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Top 5 Tips for Flying Into Moorabbin Airport with LTF Instructor Summer Russell

Our very own LTF Grade 2 Instructor Summer Russell has been featured in the latest Victorian edition of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association (AWPA) newsletter. In her article, she shares her top 5 tips for flying into Moorabbin Airport.

On the AWPA, Summer says:

“I first connected with the AWPA Victorian Branch in 2017 when I was looking for guidance as I begun flight training. With no connections in the industry at the time, they were a huge support for me and have continued to guide and support me to this day. It is such a great network of women – for anybody interested in connecting I could not recommend them more”

Fantastic work Summer! Original AWPA article below:

Summer Russell is a Grade 2 Instructor at Learn to Fly Melbourne. In this issue she runs through some simple, effective tips for flying into Moorabbin Airport.

Moorabbin Airport’s reputation precedes itself. With over 700 aircraft operating out of the aerodrome each day, it is one of Australia’s busiest airports. For those flying into Moorabbin for the first time it can be a daunting experience. But with the right preparation it doesn’t need to be.

Moorabbin is unique in many ways, from its parallel runways, inbound/outbound procedures and circuit operations, to its complex taxi clearances. Taking a pragmatic approach to your preparation is key. As a Flight Instructor working out of the airport, I see these operations daily. After years of experience, there are 5 top tips I have found most useful for those unfamiliar with the aerodrome.

1. Read up

As for any new aerodrome one of the most important pre flight components is to read the airports ERSA page. Due to a multitude of unique operations it is easy to miss crucial information regarding wingspan limitations, noise abatement procedures, inbound points, circuit operations and many more. Reading the ERSA carefully will give you confidence on arrival into Moorabbin.

In addition to the ERSA entry there is also a Melbourne Basin Guide published by CASA which gives a more in-depth discussion of the arrival, departure and circuit procedures.

2. Avoid arriving on the eastern side

Due to the use of parallel runways, aerodrome operations are separated to arrivals and departures east and west. While it is not stated specifically in the ERSA, VFR circuit training is done on the eastern side of the airport. This means there will often be 6 aircraft practicing circuits in addition to other inbound and outbound aircraft.

I suggest, instead of trying to navigate these busy operations, flying for an inbound point on the western side, or requesting an overfly (of which procedures are in line with overfly procedures at most Class D aerodromes) is a much easier alternative.

3. Start listening to YMMB tower prior to arrival at your inbound point

This is something I teach all my students, especially those new to Moorabbin. If you have dual comms available don’t be afraid to monitor the appropriate tower frequency a few minutes prior to your arrival. The frequencies tend to be busy, so it will allow you to gain situational awareness of other inbound and outbound aircraft. In addition, you will know what clearance to expect.

4. Say “unfamiliar” on arrival

This seems like a simple tip. However, it is rare that I hear a pilot state that they are unfamiliar when making initial contact with Moorabbin Tower. No matter how prepared you are for your arrival it is always a good idea to let the tower know that this is your first time at the aerodrome. This allows the controllers to direct you clearly throughout your approach and taxi clearances.

5. If you are unsure, ask!

Too often at Moorabbin pilots will falsely assume they have their traffic in sight, are aligned with the correct runway, or are crossing a taxiway when it is in fact another runway. These mistakes are common, and happen to even the most competent pilots, especially at complex aerodromes such as Moorabbin.

An easy fix for this is to simply ask. If you don’t understand your instructions, don’t see your traffic, or can’t find your runway communicate this to the tower as best you can and they will be there to assist. It is important to remember that Moorabbin is a training airport. Therefore, the controllers are used to pilots who aren’t 100% confident. They are more than happy to help you if you need it.

Our social media offers free flight training videos and much more – so, give us a follow at https://linktr.ee/learntoflymelbourne

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Fulfill Your Dream of Flying with a Diploma of Aviation

Many of us wonder what it might be like to be in the cockpit of a plane. Well, dream no more. Studying for a Diploma of Aviation with Learn To Fly will provide you with the knowledge, skills, and qualifications to become a certified pilot. Next time you’re jetsetting from Melbourne to New York, you could be the one in control of the plane!

Of course, obtaining a Diploma of Aviation takes considerable time and effort, as does going on to become an airline pilot. However, all who have studied with Learn to Fly would agree that it’s certainly worth the many hours you put in. After all, most of these hours will see you soaring through big blue skies or among the clouds. What more could you ask for?

Continue reading to learn a little more about what to expect from the Diploma, who is eligible, and how to apply.

AVI50219 Diploma of Aviation program summary

There are quite a few courses out there that offer pilots the opportunity to obtain their Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), which is what you need to earn a living from flying. So what makes the AVI50219 Diploma of Aviation different?

Don’t let your beginner status get in the way of your dream to fly for a career. The 150 flying hour training syllabus will teach you everything you need to know to go from complete beginner to experienced pilot.

Upon successfully completing the course, you will receive both a Commercial Pilot Licence and a Diploma certification. However, the program is not just about you having the right pieces of paper. It not only teaches you all the practical skills you need to know to take to the skies with confidence. This includes flight planning, safe and accurate aircraft operation, operational decision making, navigation techniques, and how to safely operate in a busy and congested flight space.

The Diploma of Aviation flight training program follows the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s Commercial Pilot Licence syllabus, and then the extended syllabus prepares you for actually working in the aviation industry. This means that the Diploma requires the participant to undertake theory classes and exams across a broad range of subjects, from aerodynamics to meteorology. Upon successful completion, you will be fully qualified and present as a highly competitive candidate to obtain your dream pilot job.

