I should absolutely not be typing a blog entry right now. I should be reading, studying and thinking. Yes it is Simulator time at work. Every four months at Quackadoo Airlines we get to sit in the magic dark box that thinks its an aeroplane, whilst some sadistic maniac with an obsession for making things go wrong puts us through our paces. This is part of the job I hate, and most pilots hate (if they say they don't they are lying). If all goes well we get to keep flying, if we don't do well it is more training or even the door, so the pressure is on.
The simulator is just one of the many ways pilots are checked each year, each check needs to be passed before you can continue to fly and is certainly not something I remember being advertised when I wanted to be a pilot. We do three simulators, sometimes four (sometimes more), a flight check in the aircraft, security training, emergency procedures training and occasional other courses. There is always something to study for.
I shouldn't get stressed by the simulator but I do. Any test situation is stressful. Before you even get into the sim there is 45 minutes of questions with a senior examiner, and you better know your stuff or they will be annoyed and the sim will not go well, you do not prod the sleeping bear!
Once inside the magic box you settle in for four hours of fun. Usually, and every session is different, we fly varying instrument approaches to check we know what we are doing. Many of these will be with an engine not working or another malfunction to make sure we know how to handle all situations (best to do in the sim not the air!). Yes it is a good learning experience, but fun it is not. We also look at flying in unusual situations and sharpening our skills.
After the end of the four hours the examiner will point out where you went wrong or what you can improve and if all was good then back to work you go. I remember my first sim after being checked out at Quackadoo, the examiner said I looked nervous. I replied that it was my first renewal and yes I was nervous. He replied don't worry, only about 140 more to go until you retire. Ten years later I think I probably now have 105 more left, give or take. Perhaps with time they will get easier, and my wife won't have to put up with a grumpy hubby in the house.