via the travel agency Thomas Cook. As you can see the internet prices are not always cheaper.

After 15:00 hours of traveling, I finally arrived in paradise. The sandy white beach with hundreds of palm trees looked like from a postcard. I am usually not the guy who books an 'all inclusive' vacation but since I am staying only for 6 days I thought it would be a good idea. Additionally, the Dominican Republic is not really save at the moment, that is why the travel agencies recommend staying in the hotel and booking only guided tours. In my opinion, they sometimes exaggerate. If you know how to behave in a foreign country and know the "don'ts" you should be fine.

paradisus punta cana palm tress
My way to the hotel room at Paradisus resort
  • Travel tip: The website of the Federal Foreign office of Germany publishes current travel and security tips for all countries. Inform yourself prior booking your vacation.

The resort is huge and all rooms are located in separated two-storied villas with a private outside area. I have the impression to be living in a small town rather than a big hotel complex. Unfortunately, I was not satisfied with the first room, that is why I complained. I expect to have a clean room no matter if it is one or a five-star hotel. For the inconvenience, they upgraded me to a higher room category with my own jacuzzi on the balcony. Additionally, they granted me access to the exclusive beach and pool area. Besides that, I am allowed to use the a la carte Restaurant at the beach without any extra charge.

relaxing jacuzzi paradisus resort punta cana
My own jacuzzi on the balcony of my junior suite
  • Travel tip: If you are not satisfied with the hotel room or you are not happy with the series let the reception know. Especially in high-class hotels, they try their best to get everything right.

I have been to the Caribbean before but not to the Dominical Republic yet. Alle people I met so far are really friendly and in a good mood. Spanish is the official language here, but most of them speak proper english and some even german.

  • Travel tip: Always take local currency to the country you are flying to. This helps immensely when you want to get around and when tipping a service. I recommend taking two credit cards with you in case one gets lost or does not work.
altos de chavon tui excursion domican republic
View from Altos de Chavon to the river of Chavon

Excursion

After relaxing for a day at the beach I went on a full day excursion to Saona to experience the Caribbean Sea. As many people do not know at the northern shoreline (Punta Cana/Puerto Plata) of the island is the Atlantic ocean. First stop was in Altos de Chavon. A small Mediterranean replica village located on a cliff of the Chavon river. From there we walked down to the riverbed to jump on a steamboat to drive along a tropical landscape in the direction of the Caribbean sea. Movies like Rambo and Jurassic Park were shot at this location. Once we reached the river delta we jumped into a speedboat to cruise next to the East National Park. In the middle of the Sea is a natural pool with crystal clear cyan blue water. There were hundreds of starfish on the sandy ground of the sea.

pilot patrick vacation natural pool in caribbean sea
Into the blue - natural pool in the Caribbean Sea (close to Saona island)
  • Travel tip: Leave no valuables visible in your room. I do not trust the build in saves, that is why I put my electronics and money in my lockable suitcase when I leave the room.

Next stop was the island Saona. A small island with 300 inhabitants, which was discovered by Christopher Columbus it in May 1494 during his second voyage to the Americas. We had a BBQ at the beach. Locals sold Pina Colada in a pineapple and fresh coconuts. I found a nice private spot to enjoy this picture-perfect paradise.

pilot patrick excursion to paradise Soana island in caribbean sea
I am trying to get my next fresh coconut at Saona Island

In the afternoon we boarded the last boat of this day. A 35 m long catamaran, which took us with drinks and good music to the beach of Bayahibe. I laid down in a net in front of the boat and enjoyed the ride. This was truly a memorable day and I had a lot of fun.

TUI catamaran excursion soana island
2 hours on a 35 m long Catamaran in the Caribbean Sea
  • Travel tip: I see so many people taking photos with their cheap mobile phone camera. Rather take a decent charged digital camera, which takes high-quality photos for  your memories. Save the photos on an extra device.
pilot patrick relaxing in paradise saona island caribbean sea
Relaxing on Saona Island with a Pina Colada

I got back to the hotel in the evening to enjoy two nice dinners at two restaurants. The combination of sun, a lot of food and different drinks made me feel sick the next day. I took care of my diet and rested under a palm tree umbrella at the beach the whole day.

