Work, Walks & Open Days – Week 4 at CTC

Wow, so much has been going on this week, I can’t believe it! At this rate I’m going to have to start taking notes of what I do just to keep up with myself alongside all the ATPL knowledge cramming into my head… More importantly, it has been just under a month since I started at CTC now – I can’t believe it!

Monday was the start of a new subject for us, Human Performance and Limitations (HPL) – basically equal parts biology and psychology, discussing how pilots are naturally flawed and ways in which we can manage and limit these. I have to say I hate biology and so the physiology side of things is rather uninteresting to me, but the decision making and chain of events theory is somewhat fascinating.

Tuesday was back to Mass and Balance, which as we have now finished meant a practice paper in mock conditions after a morning of revision! I wasn’t too nervous as M&B is a subject I’m very comfortable with, and I managed to get a 90% mark which I’m more than happy with! Only 3 marks dropped and that was mainly just from not spotting some conversions, which shouldn’t be too hard to weed out so I can get 100% in the actual exam, which may help a little against the horrors of Gnav!

Wednesday was another HPL day, in which we mainly discussed various unpleasant ways in which you can lose your medical or make flying hell, including tropical diseases, obesity and fatigue. For the last hour of the day we were split up into groups to start work on a presentation on a particular system of the body – in my case, the cardiovascular system including the heart and blood vessels. It seems we are getting a sheep’s heart in to dissect and show off! I’ll let you all know how that goes down next week as the presentation is on Monday – the day this gets posted…

Thursday we got back to the joy that is Gnav, first off discussing altitude, a far more complex topic than meets the eye! Our altitude is never a constant in relation to anything really, as it depends on temperature and pressure in the local area – meaning we can climb and descend without changing altitude as local conditions change! We then had to learn to calculate changes in altitude compensating for these factors, as well as ensuring obstacle clearance during a descent. We also did an hour on charts and plotting, which is nice and easy as it is drawing lines and circles on a map, something I’ve been doing for years with my PPL so the last part of the day was a breeze!

Thursday evening I headed back into CTC after cooking myself some food at home to get some work done on the HPL presentation, making notes on all the info we needed for the powerpoint I was to make – I’m a bit of a night owl and sometimes an evening without distraction is good for you! That said, I did end up getting quite majorly distracted in a rather exciting way!

I did know of a group of new Monarch pilots doing their type ratings at CTC during the week due to conversations with one of them via twitter, and happened to know there was a slim chance if I hung around while they were on their break and looked keen I’d get a chance to join in the back seat and get to experience a full motion simulator… as it was, this actually happened, and I called it a day for HPL and jumped in the back seat of an A320 sim! The next hour and a half was great fun for me, though a real workout for the folks up front as they were practicing V1 cuts in the A320 for the first time – where an engine failure happens right at the critical moment on take-off… It was really fascinating watching these though, served as a great inspiration and has made me look forward to getting onto airliners even more! The full motion was amazing too, you really feel every bump and the kick on take-off as full thrust is set is quite a sensation!

The front seat! Hopefully this will be my second home in a few years...
The front seat! Hopefully this will be my second home in a few years…


My tie is indeed very loose. It was 11:30 and I was too excited to care OK!?
Cheesy grin after the sim… Thanks to Brian Cattle (@flattenedvowel) for the experience!

After all the excitement of Thursday, Friday was a bit more calm, with a bit more Gnav discussing all the different kinds of time we can experience, how to go between all of them, and how different times can affect our flying. This was very easy for me too, a lot of it I remembered from PPL and it is all very logical anyway, which is where I tend to particularly excel. We got a bit of an early finish as everyone got through it all pretty quickly, and I took advantage of the extra daylight to go for a long walk around Southampton, even though it was rainy and cold! I needed to get outside after sitting in all week, and ended up walking all the way to the port and back – a two hour round trip! I was pretty exhausted after that but felt a lot better after all. I’ll definitely try fitting more in when I can, as dull as Southampton is I still had a somewhat pleasant time. Since I was so tired I called in early and went to bed, especially as I had to be up early the next morning!

All quiet in the events hall at 0800...
All quiet in the events hall at 0800…
My first assignment is quiet too, ready for the horde to descend later in the day...
My first assignment is quiet too, ready for the horde to descend on it later in the day…

The earliness was because I decided to volunteer at a CTC “careers event” (open day to you or me…), since I really wanted to help pass some of the useful information I’d received at similar events on to other people in similar situations to where I had been only 8 months ago! I was also very much won over by an offer of free pizza and lunch, plus more sim time! I ended up working on the sims first thing in the morning, which was great as there were very few people passing through so there was loads of time to have a play with everything! I started off managing the instructor panel, setting up the aircraft for each flight, before moving into the captain’s seat to act as a rudimentary Pilot Not Flying (PNF), which is where you manage things like autopilot, flaps and landing gear while the other person flies the aircraft. I was more than happy with this as I’ve hand flown plenty of times before but never got to toy with landing gear or an autopilot! There were also a few dings on the seatbelt selector at the insistence of my course mates…

I am the captain now...
I am the captain now…

Eventually I handed over to the next cadet so they could have a go (I wasn’t going to hog it for myself, though the CTC instructor wasn’t too happy about all the switching around we were doing…), then moved over to the reception to greet visitors and help point them in the right direction (which was almost always the sims anyway)!
After an hour or so of chatting about all sides of my training, I was somewhat reluctantly dragged outside for a stint on car park duty, which was mostly unremarkable and cold and so I headed over to grab some lunch as soon as I could escape.

Parking Duty. Me no happy.
Parking Duty. Me no happy.

Having filled up on some very tasty chocolate cake, I spent the rest of the afternoon generally wandering around talking to anyone with questions, though most of the time it was so quiet I just relaxed with some fellow volunteers, including CP142 who had just finished their first week – funny to think that wasn’t so long ago for me!
As things really fizzled down I also met up with a few current pilots, including Georgie Sweeney, whose own experiences inspired me quite a bit and persuaded me to run a blog of my own! It was pretty interesting hearing some of their stories from flying since graduating CTC, and I spent quite a while talking to a BA Cityflyer pilot about the steep approach at London City Airport, which is a very tricky place to fly in and out of daily – though he seemed to be loving it!
Eventually the pizza arrived and after a bit more chatter between everyone, I headed home for another early night.

Sunday was a bit of a lazy day, I finished the HPL presentation and caught up on work I hadn’t done after the busy previous day, and have spent most of the evening writing this rather lengthy blog post and enjoying a bit of X-Plane flying on my PC, which I haven’t done for a while.

Next week you’ll be hearing all about the HPL presentation, and I also have a day each of Gnav and POF just to really get my mind going. Friday is another CBT day and I’ll head to London that evening to meet up with my family for the first time since starting at CTC!

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this incredibly lengthy blog instalment, I certainly loved living it! Can’t wait to see what next week brings…


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