As a professional pilot, you may be responsible for the safety of a number of crew and passengers. Having finished the Diploma, you will have confidence in your skills and ability to make informed decisions to ensure the safety and security of all.

Eligibility

The Diploma is aimed at people with little to no flight experience. However, that doesn’t mean that just anyone can apply. There are prerequisites to ensure your safety and the safety of others around you.

You must be at least 18 years old to commence the program. Whilst Learn to Fly welcomes international students from all over the world, there is still an English language requirement. You must also organise an Aviation Reference Number.

How to apply

The application process for the AVI50219 Diploma of Aviation is relatively simple. It is also designed to make sure you are aware of the course demands. To start with, you must first check that you meet all eligibility requirements, as outlined above. You can then complete an Expression of Interest form. This will request some basic information about your aviation experience, career aspirations, and understanding of the obligations of a pilot.

Once this EOI is approved (more information may be requested by the selection committee), you can then complete the enrolment form. Your journey to becoming a qualified pilot will commence with a student orientation and induction session.

Why Learn to Fly?

With so many flight schools out there, why sign up with Learn to Fly?

Well, as a highly established and experienced flight school in Melbourne, we believe our passion for providing affordable and accessible flight training truly sets us apart. We understand that the cost of flight training can often be a prohibitive factor in people achieving their dreams. As such, we strive to provide high-quality, accessible training that enables you to reach your goals in an efficient manner.

Our fleet includes an array of different planes, including the single-engine Diamond DA40 and the twin-engine Diamond DA42. Our state of the art training facilities in Moorabbin are unparalleled and large enough to accommodate a significant number of students at one time. We have provided training to people from all types of backgrounds. Our graduates have gone on to achieve great things in the aviation industry. Our wide range of additional courses also allows you to expand your skillset and abilities.

The Diploma of Aviation is one of the best pathways to achieving your flying dreams. So, contact us today to take the first step towards your dreams of becoming a commercial pilot!

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Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) Training – What to Expect

To be able to fly a plane for a career, you first need to progress through Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) training. In this blog we outline what to expect from the course.

Is this the right time to start training?

With a roadmap out of lockdown finally in place and borders likely to open in the upcoming months, most of us have started dreaming about taking to the skies again. Whether it’s to spend the sunny Christmas and New Year holidays on the stunning beaches of Cairns or on the gorgeous Phillip Island, we all have big plans for the summer break!

But with Australia getting ready to travel in large numbers again, the prospect of a pilot shortage again looms. Many pilots have retired or been stood down during the pandemic, and it’s predicted that a lot of them may not return to flying. If you’ve been thinking about a career as a pilot, this is good news, and now is the time to start training towards your dreams!

Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) training prerequisites

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has strict rules and regulations for future pilots looking to gain a Commercial Pilot Licence. This is to ensure the safety of the pilot, the passengers flying with them, as well as those on the ground. Before you can successfully get your licence, you must meet the following criteria:

– Be at least 18 years of age at the time of CPL issue (you can start training at any age but must be at least 15 to fly solo).
– Complete in-flight training. For a CPL, this equates to at least 150 command hours, with 70 flown solo.
– Complete Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) and Private Pilot Licence (PPL) training (you will progress through this syllabus as part of the CPL course).
– Pass the CPL theory exams
– Pass the CPL flight test with a CASA accredited testing officer.

Medical requirements

A healthy pilot is a safe pilot. When flying commercially, it is not just your wellbeing you are responsible for. You’re also responsible for every other passenger and crew member in your plane. As such, it is important for you to meet certain CASA mandated medical requirements before you can get your CPL.

Before you commence your Commercial Pilot Licence flight training, it is essential for you to get a Class 1 medical certificate. This test typically tests your vision, hearing and heart health, as well as any family history for heart problems. You will need to answer questions about your general health and any medication you may be taking. You may also need to provide urine and blood samples. The purpose of this test is to ensure you are physically and mentally capable of piloting an aircraft.

Once you successfully attain the Class 1 medical certificate, this certificate will be valid for one year. The certificate requires regular renewal, for which you will have to provide updated medical results. Testing frequency is based on your age. For example, an ECG test will be first required at the age of 25, then at 30, then every two years until you turn 40, after which you will need to get tested annually.

Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) training process

Even if you have never previously piloted a plane or stepped inside the cockpit of a plane, you may still excel at becoming a commercial pilot. Learn to Fly’s CPL training program takes you through the basics of flying a plane, from learning about aerodynamics and the characteristics of the plane you are going to fly, through to learning new languages like radio speak and textual weather and learning new advanced maneuvering techniques.

Our Commercial Pilot Licence course will set you up for your career as a professional pilot. You will progress through the following training process:

Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL):

The first step to getting started on your commercial pilot career is successfully getting your Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL). This course will take you through the fundamentals of aerodynamics, basic manoeuvering, how to manage stalling and what to do in emergency situations. Once you have an RPL, you will be able to fly with up to 3 passengers within 25 nautical miles from your departure point.

Private Pilot Licence (PPL):

Second, you will progress through the requirements of getting a Private Pilot Licence (PPL). This course builds upon the skills you learnt in the previous course. It then takes them a few steps further by teaching you more navigation skills. You will also develop an understanding of Class C and Class E airspace procedures. This will enable you to fly further than 25 nautical miles. With a PPL, you can fly anywhere within Australia carrying up to 5 passengers.

Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL):

Finally, you will move on to your Commercial Pilot Licence training. In this course, you will learn more advanced aviation theory, conduct more navigation exercises and work on building your command hours. Getting a CPL means you are now a fully qualified commercial pilot and can use your skills to build a career.

With a Commercial Pilot Licence, you can choose out of several career options. From being a charter pilot, commercial airline pilot, flight instructor to an agricultural flying operator, the sky’s the limit for you!

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Commercial Pilot Licence training prepares you for a career as a professional pilot

Not sure if a career in aviation is for you? Try our Trial Introductory Flight (TIF) to get a taste of flying. See the world as a pilot sees it!

Want to find out more about Commercial Pilot Licence training? Email [email protected] or visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.

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Learn To Fly Student Life: Starting Flight Training in Melbourne

So you’ve made the decision to learn how to fly! It’s a decision you won’t ever regret. Flying is a wonderful experience, and knowing how to pilot an aircraft is an amazing skill. But the learning journey itself is something that you should enjoy, and choosing the right flying school makes all the difference. Our students love flying with us, and so we thought we would give you some insight into Learn To Fly student life.

This blog looks at your first day, when you arrive at our Learn To Fly Melbourne training base.

Arriving at Learn To Fly Melbourne

Do you remember your first day at school, or at a new job? New place, new people, feeling a little unsure? As you get older, ‘first days’ get a little easier, but they can still be daunting.

On your first day when you arrive, you’ll be greeted by our HR team who will welcome you and take you through our enrolment procedures. They’ll show you around our state-of-the-art facilities and give you a bit of information about Moorabbin Airport and the surrounding area.

We’re lucky to have a lot of great retail, food and transport options available nearby. This makes things a lot easier, especially if you are new to Melbourne. We have a lot of international students, and many of them have only just recently arrived in Australia. Having some local knowledge really helps, and this is your opportunity to ask about anything you need to know.

You’ll be spending a lot of time at LTF’s training facility while you become a pilot, so we want you to feel like this is home. Learn To Fly student life starts the moment you step through the door!

Meeting Your Flight Instructor

Having the right flight instructor is so important. The right instructor will bring out the best in you, and make your flight training journey enjoyable right from the start. Flight instructors are as much a part of Learn To Fly student life as the students themselves.

Our LTF instructor team has a huge amount of flying experience, from diverse backgrounds around the world. We have Grade 1 instructors through to Grade 3, as well as instructors with specific skill and knowledge areas such as IFR training, multi-engine training – even down to aerobatics and formation flying.

Just as important as flying knowledge and experience is an instructor’s ability to connect with you. Everybody has different learning styles, so you need an instructor that you can connect with. At LTF you will be allocated a primary instructor and a secondary instructor to look after you and your training progress. But if it turns out that there’s another instructor that may be better suited, our large team means that you’ll have the opportunity to change.

On your first day you will meet your primary instructor, and they’ll have a chat to you about your flight training journey. They’ll show you through the features of our online student portal, and how our training model works – including our huge range of online training options.

Moorabbin Airport and the LTF Flight Training Fleet

There’s a lot to learn about the airport you will be training at, and Moorabbin Airport is quite complex. With a complex taxiway and runway layout, high aircraft movements, and ATC tower, there’s definitely more to learn here than at many other aerodromes.

Whilst this may seem daunting at first, it’s actually going to be a huge benefit to your learning. And don’t worry, your flight instructor has got your back! On your first day they’ll spend time going over the layout and procedures with you. Of course, you’ll learn more in your first lesson.

The LTF flight training fleet has a great range of modern and traditional aircraft. This means you can choose between learning on analogue instruments or in a glass cockpit aircraft with advanced Garmin avionics and screens. If you are beginning your Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) training, you can choose between the sporty Sling 2, the modern Diamond DA40, or the classic Cessna 172. We also have the A22LS Foxbat for RA-Aus RPC training.

It’s likely that you will have already chosen which aircraft you are going to fly before you start, but it’s good to know that you can always change throughout your training.

Moorabbin-Airport-Runway-Layout
The Moorabbin Airport layout is complex, but a fantastic place to learn.

Your First Flying Lesson

Do you want to know what the BEST part of Learn To Fly student life is…? That’s really easy. It’s FLYING!

When you start flight training, your first lesson will be Effects of Controls and Straight and Level Flying. Your instructor will brief you in one of our briefing rooms, before showing you how to pre-flight check your aircraft. And then it’s time to head towards the runway, and begin your love affair with the sky!

Student Culture at Learn To Fly

One of the things that we are really serious about – other than safety of course – is ensuring that we create an inclusive learning environment, and a just culture. What that means is that we engage in open and honest conversations at all levels, from our students all the way up to our CEO and Chief Flying Instructors.

Our students and our flight training team support each other, and we have seen many fantastic friendships form over the years. Learn To Fly student life is a lot of fun, and we can’t wait for you to be a part of it!

Learn-To-Fly-Student-Life
Learn To Fly student life is fun!

If you are interested in finding out more about our learning to fly with us, email [email protected] or visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.

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Some Tips For Learning How To Fly – Student Pilot Journal Part 3

Student Pilot Mickey Wu travelled from Taiwan to Melbourne to learn how to fly. He returned home to Taipei having completed a CPL, MECIR, Multi-Engine Class Rating, and 5 ATPL exams. In his third journal instalment, Mickey talks about finding the right attitude for straight and level flying, and teaching his mum how to fly using a simulator!

