Tuesday 29 November 2011

Why do I want to be an Airline Pilot?

My ultimate career goal is to be an airline pilot, but what exactly are my reasons for craving such a challenging career?

1. Everybody wants something in life but a 'want' is not essential to live. It is possible to survive very easily without it and most people forget about their wants over a given period of time. That is why I don't want to be a pilot; I need to be a pilot. I need to be an airline pilot because if I never fulfill my dream, I will never reach Self-Actualistation on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. It has become a mental thought and I use it for motivational purposes while studying. Often times while studying I lose interest and I believe that I can find more answers in the four walls that surround me. But reality always sheds some light on the walls and I discovered that even by using an infra-red light the answer still doesn't show up. I determined that if you need something enough you will work extremely hard for it; be it that you just sit down and learn your Macbeth quotations or you run twenty miles a day, it's a sacrifice that has to be made and I am willing to make that sacrifice.

2. I believe that being an airline pilot suits my personality. I cannot justify that with an example, but I feel that I have developed a sense of love for aviation that i never even knew could exist in my genes. I knew it would be an amazing job to be involved with the airlines, but I never believed that I could do it. It was beyond my wildest imagination to even consider working for the airlines. I never knew what I wanted from life until my peers began to ask me about my career choices. I looked to the sky for inspiration and there it was, my dream career flying over my head in a Boeing 777 to New York.

3. I want to be the first to greet the day and watch the sun peek up from beyond the horizon at FL380. I enjoy watching the sun rise and the sun set on any given day but it would be even more magical if i could do it from the cockpit window while soaring through the sky. A lot of the population of today's world rely on modern day technologies to keep ourselves satisfied, but we rarely realise how much natural phenomena can influence our day. Watching the sun take its course throughout the morning us especially fascinating because there is a feeling of unspoiled nature produced and animals scurrying around in their natural habitats. Natural light sources remind me of family in far destinations, but the fact that we see the same moon and sun everyday shortens the distance and makes far away feel like over the road.

I do not mind having to succumb to jet lag every day of the week, in fact I am looking forward to it. I feel like I have the right attitude and the right state of mind to carry out this enthralling vocation that has been assigned to me for I believe that no other career path will suit my needs and temptations.

It is a deep desire that can never be unsettled.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Joint Career Venture

In my previous post I wrote about my first choice career of being an airline pilot. Even though I believe no other career will suit me, there is one other that I can combine with being an airline pilot. I have seen many people do it and many people dream of doing it. Often on long haul flights there is minimal to do in the cockpit apart from occasionally checking that everything is running smoothly and the odd announcement about the weather at the destination airport. Because of this, to avoid boredom, I have chosen to become an author.

It is only in the past year that I have begun to enjoy writing. Everyday my biggest fear was walking into English class to study Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry and Romeo and Juliet. I hated it and I always tried to skip it and go to football instead. I did bad in tests, I only ever received 55%. I lost all hope for English, and even avoided being caught not doing my homework on several occasions. However, I wanted to prove to my teacher that I could do well in my Junior Certificate - and that is what I did. I entered the exam hall and wrote every ounce of information that was present in my head with the best vocabulary I was capable of using. When I walked out of the exam, I felt that I had hammered the nail on the head and ended up receiving a prestigious A.

That is only one of my miraculous stories, I continue to produce more every day. I enjoy writing more than ever now, so much so that I have began to devote at least thirty minutes of my time a day putting the most effort that I can into writing my blog. Many people continue to believe that writing is rather pedestrian and mundane, but the truth is that it is only monotonous when you are discussing a topic that you have no interest in. I have began to write about aviation and I couldn't enjoy it any more than I already am.