  • Travel tip: Take different medicine with you from home. Something for your throat, nose and for your stomach. I also recommend taking some bandages and disinfection spray.

Luckily I felt much better the next day so I could go on another fun activity. The airline Aerointer in Punta Cana invited me to go on a short helicopter flight over the shoreline. Thanks to pilot Bernie for giving me a different perspective of the island. I think I should get a helicopter license as well. It is so much fun taking off vertically with an aircraft. Watch the full video of my flight on Facebook 'PilotPatrick'

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1330316197033973

 

pilot patrick helicopter aerointer punta cana
Fun flight over paradise in Punta Cana with Aerointer

Vacation in the Caribbean is ending

After six days I had to leave paradise again. I really enjoyed the perfect weather and the marvelous beaches. The Dominicans are a really friendly and they are brimful of life. I suppose this is because of their relaxed way of living and the good weather all year around. I only left the hotel twice, but both times I noticed that streets are dirty and people and animals live in between trash. That made me really sad to see since the hotel industry boosts the economy in this region.

pilot patrick rimowa suitcase paradise palm trees punta cana
Leaving paradise :( for outfit details visit www.updressed.com/pilotpatric

For outfit details you can always visit my updressed page I am constantly updating this profile. 

My return flight with Air Berlin was a direct connection from Punta Cana to Berlin. This was quite convenient since it was a night flight and the landing in Tegel airport was at 6:30 in the morning. The flight time was around 8:45 hours and the lie flat seat was fantastic to get some sleep. This what I call luxury on board! During the flight, I watched the movie Miss Peregrine's Home for peculiar children. In case you like fantasy, drama and action at the same time I can really recommend this movie. The touchdown in Berlin was during darkness and the weather was rainy and cold. I missed paradise already!

business class Airberlin Airbus A330 Seat 2A
Seat that converts to a fully flat bed

I hope you like my travel tips and hopefully, they will help you on your next journey!

Where is your next vacation taking you to?

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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hotelfit

Hotelfit - How do I stay fit?

In my recent blogpost “I am a Foodie Pilot” I talked about my special eating habits to stay healthy. Many of you also wondered about my fitness program when being busy traveling. In this blog post I want to convince you that it does not take much time to do an efficient workout. Together with my personal trainer Timo @theshapeofyourlife I show you my #hotelfit workout at Hotel Otto in Berlin.

Regular physical exercises are vital to loose weight, to gain muscles and to stay fit. But the major key to success is your diet. 70% counts your food and only 30% your sport activities! I can understand that this might sound shocking, but this is the truth. I only workout 2-3 times a week. It is usually a intense workout in my Crossfit box or a personal training with Timo when I am at home. I always give my body one day rest in between workouts.

Inflight having a healthy crew meal

When I am on duty my time is limited and sometimes there is no gym in the hotel. In this case I do a workout in my hotel room. You will be surprised about how many exercises you can do without big and heavy tools.

I can really recommend to get a suspension trainer. Ask Timo about the different models on the market. The equipment works great at home, outdoors and in hotel rooms. You can adjust the intensity and the complexity of the exercises. This tool requires a good tension of your whole body and fits easily in a suitcase. Additionally I use Thera-Bands for some exercises.

My example full body #hotelfit workout lasts approx. 30 mins. This workout actually saves time since you do not need to go somewhere, you do not need to wait on tools and nobody will stare at you. Turn on the music and enjoy your personal workout.

Let's get the workout started

Please watch the video for the execution of the exercises. Make all the exercises controlled and according to the motto: quality before quantity!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUxAqzJx2yQ?rel=0]

The warm up consists of three rounds of:
15 x Jumping Jacks, 10 x Air squats and 5 x Burpees

To keep it simple: each exercises consists of 3 sets with 10 repetitions. Between each set you may rest for 1 minute.

Push Press

For your chest and triceps!

The best exercise ever and you can do it everywhere. Tense your body and make your stomach hard. 2 seconds down, chest touches the ground, 1 second up. Hands are a little bit more than shoulder width. Spread your finders for stability. I put my feet on a small stool which increases the intensity.