Challenge Accepted

Written on January 15th, 2021

Let’s bring the storyline back to the current day. Well, current at the time of writing. January 2021 in Taipei, Taiwan.

I bought a used set of Logitech controls and Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. I wanted to stay sharp. The practice was alright, but without expecting to do so, I actually ended up teaching my Mum how to fly. I found that teaching someone how to fly is not an easy task. The reaction of the aircraft after each input has become second nature to me, but it’s not like that for those who are just starting to learn.

Me: “Mum, this is not straight and level flying. Are you going up or down?”

Mum: “……down.”

Me: “Good. So do you push the control or do you pull to fix it?”

Mum: “……push.”

Me: “Okay, let’s see what will happen.”

Mum (five seconds later): “Hey Mickey, the houses are getting bigger and bigger really quick!!!”

Me: “Tell me about it.”

Warning on the screen two seconds later: “You just damaged your landing gear.”

Just the landing gear?! Wow, that is forgiving!

My instructor once said that sometimes you have to let go and let the learner see the consequence of his or her action or inaction. Obviously, they didn’t let me learn this in a real aircraft, and so my landing gear (and the houses) were safe!

But it’s interesting to see that the way my Mum and I learn things is so similar. Like mother like son. But I have faith in her. My goal is to take her to her first solo on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. I give it two months. Challenge accepted!

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Challenge accepted! Mickey is teaching his mum how to fly using MS Flight Sim 2020!

The Right Attitude

Written on January 17th, 2021

The “attitude” of an aircraft is an abstract idea to me. It can look like it is straightforward on the aircraft’s artificial horizon, but in terms of the real visible horizon, it’s quite intangible. But it’s obviously very important when learning how to fly, especially for straight and level flying.

LTF Instructor Shannon taught me to judge the attitude with the position of the visible horizon in relation to the dashboard. For instance, on a cruise climb in a Sling 2 we position the horizon on the dashboard. To climb at Vy (the abbreviation for the best rate of climb), the horizon goes through the top of the PFD (Primary Flight Display). And to climb at Vx (the abbreviation for the best angle of climb), the horizon cuts through the middle of the PFD.

It may sound weird, but it works quite well. And for straight and level flying, we put four fingers on the dashboard and the visible horizon stays at the top finger. For a cruise descend, we put five fingers instead. Last but not least, for an approach, we use a “half-land-half-sky” attitude. Of course, we have to adjust the power setting accordingly.

It’s hard to judge the attitude at the beginning when you’re learning how to fly, for straight and level flying and for climbing and ascending. I even had doubts about the whole idea, considering that my visual perspective is different from that of Shannon’s. In addition to that, my four-finger attitude is not the same as that of LTF Instructor Alexey (Alexey is very tall and has huge hands).

But the key is to have a mental snapshot when your instructor says, “OK, this is the straight and level flying attitude.” Memorise what this attitude looks like from your perspective, and set it that way next time you need it. Trust me. It works!

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A big part of learning how to fly is learning how to trust your instruments

We would like to thank Mickey for contributing these journals on learning how to fly in Melbourne. Stay tuned for the next journal entry!

If you are interested in finding out more about our flight training courses and online learning options, email [email protected] or visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.

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Training with a Melbourne Flight School – Student Pilot Journal Part 2

Student Pilot Mickey Wu travelled from Taiwan to learn to fly with a Melbourne flight school. He has now returned home after completing his CPL, MECIR, Multi-Engine Class Rating, as well as 5 ATPL exams. Mickey is sharing his flight training experiences with us in a series of journals.

Hidden Tiger, Crouching Dragon

Written on January 1st, 2021

Learn To Fly, my Melbourne flight school, is a place full of so much talent. The Flight Instructors are the ones who set up the framework and foundation. And sometimes it is my classmates that inspire me and help to build my own character.

My classmate Terry is an exceptional pilot. He flew the Sling 2 and converted to a Diamond DA40 later on. He is very devoted, and creates his own system to take in and digest the knowledge from the textbooks. Terry also takes flash cards with him everywhere he goes, so he can review VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions) requirements or air laws whenever he wants.

His notes on airspeeds and the use of the CR-3 (Jeppesen CR-3 Flight Computer) are so concise and accurate. I wish I had taken a screenshot of it. I admire the way he answers his Flight Instructor’s questions. He can quote the rules in the AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication) with the right reference, not missing a single word. And when he says it, he beams with confidence.

Brandon is another hero. He has flown the Cessna 172 all the way from the beginning. I would say Brandon is a born pilot. There were more than six months that he wasn’t able to fly, when pilots were unable to attend their Melbourne flight school due to the coronavirus lockdown. But once he came back, he flew as if he had never been away.

Preparing for a flight is not an easy task. Measuring distance and track, checking the weather, drafting a fuel plan, submitting the flight plan…  you name it. What makes Brandon incredible is that he has three jobs to support himself flying. And he makes it all work. Every time when I felt lazy, I thought of Brandon. And that helped me to pull myself together and do what had to be done.

Terry is the best advocate for practice makes perfect, and Brandon’s story always motivates me to keep going at the right pace. I never tell them, but to me, they are the tiger and dragon.

