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.
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.
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.
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.