New Zealand: The adventure begins!

Kia Ora!

Greetings from New Zealand! I’m writing this from my new home at Clearways, with one of CTC’s Cessna 172’s flying overhead. It’s a pretty hot day today, so the air conditioning is working hard (a stark contrast to the UK by the looks of things). So, how have the past couple of weeks panned out? Well, just a couple of weeks after getting our Module 2 results CP110 and EZMP01 flew out to New Zealand for the start of the four month core flying phase (eight months for the Wings cadets). I’ve never traveled further than Europe, so it seemed pretty surreal to be arriving for a flight to the other side of the globe. My journey began at 4pm when I left home to for London Heathrow, where we were scheduled for a 10pm departure. It was quite busy going through customs at Heathrow, but thankfully everything ran like clockwork and after an hour or so catching up with each other in departures we boarded our Emirates A380 and the flight departed on time. We landed in Dubai early the next morning where we had a couple of hours before boarding our next flight; a fourteen hour leg with Qantas to Melbourne, so we took the opportunity to freshen up and stretch our legs before boarding. Funnily enough, some members of our CP were lucky enough to get upgraded to premium economy which was a nice surprise for them! I wasn’t one of the lucky ones, however economy was still pretty comfortable and the flight passed by quite quickly. We landed in Melbourne at around 8am and, seeing as we had a nine hour layover, we decided to make the most of our time and take a trip into the city centre. It was a fantastic few hours where we really got a feel for this laid back city and had a chance to see some of the sights (in 36 degree heat, I may add)!

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Approaching Melbourne (Qantas A380,VH-OQB)

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Melbourne city centre. 36°C!!

After getting back to the airport and clearing customs yet again, it’s fair to say that jet lag was starting to catch up with us all so on the final flight, a Qantas 737 to Auckland, most of us caught up on some much needed rest and before we knew it we had finally arrived in New Zealand. As soon as we left the terminal we were greeted by CTC staff who took us to a number of mini buses which would take us to our final destination at Hamilton. We were surprised to find our bus equipped with pillows and blankets, and seeing as it was very late at night it gave us a much needed head start at beating the jet lag. The transfer took less than two hours due to it being so early in the morning so it wasn’t long before we arrived at Clearways, CTCs main accommodation block just down the road from the training centre at Hamilton Airport. It consists of six ‘blocks’ each with a number of rooms as well as a large common room, washing facilities, restaurant style kitchens plus heaps of outside space (including a large BBQ, of course).

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Boarding the final flight!

The rooms themselves are big, with wall-size sliding windows and air conditioning. I live in Block Five, where two rooms share a small kitchenette, a bathroom and shower room and on our side of the block we look out onto the clearways volleyball and basketball courts. In addition to these, around the Clearways site there is also a cardio gym and a weights gym, and the whole site is set in acres of land that backs onto the river which we are free to explore. There is also an on-site Operations office to allow any issues to be quickly rectified (i.e. lost room cards).

So, after an attempt of a nights sleep, for our first day we decided to take a trip into Hamilton to get a feel for the local area. CTC have made things very easy, giving us six hire cars to use for the next three weeks until we buy our own vehicles. Cadets usually buy vehicles from past cadets or from the local auctions and private sales. It is very cheap to drive over here because you insure the car itself and not the drivers (e.g. a twin turbo Subaru Legacy costs just $400 a year fully comp)!!! Hamilton is a land-locked city, but although it may not be as busy as the coastal towns and cities there is a lot to offer and the city is set in some fantastic countryside. We had some time to have a look around the centre, buy some essentials from the shops and have dinner at one of the many restaurants in the city. It was a great day out, topped off with a couple of drinks in the evening at the local bars, many of which had very good live bands playing. The following day was even better, with a few of us taking three cars over to Raglan beach for a day of sea and surf. It was wall to wall sunshine and it was great to get a feel for the wider area and have a drive on the incredible roads to the coast.

My room

My room (looking rather empty in this photo)

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Raglan!

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My new back garden….

So, with our first weekend over it was time for work to begin. We had a meeting with the head of Base Operations at 8am Monday morning, followed by an 8.30 start at the training centre. Our first day was pretty relaxed and included an introduction to the training centre and the staff who work there. We had a tour of the facilities, including the DA42 simulator on which we do our first four flights, as well as a look at a couple of aircraft out on the apron. The training centre itself is made up of simulator and lecture rooms surrounding a large open plan flight planning area where cadets plan for the flights they will be undertaking that day. There is even a large airline-style TV monitor which lists our rosters and shows when all the cadets and the respective aircraft are flying and at what time they are due to finish. There is also a large outside area which looks over the apron, a newly completed extension with more lecture rooms and a large in house maintenance facility which take care of the growing CTC fleet of Cessna and Diamond aircraft. Out on the apron we had a look at one of the G1000 Cessna 172s, which is the aircraft we will be starting on. As we are an MPL course, we don’t fly aircraft with conventional instrumentation and instead go straight onto the full glass cockpit as soon as possible to get us accustomed to using similar displays in the airline environment.

The following week consisted of ‘Induction Ground School’, which is made up of a number of sections:

1) Introduction and tour of facilities
2) Mass briefs
3) Differences
4) Air Law

The mass briefs cover a number of subjects, including general flying techniques (lookout, fuel management), a look into how we will plan for our flights, and general operations at Hamilton International Airport. Before you begin the flying with CTC out here, you are also required to sit two exams. The first, Differences, does as it says by covering the ‘differences’ between the UK and New Zealand syllabus, and filling us in on any areas that we have not covered in the UK but which are required out here. We are also required to sit the New Zealand Air Law exam, so we had a couple of days worth of lectures followed by a weekend of revision before sitting the exam. For those reading this in Ground School, don’t worry, it is PPL air law and is not as vast as the ATPL Air Law back in the UK!