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Brandon Smith with his Cessna 172 aircraft at Learn To Fly

You Have To Leave Something Behind To Move Forward

Written on January 4th, 2021

At certain points of life, you may feel that the burden on your shoulders is so heavy that you cannot breathe. The pressure from your workload keeps you awake at night and makes you reluctant to get up in the morning. But then it is time to hop in a Sling 2 and go for a spin. Well, not really a spin.

The Sling 2, designed and built by Sling Aircraft, is a one-of-a-kind aeroplane. It’s like a sports car in the sky, light and agile. The real-time response to the control inputs builds confidence in the pilot. It’s like an iPhone 5, sharp and smart. The intuitive touch screen interface integrates all the information you need. The exchange of information between the aircraft and the pilot is so instant, it’s as if the pilot were the brain and the aircraft were the extension of his or her body. At 55 knots, slightly faster than what you usually do on the M1 highway, you can defy gravity and take to the sky.

With a Melbourne flight school, you don’t even have to fly far to enjoy the experience of flying. A trip from Moorabbin Airport to Portsea on the Mornington Peninsula to see the shimmering water of Port Phillip Bay is just as good as an orbit around Melbourne’s CBD to feel the vibe of the city from above.

The point is, once airborne, you feel that the worries that have been occupying your mind are left in oblivion far behind. The pressure that was suffocating you becomes so trivial, far below. And that is the magic of flying, because you can savour the purity of the blue sky, and all your troubles are left on the ground.

It’s Just Like Making A Cup Of Coffee

Written on January 6, 2021

“Once airborne, you feel that the worries that have been occupying your mind are left in oblivion far behind.”

That was what I wanted to say about flying. And, well, that is partly true. The fact is, there were moments when I found myself so task-saturated that I actually didn’t have time to worry or even think about anything else.

Shannon helped me to overcome this ‘tunnel vision’ mindset. One day when we were flying back towards Moorabbin Airport, he asked me:

“Mickey, who is your favourite athlete?”

I replied “Lewis Hamilton” without even thinking.

I was so immersed in the pre-landing checks that my brain didn’t actually have time to think about anything else. Shannon took over control, and said:

“I think that you can see the mindset that you need to have when flying in some professional athletes. They are very calm when they play, but you can tell they are still thinking. You can tell from looking at their eyes. They play with their brain. Good pilots are no different.”

He then explained that if we visualize and actually think through the situations we might experience before the flight has even started, then we can focus on more things during the flight.

That problem had been haunting me for a long time. It was not until a couple of months later that I fully realised this philosophy. I was coming inbound from Brighton, and I was thinking about how stunning the beach was. I was also on top of everything else I needed to think about in the plane. It was at this point that I actually started to reap the fun of flying.

Learning how to fly is like making a nice cup of coffee. It takes some skill and some pressure to make the crème, and it takes some time to get the grind and drip right. But it is worth the wait, and when done properly, it tastes delicious!

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Taiwanese student pilot Mickey after flying his first solo in the Sling 2 aircraft

We would like to thank Mickey for contributing these journals on learning how to fly in Melbourne. Stay tuned for the next journal entry!

If you are interested in finding out more about our flight training courses and online learning options, email [email protected] or visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.

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Starting Flight Training in Melbourne – Student Pilot Journal Part 1

Taiwanese student pilot Mickey Wu has just returned home after an amazing experience training with us at Learn To Fly. Mickey’s achievements are inspirational to other pilots. His time in Melbourne was affected by a COVID19 lockdown that meant he couldn’t fly for 3 months, however he still managed to complete his Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), Multi-Engine Class Rating, Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating (MECIR), and 5 Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) theory exams. Mickey has been kind enough to share his experiences in a student pilot journal series. In part 1, he talks about starting flight training in Melbourne.

Tap the Brakes, Positive Rate, Gears Up

Written on December 30, 2020

Light shower of rain, 11°C. In other words, a typical winter day in Taipei, Taiwan. Now I am sitting in front of the window, staring off towards the south in the distance, as if Moorabbin Airport were right there behind the overcast clouds. I can see Carrum, and I can see runway 35L. There is the windsock by the northern run-up bay, and I see the Diamond DA40s parked on the apron. It was an amazing year of flight training in Melbourne – I think I miss the sky there already.

I went from piloting the single-engine Sling 2 to the twin-engine Piper Seminole, and from flying circuits around Moorabbin Airport to as far away as Ninety Mile Beach in Gippsland.

There were frustrating moments for sure, like having trouble with radio calls or actually getting lost during lost procedures. Sometimes I even sat in my car for hours, thinking I would never make it. But my Flight Instructors always said, “don’t worry – we’ll get you there”, and that is all you need to hear when you have days like this.

Bob Tait (one of the most respected authorities for aviation theory) says long-term memories are subject to errors. Sorry Bob, but I beg to differ. I’ll say, these memories are vividly engraved in my mind, and just like a good wine, they taste even sweeter afterwards.

This is my adventure starting flight training in Melbourne with Learn To Fly at Moorabbin Airport. It is the adventure of an ordinary guy with an extraordinary dream. So, fasten your seatbelt. Tap the brakes. Positive rate. Gears up.

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The Sling 2 is an excellent aircraft for starting flight training.

Day One, Meeting My Flight Instructor

Written on December 31st, 2020

Just like college tutors, Flight Instructors come from different backgrounds and vary in their fields of aviation expertise. For example, at my school, Learn To Fly in Melbourne, some instructors are experts at flight theory, and some specialise in Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations. They are all great instructors, and they all have a unique teaching style. This means that they are able to help different students in their own ways.

