Once I had the magical 100 hours PIC I was able to start the commercial pilot’s licence training. I’d already decided to do my CPL/IR/ME training with Bristol Flying Centre (BFC), based out of Bristol International airport as they had a great reputation, their costs were on a par with other modular flying schools and, rather conveniently, were based 15 minutes from my parent’s place in Somerset. Sadly BFC no longer has the flying school but the good news is Aeros (the school I did my PPL with) have taken it on and now offer all the same training.
Having spent nearly two years flying privately during my hour building from Bristol International Airport gave me a serious advantage when it came to the professional training. I was already familiar with the various procedures, visual reporting points and mixing in with the larger jet traffic, so I could focus on the multi-engine and instrument training. I elected to do the ME/IR first as this would allow me to cut the CPL training down by 10 hours.
Truth be told I didn’t really enjoy the instrument training and the Seneca is really not the nicest aircraft to fly in my opinion. Still, I’m glad I learnt in a traditional “six-pack” aircraft as I still fly them today in full instrument conditions so it’s second nature to me. As usual in the UK the weather wasn’t the best for training, even if it was instrument training. Bristol’s notorious fog curtailed quite a few lessons and when it comes to instrument training you really need to keep flying as much as possible in the beginning as it’s a skill that you quickly loose.
I finally passed my ME/IR in December 2008 and a week later went straight into the CPL training. BFC had three Piper Arrows available for training at the time, two normal ones and a 200HP Turbo one. Naturally I went with the Turbo Arrow, my reasoning being it’s fast so less affected by drift from the wind (but truth be told, I just like going fast!).
I loved the Turbo Arrow! Such a nice aircraft to fly with properly useful performance. I also relished flying visually again as the instrument training mostly involved paying £360 an hour to fly a multi-engined aircraft around on one engine without ever looking outside. Not fun! Visual flying however is lovely and during my CPL training we dropped into a number of local airfields for a coffee and cake. All very enjoyable.
I passed my CPL in January 2009 and was the proud owner of the little (and very expensive) blue book. I went back to my IT job in Bristol after the four month sabbatical to do the flight training, a fully qualified commercial pilot with around 220 hours under my belt and looking for employment. And so the job hunt began!