From Cabin to Cockpit – My Adventures in Flight Training #6

I AM OFFICIALLY A PRIVATE PILOT!!!!  After days and hours of studying, I earned my private pilot license on August 15th!

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I was extremely busy between my solo flight and my private pilot check ride.  After completing my solo flight, I went on to complete solo cross country flights.  I flew from DuPage, IL to Janesville, WI to Whiteside, IL and then back to DuPage.  I flew this route two times for my cross country solos.  Because the DuPage airport is located so close to O’Hare, I was flying underneath the jets that were going in to land at ORD.  The solo cross country flights were a blast, and I even was able to hear ExpressJet on the radio frequencies!  Once I completed these flights, I then moved onto my check ride preparations.  I worked on flying fundamentals such as steep turns, slow flight, stalls, emergency procedures, There were quite a few days I would arrive at the training center early in the morning and stay as late as ten o’clock at night to make sure I knew everything there was to know about the airplane’s systems, the types of airspace, weather, and anything else I could have been asked on my test.

 

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To say I was nervous for my check ride was a huge understatement.  My check ride was completed in Gary, Indiana.  I arrived to DuPage early in the morning to prepare a few last minute things such as getting the weather for my flight, and asking other students many last minute questions before CFI Paul Zapotoczny and I flew out for my check ride to Gary.  Once we arrived, we met my examiner (DPE) and began with the oral portion of the exam.  I thought I was prepared, but I did not realize just how much information I knew!  It was such a great feeling to know I was so well prepared for this big day. After passing the oral, I then went for the flying portion of the exam, and completed a cross country flight, stalls, steep turns, emergency procedures, and then finished with a few landings at Gary.  It was probably by far the most nervous I have ever been flying, and my legs would not stop shaking the entire flight, but I passed, and did very well!  The flight back to DuPage was much more relaxing and enjoyable as I was not nearly as nervous and much more excited!  The great day ended with a big celebration with my family.  It will be a day I remember forever!

Since earning my pilot’s license, I have been checked out to rent a plane.  My mother was the first person other than an instructor to fly with me!  I took my mom flying to Rochelle, IL for her birthday, where we had dinner and watched skydivers for the evening.  It was a lot of fun to show my mom just how much I have learned in such a short amount of time!  I can not wait to be able to take the rest of my family flying in the near future!

 

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I still can not believe how quickly I am completing the ATP program.  I earned my private pilot’s license in two months and about a week!  I have a lot more great news to share with all of you in my upcoming blogs.  Thank you again to everyone that has been following along, and especially my family and instructors at ATP for all of your support!

My training does not stop at my private, it is now time to learn how to fly in the clouds!!

From Cabin to Cockpit – My Adventures in Flight Training #5

Eight weeks and fifty three flight hours later, I DID IT!!! I completed my first solo flight! I am so excited to share my first solo experience with all of you!

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I completed my solo evaluation flight Monday, and was able to fly my first solo flight the following day.  I woke up around three in the morning for my first solo.  The winds had to be perfect; no more than ten knots of wind and no more than a five knot crosswind.

Before sending me off, my instructor Maks Surowka, and I performed three take offs and landings in the traffic pattern to make sure I was ready.  I then dropped him off, and went on my way as a student pilot first solo flight in the traffic pattern!  I do not think I have ever had more emotions going through my mind until I was lined up on the runway by myself.  I was ready to go, excited, nervous, and knew there was no going back once I took off!  Once airborne, I was not as nervous until it came time to land.  I knew I was ready for my solo flight, and was very confident in myself.  My landings were probably the best I have ever done, mainly because I knew my CFI would not be there to save them!

 

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I was soloing in the traffic pattern for about one hour.  Once I was finished,  returned back to our parking and we were all ready to celebrate!  Later in the day, Maks cut the back of my shirt. For those unfamiliar with the ritual, the instructor cuts the back of the pilot’s shirt into a rectangle and the pilot writes their solo dates and plane number on the back.  It means you’re “free” from your instructor and on your own!  It was a very memorable day, and I am extremely proud of myself!

 

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My week did not end there, I finished my required four hours of solo flights in the traffic pattern, and completed another cross country flight.  I now am preparing for my two solo cross country flights which I am hoping to finish in the next week.  My private pilot check ride is also quickly approaching, so I have been very busy studying and having a lot of ground school to prepare me for the big day! I am hoping to be a private pilot by mid August!

Once again, thank you to everyone for all of your positive feedback and support! I am continuing to work hard, and am rapidly making my way through my ATP program.  I am hoping my next blog entry will include my first solo cross country flight!

Stay tuned for my next adventures!!

AP3 Summer Camp Recap

 

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The ExpressJet Recruiting Team hosted eleven flight students enrolled in our AP3 program for our August AP3 Camp this week in Atlanta. The camp provides select students in our AP3 program the opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at a live airline operation. Over the course of three days they learn about professionalism and career planning, pilot training and, in some cases, even complete an interview for a First Officer position.

The event kicked off Monday, July 31 with a welcome celebration (which included doughnuts!) at our A-Tech facility near Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. Students were then able to meet with our Crew Resource Management teams and learned all about emergency procedures training in our CRJ cockpit trainer. A tour of the maintenance, dispatch, and operational support facilities followed, which gave students a firsthand look at the 24/7/365 operation and all that it takes to launch an airplane. After a catered lunch students dove into learning more about career pilot lifestyle, such as seniority-based career progression and met with dispatchers and crew scheduling. The evening wrapped up with another critical pilot skill – golfing! The group ventured out on the town to Top Golf in Midtown Atlanta for dinner, arcade games and a friendly golf competition.