On my first day of flight training in Melbourne, I met my first Flight Instructor, Shannon. Shannon is a composed and knowledgeable pilot. On the first day of flight school, he showed me how to read the weather forecast. I loved the way he put together bits and pieces of weather information. It started with mean the sea-level pressure map on the Bureau of Meteorology website, so we had a big picture of what was going on with the weather. Following that, he explained how the weather on GAFs (Graphical Area Forecasts) corresponded to what was on the pressure charts. Then he referred to the TAFs (Terminal Area Forecasts) of the aerodromes on our planned route for a more close-up look. Just after that brief, I already felt that I could give a more persuasive forecast than most of the weather reporters do on TV.

Shannon may seem calm and composed on the outside, but he actually also has a warm and playful heart with a great sense of humour. The first aircraft I flew was the Sling 2 and as I recall, when Shannon demonstrated the pre-flight check, this was what he said:

“Now to measure the fuel quantity, we use what I call a high-tech measuring device.”

With a complete poker face, he took out a wooden stick with a measuring scale drawn on it. The corner of his lips lifted – in other words, he knew that his joke totally got me. There were times when I just did not get his punch lines. I could sense his disappointment in the awkward silence. However, it never stopped him from bringing some fun to the flight!

I feel lucky that Shannon was my first ever Flight Instructor, because that gave my flying career a really good start.

We would like to thank Mickey for contributing these journals on learning how to fly in Melbourne. Stay tuned for the next journal entry!

If you are interested in finding out more about our flight training courses and online learning options, email [email protected] or visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.

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Instrument Rating (IFR) Flight Training – A Whole New World Of Flying

We recently published a blog from airline Second Officer Vincent Mok, who talked about how important completing an Instrument Rating (IFR) flight training course was to his career. An Instrument Rating really does open up a whole new world of flying for you. It allows to you to plan and fly in a far greater range of light and weather conditions. No longer restricted to daylight and clear skies, it can also drastically reduce the time it takes you to build flight hours.

What is Instrument Flight Training?

Under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions, the weather and light must be better than the visual meteorological conditions (VMC), as specified by CASA. You must be able to operate the aircraft with visual reference to the ground, and by visually avoiding obstructions and other aircraft.

Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) Flight Training teaches you to fly using the aircraft’s instruments rather than relying on visual cues. You will become an expert at communicating with Air Traffic Control (ATC). All of your aircraft’s procedures will become second nature to you. You will read your instruments as though you were actually looking at the information they provide physically.

During Instrument Rating training, pilots learn on both the simulator and in the actual aircraft. At Learn To Fly we have both the TRC 372 (Cessna 172) simulator and the Alsim AL42 (Diamond DA42) simulator. Both of these simulators recreate the full cockpit environment of each aircraft with highly realistic features and accurate instruments.

Learning in the simulator is a very effective method of training. Simulator hours are far less expensive that flying an actual aircraft. You can save money by perfecting procedures on the ground, which means there’s less chance of having to repeat them in the air. Simulators obviously also provide a highly safe environment to learn unfamiliar procedures.

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Our state-of-the-art Alsim AL42 simulator is a crucial part of Instrument Rating flight training

What Are the Benefits of Completing Instrument Flight Training?

Having to fly VFR means that you are limited with the number of hours you can fly, often based on things that are out of your control. When you are trying to build flight hours, it can be frustrating when changes in the weather cancel your flights. It can also be frustrating when other flights are delayed and you run out of daylight hours to go flying.

Completing an Instrument Rating training course will allow you to fly in the dark, and in most weather conditions. This means that you will be able to fly when others can’t, and you will build your flight hours far more quickly.

Pilots with IFR training are far more desirable to employers in most pilot roles. In fact for many pilot roles, including airlines, having an Instrument Rating is required.

Aside from the skillset and career benefits mentioned above, instrument flight training means that you can fly in some stunning conditions. You can enjoy the amazing sensation of soaring both through thick cloud, and above it. You can watch colourful sunsets from the sky, and cruise above sparkling city lights.

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Enjoying sparkling city lights from the air is just one of the benefits of completing Instrument Rating flight training.

Meet Instrument Rating Training Graduate Mickey Wu

Taiwan student Mickey Wu has just completed his Commercial Pilot Licence, along with a Multi Engine Class Rating and Multi Engine Command Instrument Rating (MECIR), as well as 5 ATPL theory exams. He completed this in just 14 months, and he was unable to fly during 3 of those due to our forced coronavirus lockdown.

Following his amazing achievements, and before he jumped on a plane back to Taiwan, we had a chat to Mickey about his IFR training and his thoughts on the MECIR course.

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Instrument Rating training graduate Mickey Wu with the twin-engine Piper Seminole aircraft.

What are the main differences in flying during instrument flight training?

Instrument flight training is simpler, but not easier, if that makes sense. This is because it is all process and procedure based. Your planning is simpler. ATC provides you with more information. Learning all of the procedures is hard, and it feels like you are going right back to square 1 at the start. Once you are familiar with them however, everything just feels simpler. You feel like a real airline pilot.

What new skills have you learnt during IFR training?

I have developed a much larger understanding of ATC terminology. My communication skills and the my relationship with ATC has really improved. Instrument Rating training gives you hands-on experience with a lot of things that you learn in theory. Some of these things you might not use a lot in VFR flight. It’s a great feeling when you realise it’s not “just theory” anymore and you put your knowledge into practice.

