One year of flying

So it has dawned on me that my one year flying anniversary was this month, so I thought I would reflect on what I have achieved and learnt in the last one year of flying.
I remember my first lesson pretty well, I remember not really liking the feeling of the plane rocking on take off. It took me a good 4-5 lessons before I was totally comfortable with feeling every slight bump and the turbulence. I lucked out as I had great instructors who really took an interest in my training, I feel this is very important.
My first solo was very memorable, I had been at the stage of being ready for a few weeks but the weather wasn’t playing ball. Eventually I got it done on a lunch break from work. The realisation that the plane climbs so much faster with just two people in it was awesome fun. I love the fact that you are in charge and it is your responsibility to get it down on the ground and there is nobody else to help you.
The next big thing was the cross country qualifier. The feeling of being let loose to fly across the country and land at other aerodromes is amazing. My first contact with radar, doing over hand joins (for just the second time) and navigating long distances! This day will never be forgotten and was a huge milestone in my PPL.
The most nerve-racking part was the PPL skills test. The nerves building up to it, the actual flight and trying to remember everything, the landing back at the airfield and waiting to see how you did (I passed!).
Now that I had my licence it was time for the first flight with a passenger. One of the joys of getting your licence is the ability to take people flying with you, so they can see what you have been working on. Also knowing that they have the faith to come up with you and trust you as pilot in command is a great feeling.
Lastly it was time to pick an ATPL ground school and then the work put into the material (on going work). It is hard work doing it around a full-time job but still fun at the same time.

It has been a fun year of flying and I feel like I have achieved a lot. I hope the next year is just as good and I can’t wait for all the adventures that lay ahead.

Is this the end of General Aviation at Cranfield?

I got a few emails in the last few days that has made me think to myself, Is this the end of General Aviation at Cranfield?
Clear Blue Skies Cranfield
The latest email I have received has stated that due to a controller shortage that the airport will be closed every weekend from 24th September until the March 2017. On top of this there are the following closures.

September 2016: 15th-18th for Festival of Flight.
20th – 25th September possibly to relay the runway.
November 2016: 3rd
December 2016: 21st, 24th-27th
February 2017: 8th
March 2017: 1st

Single ATCO days – Opening times will be 0900-1100 / 1600-1800. Prior Permission Required.
October 2016: 14th
November 2016: 1st, 2nd, 4th, 7th, 18th
December 2016: 2nd, 16th, 19th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd
January 2017: 20th
February 2017: 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 24th, 27th, 28th
March 2017: 2nd, 3rd, 24th

As you can see, this is a horribly unworkable situation for just about everyone involved. As a student I completed my PPL (Private Pilot Licence) on weekends. I am sure there are students that will be massively impacted by this, especially the ones who are also trying to complete their training around a full time job.
I guess I can consider myself lucky as I have completed my PPL, if I was still training now I would be in a pretty bad situation. I just wouldn’t have the time to complete it mid-week and I would be left with no choice but to change schools.
The schools / flying clubs based there will also be pretty badly impacted. At my school the weekend flying is normally non stop. This is also a lot of cash that they now cannot earn, and GA schools work to a pretty tight margins, so I can only imagine that this is really going to affect them.
If the schools / flying clubs are not making that much money then you have to question their ability to survive. The airfield has already lost some famous schools like Cabair (twice) and Bonus Aviation.
I know people have a love / hate relationship with Cranfield, however it really is a nice place to fly from. Is it the cheapest? Most defiantly not, but it has full ATC, fire services and well maintained facilities.
The lack of weekend flying means that finding the time to actually fly is going to be a lot harder, I work a 9-5 and winter is coming up so it gets dark a lot quicker. This is ok at the moment as I need to complete a night rating but what about after that? The thought of having to book half days to go flying until March is not really an ideal situation.
I hope everyone can come together and find a workable situation for Cranfield, I know there are suggestions of a radio service being put on for the weekends. I will wait to see if anything will come from it but I will not be holding my breath.

