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Category Archives: jetliner

In the life of fast paced, over-regulated, safety minded airline pilot there are decisions that have to be made in order to make progress. You have to weigh your options and the consequences of each. You also have to take the opportunities that present themselves, especially, those opportunities that can and will make your life as a pilot easier.  See my last blog about being in the aviation industry as an airline pilot.

plane window during sunset

Looking out of the plane window during sunset

On a recent trip to Houston, TX to take the FAA required ATP/CTP ( Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program) I stared out of my window seat from 37,000ft. It was a beautiful evening flight with smooth air and tail winds the whole way. That makes for a short commute!

Settling into the hotel room, which would act as my temporary home for the next ten days, was bittersweet, to say the least.  I already missed my family but I was overly excited to start the CTP course the next day!

Ready for the first day of ATP/CTP

All the exercise paid off!

The first day of training was a lot of fun and thankfully I have been working on getting in shape!  I was initially greeted by a departing Boeing 787 Dreamliner wearing the United livery.  This was a first for me and it was a beautiful airplane!

The instructors that we had for the first four days were great guys and really made the course a lot of fun to be in.  We went through all the required syllabus  powerpoint presentations and even threw in our own little story times that had relevance to each subject.  The course included the usual areas of knowledge, such as, aerodynamics (both high altitude and jet aircraft (get your hands on a copy of Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators:NAVWEPS 00-80T-80 (FAA Handbooks series) from, weather, and regulations.  We even covered some company specific aircraft systems, limitations, and operations (CRJ-200 and ERJ-145).

NOTE: this ATP/CTP course is in no way an ATP written “test prep” course.  This course is only designed to relay the knowledge required to pass the ATP written test.  It is still highly recommended that you purchase an ATP written test prep of some form prior to taking the written.

The knowledge portion of the ATP/CTP lasted through the first four days.

ERJ-145 Flight Training Device

ERJ-145 Flight Training Device

After taking a quick 30 question review test (super easy) we had one day in the ERJ-145 FTD (Flight Training Device).  This was more or less to recap a lot of the stuff we had previously covered during the knowledge portion in the class room.  Stuff like “Remember how we talked about L/D Max? Well this is how it applies to how we fly the aircraft” stuff.

We had Friday and Sunday off, due to it being Good Friday and Easter and with those days off, my wife flew down to spend the weekend with me in Houston!  She had a great time ordering room service and relaxing the day away in our hotel room.  It was very refreshing to see her during this time period, too.

During the next two days, we were in the full motion sims for four hours each day.  This fulfilled the 6 hour requirement for the FAA and was a lot of fun for me, since I am typed in this airplane.  For a new pilot recruit, it can be a lot to take in on your first flight.

We covered unusual attitudes, wind shear avoidance techniques specific to the ERJ-145, wake turbulence upset and recovery, and a plethora of other scenarios during this training.  We even shot a lot of category I ILS approaches, visual approaches, and crosswind landing techniques in jet aircraft.  I had a great time being back in that airplane!

After the completion of day two in the full motion sims, we were given our certificates of completion and we all shook hands and parted ways.  It’s one of the things that airline pilots do best.  We are cordial, professional, and essentially pleasant to be around.  After we introduce ourselves at the first flight, it is as though we have been friends for ages.  However, as soon as the flight(s) are completed we can shake hands say “till next time” and walk away knowing we may never actually see that person ever again, let alone fly with them.

Anyways, I called the airport employee shuttle and requested to be picked up.  They arrived shortly afterwards and toted me off to the airport terminal where I would make my way through the crowded halls full of people from all parts of the world.  The terminal halls were alive with commerce!

Houston Airport Terminal KIAH

Houston Airport Terminal KIAH

Finding which gate my flight departed out of is always a fun little task but once the gate is found, I rushed off through the airport terminal to catch a flight back to Kansas City, MO and in no time I was boarding my flight!