Push press: 3 sets of 10 repetitions 2 seconds down, chest touches the ground, 1 second up

Dips

For your triceps!

Take a stool, chair or low table to do this exercise. Place your hands in line with the shoulders. Make sure your elbows stay in line and to not move outwards during the movement. Your lower and upper arm should build a 90° angle when you are at the lowest position. 2 seconds down and 1 second up.

Dips! 3 sets of 10 repetitions. Timo takes care about my execution Elbows behind the shoulders, Upper and lower arm build a 90 degree angle

TRX pistol squats

For your legs!

Regular air squats, but only with one leg. The suspension trainer supports your stability and makes the exercise easier. Make sure you are in line with the robes and your knee, which flexes, does not move in or outward. Keep a straight upper and lower back. Do this exercise slow and controlled.

TRX pistols - Squats with one leg with a suspension trainer

TRX crunch

For your abs!

So much fun and your abs will burn. This exercise can be done in numerous variations. Your whole body need to be tensed. From a blank position you move your butt explosively up while your legs remain straight. Rest for a second at the highest position and than move slowly back the blank position.

Crunches with the TRX suspension trainer Legs and arms straight. Butt up! Hold at the highest position for one second!

Curls

For your biceps!

You may either use the TRX or the Thera-Bands. When you train with the TRX make sure your body is tensed and only your arms move. You can adjust the intensity by moving  forward and backward with your feet. Most important is that your elbows stay high and in line with your shoulders. When you use the Thera-Bands please take special care that your wrists are in line with your lower arm and do not move.

Bizeps curls with the TRX. Keep elbows high and arms in line with the shoulders! Alternative: Bizeps curls with the Thera-Band

Back

For your upper back!

This exercises is great when you have problems with your upper back. Since I sit a lot during work, I have to work on my back, so that my posture stays in shape. Your elbows stay attached to your body. You will feel it in your arms and upper back. Keep your back straight. With the Thera-Bands you can do many other great exercises as well.

Great exercise with the Thera-Band to strengthen the back Keep your posture straight and elbows attached to the body!

It is really important to do all movements in a proper way. Otherwise you may harm yourself in the longterm. Thats is why I really recommend to book a personal trainer who can help you with your deficiencies. I have been hitting the gym for over six years now and I am still not perfect in all executions.

I hope that I could convey the message, that it does not require a lot of time to do sport. If your schedule is tight and you do not have the time to go somewhere, take your home or hotel room as a gym instead. Your body weight is the best exercise tool you can have.

Personal trainer Timo:
Web: www.theshapeofyourlife.de
Instagram: @theshapeofyourlife

Hotel in Berlin: Hotel Otto Berlin

Meet my good friend and personal trainer Timo!

What is your favorite type of sport?

Your Pilot Patrick

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Making of Facebook live video:
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how i became a pilot

How I became a pilot III

Welcome on board of my series of “How I became a pilot". In part three I will talk about the flight training with Pilot Training Network in Zadar and the theory phase back in Frankfurt. Find out which drink was offered to me after landing in Slovakia and which malfunctions I had during one of my first solo flights.

Fleet of Diamond aircraft DA20 and DA40 models in Zadar, Croatia Beautiful views over the Adrian sea during flight training

The structure of the training:

  • 8 weeks of PPL theory classes in Frankfurt (How I became a pilot II)
  • 10 weeks of SE VFR (single engine, visual flight rules) flight training in Zadar
  • 30 weeks of ATPL theory classes in Frankfurt  (ATPL = Airline Transport Pilot License)
  • 8 weeks of IFR flight training in Vero Beach, Florida  (IFR = Instrument flight rules)
  • 4 weeks ME IFR flight training in Zadar, Croatia  (ME = Multi Engine)
  • 1 week MCC course in Frankfurt  (MCC = Multi Crew Coordination)
Younger me as a student pilot with my instructor "Wolle" in Zadar

The entire training in Zadar lasted about 10 weeks. I already had my first solo flight after 11 flight hours with an instructor. On 24th of July 2008 I lifted off the ground in a DA20 all by myself for the very first time. It was really exciting. At first I was nervous, because I wanted to do everything safe and correct. The first flight went really well and after 30 mins I landed safely. It was awesome.

