Just a quick update to my flying diary. Today was the culminative ground school, and practical examination for my FRTOL (Flight Radio Telephony Operators License – aviators love acronyms!). Last week I managed to pass the written test, which wasn’t too bad – just a multiple choice paper. This week it was somewhat more stressful.
We were given a fictitious route, along with details of all ground stations that covered the areas being overflown. From this we had to plan out our RT calls, factoring in things like types of service being requested, VDF position fixes and an on-board emergency requiring the appropriate distress/urgency calls.
Then, like lambs to the slaughter, we were led over the airfield to the commercial flight school, and into a small room that contained a strange little console with a multiposition rotary dial (each position related to a different ground station), a push to talk button, and a well worn headset. On went the headset, and within a few minutes we began, with me pretending I’d just climbed into the plane on the apron and requesting a radio check from the Tower.
Well, about 150 virtual miles later, I had passed through a Military Aerodrome Traffic Zone, picked up a Low Altitude Radar Service, requested a QDM fix, suffered engine problems and put out a PANPAN call, recovered the PANPAN and completed a Class D zone transit, and encountered a go-around situation thanks to another aircraft encountering difficulties on the arrival runway – in addition to a few other events… By the end of it I was sweating like a Turkey at Christmas, and only too pleased when my examiner told me it was all over. Within a couple of minutes I was in the de-briefing, and found that I had indeed passed… so big thanks to Andy Moon for delivering an excellent course, and to Steve Wilkes of hadair.co.uk for hosting it. Not least, thanks also to Mrs Moon for the awesome buffet that was put on. Andy is a First Officer with FlyBe at their headquarters in Exeter, and is looking forward to flying their fleet of Dash 8s in the not too distant future.