Airline Pilot: Houston International Airport and ERJ-145

Getting ready to board my flight home.

We taxied out and took off from 15R, made a right turn and proceeded northbound.  The best part of this flight home?  I knew a cold front was moving across the plains this evening and we were flying right along the boundary.

Flying along a cold front

Flying along a cold front

What did this mean for me?  An aerial view of the storms for half of my flight back.  If you know anything about me, I love to chase storms and sometimes even chase them in a plane.  The storms were literally within 10 miles and easy to watch out of my window seat and this made for one of the most enjoyable commutes home.

Airline Pilot: Storms from a plane

Lightning flashes out of the window of my ERJ-145

My flight returned me home and I took my ATP written test in the following days.  I do want to point out that I did not properly study for this test.  Instead, I took a calculated risk to see what I had learned solely based on the knowledge from the ATP/CTP course so I did not purchase or use an ATP prep course prior to taking my written.  I had heard there were a ton of new questions and that a lot of the new questions focused on CRM (Crew Resource Management) and TEM (Threat Assessment Management).  Nevertheless, I passed with a 76%!

ATP Written Test - Passed

ATP Written Test – Passed

Overall, I had a great time in Houston and met some awesome people that really knew their stuff and finished the ATP/CTP requirements with a passing score!  We nailed that one down.  Time for the next challenge.

Did you enjoy reading this?  Leave a comment and let me know:


What is 2013 going to be like

Several amazing phenomenon have already taken place early on this year including a blazing meteorite in Russia.  Meteorites actually make contact with the ground.  Then, immediately after that, an asteroid passed extremely close to Earth.  Severe weather, including tornadoes and blizzards, have been hitting portions of the U.S. in succession.  And it’s only the beginning of March 2013!!!

On the menu for future astonishment is the Northern Hemisphere arrival of a very bright comet known as Comet Pan-STARRS.  The Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System in Hawaii, is responsible for discovery of the asto-phenomenon.  Viewers in the norther hemisphere can expect to start seeing this comet around March 7, 2013.

Comet Pan-STARR expected visibility time and dates.

Comet Pan-STARR expected visibility time and dates.

If you don’t get to see this comet, have no fear.  An even brighter “comet of the year”, comet ISON, will make an appearance towards the end of 2013.

Aside from the happenings in the cosmos, spring time weather is about to make its presence known.  The last snow storm to affect the mid-west dumped even more thick, wet snow around Kansas City, MO.  I spent that night and the next morning documenting this snow storm as early morning commuters struggled to make it to work.

A few more weeks away, roughly the end of the comet passage, forecasters and storm chasers alike, will turn their attention back to the weather models, overly decorated vehicles, and cameras as the plains start rumbling with the sounds of severe weather.  Perhaps, a few aerial storm chases are in order?








After a day of perusing airports, it is sad to see the decreased interest in both general and commercial aviation.  I remember as a kid driving to the Kansas City International airport to spend the afternoon watching aircraft on approach fly right over our heads.  We would sit on the side of the outer road that went around the airport.  When we would arrive, there would be at least 20-30 people out there doing the same thing.  Some worked at the TWA overhaul base (now defunct after American Airlines took over TWA, then shut the hangar overhaul hangar down), some where pilots, but most of the people there were people.  People would bring their children out there to watch these magnificent flying machines gracefully move through the air as the pilots aimed their trajectory towards the runway.

Sadly, this is not the case anymore.  When you bring your children to the airport to watch them get excited as their dreams of what they can be when they grow up, start to blossom, you are quickly and abruptly interrupted by airport security that tells you that you are not allowed to be parked on the edge of a public road.  In fact, they tell you to get at least 100ft away from the fence.  You will quickly be reminded that you could very well be a potential terrorist that may suddenly want to destroy airplanes.  All you can do is make the best out of it.

Without further rambling, the new images can be seen in “Man Made” and “Landscape Photography”  under the Stock Galleries menu tab.  Thanks for look.  Enjoy!