Saturday, May 27, 2006 


Syukur is a Malay word meaning "being thankful". I visited a cousin of mine today who is also aspiring to be a pilot. He started flying since he's sixteen. Nine years later he still hasn't managed to be a full fledged professional pilot. In Australia, pilot wannabes have it tough. There isn't an ab-initio program such as the one that I'm going through. They have to slog it through, paying for each and every hour of flight time, which isn't cheap at all. Now it costs two hundred aussie dollars for an hour on a single engine plane. To give an idea on how much it'll cost at the end, I needed to do a minimum of a hundred and seventy hours on a single engine plane. Twin engine hours are another forty and that would cost around four hundred an hour. This doesn't include certification exam fees and such. Alot of aussie pilots, my instructors included, took on extra jobs to fund their initial flying careers since companies won't hire pilots with minimum flying hours. It's a long and hard road for them. I am very thankful that I don't have to go through all that to realize my career.

Thursday, May 25, 2006 

Nearing the End

Of Part One of my training that is. I'm sitting quietly in my room, having packed away things that I won't need for the next couple of weeks, listening to the smooth crooning of Bobby Darin.
Just three more flights to go before I'll be signing up for a flight test. Passing this test will award me with a Commercial Pilot's License with Instrument Rating, Multi Engine Certified, and Night Flight Certified. Basically it means I can carry people around for money in bad weather and at night on a big piston engined plane.

I haven't updated my journey for quite some time. In these past couple of months, I've passed my Phase Three check, upgraded to a larger plane with two engines, and passed my Phase Four check.

The twin engine plane that I'm flying is a Beechcraft Baron 58, or just BE58. It can seat six comfortably. Cruise is at 180 knots ( roughly 330km/hr) and it can fly for five hours on a full tank. They're very stable and a joy to fly once I've gotten used to the controls.

Part of the fun of flying this plane is that, it can fly properly with only one engine operative. I'll be flying around sitting there fat dumb and happy when my instructor who can't see me sitting there quietly will pull an engine failure drill. This is done by cutting the fuel supply to one of the engines using the fuel-air mixture control. The engine will lose power and the plane will suddenly start to sway to one side while losing height. We're trained to identify this quickly and proceed with corrective measures, which means we need to apply pressure to the rudder which is controlled with our feet. The moment that's created by one engine is HUGE. Suffice to say, until the engine is recovered, it seems like you're on a squat machine, squatting with one leg, and pushing upwards of 80 kg! It is VERY TIRING.

Other than that, this part of the training is a joy. ILS (instrument landing system) at Perth International at night is amazing. Perth Airport isn't very close to the city, so the surrounding area is dark at night. Sometimes at night you can't see the horizon so the sky and ground blends together and the house lights look like stars. People get disoriented and can fly to the ground thinking they're actually flying up. At international airports, there're alot of lights to help pilots land. The high intensity approach lights (HIAL) help guide the pilot to the runway. At night it's simply beautiful as it branches about forming somewhat of a pine tree which is a few hundred meters long. As one of my friend says, "It looks like there's a huge Christmas tree in the middle of nowhere."

I'll miss flying the Baron. Flight Test coming soon. After I pass, I wont be under the flying college anymore. I'll be a cadet under the parent company. I'll be training to fly jets then. Wish me luck!