Waiting to board Dubai bound Emirates flight EK449 from Auckland.
So, the time is 06:15 and I'm writing the first bit of this post sat on the seating at gate B21 of Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3. Not more than an hour ago I stepped off the first flight of my journey which was incredibly long at about 17 hours and 15 minutes. On the plus side though we travelled into darkness as opposed to away from it so I managed to get a few hours of sleep in between meals and films! Anyway, this kind of detracts from the main purpose of this post. Read on :-)
I passed my CPL Licence Skills Test...
The stereotypical "I've passed my CPL" photo.
There are no words in the world that could possibly describe how I felt to hear I'd passed my CPL licence skills test and Tuesday 14th November 2017 shall forever be the day I remember for that purpose. The preceding week or two weren't without bumps in the road but I did it and it wouldn't have been possible without the help, support and encouragement of my family, friends new and old and the brilliant instructors whose patience got me to the end goal.
There's not really a lot else I can write for this blog post in the way of daily breakdowns as usually I would make prompting notes throughout the week, but on this occasion I've been so focussed on getting this pass that I deliberately let the blog take the back seat. With that said, as with all of my previous posts where I have shared every high and low with you, it's only right that I continue to be honest with this one too.
Unfortunately I failed my first shot at the CPL. We're not even talking a partial fail at this point - whereby the CAA would consider your test a pass so long as you can then prove competency on a subsequent refly - I'm talking a full fail. I can't really pass the blame for my mistake as at the end of the day I was the pilot in command, but I do feel there were a few swiss cheese-esque moments which didn't go in my favour. That's life though isn't it!
As you might expect I was incredibly nervous. On the plus side the deteriorating weather meant I was given quite a nice route by the examiner who then went on to say my circuits would be completed at Hamilton, somewhere I'm now very familiar. Both positives calmed my nerves slightly but between the planning stages and the flight itself the runway direction ended up changing and I'd not really considered a true plan for this eventuality. Following me conducting the correct departure I later turned on track too soon which resulted in me getting too close to some airspace. I still kick myself to this day but it was this that put the nail in the coffin. The examiner was very fair and asked me to continue with the test forfeiting the nav in order to see if i could at least complete the remaining sections. Sadly I forgot to lift the landing gear on the asymmetric circuit and got marked down in a second area. The result of the day: a full fail.
* Beaming from ear to ear in my favourite NZ Twinstar "Charlie-Tango-Kilo" *
Post test it's fair to say I cried, a lot, and I'd like to thank my closest friends at L3/CTC for their support during that emotional rollercoaster. A few days later and having had the time to think it all over I had a meeting with the head of training and deputy chief flying instructor for the advanced phase where we discussed my weak points. I was initially concerned this meeting would have been of a negative tone as I'd failed a critical test in an integrated course. I was also fearful the school would say I wasn't good enough to continue but it wasn't like that at all! It was actually the complete opposite. They were very honest in saying it'd now be somewhat harder to find a job, but then went on to discuss how under Performance Protection they were willing to work with me and agree a package of remedial flights. The school wanted to ensure that I'd not only pass at my second attempt but go on to do so with certainty. They wanted me to have a way of telling the airlines how I overcame this setback and in needing to stay in the country a little longer they also covered my accomodation and the cost of moving my return flights. Given the already high levels of stress I was under this went quite a long way to easing my concerns. That said, it was a shame to see many of my coursemates depart and leave me behind.
* Good ol' Charlie-Tango-Kilo post-flight. *
The remedial flights covered circuits, general handling and an additional mock CPL to assess me against the criteria once more prior to any retest. Said flights were completed inside of a week, as the weather allowed, and were very helpful in making me feel more comfortable in the aircraft. At my request we even re-visited some of the basics and some time in the circuit recapped the way we fly a more rounded pattern compared with single engines. My emergency drills were also refined by some self-study. I've a lot of respect for my instructor as thanks to his dedication I went on to pass at my second attempt almost a fortnight later.
I was told of the positive news immediately after shutting down the aircraft. My favourite aircraft Charlie-Tango-Kilo was in maintenance for the week prior and I remember saying to my brother the day before the test that the fact it'd come out of maintenance and then also booked out to me was a sort of 'sign' - one in which seems to have been positive in nature. As you can imagine, I was beaming from ear-to-ear after hearing this result as I was certain i'd failed this one too. I made a couple of silly mistakes but the examiner said don't worry, they were nothing worthy of a fail and simply worth a chat in the debrief. *Phew* I can remember yelling "Yes - I did it!!" across the apron at fellow trainees who looked over at me with faces of anxiety. It was such a relief and finally time to go home! I truly couldn't have done it without the everyone around me - school included. So thank you, once again.
* Finally home! - Greeted by Archie *
On getting home it was so lovely to be greeted by the dogs as I'd really missed their antics. I also saw most of the family and was treated to a chinese, which was really nice. I've got to say I found the UK quite a shock to the system and I guess you could call it "reverse culture shock". Everything's manic here by comparison but having gone into Tesco's I have to say I'm loving the price of fruit and vegetables. 50p for loads of carrots as opposed to 50p for one (slight exaggeration) is much more like it and I'm looking forward to losing some of the NZ weight by eating more healthily given it's more affordable.
Due to the delay in my NZ training i've now been re-aligned to an instrument rating course that starts in December. In one way it's a shame as I'll be behind my own coursemates, but in another I'm super happy to have some time at home with the family to recharge my batteries.
With this in mind, I doubt there'll be a blog post from me until the middle of next month.
All the best,