The IF Rating and the Multi Rating


The flying has been going really well. I had aimed to test for my CPL/IF/ME mid December but the atrocious thunderstorm season stood in my way and only started flying the twin (The Piper Twin Comanche, PA30), beginning of Jan 2015, to be able to test mid Feb!

Etienne, flew on a whole bunch of training flights with my instructor and I and we started calling him TCAS after the little gadget used in commercial planes which alerts us to fly up, fly down, fly right, fly left etc when another plane gets a little too close. His support has been unwavering!

The PA30 is an amazing plane to fly, tonnes better than the Cessna 172 that I had gotten used to. So much faster and so much more to do!

Tonnes of fun! First some pics before I post all about the big day, TEST DAY!

Etienne and I

Etienne and I

20150110_095143000_iOS 20150110_095138000_iOS

Some steep turns in the PA30

Some steep turns in the PA30


The cockpit of ZS-DVD

The cockpit of ZS-DVD


IFR Training, First Sim session

Sunday, the 17th of August, marked my first sim session in order to get my CPL/IR/ME license. I was very impressed with Sim Central’s simulator setup at Grand Central, have a look at the pics! I first had to get to grips with a more complex aircraft, one with retractable landing gear and a variable pitch prop.

I did some basic NDB and VOR intercepts during the initial 1.2 hours and luckily I remembered how to do these from my previous sessions way back. The next sim session will cover holding procedures specifically at Wonderboom airport. Exciting stuff!

I decided to re-install Microsoft Flight Simulator X onto my laptop again so that I could practice the holds in my own time and before the next sim session. Needless to say I managed to enter the hold using the sector 2 entry and then executed 3 holds over the NDB at Wonderboom. I was impressed, for a first attempt. There are quite a few checks and briefings one has to do during the approach to the hold as well as when you are in the hold already. All of that ontop of maintaining straight and level and managing your speed!!

I handed in my Cessna 172 RG (C72R) technical exam too so that is out of the way and readies me for the flight in the aircraft after the sim sessions. This plane features a stronger engine, retractable landing gear as well as a variable pitch prop. All in all a more efficient aircraft.

IF training is awesome so far, learning a lot and feeling more and more like a professional pilot ūüôā

Close-up FNPT II The FNPT II Sim

The last of the hour building, exams, IFR Training and the A350!

I have been pushing very hard to complete all of the CPL subjects at the CAA with 3 exams remaining at the beginning of Feb 2014. The new syllabus horror stories made me slightly anxious to get going and I finally wrote all three and eagerly awaited my completion certificate from the CAA. Ops and Air Law was a beast which I left last and after mapping out exactly what I had to study I got right to it. I didnt make the first or second attempt because the syllabus structure differed from the exam in some aspects. For example, part 93 was not supposed to be in the exam, but there were 4 questions on it! Also, we had to memorize ALL of the minima criteria for every category aircraft, speeds, alternates, remote airfields, THE LOT!

On my third try I was very relieved to see the green writing saying that I had passed after I clicked the “SUBMIT” button. I did pretty well in the end. This was the first exam I had ever failed right from PPL to now so it was a bit of a let-down but oh so grateful to have made it.

I celebrated my 100 hours PIC last week by organizing a flight with my grand mother and cousin to Bela-Bela (FAWB) North of Pretoria. I have family up there so I thought we could drop in and have some cool drink and cookies in the shade. Many pics were taken and I will upload some soon.

Highlights of hour building was my trip to Richards Bay (FARB), 3.5 hours each way, clear cloudless weather en-route and family waiting on the other side. I did suffer from a deflated nosewheel during my landing roll out but took everything in stride and got the wheel sorted out Sunday morning, just in time for the trip back!Nosewheel JHB CBD Numerous issues Sugarcane Powerstation

After spending so much time studying air law and operations I was very eager to start my IFR training. I had my very first briefing on Sunday with Henry and will be updating you all on the transition from single engine to eventually getting my Multi-Engine Instrument Commercial License!

I managed to catch a glimpse of the glorious A350 on its global test flight. See the pics below..