How have you used the simulators to help with your training?

On the simulators you can train different types of approaches, and some are much harder than others. When you are training in a sim and you make a mistake or you want to do it again, you can just restart. It’s far more costly to do this in an actual aircraft. With my LTF instructor, we trained on the Alsim AL42 simulator as well as the G430 X-Plane simulator.

What are the benefits of completing an Instrument Rating?

Completing an Instrument Rating will allow me to build more hours quickly by flying in more conditions. It is required by the airlines, which is my ultimate goal. It will also make me more employable in other pilots roles, including becoming a Flight Instructor which I will find very rewarding.

Why would you recommend choosing Learn To Fly to complete an Instrument Rating course?

I have had the best year of my life in Australia at Learn To Fly. I really enjoyed the people and the atmosphere. The instructors are very supportive and come from a wide range of experience and backgrounds. At LTF you can choose from a range of reliable aircraft. You can choose to fly in a glass cockpit aircraft like the DA42, or an analogue cockpit like the Piper Seminole.

We would like to congratulate Mickey on his inspirational flying achievements during difficult times. We’d also like to thank him for taking the time to share his thoughts and knowledge on IFR training. We will catch up with Mickey again for a blog on what it is like as a Taiwanese student training in Australia, and how training here can help you become an airline pilot in Taiwan.

If you are interested in finding out more about our flight training courses and online learning options, email [email protected] or visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.

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Resilience – An Airline Pilot’s COVID Pandemic Experience

We’ve all seen a lot of news about how the COVID pandemic has affected airlines and airline pilots. Guest blogger and Second Officer Vincent Mok shares an airline pilot’s COVID pandemic experience.

“Resilience”

There were 20 round tables in a classroom the size of a basketball court. We found the specific light switch for the ceiling light at the front, leaving the rest of the room in a dark void.

“Don’t bother with name tags” the CRM instructor said.

This time last year, the same room was buzzing with activity and smelled like perfume and cologne as second officers, first officers, captains, junior flight attendants, flight pursers, senior pursers, chief customer managers and CRM instructors made introductions, all keen to find out what hypothetical in-flight emergency awaited us. Today, the 5 of us were greeted by the silent hum of the air conditioner as the smell of alcohol rub filled the void.

The CRM instructor wrote one word on the whiteboard.

“RESILIENCE”

A picture of an A350 oleo strut came into my mind. I hadn’t seen one for 2 months.

“What can you tell me about resilience?” the instructor asked.

“The ability to spring back like a landing gear, which I might not see again” I said.

“During these times with lockdowns and job losses, the uncertainty can cause our minds to ruminate into a dark corner.”

The instructor then led a discussion on Unhelpful Thinking Styles and how we could challenge them to become resilient professionals. As an airline pilot during the COVID pandemic, a resilient mindset is so important.

1. Mental Filter

Written on December 31st, 2020

As COVID took hold, flying schedules became scant and people lost jobs, I began to question my career decision to become an airline pilot.

“During times of stress, our minds have a tendency to focus on the negative and filter out the whole picture. This mental filtering is an unhelpful thinking style that can lead to stress, anxiety and depression.”

“You mean tunnel vision?”

“Yes. Instead of focusing on a small part of the situation and ignoring the rest, try to see the whole picture

Tunnel vision had made me focus on the transient financial insecurity as a pilot during COVID and filtered out my reasons for leaving a high paying secure job. I’d forgotten that I’d left a 9-5 desk job in a little cubicle with no windows to see thunderstorms from above; to feel the rattle of the nose gear as the jet took off; to take my friends, family, strangers, and essential cargo like vaccines safely across the Pacific Ocean. The job satisfaction from airline flying is unique.

2. Jumping to Conclusions

“I realize that I love being an airline pilot, but with all the upcoming job cuts due to the COVID pandemic, I’ll lose my job in the next few months”

“You see, jumping to conclusions is unhelpful thinking” the instructor said. “You become too busy assuming that you fail to see the opportunities in the present.”

He continued to impart his wisdom.

“Rather than jumping to conclusions, focus on what you can control.”

“A resilient airline pilot knows they’re like an elite sportsperson who is ready to perform during competitions and has back-up options in case of injury.”

The opportunity presented to us while flying less is the free time to improve ourselves as pilots by practicing in the procedural trainer, reading operation manuals and learning more about the aircraft we fly. It also gives us the opportunity to pursue back-up options and other interests. Like elite sportspeople, many pilots have a second vocation to fall back on during economic lows while waiting to return to an airline job. I know of pilots who pursued their fitness goals, learned hydroponic farming, and built their CV through teaching.

“You don’t want to jump to conclusions then give up”.

3. Catastrophising

“OK, you’ve widened my perspective to see the positives and the opportunities. But with all the parked aircraft and no end in sight, I feel that the aviation industry is dying and it’ll never recover!”

“Don’t you think this is catastrophising? It is unhelpful thinking to blow things out of proportion. Instead try to look at the facts rationally.”

Aviation has suffered many setbacks throughout its history, from the Wright Flyer crash in 1908, to September 11 2001, and also the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. Although flying would never be the same after each crisis, it consequently led to advancements in efficiency and safety. Aviation will continue to evolve through each challenge, and pilots will always be there as safeguards.

