Road to the Right Seat 25 – Arizona
Story series: Road to the Right Seat
We've all had a crazy childhood dream and mine was becoming an airline pilot. Many young people who aspire a flying career are unaware of the content of flight training and the preparations which are needed. On November 23rd, 2015 I started my ATPL(A) training. Time to realize my childhood dream. I'd like to take you along on an adventure and I'll happily answer all your questions on the way. Let's do this!
Dec 19, 2016 – From the first solo flight to passing my CPL, it all happened in the ‘Valley of the Sun’. Now, however, no 30 ° C, full sun and palm trees for me anymore. After four intense months in Arizona, I could return to my friends and family in Belgium with a satisfied and happy feeling. Another step closer to the dream!
As soon as the theoretical phase was finished, the real work could begin. On Thursday, July 14th, I left with 7 classmates to Phoenix, Arizona. Time for a new chapter in my adventure to the right seat! Full of expectations and enthusiasm I went to the US. An unknown continent I was eager to discover.The first days felt like I was in a movie. Many stereotypes were therefore immediately confirmed. Think of the many fast food restaurants and weapons that are sold as if the toys are. It is, of course, a western culture, so it is certainly not a big adaptation, but the difference with Europe is obvious.
The first days felt like I was in a movie. Many stereotypes were therefore immediately confirmed. Think of the many fast food restaurants and weapons that are sold as if they are toys. It is, of course, a Western culture, so it’s certainly not a big adaptation, but the difference with Europe is obvious.
Everyone has a different experience with the US and mine was definitely positive. I’ve met so many friendly people, had some great food and enjoyed the landscape almost every day from the plane. I have kept some beautiful memories!
I was asked several times if I was satisfied with the instructors in Arizona. For example, someone came up with the argument that there are many young instructors, which means that the quality of the education goes down. However, my personal experience is completely the opposite.
I flew with nine different instructors, both Belgians and Americans. My first instructor was a 25-year-old Belgian who was extremely driven. He could tell me what was good and what could be better and did it in a professional way. The quality of teaching was thus definitely not pulled down because of his age and experience. Undoubtedly one of the best instructors I’ve had to pleasure to fly with during my training!
It is quite exceptional to have so many instructors and that has had its pros and cons. Every time I flew with another instructor, I got a new perspective. Every instructor has his own experience and way of teaching so I tried to get as much knowledge as possible.
On one hand, that was positive because I always learned something new and I received different feedback. In addition to that, I was constantly scheduled to fly, which allowed me to roll smoothly through the training. A plus if you ask me!
One disadvantage was that I had no real connection with the instructors because I often flew with them only once or twice. Furthermore, confusion could arise because not every instructor had the same method, but that never caused any major problems.
All in all, I am extremely pleased with the instructors with whom I have flown. In the end, they all helped me towards my getting my CPL!
Keeping in touch with friends and family is very simple these days. The 9000 kilometers between Belgium and Arizona were easily bridged through Facebook and Skype.
Unfortunately, the time difference of 9h could not be circumvented. Fortunately, my schedule was often beneficial to keep in touch with the home front, but it is and remains a great adaptation to communication!
In addition, I have to mention something else. In my fourth blog post, I said it was very difficult to maintain a healthy relationship during pilot training. At that moment, I was sitting with my nose in the books, but just before my departure to the US, I met my girlfriend.
I can confirm that it is indeed not easy, but it is far from impossible. Today’s technology has been a great help, but as I said before, it’s a matter of trust and finding the right balance between studying and spending time with your partner.
Although the CPL was already over, there was still a major flight waiting for me. This time with my favorite destination: home! My parents and sister were waiting for me in Brussels and the joy was great. My adventure in the USA is one to never forget, but coming home has never felt so good. A lovely feeling to be back.
Meanwhile, I have been in pilot training for more than a year. A great moment to thank everyone who has supported me in the past 393 days. If everything goes according to plan, I will graduate in the summer of 2017. Until then, I will keep writing about my experiences and my adventure to the right seat. Now, however, it is time to enjoy the rest and to be with friends and family.Thanks everyone!
In a previous blog post, I explained the entire course of the program. Meanwhile, some changes have been made that are important to mention. On January 2, 2017, I will leave to Oxford in the UK to get the Instrument Rating. My IR would initially be taken in Antwerp, but because of various circumstances, this part of training is moved to Oxford.
In Antwerp, we would fly with the Diamond DA-42, but now that we’re going to fly in Oxford, I will be flying the Piper Seneca V. In my view, a better switchover, since Seneca V is the big brother of the Seminole that I flew in the US.
Our flight tickets and accommodation have now been confirmed and booked. The planning for the first two weeks is already known, but there will be an extensive blog post on this later.
The Multi Crew Co-operation and Jet Orientation Course will still be done in the FFS (Full Flight Simulator) Boeing 737NG in Brussels when I get back from Oxford.
I enjoyed my time in the US and will always think of it with a smile on my face. I was given the opportunity to visit an unknown world, flew around in The Valley of the Sun, visited the Grand Canyon, experienced sandstorms, got to know new people,… Many positive and unique experiences, that’s for sure! Now it’s time for some vacation and then on to a new chapter.
If you have any further questions about my training, feel free to leave a comment below. See you next week!
DISCLAIMER: Special permission was given by the Center Manager of my flight school for the use of the banner picture. Specific rules concerning photography had to be followed and flight safety was never compromised.
This story is part of the series Road to the Right Seat