Operational Experience Training Complete

B-777F on Anchorage, Alaska ramp

B-777F on Anchorage, Alaska ramp

I am very pleased to report that my Operational Experience (OE) training on the B-777F with Southern Air is complete. Instructors are very thorough with a total of three trips around the world and a wide range of approaches and departures at the various airports we operate from.

B-777F interior cargo hold

B-777F interior cargo hold

The B-777F of course flies well and I had a lot of good input from various fellow pilots on landing technique, approach details, etc.

As an aside I installed the X-Plane simulator on my computer. X-Plane is an incredibly powerful flight simulation program with a wide range of aircraft, to include the B-777. Do take a look at their site, the realism of the various flight displays is truly amazing.

B-777F throttle quadrant

B-777F throttle quadrant

I am now home for a few days and will head out for another trip next week. I am looking forward to starting construction of a smaller version of the Yard Ace using the ParkZone electronics and motor as with my other indoor radio control models.

In addition, now that I am done with initial training I can work to learn TurboCAD on my Macintosh and make a few more videos on preparing RC model aircraft plans.

B-777 Simulator Training Complete

I am happy to report that I successfully completed my B-777 training and check ride at the Boeing simulator center in Miami.

Inside view of a Boeing 777 flight simulator

Cockpit view of a Boeing 777 flight simulator

The check ride lasted 2.5 hours. As Southern Air First Officers have to serve as International Relief Officers during portions of Oceanic flight while the Captain rests, new First Officers took this check ride in the left seat with a Boeing instructor performing co-pilot duties in the right seat.

The simulator flight was challenging but went well. Very happy to be complete with that portion of training and have a new type rating added to my pilot certificate.

After the check we had two more simulator sessions. One on LOFT (Line Orientated Flight Training) covering Oceanic crossing procedures to include radio and datalink check in, position reporting, weather diversion, equal time points, etc.

Nice picture of a World War I Spad aircraft at the Joe Nall flying field

Nice picture of a World War I Spad aircraft at the Joe Nall flying field

The next simulator was on Category II and III landings. The B-777 has an autoland capability that, depending on FAA permissions, allows us to land in weather as poor as 300 feet visibility. As you can imagine there are detailed procedures on how to safely accomplish this demanding task.

I am home now for a few days with plenty to study for upcoming OE (Operational Experience) flights. OE is a normal part of any airline check out. OE procedures are detailed for each airline and allow a specially trained Captain to ensure all of the “real world” line flying knowledge is successfully passed on to incoming First Officers.

Picture of radio control aircraft at the Joe Nall fly-in

Picture of radio control aircraft at the Joe Nall fly-in

I will start my OE training on April 9th flying from Cincinnati to Bahrain, around a 14 hour flight. After Bahrain stops will include Hong Kong, Anchorage and Los Angeles. It will be interesting to see how things work out on the line.

Once I am complete with OE and have a more regular schedule I am looking forward to finally getting back to building and flying radio control model airplanes.

One event on my calendar is attending, for the first time, Joe Nall Week (in nearby South Carolina) 13-20 May at the world famous Triple Tree Aerodrome. Triple Tree is just a 2.5 hour drive from my house. So no matter what my flying schedule turns out to be I should be able to get away for a day to check out the flying at this world class event. More to follow!

Boeing 777 Simulator Training

B-777 training for Southern Air has been going well. Our entire class is busy.  The instructors here at the Boeing Training Center in Miami are top notch and are all subject matter experts.  Just a lot to learn in a relatively short time period.

Student study session

Student study session

We recently completed out Flight Training Device instructional periods. The FTD is basically several very large touch screen computers that have the entire overhead and center panel displays graphically depicted.  The flight, engine and control instruments act realistically.  While that are no real buttons on the screens, the various levers, covers, switches, etc. all move in the correct direction when touched on the screen.

In short, the FTD is a perfect training aid for learning check list flows and procedures, while not worrying about actually flying the aircraft. In the FTD, the computer automatically flies the “aircraft” at whatever speed, heading and altitude you set in the autopilot.  The entire purpose of the FTD is to train in these fundamental procedures without using the very costly full motion flight simulators.

Computer workstations for academic lessons

Computer workstations for academic lessons

As part of the FTD training we all prepared for the FAA oral examinations. Oral exams are between you and the examiner.  A weight and balance calculation is first accomplished.  The examiner then takes the next two hours and goes over every switch and control in the cockpit, asking questions and systems issues as needed.  In short, a very effective way to ensure we all get into the books and learn the various B-777 aircraft systems.  My oral was completed last Sunday afternoon (the training center runs 24/7).

We are just beginning the Full Flight Simulator phase of training. The YouTube video at hyperlink shows just what a takeoff looks like.  The FFSs are large devices on hydraulic legs that tilt in various directions to provide a sense of motion.  The interior of the simulator is a completely accurate reproduction of the B-777 cockpit.  The sim has a graphic display that shows the runway, visual landmarks and the airborne environment.  Any sort of weather can be dialed in by the instructor.  The results are 100% convincing.  You are immersed in the experience and truly are “flying” a Boeing 777 jetliner.

I completed FFS number 2 yesterday. The ride went well with a great sim partner and superb instructor.  More to follow as I prepare for the check ride on March 22nd!

Southern Air B-777F

Gordon (right side) on final flight with Mesa Airlines and the CRJ-700 aircraft, December 19, 2016

Gordon (right side) on final flight with Mesa Airlines and the CRJ-700 aircraft, December 19, 2016

It has been a busy few months for me. My last flight as a CRJ-700 First Officer with Mesa Airlines occurred on December 19, 2016. I had a wonderful two years flying for Mesa, logging 1,190 hours in the CRJ. The Captains are a great group and I learned a lot flying in the busy northeast sections of the US. All in all a tremendous experience.

I applied for a job as a pilot with Atlas Air earlier this year. Atlas Air is a global cargo airline flying to a wide range of international destinations. I was called in to an interview in September and accepted for employment.

Southern Air B-777 taking off

Southern Air B-777 taking off

I’ll start B-777F (freighter) training with Southern Air, a new Atlas Air acquisition, on January 23, 2017. I could not be any happier with this turn of events. I am “hitting the B-777 books hard” in preparation for my upcoming classes and simulators.

In the interim, model airplane plans and TurboCAD training videos are still for sale on the website! The moment I get a break in the action, will report on my model building activities.

Until then, Season Greetings and Happy New Year to everyone!