Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Challenger

Connections are a huge factor in the professional pilot's life. Someone from your family might be an active pilot or your family can also have good connections that can help you enter an airline or get a corporate flying job. You might be in a flying academy that has a professional pilot training program which also has an agreement with airlines. It could also have a flight instructor program for pilots that just finished their commercial pilot course. There are a lot of situations, but making connections wherever you are, making a good impression and maintaining that good impression also helps.

My experience was being at the airport making, what we call, "airport hours". Instead of just going to the airport for the ground and flight lessons, meet people at the airport. Help them and have a good hangar talk with everybody. They might know people who can hook you up with someone from a company. Your pilot friends make also a great factor in getting a job. Meet pilots from other schools, flight instructors, meet everybody! Don't have that "oh, they're from that other flight school" mentality. Be an open person.

As I was about to start my conversion course, I sent e-mails to pilot friends. One of them was a Cirrus pilot and, strangely, he was one of the last ones I contacted. I somehow forgot about him, but three days after I sent him an e-mail with my résumé, he answered telling me to send an e-mail to the Cirrus representative in Mexico. Sometimes businessmen and CEOs buy Cirruses and they need pilots. That's where recommendations from current Cirrus pilots come into place. He recommended me, I called the representative, we got along very well and he told me by the time he sold an airplane and the owner needed a pilot, he would contact me.

Some weeks later, as I was going through the conversion course, he sent me an e-mail telling me a Cirrus owner was looking for another pilot. His pilot was about to leave for another job, so he needed a pilot with the requirements. He sent them an e-mail and a week later, I was contacted by the owners for an interview. It was the first interview I was going to have as a professional pilot and I can tell you: The moment you're standing behind the door of that office, your heart is about to explode.
It went pretty well and they were going to contact me as soon as they required me. I continued with the conversion course theory and waited patiently for that call. I also started working in english aviation courses developing the lessons. You can look them up in

One day, as I was leaving the office, the Cirrus representative called me telling me the pilot of the Cirrus' owners left them and I needed to pick the plane up at an airport. A pilot with experience flying Cirrus was going to fly with me so the plan sounded pretty good. To make the story short, the actual plan was that I and the other pilot would fly for them, because they wanted him as their pilot, but since he didn't meet all requirements and I did, I would fly for them to gain experience in the Cirrus and to meet the legal requirements to fly that Cirrus. Fair trade. I was gaining more experience, more hours, getting payed, and flying an awesome SR22T with Garmin Perspective.

I thought it was going to be temporary (a month or two), but I flew up to november and as I was in Huatulco waiting for the boss, a friend sent me a facebook message telling me to contact the pilot of a Challenger that was looking for third pilot. He and another pilot were the only pilots flying it and because most times they were out of their base for more than 10 days and they have family, they needed a third one ASAP.

I called him right away and after a good chat he told me to send him my résumé. After a few days, we kept in touch and he told me he and the other pilot wanted to meet me in person when they fly to my base. The day arrived, he called me and I went to the hotel they were staying at to meet them at the restaurant. We had a nice talk and told me all about the plan and that they wanted to see at what level my aeronautical and flying knowledge and experience was. They also wanted me to fly with them on some flight so they could see how well I performed in a normal flight operation and how well I retained what they teached me. So they tested me with an RVSM course and the next day I flew with them on the jumpseat to two cities. It was funny because as we arrived to our final destination we went partying. I'm sure they also wanted to see how I was in the normal living. We were going to fly back to my base the next night, so in the next day we went swimming and snorkeling to a hole in the ground with caves inside filled with water called 'cenotes'. Pretty cool selection process, eh? ;)

Some days later, I flew with them again acting as pilot monitoring. One of the pilots sent me the AFM, the QRHs, the Flight Planning and Cruise Control Manual, the FCOMs, and the Pilot Training Manual by e-mail for the Challenger 604. He also gave me the paper cockpit and memory flash cards. That way I could start studying and learning everything about the Challenger 604. I even made a training syllabus for myself to have a good learning order and control what needed to be learned next. Systems, limitations, flight planning and performance, normal procedures, supplementary procedures, abnormal procedures, emergency procedures and memory items... lots of things to be memorized, understood, applied and correlated. All this to meet the requirements to get an SIC type rating in the CL-604. On the friday last week I went to the formal interview and I officially joined the two other pilots to fly the Bombardier Challenger 604.

What I've been doing in the last days is to fly with them on the right seat acting as pilot monitoring, gaining proficiency in CRM so when I feel ready and the other pilots think I'm ready, I'll start flying the Challenger. There are four requirements to be met for an SIC type rating: To be familiar with systems, limitations, the AFM, procedures, to make three takeoffs and landings to a full stop at the controls, to practice one-engine-inoperative flight in all phases of flight (or maneuvering, as the rules state), and have CRM training, which you learn from the books and manuals, and practice in flight.

It is an awesome experience and it will allow me to gain experience flying a jet, learning about advanced flight operations, and to buy a good laptop and a GoPro to make good aviation videos.

I hope you liked this post! Stay tuned.

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