Tuesday, February 7, 2012

First step: Complete

So, here I am, again.

This post will be the starting point of a good and exciting series of stories about my commercial pilot course; that I'll be starting in the next month or so. It's one of the most, if not "The Most", important stages of a professional pilot's career. I consider it that way, because it's the stage where the professional abilities and knowledge are founded for an entire life and career as a professional pilot.

I am 21 now. There are many factors that determine the ways to start and that influence the development of this career, but the way I see it, this career starts naturally in the mid teens by joining a small flight club or by getting flying lessons with an acquaintance that is a pilot. That way you begin to develop good abilities and senses for flying. Sadly, in the country where I was born, there's no way you can begin your career this way all by yourself. There's not enough aviation culture so that a 15 year old can go to an airfield and ask if he can learn to fly.

Of course, there are other factors like money, nationality and other career path considerations, but eventually, the way will head you to that seat in the airliner. Whatever the age a person is. 18 is a good age to start with this career. It allows you to work to earn money at the same time you study. You can also start with your flight training overseas, which enables you to live and experience another culture and learn another language. It also enables you to live by yourself and gain maturity.

As far as my story goes, I got my PPL in Mexico, stayed in Germany for two years and joined a glider club. It was one of the most astonishing experiences of my life and I'll be back in Hamburg some time to finally get that Glider Pilot License.
In Germany, I began to consider USA as a career path option. It's the number one country in general aviation and flight training. I think it's the best country in terms of airplane availability and cost, student resources and services and number of aviation personnel. I did some research and made a list of flight schools. I had to consider the license conversion process in Mexico, money, time of stay (money as well) and the flight school caracteristics such as location, fleet, fees, student housing and so on.

In my situation, in which I will have to get a mexican commercial pilot license to fly in Mexico, initially, I chose to take the CPL course in USA, because of the high training standards, and then convert the license in Mexico.

I chose the flight school that had a good reputation (a friend studied there), had a well maintained variety of airplanes (mostly Piper Aircraft) and that had a good location regarding to FAA offices, pilot shop, housing and supplies such as food and clothing. That way, I will not spend a lot in a flight academy like Aerosim, ATP or American Flyers. In this school, I'll try to adjust the practical part of the course to meet both FAA and DGAC commercial pilot requirements.

That way I will have the flight experience required by the DGAC to go through the license conversion process more easily and avoid doing extra flights in a mexican flight school.
I hope I can prove to the licensing and certification person in the DGAC that I don't need extra flight hours. Because the flight school I chose runs under FAA Part 141 requirements, I need 120 hours of theory (300h for Part 61 flight schools) in a mexican flight school to validate my studies and pass the professional degree exam. Mexico is the only country that I know of that a pilots professional degree is required to get a CPL or ATPL. I recently found out that 11 flight hours are required to convert the license. Totally absurd. 6 hours of VFR flights, 2h of IFR flights, 2h of multi-engine flight and 1 hour for the practical exam in a multi-engine airplane. Why not pass a CPL written test and a practical test in a twin to convert the license? Pure mexican aviation rubbish. They excel in stupidity and inefficiency.

And now, after many days, mails, questions and answers by the flight school, I got my I-20 form for the student visa. What I need to do now is to get all the documents needed for the paperwork and make an appointment at the US Consulate.

The first step is complete, now I have to go through the student visa process and then, through one of the most exciting parts of my career: Flight training. I think the steps I've taken have been good. At this age and experience I can make a sound decision on what next step to take. One that allows me to go though the most important stage of my professional career with success and joy.

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