Returning from my first solo flight DA 20 VFR flight training in Zadar (LDZD)

During the first couple of missions we always stayed either in the traffic pattern of Zadar (airport) or in close proximity. In dedicated training areas we practised special flight maneuvers to improve our manual flying skills. First lesson in aviation: aviate, navigate, communicate! Flying has always priority before everything else.

During the aerial work over the Adrian sea we did stalls, steep turns and slow flight. An aircraft being in stall means that the wings do not produce lift anymore, because of the angle of attack being too big. If not corrected may lead to a crash.

Steep turn (45 degrees) in a DA20 aircraft! Like a roller coaster!

Cross country flights

After being familiar with the procedures, the aircraft, the flight patterns and the communication with air traffic control we started flying cross country. Those flights took place between two points (e.g. airports) using navigational techniques. Some missions were flown in a DA40, which is a single piston four seater. One fellow student pilot as observer in the back and the instructor and me in the front. Usually we flew to more distant airports, where we landed and switched seats. Like one day when we flew to a small airport in Slovenia. After landing we were guided by a small motorbike to our parking position to refuel for the next flight. ;-) Before departure the handling guy offered us his self brewed liquor. I guess he wanted to fuel more than the aircraft. This guy was just too funny.

DA40 flight mission - Crew change in Solvakia

The flight training was a lot of fun. Nevertheless the pressure to be a good student pilot was high and the program did not leave a lot of space for deficiencies. This required additionally studying when on ground. Everything was new to me and especially at the beginning I had to take care that I fly the airplane and not the airplane me.

Pilotsview - Croatian islands in the Adrian Sea

Technical problems

I remember one special event during a solo cross country flight. During the approach to Pula airport I encountered problems with the engine. It did not run smooth at all. That is why I decided to stay in close proximity to the airport to figure out the problem and in case the propeller stops to glide to the runway. (We actually learn this procedure and do it simulated)  Luckily I managed to fly back to the home base safely. I informed our maintenance about the malfunction. In the end the airplane was grounded for several days.

The weeks in Croatia past by really fast. Not only because of the flying, but also because of the activities our course did together. Up in the air we have already seen how beautiful the landscape was. Krka water falls and the surrounding nature reserve is a great example.

Excursion to Krka water falls - Must see

ATPL theory

Back in Germany the ATPL theory phase began. That meant studying intensively. We learned the entire knowledge to be prepared for the final exams at the LBA (german aviation authority). It would take over 8 months before being back in a cockpit flying.

The legendary DC6 visiting Zadar Airport

Most of the questions of the final exams were in a multiple choice style. Over the years 1000 of possible of questions leaked to flight schools and to training programs like Peters software. Many students just learnt the questions and the answers to them without understanding them. I thought this is quite risky method for studying and plus I wanted to understand what I am doing in the future. My method proofed me more than right. This time the LBA changed a lot on their questions and added a lot to their question bank. In the end only five students (including me) of 20 students passed the exam at the first attempt. The exam consisted of 12 subjects which could be written on three consecutive days.  

First selfies out of the cockpit

Subjects

General Navigation, Meteorology, Radio Navigation, Principle of flight/aerodynamics (my favorite subject), Human Resources, Air Law, Power plant, Instrument/ Electronics, Flight Planning, Operational Procedures, Performance, Mass and Balance

My ATPL theory results

Since I passed the exam right away, I was allowed to proceed with the second flight training phase. Surprisingly it was not going to take place in Zadar. Read the next part of how I became a pilot.

Have you been to Croatia before?

Your Pilot Patrick

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my stay at sanbona wildlife reserve

My stay at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

I recently published my first airline review of the flight with Lufthansa to Cape Town. Now I want to share with you my first hotel review about a very special place, which is more than just a hotel. During my three weeks of vacation in South Africa, I stayed two nights at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve .

I had a lot of activities and places on my list. One of my top once was to do a safari, on which I would have the chance to see the big five. The african travel agency "Going to Capetown"  recommended to overnight at a lodge, which is located inside a wildlife reserve and offers daily game drives. The photos of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve looked stunning. At first I was not convinced, because of the the high rate. But in the end every penny was worth spending.

