Monday, 28 July 2014

Base training complete... passengers tomorrow... goodbye!

Neat and tidy circuits (not mine sadly) but a bit larger than usual.

Base training

We have just returned from a quiet airport in the middle of France, where we spent the weekend flying circuits.

Nothing unusual about that for a trainee pilot, but these circuits were flown not in a little Cessna or a Warrior, but in a company Airbus A320.

Trusted with sixty-odd tons of extremely valuable aircraft we proceeded to fly it around and around, about 50 landings between us, until we had all reached the required standard.

The poor thing worked its socks off with a full-power take off every seven or eight minutes and touch downs varying from the excellent to the rather firm.

I hate to even guess at the costs and fuel used, best not to think too hard about that! Base training is a rather special one-off experience that every airline pilot goes through just once in their career.

The obligatory cheesy photo

A quick trip to Aviation House at Gatwick Airport this morning with all the reams of paperwork, and I now have the A320 type rating on my licence. Legally, I am fully qualified as a first officer (co-pilot) to carry passengers on the whole A320 family from the baby 318 to the super stretch 321.

The four members of the A320 family
Practically though, the training continues. Just because I can legally fly, it does not mean I have must of a grasp of what the job is really like  nor much experience. This is where line training comes in.

For the next 40 or 50 flights, I will be operating on actual routes with actual passengers on board, which is a scary and humbling thought. Keeping an eye on my progress will be an experienced training captain, and for the first few trips a safety pilot will come along too. This is largely to step in should be captain become incapacitated. Nobody would want someone as new as me going it alone on the flight deck just yet, me included!

There is no hanging around, my first trip starts tomorrow. It's a busy two-day trip with six flights, four of which are quite short and hectic. It just so happens that we fly the 319, 320 and 321 on the same trip as well as visiting some fairly tricky airports (I will refrain from telling you where) In at the deep end...


And so, "Future Airline Pilot" is no longer an appropriate name for this blog, and "Current Airline Pilot" does not have much of a ring to it. The dream has become real and this story is at an end.

The last almost-two-years have been quite an adventure. A great deal of hard work has gone in as well a scary financial investment. I have come out of it with not just a licence but a whole new career, expanded horizons and lots of new friends.

A huge thank you to everyone who has supported me throughout morally, emotionally, factually and financially. Without my wonderful wife, family and friends I would not be where I am now looking forward to a quite different future.

Thank you for reading.

Onward and upward....


PS. Friends and family only: if you have a smartphone or tablet computer, you can download the Roster Buster Friends & Family app and follow where in the world I am and see my roster for the next month or so. Install the app then use either your facebook account or my mobile number to connect with me. Here are the links for the ipad/iphone and for Android.


  1. So proud of you, onwards and upwards so to speak. Good luck with your first roster tomorrow,(not sure you will have time to read this) Shall be thinking of you.

  2. Very well done number one son - never in doubt!
    Happy landings

    ps Gonna miss this blog - can't you carry on with an e-journal?

  3. Thanks for the great posts -your blog provided exciting reading while I've been waiting for my FPP training to begin with CTC (I am now in the thick of ground school). All the best with the start of your career!

  4. Thank you very much for all of your hard work and letting us see what your life was like while becoming an airline pilot. All the best in the future and I hope to follow in your footsteps one day! This blog has helped me out a lot. Thank you :)

  5. Hi there I am an aspiring pilot, big congratulations on the journey. I know from reading up and attending some open days that the FPP is a difficult one to get to say the least! I am waiting to start my journey and still looking for the right path, I was however wondering if it would be possible to get a little advice off you about the training and oxford aviation. I understand it is a busy time for you however if you did get chance my blog that I started has a contact page so you can grab my email off me. Cheers and good luck for the future!

  6. Thanks for this blog - truly interesting and motivational.


Comments are very welcome, but please no names!