Now what???

As many believe, once you have obtained the illustrious Blue book, your doors to the airline industry will miraculously open and you will fly a wide bodied aircraft with your measly 250 or so flying hours, hehehehe what a Joke.

Fortunately for me, having spent time working at Operations was beneficial in many ways. I got a chance to learn that the industry is actually very very difficult to crack, and that it takes years of experience or in my case hours of experience.

I learnt that most airlines required 1500 or more hours on a multi engine aircraft, preferably flying in cloudy to overcast conditions in order to increase ones Instrument flying experience.

Instrument flying: Flying with sole reference to the instruments in the cockpit.

What this means is that at no given point are you able to use outside features to guide you or help you navigate your path.

This makes accumulating the hours a tad more difficult. Not only are you inexperienced but neither do you have an aircraft lying around to be flown at your leisure. Also nobody wants to hire someone with little or no references, so how then does one go about obtaining the required experience.

There are many ways to skin a cat.

I chose the most common and possibly the most beneficial of them all. This route was perfect in that I had some experience with explaining things in such a way that a 2 year old would be able to understand.

Albert Einstein

I had no initial desire to become an instructor but as fate would have it my entire life seamed to have been training and preparing me for this. Somehow it became something I would fall into naturally.

2016 Ended and I needed a plan to accumulate these hours. So I decided I needed to put on my big girl pants and sign up to get an instructors rating and work towards becoming a Flight instructor.

My biggest fear was always “Will I be able to teach someone how to SAFELY be in control of this machine”. That was the sole reason why I was not too eager to instruct. Unlike math what I taught would be this persons entire foundation for their entire flying career, the decision to become an instructor definitely could not be taken lightly.

So after some convincing by my mentor and myself I figured the best way to overcome my fears would be to ensure I was well equipped. Well this proved a tad difficult because once you receive ,your Wings as they say, you realise how little you actually know about aviation. However my tenacity would not let me throw in the towel. So in February of 2017 I began the training towards getting my instructor rating.

 Payment: I had applied to a company called TETA, http://www.org.za, and requested that they assist in the funding of my training. By virtue of living in a democratically young country I fell into the class of “previously disadvantaged people” and that s how I paid for my Instructor Training.

Again this proved to be more challenging than I had anticipated. The flight school I had enlisted to complete my training began facing some financial crises.

The training follows a straight forward program where one is taught how to use a white board, to concisely and accurately place the most important information to convey your particular message. The message being a particular lesson for a particular flight exercise. This phase is called a briefing. Fortunately this phase did not require an actual aircraft which is the reason why I opted to remain steadfast and continue training there.

My hope was that the company would manage to sort out their financial issues and obtain aircraft in time for me to start the flying phase of training. Now because the finds were not handed directly to me but rather were placed into the Schools account I also did not really have a means to just up and leave the school because that would mean I have lost all the money that the sponsor had paid.

The only solution was to pressure the flight school so that they could make arrangements to ensure that I would complete my training without a glitch. This worked as I was soon transferred to another flight school, where I would simply focus on the flying/ patter side of things.

When I started my instructor rating training the Chief flight instructor of another flight school, requested that I made sure that I spoke to him as soon as I completed my training. This for me was a good sign as it meant I would not have much difficulty finding a job.

Sadly due to the delays caused by the financial crises experienced by my current flight school, my completion date kept being delayed.

I eventually completed the training in October 2017. This was more exciting than having completed my CPL. Odd but it really was. I felt a sense of progress a sense of finally having something work in my favour. Once my logbook was signed I immediately contacted the Chief flight instructor who had already assigned me to assist a French speaking student with her ground training again this was right up my alley as I had been assisting other students with their studies during my days working as an Operations assistant.

He asked me to start immediately. I was excited, I waited about 2 weeks for my paper work to be completed by the Civil Aviation Authority. Once it finally came I was set to start giving flight instruction.

