06 August 2007

Nick's Training to become a Captain

On the 20th June Nick started his 6 stage training to become a Captain.

Stage 1
This stage saw him and his "crash buddy" Tony in the simulator, being taught some of the more basic things about being a captain.

Stage 2
He was in the aeroplane with a Training Captain (someone who is a captain but also conducts training). It was a pretty hectic time for him and also an exhausting time. Anything and everything went wrong. There were massive thunderstorms in Hong Kong and around China. The plane broke down, things were not working properly, a passenger flushed her wedding ring down the toilet, he had a training senior flight attendant who stuffed up with a few emergency procedures, and a training captain who turned around close to landing and said he couldn't land the plane in the weather conditions from the First Officer's position. Phew!

Nick had only flown the plane twice from the captain's seat, and as you could appreciate, everything is back to front with additional things to be aware of. He took over the plane, the previous 2 planes had not landed, they had to fly around again to try and land, and Nick landed the plane the first time, it terrible conditions. The guys in the control tower said it was the most amazing landing he had ever seen in those conditions - so did his captain.

Can you tell I'm a proud wife?

Stage 3
Some more time in the simulator and on the plane but this time the conditions were much better and there were not so many things going wrong.

His assessment reports were glowing with lots of 4's and 5's (5 being the highest). He had gotten through the first 3 stages and was half way.

At any point from Stage 3 onwards if he doesn't pass an assessment, his training is over and he's put into the "sin bin" for 12 months.

Stage 4
Some more flying and another glowing report. He said he's getting more comfortable in the captain's seat but it's still exhausting having to deal with everyone all at once. He said there is still a lot to learn.

He's been hitting the books a lot and talking with his "crash buddy" about their training. Tony and Nick were only together for Stage 1 and then they were with different Training Captains with different flights etc.

Going into Stage 5 is the most stressful stage because 90% of the First Officers fail at this stage. To prepare themselves, Nick and Tony organised to use the simulator to practice their flying. Nick finds the simulator harder than a real plane and gets really nervous around this time.

Stage 5
Two very long days and two very on edge days. Talking to Nick was like talking to the Pirate, just looks with no response. Bless him... he was really stressed because the pressure was on.

Late Saturday afternoon I get a call from him, he sounded really down but was playing with me. He passed Stage 5. He's over the worst part of the assessments.

Stage 6
Starts on Wednesday. He has 4 flights and he'll be flying them as the Captain. No more Training Captain sitting beside him. He'll have a real First Officer and the Training Captain will be sitting behind only observing.

Only one person has failed at this stage and with Nick's glowing reports for actual flying I have no doubt I'll be greeting Captain Nick Graham at the airport on his last flight.

Tradition is that whoever wants to meet at the airport, they wait at a particular bar in the arrivals hall and he turns up there, announcing his success and buys everyone there drinks until he leaves.

He doesn't know it yet, but I'm going to go to the airport and wait for him with a sign "Captain Nick Graham". He told me not to bother about coming to the airport but how can I not go. I want to be there when he walks through the arrival hall for the first time as an offical captain. He's wanted this for a long time and the amount of study he's put into it, he definitely deserves it.

Stay Tuned!!!

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