Furthermore, history has shown that all pandemics end. There are already promising advancements with vaccines and scientists are also building their knowledge on COVID at a rapid pace. When it is safe to do so, people will return to the skies and the industry will bounce back.

“Aviation is dynamic. Resilient pilots stay rational through crisis and therefore prepare themselves for disruption through devotion to learning and self improvement”.

Looking To The Future

During these unprecedented times, resilience has never been so important. Part of it is in recognizing and also mitigating unhelpful thinking styles. When encountering a crisis, it helps to step back and look at all the evidence instead of mental filtering, jumping to conclusions and catastrophising. Adopting a positive attitude and eliminating unhelpful thinking styles helps us build resilience. This keeps us moving forward, not just as an airline pilot during the COVID pandemic, but in life as well.

For flying students, try to see the opportunities in the increased availability of aircraft. Think about the uncongested airspace, or unique experiences like being able to fly into Melbourne International Airport while a jet’s at the holding point. On one of my recent flights out of Sydney, ATC cleared us to overfly the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This is something that would usually only be reserved for special events (such as the recent Qantas Boeing B747 farewell flight).

As for the commercial future of airlines and airline pilots, there’s no doubt the world still needs aviation, and it will bounce back. There will be changes, which will most likely include more stringent health requirements for passengers. Initially, it’s likely that the first sectors to bounce back will be the domestic and cargo markets. Australia is similar to China in that COVID outbreaks have been well controlled. Post-COVID, China has actually seen an increase in domestic passengers already compared to last year. It’s looking very likely that Australian domestic flights will bounce back strongly very soon.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. In my opinion, there has never been a better time to pursue recreational flying or flight training.

Flying into Melbourne International Airport in a Diamond DA40 during the Covid pandemic.

We’d like to thank Vincent very much for providing this valuable insight into an airline pilot’s COVID pandemic experience. If you are interested in finding out more about our flight training courses and online learning options, email [email protected] or visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.

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Should I Start My Pilot Training During COVID?

The current pandemic has had an enormous negative impact on the aviation industry, so should you start your pilot training during COVID?

It’s obviously a fairly tough time for current pilots, with huge disruptions to domestic and international travel. Major carriers like Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific have had to stand down thousands of employees. Sadly this has included even experienced airline pilots. Many people may think that starting pilot training now is risky, but we think the future is bright. Read on to find out why!

So if the aviation industry is struggling, why is it a great time to start your pilot training?

Firstly, becoming a pilot doesn’t happen instantly. It usually takes 15 to 18 months to be able to complete your pilot training to achieve your Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). But that is just the initial training. If you are looking to become an airline pilot, you may need to have up to 1,500 hours of flying experience before you apply.

We anticipate that airlines will most likely start recruiting again in 3 to 4 years. Let’s break that down a little further to put it in some perspective:

First, let’s start with the 15-18 months CPL pilot training.

Once you obtain your CPL, most pilots will look for work (such as flight instructor) in the General Aviation Industry to gain experience and build hours. Let’s assume that you are able to work/fly 500-600 hours per year. To reach 1,500 hours might take you 3 years in itself.

We don’t yet know exactly what minimum hourly requirements airlines will have for direct entry positions when the industry peaks again. But whatever that minimum requirement is, starting your pilot training now during COVID gives you the best chance to be ready!

Why do we think that the industry will bounce back and that airlines will start recruiting again in 3-4 years?

There are a number of factors that indicate to us that the aviation industry will bounce back strong in the post-COVID world. In Australia, regional and domestic holiday hotspots are booking out. Those who are able to travel are travelling in high numbers. With higher vaccination rates, lockdowns will become a thing of the past. As more borders open, people will look to travel further abroad.

In China, reports indicate that the domestic aviation market has actually already recovered to surpass traffic numbers from before the pandemic struck. This will only continue on an upward trajectory. While international air travel may take longer to recover, demand for domestic flights is likely to bounce back very quickly in many places.

Another factor to consider is the retirement of older pilots. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has remained consistent with their predictions of increased retirements over the next 5 to 15 years. It’s possible that the pandemic may actually accelerate these figures, with a number of pilots stood down deciding not to return to the industry.

But what about finding work straight after finishing pilot training during COVID?

Looking outside the airline industry, we are also confident that there will be many opportunities for pilots in General Aviation. Many students have had to put their pilot training on hold during COVID, but we are starting to see more enquiries from potential student pilots.

What this indicates is that the demand for Flight Instructors will remain strong. It’s likely to get even stronger as student numbers continue to build.

In Australia especially, it’s likely that there will be a boom in local tourism. This means that charter operations will see increased demand, and require pilots. Becoming a charter pilot is a great way to build hours after pilot training. It can also be an exciting career in itself.

How can I start pilot training during COVID?

During COVID we been hard at work to build an extensive online training platform that allows students to access high quality training even if they are unable to physically attend our training base.

Our online student portal has full theory courses available for RPL, PPL, CPL and IREX. These courses are taught by an experience instructor and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. The portal allows students to complete mock practice exams online as well.

We are the first flight school in Australia to offer the fantastic V360E platform. This allows students to train aircraft procedures in a full 360 degree virtual cockpit environment.

In addition to this, we are regularly adding new content to our YouTube channel, We have RPL/PPL flying lessons, aircraft pre-flight check videos, and more. Click the button below to subscribe!

Online Pilot Training

To find out more about pilot training during COVID or to register your interest please email [email protected]. You can also go to https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.

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