Eric Thomas – I Made My Mark

Today I have the video Eric Thomas- I made my mark. Anyone who knows me, knows that Eric Thomas is one of my favourite motivational speakers as I feel what he says resonates deeply with me. In this video Eric talks about the level of work and commitment that you are putting in and how this affects what is happening in your life. He is saying that you have to give your all when you are working towards your goal and that you need to leave your mark when doing it.
He also speaks about how you make compromises when chasing what you should be chasing and that you have no real need to. You need to keep your goal in site and everything you do should be working towards that goal, no exceptions!
You shouldn’t let people talk you out of what you want to do, it doesn’t matter if they don’t understand or they don’t believe in you. As long as YOU believe in YOU then that is all you need!

Believe it can be done. When you believe something can be done, really believe, your mind will find the ways to do it. Believing a solution paves the way to solution – David J. Schwartz

Why flight training needs to embrace GPS

One thing that I have always found weird is that despite the technology we have at our disposal, flight training at least at PPL level has a reluctance to embrace GPS and uses a training system that was designed well before these modern technologies existed. So this is why flight training needs to embrace GPS.
Now don’t get me wrong, I fully understand the importance of dead reckoning and map reading skills and yes they most defiantly should still feature heavily in the learning process. However GPS isn’t going away and it is here to stay, so why are we not being taught how to use it properly?
Of course following a magenta line on the screen is not how we should learn to fly, however in the UK at least there is so much restricted airspace and with the CAA now announcing that you may lose your licence if you stray into it, why should we take any risks?
There are free and paid for options that would be able to help us avoid this all together.
When you are lost temporarily unsure of position 🙂 the workload in the cockpit goes up as you are trying to work out where exactly you are. Obviously map reading skills are still essential and should your GPS fail you still need to be able to work out where you are, but doesn’t it make more sense to take a quick look at the GPS and know exactly where you are?
It just seems to me at least, rather than resist these aides, and they are just that, aides to the tried and tested methods. The training should be redesigned to incorporate them alongside what we are already taught.
Also a few flights with no GPS to keep skills sharp would also make sense knowing that if something did go wrong, you could just flick it on.
I see no reason in modern time to set of into unfamiliar airspace without some form of GPS, I mean we all carry a phone with us that has a GPS chipset so why not use it? The technology and apps are out there.

Which memory card (MicroSD) for GoPro cameras?

Lets face it, most of us are going to get a GoPro or some form of action camera at some point. I say a, I currently have 2 GoPro’s and one Yi camera. But the question you will soon find yourself asking is which memory card (MicroSd) for GoPro cameras. I figured I would put together a quick list for which cards you should be looking at.
gopro 4
I personally think you should only buy the 64GB + cards as believe you mean, you will need the space when recording.
Please bear in mind the internet is full of fake SD cards that will fail to live up to the performance of their real counterparts. Please only buy your cards from respected retailers who you know are going to sell you original cards.

4k Video / 2.7K
If you are shooting your footage at 4k then it would be best to go with the high-end cards with guaranteed fast read / write speeds. Now this does not mean that a slower card will not work, it just means these cards will for sure.

  1. Sandisk Extreme – This card will give you up to 90MB read and 40MB write, it is also UHS-3 certified which means it is good for 4k video. GoPro have also certified this card for use with their cameras.
    Buy on Amazon
  2. Lexar 633x – This card from Lexar has is UHS-1 certified and Lexar and GoPro both confirm it is plenty fast for your 4k needs.
    Buy on Amazon
  3. Toshiba Exceria M302 – This card from Toshiba is much cheaper than the other two on this list but is UHS-3 certified which means it is plenty fast for 4k video.
    Buy on Amazon


1080p / 1440p
The truth of the matter is you need a fast card but you don’t need as fast of a card when capturing 1080p footage, so you can make a cost saving from the ultra high-end microSD cards.

  1. Samsung Evo – This card is a great choice for 1080p video and even possibly 4k. The older version was certified by GoPro and best of all this card is just over half the price of the high-end cards. This card is UHS-1 certified which means it is compatible with 1080p recording.
    Buy on Amazon
  2. Sandisk Ultra – Another card from Sandisk that is ideal for 1080p shooting. A similar price to the Samsung EVO also so you can choose the card you prefer. This card is also UHS-1 certified.
    Buy on Amazon

So you have two great choice for the different video standards, if you are going to choose a different card then make sure the card is at least a class 10 card otherwise it may just be too slow to keep up with the demands of constant video recording. However ever as all cards have different speeds, if it isn’t on this list make sure you do some research.


