After a brief break here is the next part of my flying story
After six years of flying small aircraft it was time to move into heavy metal. I had survived the interview process, been measured for uniform, now it was time to train.
Training consisted of three parts. First was ground theory, then flight simulators then a check to line flight. Ground theory was mainly computer based training, with some lectures. I soon discovered to get the work done early, as after lunch was much more conducive to a nap, and better to be seen doing it in front of the computer. The lessons covered all aspect of the aircraft and emergency training. Emergency procedures was fun, jumping down slides, floating in rafts and putting out fires. Unfortunately at every stage there were exams. Exams on engines, exams on checklists, exams on navigation. Fail any of these and the threat of an early exit hung over our heads.
After a month of ground school the twelve on my course were cleared for take-off in the simulators.
The simulator centre runs twenty four seven, and as we were a low priority we got to enjoy the pleasures of the 11pm and 3am time slots. Each session was four hours long. You were teamed up with a partner (crash buddy as they are known) for the duration of sim training. You both take turns in flying the plane and helping the other fly. It was great, not quite the same as a real plane but fantastic fun. We covered the basics then more advanced manoeuvres and then went through every possible emergency. After about ten sessions it was time for the check. This was a terrifying ordeal, you don't want to make a mistake here. After an hour long grilling from a Check Captain and a four hour session in the simulator to see what we had learnt and that we could cope with what may lay ahead we were done. It felt like a huge weight of the shoulder. Now we had just one more hurdle to jump; the line check.
Starting out as a third pilot meant the line check was not meant to be to hard. Rumour had it only one person had ever failed, I didn't want to make it two. It was a great trip to a foreign country where I got to learn how thinks actually happened in a normal environment. Had some deep and meaningful conversations with the Captain as he ticked off boxes on a questionnaire, and when on the ground was encouraged to drink and eat far too much in reverse time zones to my body telling me it was. I was introduced to many Quackadoo traditions, and had an amazing time. The best experience though was being told at the end I was good to go, I had passed.
After nearly four months of training I was signed off as a relief pilot, it would only take twelve months and I would be back in the Sim for First Officer training.