After an early breakfast at the A-Tech, the second day of adventures began with a tour of the ATL crew room facilities in Concourse C of the airport where students got to check out the Chief Pilot and Chief Flight Attendant offices and even flight crew rest areas. Captain Darrin Greubel, ExpressJet Director of Flight Operations, spoke to our AP3 students about the state of the regional industry, some career planning considerations and all about the life of a pilot ExpressJet.

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Later that day, the students were able to fly a full motion CRJ simulator with an instructor pilot from our training department. As all the students rotated in and out of the simulator, those who met our qualifications for the AP3 early interview process were given the opportunity to complete their AP3 testing onsite. We’re very excited to announce seven of the Camp attendees were successful and went home with a conditional job offer here at ExpressJet. Once they finish school and gain some flight experience, they’ll be on their way to the front end of one of our jets! Celebrations followed at Atlanta’s new SunTrust Park for an Atlanta Braves baseball game.

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On the third and final day, the group spent the morning touring the Atlanta Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) air traffic control facility, located south of the airport in Peachtree City. They got an in-depth look at one of the busiest radar approach control facilities in the country. In addition to funneling all air traffic in and out of ATL, the Atlanta TRACON also covers the numerous satellite airports in the entire metro Atlanta area.

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After a farewell lunch with recruiters, the students headed home with new memories, knowledge, and connections that we hope they will carry with them throughout their flying careers.

From Cabin to Cockpit: My Adventures in Flight Training – #4

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Sometimes it is good to take a break from studying and relax! Last weekend, I had the opportunity to fly with my brother at Cushing Airfield. It was a blast being able to fly with my brother, Logan, before he goes back to UND in August. I also flew with one of the ATP instructors and my brother to the Chicago skyline! It was very cool to experience takeoffs and landings at a soft field airport and also to see the city!

 
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This past week I have been busy studying for my private pilot oral exam and also busy preparing for my solo flight. I finished two cross country flights, flew at night for the first time, completed my solo preparation flights, and now am waiting for my solo evaluation flight.

Cross country flying has been a blast! I am still getting the hang of when to call different ATC frequencies, and figuring out how to talk on the radio for un-controlled airports. It definitely feels weird to fly outside of the traffic pattern, as this was what I have been primarily flying the last few weeks. I also completed my first night flight. I flew up to Janesville, Wisconsin and then back to DuPage for my night cross country flight. It was a lot of fun being able to see the city lights, and very neat to be able to land at the airport at night!

I am currently preparing for my first solo flight. I am scheduled for my solo evaluation early this coming week, and am hoping to complete my solo by the end of the week. I have fifty flight hours, and am very close to the end of my private pilot stage of the ATP program. Everything is going by so fast, and I am continuing to work hard. This coming week is going to be very exciting, I can not wait to share my first solo with you all in my future blog!

 

From Cabin to Cockpit: My Adventures in Flight Training – #3

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The quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “Nothing worth having comes easy” is the perfect way to describe my last week and a half of flight school. I have been very, very busy these last few days. I completed and passed my takeoff and landing evaluation, completed my first cross country flight and I passed my private pilot written exam!!!!

I was very fortunate to be able to complete my takeoff and landing evaluation last Saturday with my CFI, Mike Roubik. It was a pretty big day for the both of us, as it was my evaluation flight over my takeoffs and landings and his last flight as an instructor before heading off to his first career as a pilot. Chicago’s crazy crosswinds were putting up a challenge, but I am very proud of myself for being able to land the plane up to standards and was able to pass the evaluation! It is a great feeling knowing I am one step closer to my first solo flight and also earning my private pilot license.

I now have a new flight instructor and we have been very busy! I completed my first cross country flight this past weekend, and it was a blast! Each cross country flight is about three hours long. My instructor and I have reviewed how to use ground reference points (railroad tracks, cities, rivers) to guide me to my destinations. We also use the ForeFlight program on our iPads and the navigation systems in the airplane to direct us where to go. The downside to this stage of flying is the weather has to be perfect. As a VFR pilot, there are cloud and visibility requirements I have to follow, and Chicago’s weather has been very uncooperative the last few days. I am hoping to be able to complete my next cross country flight later this week when the weather gets better.

My former CFI, Mike Roubik, and me
My former CFI, Mike Roubik, and me

While waiting for the weather to clear, my instructor took me and a few other students up to the air traffic control tower at our airport (KDPA). It was pretty awesome, and made me a lot more comfortable being able to put a voice and face together for when communicating with ATC. Being able to see everything they do in the tower and understanding how pilots and ATC works together was very cool and an awesome learning experience!

This past week I have also completed and PASSED my private pilot written exam!!! I am extremely proud of myself, and this is a huge weight off my shoulders. I am now preparing for my private pilot oral exam and check ride, which will be coming up very quickly! I am hoping the weather will clear, and I will be able to finish my cross country and night flight this week. If everything continues to go as planned, I will be a private pilot in no time!

Thank you again to everyone who has been following my blog. I greatly appreciate all of your positive feedback! I have had flight attendants reach out to me about attending flight school and it makes me even more motivated to keep working hard and following my dream to be a commercial pilot! These next few days are going to be pretty busy so stay tuned, and I can not wait to share more of my adventures with you!!

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