Aer Lingus mentored cadet programme 2017 is now open

Good news for all wannabe pilots. The Aer Lingus mentored cadet programme 2017 is now open!
The Aer Lingus training will take place over 14 months at FTE Jerez in Spain and on successful completion you will be assigned to the A320 fleet after a 12 week type rating course.
You have until 5pm on the 8th July 2016 to apply for this exciting opportunity.
Please see below this video for the requirements and the link to apply.

Essential Criteria

  • 18 years of age on or before 1st January 2016
  • Fluent in written and spoken English
  • Eligible to live and work permanently in the EU
  • Up-to-date unrestricted worldwide passport
  • Able to pass an airport security vetting procedure, including a five-year background check*
  • Two verifiable references
  • Able to obtain an EASA / IAA issued Class 1 Medical, including successfully passing a colour blindness test. Please refer to prior to application to ensure you can meet all medical requirements in line with eyesight/colour blindness limitations

*If you are a not an Irish citizen, you will require a current police disclosure certificate from your home country if successful

*If you have resided outside the Republic of Ireland for six months or more, you will also require a current police disclosure certificate from that country/countries

Educational requirements

  • You must have passed your Leaving Certificate (6 subjects) or equivalent
  • You must have obtained C3 grades in English and Mathematics at ordinary level or D3 at higher level in the Leaving Certificate
  • You must also have a minimum of 2 higher level subjects with a minimum of C3 grades in the Leaving Certificate
    *Equivalent grades are as follows:
  • GCSE Maths and English must be minimum of grade C plus
  • 3 A Levels taken at A2 level in any subject with minimum grades C,C,D

Where the minimum Leaving Certificate or equivalent grades have not been met, you must have one of the following qualifications:

  • A minimum of a Level 7 third level (ordinary degree) in any discipline
  • Completed an aviation-related apprenticeship

Key competences and skills

  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • Strong communicator who acts with integrity
  • Well-developed decision making skills
  • Technical aptitude
  • Strong team player with ability to build and maintain positive working relationships and demonstrate leadership qualities
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Ability and motivation to achieve a consistently high level of performance

If you think that this is for you then you can apply directly on the Aer Lingus site.

The UK has voted to leave the EU

No matter if you was on the leave or the remain side,  today is a pretty big day in history as the UK has voted to leave the EU. At the time of this post the vote looks like 52% in and 48% out.
eu referendum ballot paper
How does this affect us trainee pilots?
Well the truth is right now nobody knows what is going to happen.
There is a two-year timescale to leave the EU, so depending on how quickly the government organise the exit will dictate how it affects us in the short-term. As things stand we are still members of the EU until the government decide to invoke the leaving process. There are still a lot of things that need to be sorted out and negotiated and this is not something that is going to happen quickly.

How does it affect our job prospects?

Under the EU free movement rules we have the right to live and work in any EU country, with us leaving we can only speculate that this will come to an end. This however does not mean that we will not be able to get jobs in other countries, we would just need a visa. Now the airlines may be perfectly OK with this, or they may see it as an inconvenience, we just do not know at this point in time. Obviously this is not as convenient as the current agreement, but the same would be the true for foreign pilots wanting to work in the UK.
An agreement could also be reached between the UK and other countries in regards to aviation, there are too many hypothetical at the moment to go into them.
The EU has an open skies agreement, I personally don’t see the UK being excluded from this, especially with London Heathrow being a major European hub for international travel and connections. This however is just my opinion and is something that would need to be negotiated.

So what do we do now?
Well me personally I will continue training, why would I not. Who knows what the state of play will be in 18 months when I aim to be finished? But this is the way that aviation works, it is an industry filled with uncertainty and upturns and downturns.

West Atlantic Cadet Scheme 2016

Great news, the details of the West Atlantic Cadet Scheme 2016 have been made available.
This is one of the better schemes out there as West Atlantic fund your training, then when you are ready to fly the line you pay them back 50% of the cost.
There are a few entry requirements that you must meet to be eligible.

  1. You must hold an EASA Private Pilots License.
  2. You must hold a class 1 medical.
  3. You must have a full and clean EU driving license with the right to drive a motor vehicle in the UK.
  4. You must have the right to live and work in the UK.