Sunset vibes - Open Land cruiser for the game drives

The Main Gate of the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is about 270 km (approx. 3 hours) away from Cape Town. The landscape changes from green valleys to a more rough and mountainous countryside. A little bit of Jurassic Park feeling kicked in when waiting the big gate to be opened. A short drive on a gravel road took us to a Welcome Lodge, where we had to leave our car behind. After a warm welcome of the manager and some refreshments a transport took us to our lodge, where we would stay for the next two days. The ride lasted about 45 mins and we already got some amazing impressions of the landscape.

Insider Tipp: Try to manage to use the earliest pick up time at the Welcome Lodge, so it will be more relaxed and you will have the chance to go on a game drive in the evening.

Main lodge in the middle of the rock formation

The lodge

The reserve consists of three different lodge categories. We stayed at the most exclusive and luxurious lodge, called Dwyka Tented Lodge. The location is truly impressive. The nine tented rooms are concealed by striking rock formations. The roof of the "room" reminds of a tend but the inside can keep up with a five star hotel. The design of the tents invoke the feeling of a pioneering adventure with a modern touch. Luxury safari at its best!

"Hotelroom" of Dwyka Tented Lodge

A tented room for two adults features:

  • private deck with heated jacuzzi
  • outdoor shower
  • big comfortable bed
  • ensuite bathroom with bath tub
  • air condition (hot and warm)
  • private mini bar
  • amazing views (leave the TV off)
Luxury tent with a own private deck and amazing views Dwyka Tented Lodge with a private deck and jacuzzi

In the centre of the tented lodges is the main building, which features a cozy lounge, the reception and the restaurant (also open air). In the lounge is a telescope to watch the stars. I highly recommend to use it since there is only little artificial light. Adjacent to it is a smaller tent, which features a relaxation retreat. I booked a full body massage.

Total of nine tented lodges at Dwyka Tented Lodge

Wifi: You do not really need it. It is a good feeling not to be reachable from time to time. In the main lodge is Wifi provided with decent speed. The signal reached only some rooms.

Insider Tipp: Do not leave the jacuzzi cover open with the lights on after sunset. A lot of animals will join you in the water.

Game drives

The interactive game drives last up to three hours and take place in the tranquil moods of sunrise and sunset. Since it was summer in South Africa the day started at 05:00 am with a nice wake up call of the ranger. The game drive starts at 05:30 am in a comfortable open Land Cruiser.

Game drive with a comfortable Land cruiser last 3 hours (shot with my gopro)

In think we had the best ranger I could imagine. Owen explained everything in detail and was able to show us all major animals really close. We got to see the big five: elephants, rhinos, buffalos, lions and leopards. Additionally we got to see giraffes, zebras and many more. In all situation we felt safe, even when we stepped out of the Land cruiser to watch the cheaters eat. This experiences I will not forget in a lifetime! The Sanbona Wildlife Reserve aims to restore the ecological balance, that is why the animals are protected by a fence. Therefore the probability to see many animals in a short time is relatively high.

Elephants crossing our path Guided safari with an experienced ranger

Evening game drives offer a spectacular sunset over the Little Karoo. With a glass of gin tonic we enjoyed the amazing colors on top of a hill while the sun was setting. After arriving back at the camp you we offered a wet towel and drinks in the lounge to reflect the experiences of the day together.

The display of lights when the sun sets are spectacular

Food and Service

As you know I am a "Foodie Pilot" which means I am really picky when it comes to food. Keeping in mind that the next supermarket is definitely not around the corner, the menu offered a good variety. I really liked the south african cuisine, which was  tasty. I especially liked the BBQ evening, which offered many flavors and dishes I never had tasted before. The atmosphere during dinner was cozy since there are only a maximum of 18 guests in the lodge at the same time.

The staff was really friendly and the service during meals was really good. The manager of the lodge was really caring and we had some good laughs with her.