I have studied more career options than I can count on my hands and feet. I have dismissed some by simply glancing at their titles. I am positive that I am going to be an airline pilot, but people keep reinforcing that I need a backup plan. I believe that I don't need a second plan, I am determined to succeed. Then again, why would I need a second plan if I can combine two-in-one and have a joint career venture? This is my favourite plan so far, even if it is just updating and editing my blog I am considered the author of the work. In fact, I am already fulfilling one of my career options right this second by scribbling this down. I suppose you could call my blog my online novel or diary or read it as in eBook or something. The main thing is that I write to motivate and enlighten people. I also try to provide encouragement and an optimistic aurora. Writing is now one of my favourite things to do on a Saturday. I like to play with words - add some in, take some out and jumble them up. I would be delighted to write from a window above the clouds at FL370.

My dream whizzing through the air. The best thing? I would be in a different place for every word I would write. I believe that this would provide a magical feeling for the reader, these words have been composed from high above varied lands and seas. A different inch of the earth for almost every letter.

Not only can it be my second job, it can be my hobby.

Monday 21 November 2011

Personal Life Objectives and Career Goals

We all have objectives in our lives, whether it is cooking the easiest recipe or overcoming your biggest fear. Personally, I like to set small, achievable goals. Instead of taking flight training in a big block of work, I like to think of it as first obtaining my Private Pilot Licence and then the Airline Transport Pilot Licence. I do not like making huge objectives and aims, I usually lose motivation before I can even make my new hobby a habit.

Where am I going with all of this?

I think it is easier to share your life objectives and career goals with the rest of the world. When I read someones objectives, and then see them completing their lifelong ambition, it makes me think "I can do it". It motivates me and puts things into perspective. It makes me wonder what I am really capable of doing and then putting it into practice. When you share things with your friends and peers, they tend to encourage you and urge you to complete your aspirations. For example, since I have joined Twitter and Blogger, I have received nothing but encouragement from my acquaintances.

So, what are my life objectives and career goals?

1. My first ambition is to do well in the Leaving Certificate. A good Leaving Cert is everything when you are applying for a college course. The Irish system relies on 'points'. There are two levels of each subject to cater for each individuals intellectual level. Higher level subjects are worth 100 points, being more difficult than ordinary level subjects worth 60 points. The maximum amount of points attainable is 600, which is extremely desirable. The average amount of points achieved in the Leaving Certificate is about 350 - 400 points. The course that I wish to get a degree in is a mere 425 points, so I will have to work extremely hard over the next two years. My second choice course is around 300 points but with 6 higher level and 1 ordinary level subject I believe that I am capable of acquiring the 425 points required.

2. My ultimate career goal is to be an airline pilot. I believe that there is no other career that will suit me, I love aviation and the thought of transporting passengers around the world appeals to me. It is a dream for me to think that I could be the captain of a jet someday, a dream that I am going to make come true. Everyday I look to the sky for inspiration and I believe that once I am up there controlling the aircraft I will never want to descend from my high. It has been my dream to travel the world and being a pilot will hopefully make that a little easier. Less time but more varied destinations!

3. Last but not least, I want to enjoy my life. People often squint and say "how can you enjoy life by being an airline pilot?" I smile and respond "when you have a dream since being a young child, you have the intention of fulfilling that dream. Often, my dreams have faded and extinguished, but the dream of being an airline pilot has not which just proves my longing to execute it. The quality of life appeals to me, I enjoy the idea of living out of a suitcase for days on end. For me it is a win - win situation, I like both the advantages and disadvantages of the job. I have read many dismissive articles about the cost of training and about how being an airline pilot is not worth the hassle, but this makes me want to succeed even more." Let the encouragement prevail.

Saturday 19 November 2011

Work Experience

Day 1

It all began by walking into the security office. As expected, my picture was taken and I was presented with an I.D. card. I waited to be escorted to the Human Resources department where I was given a mini Health & Safety induction. I then walked to the Laundry Room, and was given a uniform and steel-capped boots. No chance of accidents happening here!

Without delay, we headed for the maintenance hangars, only to be advised that the aircraft didn't arrive on time and would be coming at 20:00 on Tuesday night. Nonetheless, to avoid disappointment, my manager accompanied me into the cockpit of a Boeing 737, belonging to Nok Air and I had a good snoop around before moving on. (I later realised that this was an ex Ryanair 737 just after being repainted in the Nok livery.)

