Sunday, 29 November 2009

Selamat Datang!

Hello chaps and chap-esses.. Sorry that this update has taken a long time but I have been a tad busy and things have been running typically 'Indo' smoothly.. Which is about as smooth as a cobbled road after a strength 9 earthquake..  you get my drift.

Ok, so after finishing training I was sent back up to Jakarta where I was to do another flight with a training captain before being assigned a base.  That flight didn't happen and I was duely sent to a city called Medan in the northern tip of Sumatra.  If you know your geography then travel East about 300 miles and you hit mainland Malaysia, or Singapore if you're slightly south!  So yeah, I'm basically on the Equator now which is nice.  It gets really hot, then it gets really cloudy and then it pours rain like you have never seen and then starts all over again..!  Predictable, but makes the flying interesting!  Which brings me onto my good news..  I have now flown a commercial flight, had 4 secotrs all with passengers on and can, for the first time, call myself a professional pilot and not have to preceed it with a 'nearly'.  Great!

So to make things interesting the first day of my flying career was in an aircraft fully loaded with computers (G1000 for those in the know).  I did all my training on old stuff, like the round dials you see spinning round when it all goes wrong in movies.  This aircraft on the otherhand is comprised of 3 screens and only the stuff I am used to for back-up purposes (Yeah if the computers need a reboot!).  Flight 1.. Oh my god.. Where is all the info?  Erm, page 4, subpage 3 and then roll the knob to the right 3 times before hitting the cursor and it pops up in a tiny box on the right hand side of the other screen.  Easy!  Flight 2..  How did I get that info up again?  Erm, ah, it was 3 to the right, not 2.  Flight 3..  Kris to Captain "Oh, did you know it did this.."  Captain "I do now".  Flight 4.. He was very happy with my progress! Landed it twice, didn't make myself look like a loser and everyone walked away happy in the fact that my safety briefing (Which is done in Indonesian I might add!) wasn't needed to be acted out.

So yeah, all in all a good day.  And I only found out the night before that I would be flying it.  I get rotad into the scedule now and will hopefully be able to take some more pictures of the scenery.  There is a lot of great stuff over here - Volcanoes and trees mostly, but I like it :)

Ok, so the accommodation here has a lot to be desired and I spent a day cleaning what the maids refused to over the past few years..  I have the opinion that spending £3 on bleach and Mr Muscle is better than getting Typhoid and a £3000 hospital bill!  So far so good!  Now the maids are happy to keep it clean.  I did have the penthouse suite, which sounds glamerous, but honestly wasn't..  I am now in another house with a huge room and ensuite.. Things are on the up!

Oh, we all sat some DGCA (Aviation Authority) exams, including our cheif pilot, whilst in a very wet and miserable Jakarta, which are basically needed for us to get an Indonesian licence.. We never actually got the results back, but all passed and were all given KFC as a reward by the examiner..  Not sure what the deal is, but I now have an Indonesian licence coming!  The exam took place in a smokey office and we all huddled around any flat surface we could.. Nothing like the strict ATPL no-talking, no looking up policy..  Anyway, it's done now.

I have found out recently that I may be off to Borneo shortly.. As mentioned before, things change here literally by the hour so I am half expecting not to be sent there, but as it stands at the moment that is the plan!  I will definitely have better pics from there as they have Orang-utans, Snakes, Scorpions, Spiders and random tribesmen!  Bring it on!

Now I have some time I will crack on with getting this blog updated..  Until next time..

Selemat Malam.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Moving into week two...

Managed to get some pics added after some bad connections...

Today is Sunday. We were told to be up at 6am and have our bags packed ready to be picked up at 6.45. After a week of studying for our exam and one last night of trying to remember about 14,000 different numbers, settings, speeds and components we all sat down for a 2 hour closed book exam.. As mentioned earlier this is normal. Pilots are expected to absorb everything like a sponge and then regurgitate it at any point in time with the outcome poised to decide the future of their career.. No pressure.

Anyway, we all passed. So not much to tell really. Off to Jakarta for a few days to sort out medicals and pass the DGCA written tests - Basically a formality I am told.