Lazy white lion - It was amazing to see them live in nature On the way back to the lodge. Little bush fires due to the dryness in summer

What to pack for the adventure:

  • Safari hat
  • Binoculars
  • Outdoor shoes
  • Camera
  • Warm clothing
  • Sun screen

It is not solely a classic hotel review. It is more a review of an adventure in the wilderness. I recommend to stay at least two days at Sanbona Wildlife Reserve. I really enjoyed the time and I was sad to leave this unique place on earth.

The price during high season was over 800 Euros (night/room), which included meals, accommodation, game drives and much more. Nevertheless I had high expectations, which were surpassed. In the end every penny was worth spending for this amazing experience.

Have you been on a safari before?

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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business class review Lufthansa

Business Class review - with Lufthansa to Cape Town

I decided to publish my first airline review, because you were interested in my opinion as private jet pilot about a flight experience in a higher booking class.

Business class review Lufthansa

This year I spend three weeks of vacation in South Africa. I had an amazing time and I felt in love with South Africa. The flight made this vacation special as well. Months in advance, I was excited to go on this flight. One reason for this was, that I flew in Lufthansa’s Business Class on the A340-600. But the flight almost did not depart…

A340-600 at the parking position in Munich prior boarding to Cape Town

I want to give you a brief review of my experience on board of Lufthansa, one of my favorite airlines. This might help you when booking your next flight, maybe to Cape Town.

My flights:
Berlin Tegel – Munich
Munich – Cape Town (night flight)

Cape Town – Munich (day flight)
Munich – Berlin Tegel

Welcome on board!

On the flight to Cape Town seat 3D was mine. Right after I stowed my hand luggage and took a seat, I was offered a welcome drink. Overall the service was excellent. The flight attendants were really friendly and gave a personal touch to their service. The front cabin of the A340-600 was quite spacious, but I noticed right away that there is not much privacy when seated. Nevertheless I really liked the modern design and the interior.

Welcome drink on board of Lufthansa's A3400-600 in Munich. Seat 3D

Take off thrust set in Munich. Reaching about 120 km/h the four engines spooled down and the brakes were applied. I said quite loudly: “Aborted take off!" I was right. The aircraft vacated the runway. Interesting fact: In 6 years as pilot I never had to reject a take off. Fortunately the pilots could solve the technical problem, so that we attempted for another take off 30 minutes later, after the brakes had cooled down.

Seat

Lufthansa Business Class Configuration 2-2-2

I was surprised about the versatility of the seat. It felt comfortable when eating, watching a movie and especially when in the sleeping position. A flat bed on a long-range flight is luxury. I am 1,86 m tall and I had enough space in length. Additionally you can adjust the degree of hardness of the cushion through air. Unfortunately I had the impression that the seat width was a little bit too narrow and the pillow a little bit too thick.

Food

Dinner in Business Class shortly prior landing in Munich

As I mentioned in my recent post “I am a foodie pilot”, I am really strict and picky about my food. That is why I am definitely not a benchmark. But I have to admit, that the selection and the taste of food were really good. Great wine and drink menu. I missed some snacks in between meals on a 12 hours flight. Fantastic was have an espresso above the clouds.

Inflight Entertainment

A huge selection of movies, series, documentaries, games, music and so on in up to eight languages were offered. The headsets were comfortable to wear and the interface was easy to control. I used Wi-Fi during flight to keep you up to date on my snapchat. :-)

Flat bed in Business Class, Seat 3D good while in sleeping position

My recommendations:

  • If possible reserve a seat in the first row. The seats in row 3 (A340-600) at the window give you some kind of shelf and the seats in the middle give you some extra legroom.

Seat 3D to CPT and seat 3A on the return flight

  • When traveling alone I recommend to take a window seat, because the seats in the middle section are angled a little towards each other. Those ones I rather recommend for couples.
  • During night flights I suggest to take a middle seat, since each seat has direct aisle access. Find your seat map on Seatguru.
  • Choose a seat in the front of the Business Class, because during boarding only Business and First Class passengers will pass you in the aisle.

