Last week I flew towards east midlands in England where I completed my base training. Base training is the final part of the type rating where you actually fly the Boeing 737. The idea is that you get into the aircraft and make around 6 circuits. Everything flown manually and without any passengers. Of course we had so many simulator sessions with abnormal weather and failures but this, this is a different world guys! In the simulator you are relaxed and safe, nothing can happen really… The actual aircraft is different.
I’ll tell you how my day looked like. First we went to the briefing room and, even though we just flew many hours in the sim, they still explained us what was going to happen and which sop’s (Standard Operating Procedures) we were going to use. Everything to be safe of course! This took around 1.5 hour. On the list we received by e-mail, I was scheduled to go flying last! From experience I know that after 5 hours in the full flight simulator everyone gets a headache which does not become lighter during the day. 😉 So I asked the group if they would mind if I went flying first. I know that the first one is not able to see and look/learn how the other guys are doing, but I’d rather have that than not being able to fly of dizziness. My group did not mind so I went first. Easy right? Just a few circuits, what could go wrong?
The briefing started and all of a sudden the instructor tells us that the one who begins has the hardest job because he/she has to complete the whole preparation, FMS setup, ask for a clearance, briefings etcetera. LIKE WHAT?! No no no, I do not want to go first… I prepared for circuits and for nothing more I thought. Of course ‘being thrown into the deep’ makes you learn a lot and fear less. I did not change the order and so I flew from East Midlands to Prestwick. Flying my circuits in Prestwick.
After the briefing we walked to the crewroom, filed some stuff and discussed some other items. He gave me the Flight plan and said: good luck girl, this is yours… I was thinking like: Ehh alrighty then… Thank you I guess?
Flying the airplane
A few minutes later we put on our HIVIS (expensive word for a not so good looking bright yellow vest) vests and waited for the bus to bring us to the airplane. There it was, the Boeing 737-800, all clean and so incredibly big! The instructor told us how to perform the walk around and where we had to pay attention to. He explained me how to open the doors from outside and how to attach the stairs to the airplane. If you are afraid of heights or if you want to talk about dangerous things in life than this stairs…Wauw!
I sat in the cockpit and put in the FMS as much as I could. Before we knew it we were on the runway and ready for departure. I put the thrust levers forward and I was thinking: Wauw wauw wauw wauw wauw wauw! All these years of hard work, all for this moment.. Anyway, back to reality… 80 kt, Check!
From that point on it was routine work and following all the procedures the way we learned them. This runway was so rough though! In the sim you could feel the centerline lights but this runway in East Midlands was not so smooth haha! On departure I was like, wauw I am flying this huge jet! Whoot??! I arrived in Prestwick and there it was, my first landing. Everyone knows how to flare and how to perform but when the time is there, it is always exciting! After my turn I heard that they said that my landing was so soft they did not were sure if we had landed:O You are probably thinking that that is pretty good right?! But did you know that Boeing wants us to land hard, as in positive landing? They rather have a hard, positive landing than a soft landing, like I just did! 🙂
Just after the landing the instructor prepared the aircraft for take off again and called V1R. There we were, a few hundred feet before 2000 I pulled back the thrust slowly to 56% and pitched to around 6 degrees. On downwind we completed all the checks and before we knew it we were ready to turn final again. I landed 6 times, 4 landings with flaps 30 and the last 2 flaps 40. I was done and the next person was ready to go. So this was the fun part! After this everyone had to wait for the other 4 people and their 6 circuits. It was an amazing and great experience! I learned a lot and had so much fun.
Can you remember the first time you landed a jet or a small airplane? I would like to hear your story! 🙂