AL200 Full Instrument Panel

Week Nine: In the Simulator

This week I had my first session in one of two simulators that Australian Wings Academy have, the Alsim AL200, and I also went on a nav down to Lismore. We have to do basic instrument flying as part of getting our PPL, so that if we get caught in cloud for example, we can safely fly out of it. It isn’t an instrument rating however, which would allow you to legally fly in cloud, you can get that later on if you wish, this is just to teach you the basics in case you get into a bad situation. AWA use two simulators, also known as synthetic trainers, to provide training on the ground, the Alsim AL200 which I was in, and a Redbird FMX which is used later on in the MECIR. Even though it’s on the ground and might seem daft or fake to some, I really like simulators and when you’re in the moment you just commit and focus on the task at hand as if you are in an actual plane. Flying on instruments is a different experience, personally I like it a lot, I feel it seems to suit me but it does take a lot of concentration.

Jack and I also went for a nav down to Lismore where we did a diversion procedure, steep turns, spiral descents and some time flying under the hood, which is where you wear this hat that blocks your view outside so you can only see the instruments. We did a few procedures where I would close my eyes and Jack would ask me what we were doing, be it climbing, turning etc. It’s very hard and it’s quite easy to lose orientation when your vision is blocked. He got me to recover the aircraft from some of these strange positions and it does take a bit for all your senses to align again, so you really have to trust the instruments. There isn’t really much time to look at the scenery as there is a lot to cram in to each flight, but you do get a few moments every now and then, we saw some awesome looking waterfalls between Mullumbimby and Lismore which I’d love to check out again.

The week finished off with a barbeque in the hangar, one of the only times everyone is ever together really, it was good to see everyone more relaxed. Gannon our jovial CFI ran a little presentation for those who had recently completed their CPL, PPL and First Solo. Phil Sweeney the CEO of Australian Wings Academy was also in and he shared some interesting facts from the airlines, highlighting the importance of knowing about their fleet, what engines are on their planes, where they fly and so on, which seems to be an often overlooked component from prospective pilots, considering it could be the edge that gets you the job.

4 thoughts on “Week Nine: In the Simulator

  1. Super dupper. I love reading your blog and I have enjoyed everything so far. It is nice to know that at a point your are being blocked from the scenery and you only have to use the instrument.
    Since this blog is nearly 2yrs old I want to assume you have safely completed your CPL and PPL so tell us how you are doing and which airline you work for now.

    1. Hi Cedric, thank you. I have indeed, I completed my CPL and MEIR. I will be doing a post soon on what I have been up to all this time, so stay tuned!

  2. Sam, great to hear your progress iam. 34 and really considering doing my cpl next year. Tell me how hard is the training like can you have time to work to earn money on the side and what sort of study time per week you putting in?


    1. Hi Sam, sorry for the late reply, but hope it helps none the less. There are so many factors, probably the most important one is that you need a real genuine passion for aviation. If you have that passion fueling and motivating you then it won’t feel like a chore. If you decide to take on a full time course than it can be intense, but you can also look around and do part time training, which may be a better option if you need to balance work. I’ve seen Mum’s and Dad’s with young children tackle full time study with gusto and fit in “gig economy” jobs like Uber in the mornings and afternoons to pick up extra cash, that’s pretty dedicated. As for study hours, if you really want to maximise your time and get through quickly then you have to study your ass off, any spare time will be taken up with study, full days at flight school and 3-4 hours each night, time management is key. You can do less sure, but expect slower progress and more money for repeating flights and subjects/exams. The effort you put in is directly proportional to the outcome you achieve. Good luck!

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