A350 1 A350 2

New Pilot Theory Exam Syllabus

The South African aviation regulations have gone through some significant changes in the past few months, including the launch of their new pilot exam syllabus. The syllabus is based on a mix of JAA (UK), FAA (US), EASA (EU) as well as some local content. I think that this is most definitely a good move albeit a costly move for pilots that are busy with their PPL and CPLs since new study material would need to be purchased.

In my situation I still had 3 theory exams remaining to complete the theory aspect of my CPL. The exams were Instruments, Aircraft Technical and General and Ops/Air law. I knew that it would be a bit of a learning experience to see if my study techniques would need to be changed or not. I am a firm believer in actually understanding the content before attempting to write the tests.

The SACAA published a curriculum which included a whole bunch of new topics for which my FTC notes would not be sufficient at all. I found an incredible resource on the web that helped me understand the new topics as well as the sort of questions to expect. ALOT more understanding is needed to pass the new exams.

You also have 18 months from starting the theory exams to finish all 8. I was starting to get awfully close to this cut-off so I used all our lovely Easter holidays to study study study. I managed to pass Instruments with 80% first time and Aircraft Technical and General with 78% also first time. This was all done in April. I only have Operations/Air law remaining before my June cut-off time.

ATG was by far the most volume to study and this was tremendously gruelling to be honest. I think I now have a fairly good understanding of how the aircraft we love to fly operate so efficiently.. but goodness it was a lot. Too much I think!

I was tempted many times to subscribe to question banks online just to save some time but the resources exist out there on the web to grasp the content that is lacking in the FTC/Avex notes.

So folks one more exam remains, 15 more solo hours and then I will be ready to finally start my Instrument Rating. I was very sad to have missed a trip to Richards Bay with my pilot mates but needed to focus on those exams first.

Kenya… Here we come

Hi All,

I had to give myself a taste of what it would be like to fly the big jets, just a little reminder. My good friend Eti invited me to visit his folks in Kenya for 9 days just as the new year got under way.

I had been to Kenya for 6 months when I was 10 so I was absolutely reeling to go back and see what had changed, if any. Sadly not much, just more cars, poverty and utter chaos. Nonetheless I had an amazing trip away.

Some flying pics below, and some others too. Kenya Airways.. service was fantastic and free WiFi at Nairobi airport ūüôā

Boeing 767

Boeing 767






Elephant Sanctuary

Elephant Sanctuary



20140106_103928000_iOS 20140108_143807713_iOS

Lake Nakuru

Lake Nakuru



20140112_092712340_iOS 20140112_095626881_iOS

Convective clouds

Convective clouds


Hour building – Continuing

Hi All,

I have been having an amazing time but have failed to post something for a while yet again. I have been learning a lot in the process and am still loving every minute. I have come to appreciate the value of perfection when doing flight planning, but more on this in a later post.

I had the privilege of taking my dad up for a flight for the first time after taking my mother up a few months back. I had planned the regular “close-to-home” route for the night flight. Luckily I arrived at the flight school late afternoon Sunday because the aircraft did not have a functioning landing light so had to rush my dad to get to the airport so we could at least go flying for an hour while daylight remained.

Much fun to be had. Some very awesome pics of the last few flights to follow..

She has seen better days

She has seen better days


Eti and I

Eti and I

Dad and I

Dad and I


Taking friends for a flip! Arm the doors and cross check!

It has been a while since I have written a post, simply because of the way life just gets busy as we all know. I had been so frustrated not being able to fly that I booked a quick flight and asked a few of my closest friends to come along.

One of them had been taking motion sickness pills out of plain fear. The days leading up to the flight was filled with a lot of banter; however, so was looking forward to the flight a great deal. Was so proud of him though for pushing through. The other friend had absolutely no qualms at all and begged me to stall the aircraft (which I did not do for fear of having partially digested dinner all over me).

One of my friend’s brought along his GoPro camera to capture some parts of the flight. I must say I was VERY impressed with the device, it was wrapped around with ease and took some very interesting videos (which we later used to extract stills from).

After a bit of a mess up with my aircraft booking we only managed to get the aircraft for an hour instead of the whole night as per my original booking. Had to make the best of it. Takeoff was quick and exhilarating as a flock of guinea fowl decided to dart across the runway just as I was rotating. If only they knew how dangerous that was….