Next to be seen was an Airbus A320 from the airline BMI. I walked around the exterior and learned the locations of some of the most commonly used control surfaces. I progressed to the flight deck and felt in my element in such a spacious cockpit. I made my way to another Airbus A320 in the paint shop which was destined for Aerolineas. The fuselage gleamed in its rust primer and glossy white paint, the sight of new aircraft.

Next, I was accompanied to the schedule for the Boeing 767 which was due in. I was notified that it was from an airline called Arkefly, a Dutch charter company part of TUI. I learned the structure of the A320 engine from the airline AviaNova and also was taught the instruments in the flight deck. I took the captain's seat, fiddled with the joystick and imagined that I would be sitting in one of these two seats for the rest of my life. Needless to say, it was an overwhelming feeling.

Day 2

Suck          Squeeze          Bang          Blow

I will never, ever forget these four simple words, which explain the structure of such a complicated engine.

I ascended the stairs, and was surprised to see a Boeing 767 staring back at me, creating an ominous feeling. I gasped at the great magnitude of the aircraft and tripped over my feet trying to speed up. I was taken up to the cockpit where all of the Liquid Crystals Displays were smiling back at me. This was only the third time that I had been in a live aircraft, it was a totally different experience.

I was introduced to the Electronics & Avionics team with whom I would be working with for the rest of the week.

The first task I was presented with was a Timex replacement of a strobe light on the wing. I stared in disbelief when I was handed the screwdriver. I decided that it was now or never, I had to learn sometime and take responsibility. I took all but two warped screws out, and needless to say my manager was quite impressed.

The next task to be fulfilled was to replace the Auxiliary Power Unit battery. This job required absconding into the belly of the aircraft to pull a circuit breaker on the P33 panel. As I escalated into the belly I was surprised at the great expanse of black boxes which automate so many functions. Afraid to touch anything, I knelt on the bright orange floor, similar to the colour of a carrot. The floor above my head creaked as people trodded over the escape hatch. I was startled to see my manager peer around from the cargo hold, and followed him to behind the black boxes to see the wiring leading into them.

I was notified that another task had to be carried out before the APU battery could be replaced. We traveled to the cockpit, and switched the power off. In due time, we returned to the cockpit, where I was permitted to switch the power back on. I carried out what most pilots call the "L shape". I felt over the moon, as if I had just taken the first step to what I would be learning in training. I thought things couldn't get better, until I was shifted to the first officers seat and instructed to extend the flaps to 25 degrees. Again, I thought "it's now or never", and extended the flaps. I heard the hydraulic fluid flow seamlessly until the flaps reached the desired position. I felt exhilaration flowing through the arteries and veins in my body, just as the hydraulic fluid is essentially the life and blood of an aircraft.

I was surprised to find myself climbing the scaffolding which surrounded the tail. I landed on top of the tail, and stared down at the big bird. It was a breathtaking view, watching people working from a height on such a big aircraft.

On top of the tail

After lunch, we began the job of testing the extinguishers in the APU section of the tail. I poked my head up
and turned the hex key in an anti-clockwise motion three times, until a positive reading was obtained in the cockpit each time. Comparing to the other jobs, this one was relatively easy apart from the mark it left on my index and middle finger for the rest of the day!

Day 3

On day 3, there was limited power available, so instead I seized the opportunity to do some work on the engines. I scrambled up to the EEC box, and I was instructed to test the wires for the amount of resistance. I shifted between this job and seeing engine number 2 being dropped. Witnessing the engine being dropped was a totally different experience, the wing is manufactured in such an amazing way.

For the rest of the day, I wisely spent my time in the cockpit. I learned all of the instruments and dials, and it proves that the cockpit is not as complicated as I thought. I listened the the arrivals and tower frequency at Shannon airport, and I heard a lot of interesting conversations. I felt in my element sitting in the captains seat, and words cannot describe the feelings of perplexity that this seat produces.

Me in the cockpit

EICAS systems on the 767