The beginning of everything is always tough. I had tough I had to create a “client base” so to speak and slowly create a name for myself as an instructor. People want to make sure that they are spending their hard earned money very well. Thus it took time before I got into the swing of things.

As a starting instructor particularly in busy aerodromes with many flight schools it is common to only earn money for every hour you work, i.e each hour of flying or ground training would give me some form of income. So imagine only having one student who only rocked up once a month for training and add up the cents.

It was really tough having to spend money I did not have to try and make more money but mainly to try and get in at least 1 hour of flying.

Fortunately my Mantra soon paid off. A colleague who had been running his own little sight seeing venture within the flight school, needed assistance, it was nearing the end of the year and people had more time on their hands this meant he had an increase in customers and needed someone to help him along. We would fly scenic routes from Rand Airport to Ellis park stadium-Sandton CBD, Kyalami racetrack, FNB stadium past Gold reef City and back to Rand airport. These flights were 0.5hours on average but they sure did make a difference.

Last days of scenic flights
Last scenic flight.

The pay at this point was so irrelevant as i was so excited about filling in my logbook and making some sort of contacts. Never ever underestimate the power of networking, in any industry.

This continued into January of 2018 where my flight instruction began to pick up. Again God’s grace and timing is ever so impeccable, in hind sight I realise that I was not completely confident in flying the aircraft the particular flight school I was working for had. I had done my instructor rating on a Cessna 172 skyhawk, they flew Piper cherokees.

skyhawk vs cherokee

So as always things were happening exactly as they needed to.

I received my very first student January 15th 2018. His name was Fortunate Ngubeni. Hehehe I always say God is very humorous. He had been training at the flight school on and off for sometime, like I mentioned earlier the busier the aerodrome the less consistent the students usually, but this also had a lot to do with the actual cost of flight training. Our first lesson with fortunate was stalling. The purpose behind this lesson which is lesson 10 on the Global PPL training guide, is to ensure the student is fully capable of identifying and recovering from this unusual phase of flight.

An aircraft is said to be stalled when it has exceeded its critical angle of attack. In layman’s terms when there is NOT enough airflow over the wing to generate sufficient lift.

The reason I say God is humorous is because for some odd reason flying with Fortunate brought on a huge fortune in students. My flying would pick up a great deal after this,but it was inconsistent and by now I was tired of the on and off salary and filling in of my logbook.

I then came across a means to improve my knowledge while earning a small amount on the side. I was never contracted to work at either of the places, I was merely there as a freelance, so I figured it would be great to give some ground training to drone pilots. As the horrible adage goes “Those who can, do; and those who can’t teach” I could not do as often as I wanted so I decided to teach.

This was a great and short lived experience it really helped me boost my confidence in the PPL theory.

As all this was happening, I was in constant search to find a place that would keep flying consistently and give me a decent salary. Decent salary and consistent are always subjective. So I was happy to find this place.

I have always been a strong believer in: Thoughts becoming actions,
although for the better half of my childhood I used this in a negative sense
I still strongly believed that if you believed in something, wrote it down
and worked towards getting it, it would come to pass.

So I spent time sending out my CV, updating it and constantly improving my cover letter. Until it eventually paid off. I received an email requesting that I avail myself for an interview.  18th May 2018 I received an email confirming that I had successfully passed my interview and that I would be a flight instructor in the place I had dreamed of.

 

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The Elusive CPL

….Continued

The period from getting “The boot” to recommencing my training must have been the longest most difficult few months of my life. I had gained 4kg’s in 12months from being away from home, to losing it all in 2months. Stress was having me, I couldn’t sleep and eating was almost impossible. Those who knew me during training were shocked to see how thin I had become.

 

IMG-20180508-WA0014
July 21st 2015

 

Looking back, my biggest stress was not that I was kicked out as much as it was that I thought I had made a terrible decision to give up on what I was doing (Engineering) to pursue my dream.

I cannot outrightly state that I come from a wealthy family because I have nothing to compare it to and neither can I say we are or were poor again I have nothing to compare it to, however I can definitely and confidently say that having a financially smart family has come a long way in this journey.