So, how about the flying? Well, today I had my first simulator lesson and it was fantastic to be at the controls of an aircraft again, even if it was a simulator. I had to arrive at the training centre at 6:30am for a brief before a one hour flight which was pretty relaxed and covered basic yet crucial areas such as straight and level flight, turns, steep turns, stall recovery and spin recovery. However, things move fast and on todays flight we were already looking at basic control in IMC, as well as taxiing, approach and landing. For those who may be wondering why we’re not yet flying for real, on the MPL course our first four flights are in the DA42 simulator to get us used to the basics of flight as well as the G1000 system before starting on the Cessna 172.

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CTC Cessna 172S (Garmin G1000 equipped)

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Home Sweet Home! Clearways!

Tomorrow is my first RDO (rostered day off), and the weather looks fantastic so no doubt we will be out seeing more of this fantastic country. Over the last few days, we have also been to Raglan beach (again), went to watch a Rugby match in Hamilton and ‘sailed’ down the river on inflatable boats -great fun in some spectacular weather!

That’s about all from me for now. We will be flying in the Cessna 172 next week, so I’ll be sure to upload some more pictures to the ‘Training Photos’ section of the website (which has recently been updated) as well as more regular updates. Away from our training program, we also had an informal chat with the new Managing Director of CTC (New Zealand), and there are a number of exciting developments on the way within the company itself, including a new brand identity which can already be seen on Facebook and Twitter. There is also a new prospectus showing the training routes available with CTC which is well worth checking out if you are looking into training with CTC Aviation (link below).

http://bit.ly/1mqafLD << New CTC Wings 2014 Prospectus

http://www.facebook.com/CTCWingsPilotTraining

If you have any questions about the course, CTC or just pilot training in general, please feel free to contact me at any time by clicking on ‘contact me’ icon on this page. Speak soon everyone, and thank you for reading!

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The new CTC logo!

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Time flies…

It’s pretty unbelievable how fast the past few weeks have gone. Next week will be the sixth week of groundschool for CP110/EZMPL01 and, with only Air Law and VFR/IFR communications left to cover, the work is piling up fast!  We are no longer the newest CP either, with CP111 (including EZMPL02, the second intake of easyJet MPL cadets) already at the end of week two.

The simulator hall

The simulator hall

So, groundschool….

Over the past few years, I have been told about the work involved with ATPL groundschool, but it still hasn’t prepared me for the amount of work we have to get through! We have already finished Aircraft General Knowledge, Instrumentation, Principles of Flight and Meteorology which may not look like much, but there is a LOT of theory contained within those four subjects. We have four or five days worth of lessons per week, with scheduled CBT (Computer Based Training) days which allow us to review what we have been taught, read through our CBT, complete progress tests and go through questions on the online question bank. We are the first CP using a new system called PadPilot, whereby our 14 ATPL theory books are all in the format of interactive iBooks on the iPad. It’s huge leap forward from the traditional pile of printed books, and allows us to take our work with us anywhere.

Out of the four subjects we have covered so far, I would say that Aircraft General Knowledge has been the one I have found the most interesting. The subject is broad, and is split up into Systems, Engines and Electrics which each cover a huge amount including hydraulic systems, fire protection, pneumatics, AC and DC electrics, gas turbines, propellers, piston engines……..I could go on! It’s nice to finally know more about how aircraft work, and just what is involved in keeping them in the air! For me, Principles of Flight has been the most challenging subject so far simply due to the number of graphs and formulas it involves. It really is hard work, and a lot of effort is required to stay on top of it all. Despite the sheer amount of theory, a lot of the subjects are really quite interesting and I’m not finding it too hard to sit down at my desk and study (unlike A-Level maths)….

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Principles of Flight Revision

The simulators at the Nursling training centre are a great resource for those of us in the Groundschool phase, so the instructors book us in for flights in the fixed base 737 to help reinforce the theory. A few weeks ago, myself and three of my housemates had a four hour simulator session and it was a fantastic experience which not only helped to boost our motivation, but reinforced some of the theory we have been covering. I found that it helped me get to grips with the concept of stability, and allowed us to have a closer look at some of the advanced Instrumentation used on the flight deck. We each did a number of general handling exercises and did manual approaches and landings at Gatwick. We also set up and executed a CATIII fully automated landing, and had a closer look at some of the complex systems on board the 737. We were at the training centre until around 9pm, and it was a great feeling to come home after having flown a 737 into Gatwick….

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The Boeing 737-700 flight deck!

Away from the 9 to 5, we have managed to fit in a few days out to help us relax and take our minds off of the theory. We have been Go-karting, had a couple of BBQs, the odd poker game and most recently, a day at the Bournemouth Airshow. I’ve never visited the airshow before, so I couldn’t get over the size of it and how many people were in attendance! The weather was perfect, and we saw a number of displays including the Red Arrows, the Blades and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight; another great motivation boost!

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The Red Arrows at Bournemouth

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The crowds on the beach…

So, that’s pretty much all I have to say! We have our mock exams two weeks on Monday and final exams just two weeks after that, which is a scary thought at the moment! It may be a few weeks until my next update but in the meantime, if you have any questions then you can contact me by clicking on the email icon on the left side of the screen.

Back to work I go….. speak soon!

Chris