There are also two things that they prefer that you have which are –

  1. Have a night rating.
  2. Have 50 hours total time.

Applications go live on the 18th July and close on the 29th July.
You can find out more on the West Atlantic website.


GoPro vs Cheaper alternatives

As most of us as some point will want to film our flying I thought I would do this post on GoPro vs cheaper alternatives.
I have a GoPro 3+ silver and I also have a Xiaomi Yi camera, so is the GoPro worth the difference over the influx of cheap action cameras from China?
gopro 4

The audio captured from the internal microphone on the GoPro is significantly better than the audio from the Yi camera. The Yi seems to pick up everything very loudly while the GoPro seems to have an ability to capture the important sounds over capturing just a ton of background noise.

This is where the GoPro comes into it’s own. I did 0.6 hours of circuits (about 35 mins + 10 for set up etc) and when I got back down the Yi camera had already died. The GoPro was still recording with some battery life left. The GoPro can also be extended with an additional battery where as the Yi camera can not.
This means the GoPro is the better choice for filming your flights as with the additional battery it is more likely to make it through the flight than the cheaper Chinese cameras.

Build Quality
The GoPro feels more substantial than the Yi. It is built from higher quality materials and also has a useful display on the front which gives you some basic information. The Yi feels like a toy and you can tell despite it taking decent quality video that it was built to a price point.

Video Quality.
If you ask me the video quality between my GoPro and the Xiaomi Yi are pretty much exactly the same. I am no professional but while the colours might be slightly different they both give of a high quality image. I found this video comparing the image quality between a GoPro Silver 4, A Xiaomi Yi and A GoPro Hero so you can judge for yourself.
Both cameras record in the MP4 file format.

The apps are basically the same, there isn’t much between them and the main use is to see what you are going to record. Both cameras create a wifi network that you then connect to.
The GoPro does however have the GoPro editor studio to edit your videos, however you can use iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Adobe Premier Elements as well as more professional programs like Adobe Premier or Final Cut Pro should you wish.

The GoPro has a lot of accessories available but a lot of these Chinese cameras are compatible with them as they just copied the mount. A good thing is a lot of the expensive GoPro accessories have a much cheaper Chinese alternative that is a fraction of the price and works just as well. This includes mounts and the expandable battery.
On the higher end GoPro’s (Silver and Black) you can also do things like record audio from external sources.

Which one to buy?
Well if you ask me the camera to buy is most defiantly a higher end GoPro (the Silver or the Black depending on your needs). The reason for this is that it is a much more expandable device. Also the expandable battery makes a huge difference to the practicality of the camera. I know you can buy additional batteries (silver and black models) but you can’t exactly swap them out mid-flight can you?
There is a huge cost difference though, the GoPro alternatives are around £50-£100, the GoPro hero is around £100, the Silver is £270ish with the black setting you back the best part of £400!
I personally think the GoPro silver is the best value of the bunch but it all depends on your needs really.

Les Brown – It’s not over until you win

I am a big fan of motivational speeches and I find they really help and resonate deeply with me when I am working towards a goal in my life.
Today I wanted to share Les Brown – It’s not over until you win.
Les Brown is an American motivation speaker and in this speech he goes over some key points that really strike a chord with me .

  1. Someone’s opinion of you doesn’t have to become a reality – I like this message as it says that no matter what people want to label you as, doesn’t mean it is true. That is THEIR opinion of you which they are entitled to of course, but it doesn’t make it true.
  2. Someone who believes in you, can change your life – In Les’s case it was a high school teacher who had the belief in him and in term made him believe in himself. You come across people in your life who will inspire you and motivate you to do better.
  3. It ain’t over until you win – Les is telling you not to give up, keep working towards your goal.
  4. You are already doing something most people are not – Just by chasing your goal and working towards it you are already doing something that a lot of people do not do. How many people do you know who are unhappy with their job, or want to do something, but are doing nothing to work towards it?
  5. Don’t stop running towards your dream – You WILL get there eventually, you will overcome the issues you are facing, hard times are not here to stay and things will get better if you just keep working.

I hope you enjoy this speech as much as I do.

Whatever your goal is, keep working, you will get there.