The next phase after that is the actual flight test followed by line training - which is when they stick fare paying thrill-seekers in with me :)

Should be still stuck by the beach for a couple of weeks and then we get assigned a base which could be anywhere that the company operates.. The thinking at the moment is that I head to Medan (6th biggest city), but I could be sent to Borneo as I have a few more hours than some of the others. We shall see.

Travelling to work...


Feels like a real job is just around the corner finally - at the moment it still seems like I'm training. In some ways it's comfortable as that's all I've been doing for 4 years, but I'm getting a little tired of it! GET ME IN AN AEROPLANE!

This week has been quite entertaining once away from the classroom though.. We found out that the locals believe there is some kind of sea monster that haunts the area.. It apperently is responsible for a load of deaths over the years. As fearless aviators we ventured into the sea to cool off and then realised that it wasn't some sort of random dinosaur but a really strong rip-tide! I got caught up in it but realised early and tried to swim back to shore.. It was tougher than I thought and after 5 mins and making no progress I wonderd if I would actually make it. Just like MacGyver though, I found some floating palm leaves and built a small ocean liner to coast in.. Actually I just brute strength swam in.. But I was shattered when I finally made it.. And had a little bit more respect for the sea!

The locals also think the beach is haunted as the Boxing Day Tsunami killed a lot of folk here. The owner of my comapany is a local hero as she provided housing for all the relief staff and affected people. However, she also runs a fish processing plant and had to use one of the cold storage facilities for the washed up dead bodies. It doesn't exist any more..

It's taken a bit of getting used to the 3rd world style of doing things, but it's still a lot of fun!

More soon!

Ah, it's now Tuesday. Medical is done and apart from the fact that they think I am a blind, heavy smoking, hyperglycemic pilot I still got a class one medical! I really have no idea what the hell was going on, but it all seemed like a farse really. We were shoved in and out of rooms like a Benny Hill sketch and behind each door came a new surprise! One was a chest x-ray, the other and ECG monitor etc etc.. The funniest was having to sit in some sort of prison cell booth with a pair of headphones on pressing a button whenever you heard noises. I made the woman laugh as she was on her phone half way through and just kept pressing it every time her lips moved.. I passed that one too :) It seems really easy to get what you want here.. You either pay, or you make the people laugh. I am poor so opt for the charm offensive which has worked up to now!

Back out of Jakarta now, which is good. The place is a pig-sty to be honest - which is weird as they don't do pigs here (Muslim!). It is an absolute nut house. Cars, trams, people, bikes, busses, lorries, horses.. You name it, they use it. And everyone seems to just go wherever there is a space.. And I mean it.  4 on a scooter is under-filled..  I have seen 6!  The girl looks slightly concerned!  The youngest is being used as a crash barrier in case of the worst!

Just got settled after another 4am wake up and am in need of rest.. First aid course to come and then government flying exams..


Oh, locals...  Crab god?  I have no idea.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Still the first week...

Ok, not much time to actually do this blog thing at the moment as I'm having to take an exam this Sunday.. Then I finally get in an aircraft and have to pass more tests. It's the same old story in flying for those of you that don't know, tests followed by a test to test if you passed the last test and then a test to make sure the last test you took was enough for you to pass the final test. Then you have a medical and pass more tests.. But those are personal and I would feel violated if I told you about those!

Anyway, it seems that in Indonesia if you don't pass the tests you hand over some paper with an offical persons head on (Money to us) and the tests are all passed. Magic :)

I shall not need the official paper though I hope.

Ok, so not sure where I got to in the first post but am basically in the South of Java and undergoing training on the aircraft. Lots to remember and a few new things as I will now have passengers who have paid to fly with me.. (Well the company, but you get the drift) Apparently some of the stories include passengers trying to open doors mid-flight in order to throw rubbish out, military guys with AK-47's, live pigs in boxes and a number of other things.. I shall include my own stories as they come up.. However I am bound by a company disclosure agreement so the good stuff might have to wait until I see you.

This is where we eat.. It's surrounded by lush gardens and all that malarky..

