Dream Of Flight Has A New Domain !

Monday, April 18, 2011

Journey to Becoming a Pilot - Part 5

Taking my first student was very exciting for me, I remembered my slot time for that flight was at 9am. So I woke up at 6am, got changed and left home about 630am. Reached the Woodland Checkpoint about 645am and was stuck for about 45mins. Eventually I reached the club about 845am.

Luckily I left home early. I met up with my student Mr C. He was already about 1/2 way through his flying training. So I prepared the lecture slides and gave him a pre flight briefing on what to expect for that lesson. Took me about 20mins to complete the briefing and I looked at my watch it was showing 920am. I told Mr C to go do a pre flight inspection of the aircraft and I will meet him there in 5 mins. I went to collect my gears and in came my senior instructor asking me what I was doing?? My slot time was supposed to be at 9am and now it was already 920am. As he had another flight at 10am. He was a little angry but he helped me pushed back the other slots of the day and from this I slowly learned that time management is very important as an instructor.

We did some circuits and low level flying and eventually landed at about 1020am. I gave Mr C a debrief on the lesson and told him next lesson we will start 15 mins before the slot time so that we can do a pre flight brief and also take off on time. He was ok with it and slowly I adjusted to the life as an instructor and see myself doing this job over the next 3 years.

As I started off as an Assistant Flying Instructor, I need to be mentored by a Qualified Flying Instructor. The difference between the 2 is that, an AFI cannot clear a student for their First Solo flight and also always will require a supervision of a QFI. So whenever I felt that a student was ready for their first Solo, I will arrange for a QFI to check them. The requirement to be upgraded to a QFI is to have 6 months of instructional time and at least 200 hrs teaching. Also to pass another flight test. I eventually applied for my upgrade after about a year of teaching.

Life as a QFI was not much of a difference, just there won’t be a break in between where you need to find a QFI to clear the first solo stage. I continued to instruct and really enjoyed myself as I got to see many different students from all walks of life. My youngest student was about 17 which is the minimum age to hold a Private Pilot license and my oldest student was over 60. Max age for a pilot holder is about 65 depending on the state.

I remembered I was on a navigation flight with a student and we were on our way back to land in Senai airport. About 20 mins away from the airport, we got a report that the airport was closed due to very bad weather. My student began looking at me and I asked him so what was his plan? He thought for a while and assessed the fuel situation where we have about 30 mins of extra fuel before we need to divert to our alternate airport which was Paya Lebar airbase. So I suggested to him why don’t we do a holding pattern at present position and reassess the situation as we can’t proceed back to Senai. He agreed so we asked to hold over a small town so we wont get lost as the weather was starting to become worst as low clouds were approaching our position. At this time I can see my student was a little lost and scared.

That was when I calmed him down and took over control of the aircraft. I distracted him by asking him to help me with radio calls. Co ordinate with Paya Lebar for the weather and the need to land there if things don’t get better. Also get a constant update from Johor tower if the weather improves. 10mins had past, and now the cloud was covering us and I needed to descend to about 500ft to be visual with ground. As there were obstacles around I requested to fly over the coast where I was sure we can be safe of terrain over the sea. At the same time I was looking for empty fields around our position as possible landing field if we have an engine failure. About 25mins past, only 5 more mins before we had to fly to Paya Lebar, Johor radioed us and say the airfield was open now. These magic lines just bring warmth to our heart. Without fail, we flew as fast as we could towards Senai and landed. This was just one of many experiences I had gone through over the span as an instructor.

There are many more stories both exciting and also scary which I will share with you in my next chapter..

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