We took the most amazing photos….

image image_1 image_1_1 image_2 image_2_1 image_3 image_3_1 image_4 Birdies.. image_5_1 Sunset image_7 image_8 N1 Finals for 17 Alex FAGC Tower Lined Up

Progress.. 8001 Views

All is well in the flying department again. Finally. Potentially big news on Friday… Will keep you all updated hence the reason why I have not flown as much as I would’ve liked too. Flew the last weekend, Sunday night. Was very gusty but after 30 days of no flying before it, I am proud to say that I have not forgotten anything.

I just wanted to thank you all for standing behind me in this incredibly fulfilling journey thus far! Somehow I have managed to gain 8001 page views thus far since launching my blog.

More detailed news later…

Here we go again, full circle!

I really thought our SA was more grown-up but clearly we still have a long way to go and its getting so hard staying possitive, but persevere one must, it builds character blah blah but just so sad. There are folks in that program that have never participated in a single aviation type topic of conversation and whose folks by them Audi R8’s. They are doing it for the wrong reason instead of for the passionate love of flying. Just my 2 cents!

You can show your support, not sure how much it will help but it will create awareness I guess. Tweet your message with #StopSAA.

Hour building, eish it is going slow!

Hour building is progressing slowly but surely! But between the school’s going into maintenance and further maintenance issues with their fleet I have not flown now for 2 weeks. The last mishap was the landing lights being inop on LAK. Now I spoke to the Egyptian pilot just before my flight and he assured me everything is hunky dory, well it wasn’t. After I had spent 2 hours on the pre-flight planning, 30 min driving to the airport, 30 mins of admin I got to the aircraft and true as bob, both landing light filaments were not working. The previous guy also wrote down the wrong hobbs (how the school charges us for the hours). So yeah frustrating was all I could say. Of course there weren’t any other free aircraft available. It seems that 2 of the school’s aircraft were in some sort of mishap as well adding to the lack of aircraft statement.

So yes, the waiting continues. Busy studying for the MET CPL exam which I would really like to write next week.

In other news, SAA’s cadet pilot program came to its conclusion, with not even 1 white male making it through, out of 40. Now why send me to the psych testing last year if they knew this was going to happen? The mind boggles! Goodluck to them! An instructor friend of mine got a job in Indonesia flying the C208 Cessna Caravan, so there is still hope for some of us!

I also got 95% for the Radio Aids CPL Exam, now if anyone still thinks that I am not dedicated enough well..

1 year this weekend!

I apologize firstly for not writing any posts recently. This past weekend marked my one year anniversary since starting my journey. Truly blessed to have come so far already, some highlights thus far:

  • Private Pilots License (December 2012)
  • Night Rating (Jan 2013)
  • CPL Flight Planning exam (89%)
  • CPL Navigation Exam (96%)
  • Total Flight time thus far (100 hours), halfway for CPL completion
  • Total Pilot-in-command Night Hours (30)

As you all can see I am steadily making progress. I am busy with hour building at the moment and the winter weather should be more suitable than the frequent evening thunderstorms that have hampered my flights of late. I am busy studying for the Radio Aids exam and I will hopefully sit down next week for the exam.

Slowly but surely, I will get there! Thanks for the continued support!

Hour-Building, loving it!

Its been two weeks since I last posted something. This is just all to tell you that I have so far accumulated 9.7 night hours thus far in my¬†endeavor¬†of reaching 200 hours total time (currently sitting at around 85). This past Friday night I took my good friends, Helena and Thomas up for a triangular flight. We had quite an exciting flight with Thomas’s door continuously opening up, he was quite nervous about it but other than that it was a lot of fun. I didn’t manage to get to Mafikeng as quite strong headwinds were expected (there ended up being only a light 5knot wind in the end anyways) and we would not be able to make it back with the fuel we had. I was not sure if Makikeng had fuel after hours. I still really want to fly there, its right up against the Botswana border and the runway is 4.4km long. The plan is to fly to Mafikeng, or Bloemfontein, this coming Friday.

For me this is the most exciting part of my journey so far¬†because¬†I can decide where I want to fly to so there is some freedom around it plus I can take my friends and family with ūüôā

Money is going to be tight this month, very tight. I can afford around 10 hours a month only and this month I should end up with just over 15 hours so going to have to be even more frugal this month. It is my birthday month so…… Who knows ūüôā

I am Night Rated!