A typical day at the moment starts at 6.45am and then we grab one of those rickshaw driver things to the training place.. It's about 20 mins from our hotel but those guys aren't used to a couple of big fat westerners in the front of their man made bikes so they tend to struggle somewhat..! However it is very green, very cheap (about 30p) and the locals look at us and laugh.. Which is amusing to them and us! After breakfast we head on over to the class room, do a bunch of learning with many pit stops for rehydrating purposes before stopping for lunch. (The usual working day to be honest!) After the afternoon class it's up to us what we do, so we tend to head on over to the beach - well it would be rude not to enjoy the sun, sea and sand wouldn't it! But there is actually a lot to learn so the times spent sunning it up have been kept to a minimum at the moment. Honest!

I've hit the local bar a couple of times with the guys already here, it's called Bamboo and is purely because it's made from Bamboo.. Original eh. The beer though has a chemical in it to make it taste fresh.. But it makes your stomach feel quite the opposite in the morning! So far though my cast iron lining is holding up well.

This is the local beach transport system... Primitive, but fun.

The beach has monkeys on, the surf is really big and the locals are friendly.. A bit too friendly sometimes, but those are the ones you have to pay for and I don't get to know them as well as they would like..

Oh, at the moment the photos on this blog are from my friend on facebook. Haven't been able to get them off the others at the moment. I also hope this is making you all jealous.. I worked 4 years to get this! ha ha.

Still haven't really had much time to do this properly as it's been inbetween studying etc.. But it's an insight into how hard life is here :)

Catch you all soon.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Week 1...

Right then.. Where do I begin?! It's all been as hectic as before I left to be honest but I've now found a moment to gather my thoughts, have some sleep and catch up!

Ok, so the flights went from amazing to average on the way over - Emirates, despite being somewhat deluded in their choice of sponsorship partners (Le Arse) actually run a fantastic airline.. The screens were huge, the choice of stuff to keep me entertained was immense and the service was the best I've ever had on a flight..

So anyway, after a short stop off in Dubai we made our way to Singapore and found our hotel after some confusion with the tube network.. Matt, my friend I was travlling with found a place in Little India.. So as I was expecting 'spotless singapore' I was somewhat surprised to see the complete opposite.. Was we in Bombay?! No, the hotel was incredible. We got an upgrade too after kindly informing the check-in girl we were pilots... Gotta pop that one in everywhere now that it's true :0)

Ok, so Singapore was eventually what I expected it to be.. Bubblegum free, clean enough to eat your noodles off the floor of the subway and full of frantic 'business people'. What I didn't expect was for it to seem like England in a sauna! I mean the car number plates are the same, they use 3 point electrics, they drive on the same side and all of the signs and announcments are in English.. Very easy step into Asian life indeed.

Step 2 of our trip involved meeting with a guy at a place to sort out our visas for Indonesia.. Seemed very, very dodgy to me, but this is how things seem to happen in hindsight so it's all good. Just have to get used to the Indonesian way of doing things.

Eventually left Singapore enroute to Jakarta. Air Asia was the least favourable trip so far, but even though it's a low-cost it still beats RyanAir hands down.

Jakarta.. My god. What a crazy place! It is literally every man for himself there. Bikes, cars, vans, trucks, busses and even tuk-tuk's going in every direction - regardless of the traffic signs. Our driver was also useless, despite being 'recommended by our company' he still had to get out over 10 times to ask directions to the complex!

After 2 and a half hours we arrived to the house and then it was time for bed.. Jet lag was setting in and any attempt at fighting it off was in vain.

I awoke to find 2 other guys in the house with myself and Matt and found out they were two of the other people on my course.. There's 6 of us in total. 5 guys and a girl.

Ok, so things change pretty quickly here. We were told initally that we were to fly to the training base on Sunday, then over dinner it had changed to the Saturday morning and then on waking up it was now supposed to be Saturday afternoon.. Regardless, we were shoved into the VIP aircraft and arrived in Pangandaran ready to rock and roll.. Then, as seems to be the norm, things changed and Sunday was a day off!

Having just spent all day on the beach watching monkeys and generally sunning myself at the start of another summer I came back to the my new temporary home (Which is owned by the boss and is absolutely enourmous plus seved by about 30 staff!) to write this..

Training tomorrow.. Update as soon as I can get round to it!

Hope this is of interest to someone..! There is more to tell but it's been a complete head-rush up to now and my fingers are complaining!