Aviation definitely isn’t the cheapest hobby to pursue it is even less cheap if the goal is to make it a career.

But by God’s merciful and abundant Grace my parents came together and plotted a means to make my dreams possible. This like everything we experience came with a huge lesson. Nobody should ever have to stop what they dream of doing because of a lack of finance. My mom also taught me that in everything that I do I should place God and the desire FIRST before I make money a reason for my lack of success. This definitely stuck because till this day I live by the mantra “Money flows towards me whether I work for it or not”.

Speaking of mantras I recently discovered another mantra “MONEY RECOGNIZES, MONEY IS COMFORTABLE AROUND ME, MONEY LIKES ME…” 

If you take anything from this particular piece please take the money mantras. Money doesn’t bring happiness but it makes dreams come true, it makes life more comfortable to live.

As I was saying the money came through and in August 2015 I received my Private Pilots License. The psychological impact of this entire ordeal seldom leaves me. I am healing but every so often I wonder and question “What if they were right, what if I am not suitable to fly.”

I was and still am diligent, in everything I did I made sure to be extra cautious and 10times more prepared just to make sure that I did not fail any exams and that not a single penny went to waste. I value money a great deal and I value my family even more for making the decision to stand behind me in this journey.

2016 came and I was fast approaching the end of my training, because a bulk of the Commercial Pilots License (CPL) training is hour building I found myself having a lot of free time. So I kindly requested to work as an Operations assistant at the flight school where i was doing my training.

This was brilliant because it gave me a little pocket money and I was always in and around aircraft’s, it is safe to say that it came in handy with my studies too because at this point word was starting to spread about how well I am able to explain aviation theory. This too became a source of income and I was becoming a little money maker.

From early childhood I have always found ways to make money it was never direct but somehow money found its way into my life. Leaving High school the first thing I did was use my math skills to tutor, I also used my loud voice to promote various products over the December holidays. So helping students with aviation theory was a breeze.

Fast forward to August2016, when I was in the last stages of completing my CPL. I wont go into the nitty gritty issues I faced before this point. But the date for my CPL check was set. I felt well prepared and eager to prove to myself that I was indeed fulfilling my purpose. Although I don’t believe anything can be called a purpose unless other people gain from it,getting this License was my purpose for 2016.

The Terry who is spontaneous, adventurous and outgoing decided she would spend the entire day at an airshow (Rand Airport airshow) to be exact, the day before she would do her flight test, actual and simulated, oral as well as a written exam for her CPL.

This was by far the best decision i had ever made. I was relaxed and surrounded by the very thing I love so much. I tested on August 22nd 2016 at 14:00B the surface wind was forecast to gust 35knots. This sort of made me nervous but the flight instructor that had helped me prep for the test said “Aaaah c’mon i know you can do it.” 🙂 This set my head spinning with excitement.

The flight was conducted in this beastly machine pictured below.

ZSMFS

Pretty big machine innit. Well i flew that and conquered.

 

The Journey

Been feeling pretty shy about writing this, writing any type of writing that other people would read really, but I sppouse writing frees the soul and encourages others to persever.

My mom tells me I must have been 5 when I spoke of becoming a pilot, but I mean every child at that age wants to become a pilot or a Dr or a teacher. My own memory of the conversation was when I was about 7 and I was at the airport for the first time, Jan smuts international it was called back then now O.R Tambo.

I had never seen anything so marvelous in my entire life hahaha yes 7 years on earth is a long time, i was 3 years shy of a decade. It was probably a Boeing 737 taking off on what is runway 03 today.

I wondered how on earth is it possible for such a massive object to be in the air, was it magic, who was “driving” it, how,what, somebody please explain to me what sorcery this was.

My grandmother would remind me each and every day about being a pilot,she would always make an effort to seek out anything that would bring me closer to my dreams.

