Taking flight over the desert

by Ali Lawrence on Jan 15 2019
It has now been three months since I left my old life back home to move out to the UAE. My first flight out here took place back in November, and what a feeling it was to get back up in the air.

There were some days back at ground school in Southampton where the flying stage of my training seemed so far away - but now it is actually happening. As I am on the Integrated ATPL ‘Whitetail’ programme with L3, this means I will leave here after completing my Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL) Skills Test. The syllabus starts right from the basic skills required to fly a plane, for example learning the effects of controls, and being able to recover the aircraft from a stalled position. Fortunately enough for me I have had previous flying experience, and gained my Private Pilots Licence (PPL) in 2017 at the age of 17. This has meant that my first few flights were more basic revision, but it definitely helped going over flying skills that I hadn’t practised for a couple of years. This being said, it doesn’t take away the amazing feeling of being in the air.

As I have said before I’m lucky enough to be training at the facilities one of the most renowned airlines in the world, Etihad. At “Etihad Aviation Training” their aim is to make you in to the best airline pilot you can be; this is evident in their expectations and rules within the organisation. For example, before we could even touch an aircraft we had to learn what are called “flows”. To put it briefly, these are lists of items that are found on the Aircraft Checklist memorised in order to be more efficient. You wouldn’t normally be expected to know these when flying light aircraft such as the Cessna 172, however this is part of training you to become an airline pilot, not just a CPL holder. All airline pilots use flows on a daily basis, the main difference between me and them is that they are flying a much larger aircraft.

The one element of flying out here that I’m still struggling to get used to is the sand! Flying over the desert gives slightly different views out the windows compared to flying back home in the UK. I’m not sure if it’s ever going to become the norm, especially using a Camel Racing Track as a VFR Waypoint. Nevertheless, so far I am really enjoying the flying out here, and I have certainly not lost the bug for flying that I’ve always had.

Looking ahead to the New Year, I am excited for what lies ahead. It’s certainly going to be a busy year for me, as my CPL, Instrument Rating and Airline Qualification Course all lie in front of me. Only recently have I found out that I will be training for my Instrument Rating in Norway. This is something I’m really looking forward to, it also gives me an opportunity to explore another part of the world. However, I’m still not sure how I’m going to cope going from the very high temperatures and sand I have out here currently, into the very low temperatures and snowy terrain of Norway! Hopefully by the end of this year I will be in the position to start applying for airline pilot jobs; this inspires me even more to work hard and help make my childhood dream become true.

To further follow my journey to the flight deck with L3, please follow my other platforms:

Blog: pilotali.wordpress.com

Instagram: @alilawrence_

Youtube: Ali Lawrence

- Ali

Find out more about the Integrated ATPL program