I now have my night rating! A bit of an anticlimax i must say when I went to go and pick up my rating from the CAA, all it is is a reprint of your original PPL with a extra line under your ratings saying, Night Rating. Haha, yes I know but I was just expecting more ūüôā

My test with Barend went very well and the aircraft was in good shape too. Some 1.3 hours of IF again with the hood where I had to track to/from ADFs and VORs, some steep turns, some rate 1 turns some stalls with and without flaps, some unusual attitudes etc. After all of this he took away the hood and I had to navigate back to Grand Central without using any radio navigation instruments. It took me about 3 mins to find my bearings (I realized that he had altered my direction indicator only after I glanced at the compass).

He mentioned a couple of new things which I hadn’t learnt before so that was quite cool as well.

So there folks, I am on my way to the next license, my commercial pilots license! I have a lot of work that lies ahead but each day is more exciting than the previous day and I am loving every minute of it. I will start my hour building by hiring one of FTSs planes, ZS-LAK, this Saturday and flinging my sister and Chris around a bit.

Will need to start looking into cheaper planes to do hour building with R1200 per hour is not cheap!

Some videos from the cross country flight

Chris took us some videos of the landings at Lanseria and Grand Central. I have not loaded all of the videos due to size constraints but have a look so long.  The first video is the Lanseria landing and the second is the landing back at home base, Grand Central.

Night Nav Exercise Completed

Wooooohooo! I completed my Nav flight last night from Grand Central (FAGC) to FARG (Rustenburg) to Pilansberg (FAPN) to Lanseria (FALA) and back to Grand Central last night with my instructor and cameraman, Chris. I was slightly nervous before hand becasue of some rather large storms that passed over JHB from around 1500 to 1800 but it was all clear on the radar when I left home at 18:30 headed for the airport.

A lot of admin, payments and paperwork followed before I could finally get into the plane. I did a thorough inspection like I always do and ZS-IFW looked to be in tip top shape. A welcome change I must admit.

I headed¬†towards¬†the active runway and completed my last checks, this is always the part where I am the most excited! We climbed out of Grand Central to some amazing views (pics to follow a bit later). This was all quite new to me since I had been flying with those foggles, where I¬†couldn’t¬†look out of the cockpit at all. Except for the landing and take off at Grand Central I never saw much else other than the red glow over the instrument¬†panel.

I was quite busy tracking the various radials to various VOR’s concentrating on getting it right first time that I¬†didn’t¬†get a chance to look outside much, that is disappointing though. Clear, still air, just super fantastic¬†until¬†I had to speak to Johannesburg Area ATC… My stomach sank when I heard all the big commercial planes such as SAA, Etihad, Turkish and the likes being vectored towards OR Tambo (FAOR). I¬†know¬†that when I said hello and request descend, climb that those folk in the cockpits would also hear my quivering little voice HAHA. Quite funny actually, I must say I did sound more professional than some of the other VFR traffic but im sure the folk up there high in the sky had a good laugh reminiscing of their earlier flight careers, or maybe not ūüėź

We just overlflew Rustenburg then flew low level to Pilansberg. I won’t get a chance to fly into Pilansberg at night again soon since you need an instrument rating to land there after hours. The approach lights were quite spectacular, yet blinding on the final approach. Before I knew it, and before I could have a look at the aircraft on the apron, we were off again. Tracking the Lanseria LIV VOR I heard ont he Area frequency that a MedAir Jet was also routing to LIV but eh difference being they were at 40 000 feet. We pluddered along at 100mph at 7500 ft till just before Lanseria where the ATC asked me to join on the left downwind for 06 Left. I had been cleared for the landing only to have the clearance cancelled just before landing¬†because¬†of a vehicle on the runway, full power and around I went. I performed a very steep 2nd approach to save some time and heard the air traffic¬†controller¬†reprimanding the ground crew, I was glad I was not on the receiving end of that haha.

And before I knew it I was joining overhead at my home airfield and executed the best landing of the flight. 2.3 hours for the trip, not bad!

Keep a close eye, I will be posting some pics and videos soon.