Went through primary school wondering how small me would ever get to become a pilot. The most challenging thing was figuring out how to expose myself to things related to aviation, the most I could do was talk to pilots and ask to view the cockpit.

Exposure is something most exposed people take so much for granted, looking back I realise that all I needed to do was ask but who was I to ask and how would I find them. Where as someone, priveledged would automatically be able to identify where and who to talk to in order to obtain knowledge or information.

Through all of this my grandma always managed to find airshow dates and so the journey truly began.

Getting the boot!

It’s when I am not writing that I remember what I want to write and as soon as I open up to writing I get shy again.

I disappeared for sometime because I needed to sort out the next phase of my journey. Aviation is such a journey.

In 2014 I was nervous as hell about having to move away from home for the first time in my life. It was definitely worth it though anything to pursue my long term dream of becoming a pilot.

The interviews were intense, they went on for several days and those weren’t even a guarantee that I would obtain employment at the end of the training.

Unlike many I was extremely fortunate to have managed to obtain sponsorship. At the time our national carrier was offering training bursaries for the best of the best, to be Honest I made it into the first phase of selections because I had been busy studying towards a degree in engineering. Imagine that, I left engineering to become what most call a “Glorified taxi driver”.

Second, third…. And fifth phase consisted of a series of tests from a medical exam, psychometric tests, criminal background checks telephonic and face to face interviews. And after all that I made it through. We were a group of 32 and we were told that making it through this stage was no guarantee of making it past the three months probation.

Fast forward to September 2014 and I had successfully completed the initial phase of Pilot training the SAA way.

Then began a journey in the cockpit. Where my nerves and my disbelief would get the better of me and I would soon be told I was not suitable to become a pilot.

Like they say, Hind sight is 20/20, looking back now it was my fear and low self-esteem that lead to my self doubt perhaps the environment had a role to play but I won’t focus too much on that.

May 2015 I lost my scholarship and I was sent home. Being a black female played a role too in my exclusion. The challenge then became how will I afford to pay for flight training fees now that I have lost the scholarship.

To be continued.

The Journey

Been feeling pretty shy about writing this, writing any type of writing that other people would read really, but I sppouse writing frees the soul and encourages others to persever.

My mom tells me I must have been 5 when I spoke of becoming a pilot, but I mean every child at that age wants to become a pilot or a Dr or a teacher. My own memory of the conversation was when I was about 7 and I was at the airport for the first time, Jan smuts international it was called back then now O.R Tambo.

I had never seen anything so marvelous in my entire life hahaha yes 7 years on earth is a long time, i was 3 years shy of a decade. It was probably a Boeing 737 taking off on what is runway 03 today.

1810874

I wondered how on earth is it possible for such a massive object to be in the air, was it magic, who was “driving” it, how,what, somebody please explain to me what sorcery this was.

My grandmother would remind me each and every day about being a pilot,she would always make an effort to seek out anything that would bring me closer to my dreams.

Went through primary school wondering how small me would ever get to become a pilot. The most challenging thing was figuring out how to expose myself to things related to aviation, the most I could do was talk to pilots and ask to view the cockpit.

Exposure is something most exposed people take so much for granted, looking back I realize that all I needed to do was ask but who was I to ask and how would I find them. Where as someone, privileged would automatically be able to identify where and who to talk to in order to obtain knowledge or information.

Through all of this my grandma always managed to find airshow dates and so the journey truly began.

Words cannot express the joy I feel when I hear the sound of a Rolls Royce trent engine or a SAAB jas 39 Gripen.

I really do enjoy flying…

First blog post

I was talking to my mentor yesterday 30th August 2017 about my ‘career’ and she suggested I write a blog. I am nervous as hell about this because I fear making a mistake or better yet not have anybody read it lol.

So the blog like I said will be like a diary of my journey as a female pilot, sorry a black female pilot, it is necessary to state my race and gender with the current Global crisis, it will probably take decades to get rid of patriarchy, racism, sexism etc.

As usual I digress…

1902674.jpg

I love flying!