Overhead Africa on the way from CPT to MUC

Following extras can you expect:

  • Amenity Kit (including socks, ear plugs and cosmetics)
  • Cosmetics in the lavatories
  • Water bottle at the seat
  • USB and power plug at your seat
  • Free newspapers and magazines
  • Big pillow and a blanket
  • High quality headset

Leaving Cape Town on Lufthansa's A340-600 overflying Camps Bay

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSga1AL2q5w?rel=0]

The price for a Lufthansa Business Class ticket can be quite expansive, but the investment is totally worth it. This way the vacation already starts on board and you are looking forward to your flight. Especially on the way to Cape Town, which primarily takes place during the night, the flat seat is fantastic. Since their is only one hour of time difference, you can enjoy the day fresh and fit.

My rating

My rating of the flights in Lufthansa Business Class, where 5 aircrafts highest and 1 lowest:

Business Seat    ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
Privacy                 ✈️ ✈️
Aircraft                ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
Service                 ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
Food                     ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
Entertainment  ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️
Extras                  ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

My Rating:         ✈️ ✈️ ✈️ ✈️

Which airline has the best Business Class for you? Please comment below.

Read my next blog post: "What's in my bag?"

Your Pilot Patrick

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How to become a pilot - My 10 personal advices

"How to become a pilot?" Probably the most frequent question I get on my Instagram account @pilotpatrick.

Additionally to my series "How I became a pilot" I want to give you 10 personal advice when you strive to become a commercial pilot.

My epaulettes. Three stripes for a First Officer / Copilot

Licences

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

  • PPL: Private Pilot License. As the name suggests this license is solely used for private operation. (e.g. flying in a small piston engine, non commercial)
  • CPL: Commercial Pilot License. This license grants you to fly aircrafts commercially as a First Officer. The A states for airplane.
  • ATPL: Aircraft Transport Pilot License. This license is granted to those how fulfill certain flight hours and are holding a CPL with ATPL theory. This type is needed to become a Captain.

My first day of flying a commercial Jet in 2010

My 10 tips how to become a pilot:  

1. Make sure you are fit to fly and meet the medical requirements to pass the class 1 examination. After having passed the initial examination you need to revalidate your Medical class one every year.

2. Be fit in maths and physics. You do not to be genius but the basic knowledge is necessary. Your sense in space should be well developed. Check the requirements of airlines and flight school which kind graduation level they expect. Some airlines only hire pilots with a high school/ A-level graduation.

3. Find the flight school which suites you the best. There are many flights schools which all promise to make an airplane out of you. Attend “open days” or info events of the flight schools to gather as much as information as possible. Try to talk to graduates to get a genuine feedback. Consider location of the school, training devices and length of the entire education. Here you find a list of flight schools for example.

4. Go for a short “test flight” with an instructor. This way you will find out if you agree to Leonardo Da Vinci’s quote: When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return“. This way you will easily find out if aviation and flying is for you

5. Flight training with an airline. This would be the best and financially the least risky way of becoming a pilot. Usually the airline gives you a training loan and offers you a cockpit position at the end. A certain amount of the training cost is paid back with your salary. (differs to all airlines of course). I have not heard about any scholarships for cadets.

Cockpit of a Piper Arrow in Vero Beach during flight training in 2008

6. Consider the high education costs of a private flight school. I was lucky that my parents paid for my entire training at pilot training network. The costs were around 70.000€. Depending on the school and country the prices range from 50.000 to 150.000€. Additionally you have to consider the costs for a daily living and accommodation. It will be quite difficult to work part time since an integrated training is time consuming

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

8. A pilot license is not an official professional education. In case you lose your medical for whatever reason, you can only show flight hours in your logbook. That is why I decided to attend a far distant university to have some kind of back up. Maybe think about going to college or learn a profession before becoming a pilot. Sounds strange, but it is always good to have a Plan B.

9. Think about the pros and cons of a pilot life could mean for you. Especially at the beginning of your career you should be quite flexible in terms of your home base location. During your training you might be forced to move to different places.

10. I recommend to visit exhibitions, where flight schools introduce themselves. For example: The ILA  (Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung) in Berlin. At the career center you have the chance to get to know different flight schools and chat with them.

Overflying Miami Beach during flight training in 2008

Have a look on my aviation related Links page, where you might find additional information.

I hope this blog posts helps some of you. In case you have further questions comment below!

Positive mind, positive life and happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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