What’s next? Well I have the Night Rating Online Exam to pass on Thursday at 11 (Jip, I have taken off work for Thursday and Friday) and then my Night Rating Flight Test probably the weekend. And then folks I start hour building, I can’t believe I am at this point already. Now the hunt begins for the cheapest C172 or Cirrus aircraft to get the hour building going. For the guys that still don’t know what a cessna 172 looks like here she is:




And a Jabi:



And a Cirrus:



So some decisions to make in the future..

FTS Bungles up again! No surprise

So no surprise at all but yet I still get so upset!! I was due to fly a night navigation flight tonight, awesome right, well not when you have to rely on FTS’s aircraft! I spent most of the Sunday afternoon planning the route, filing the flight plan etc only to be in the aircraft, which was supposedly in tip top shape. The plane’s landing lights would not switch on! Another frustrating walk to the office to find out that the only other aircraft available did not have all of the standard equipment needed to fly at night, a VOR. Pretty useless since I should be practicing radio navigation on this nav trip. I found out that the Civil Aviation Authority will be conducting a audit on FTS tomorrow. Now I know I have complained about the school so many times before but I did not tip off the authorities.

I have requested that the money in my account almost R4000 be paid back to me before close of business tomorrow, you know just in case. I am very glad to hear though that there are other students who are also not happy with the safety of the schools planes. Lets hope they just get slapped with a fine and ordered to repair the planes so that I can at least get my night rating first, I am only 2 short flights away!

Disappointment! Anyone else experience this at other flight schools?

No night flight tonight, airport issues!

I must say I am progressing well with my night flying albeit ambit difficult to get up in the mornings for work! I have accumulated 3.6 instrument hours and about 5.5 dual night hours and tonight I was supposed to do a mock test only to finally taxi to the holding point for runway 17 when we realized we couldn’t turn on the runway lights. Grand Central is unmanned during the evenings so we turn on the runway lights by pushing in the push to talk button 4 times on the Grand Central Traffic frequency. We tried and we tried but in the end had to taxi back and park ūüė¶

Will do the mock test on Saturday night and then my night navigation flight on Sunday night and hopefully do my flight test sometime next week, all dependent on the afternoon/evening thunderstorms which occur every single afternoon up here on the Highveld

First 1.4 hours of 10

My first 1.4 hours as a night pilot (1.2 actual instrument hours) was successful given the situation. Absolutely loved the experience and cant wait to do it again. This was also my first flight with my night rating instructor, Justin.

Once again FTS disappointed but I knew they would let me down again. SCB, as many will remember gave me those battery, radio and numerous other issues near the end of my PPL flying, this time she managed to disappoint yet again.

Night flying is awesome, not much general flying traffic out there and no wind either! There were some thunderstorms about but they were few and far between i had to trust Justin when he issued me with headings to fly. After a few turns, i still had quite a good idea of where i was even though i had a hood on (I could not see out of the cockpit at all, i could only see the instruments ahead of me)

After about 45 mins of practicing steep turns and clean config stalls (without flaps) the next exercise was stalls with flaps, only the flaps would not extend, i immediately thought about my first night landing that i would have to do without flaps! I orbited (flew in circles for about 10 mins while Justin did some troubleshooting). Nope I would have to land with no flaps! Also the cabin lighting does not work on this plane at all so it is mandatory that we carry a head torch as well as a back up one as well.

After what felt like hours Justin had vectored me for final approach and I could remove all my gear, we were coming in fast but i managed to execute a pretty good landing albeit a quarter way down the runway!

My first 1.2 hours of IF will count towards my ATPL ūüôā

I took some photos while I was sitting in the plane waiting for it to get dark….



Night rating here we go!

I am all green lights on the ground-front for the night rating to begin. I just need 10 hours to achieve the first component of my commercial license, how exciting is that! I have not flown in 4 weeks so I am super excited to get back in the air again.

I already had my briefing on the ground so I am good to go, well I hope I am. I must say I am quite nervous at the same time, but my instructor will be on the lookout for other aircraft all the time. My first flight’s aim is just to get familiar with night flying so we will most probably fly to the GF. Grand Central Airport is unmanned (no air traffic control services) after 6pm so i will learn joining procedures at an unmanned airport at night which is quite important I reckon.

The remaining 10 hours will focus on instrument flying, there is also an online computer exam which I must pass at the CAA.

First flight is booked for the 28th of Jan.

My little brown book

My little brown book! It looks like a passport..