Back to Jerez to finish the Instrument Rating

I was up mega early this morning to grab the BA flight back to Spain to complete my instrument rating.  There had been no more snow falling so at least my flight was going to be running ok and the drive way was still clear from my back-breaking exercise yesterday.

This time I decided to book the direct flight to Malaga and drive the car from there to Jerez, the drive is horrible, but I have become more and more disillusioned with the service from Heathrow via Madrid to Jerez – when I first came to Spain back in November 2010 the cheapest return flight could be bought for £150, in fact, my wife flew out and back in Business for £350 in December 2010.  Now, the cheapest flight available is £200 return and those flights are at obscure useless times, so really the cheapest flights are £215.  This is a 50% increase in price and cannot be justified, also, BA have reduced their tier point allocation on this route from 20 each way to 15 each way, so it has less benefit for me retaining my BA Silver card.

The flight from Gatwick to Malaga is £35, the car rental is £15 plus a one-way rental charge of £30 plus fuel and the journey is shorter, it is a no-brainer.  The flight leaves at 07:50 so Allie drops me off at 7am at the new North Terminal.  I came here at Christmas time for our trip to Male, boy was I impressed.  Since the new owners have taken over the useless BAA at Gatwick, the whole place has just been transformed.  There is a much better entry into the Airport, the whole BA check-in area is much better, and there is now a new Premium security next to the First/Club World check-in.  This makes going through security a breeze now, much like the old “Zone R” that BA had when they were in Terminal 1 at Heathrow.  The old system at Gatwick was less than useless, with the minimum wage jobsworths in yellow sweaters sending anyone and everyone to the premium security because the regular security queues were getting big – I am certain this was driven by some old BAA metric because Heathrow still do this exact thing.

Anyway, I have breakfast in the Galleries lounge before my flight is called.  BA have kindly upgraded me again today so the flight must be quite full, I am just hoping it is not full of screaming kids, I want to snooze and relax on my way back to Spain because today I must finish my Instrument Rating.  On boarding the aircraft I notice that it is some of the same crew we had on our trip to Male, I now know this will be a good flight, because the crew to Male were probably the best I have ever had on any trip anywhere (check my flight memory), I ask how their Christmas was (they spent it on standby in Glasgow). 

Gatwick mist

It is a very mirky and misty morning, I take a picture with my HTC but I really need to get a new backing plate to the phone because the camera lens is now scuffed and it makes my picture quality look very poor.


I quickly take another picture using my Kodak video camera with the ultra wide lens on it, I have not had the chance to crop the edges though.  It is a big improvement, but the camera is definitely better at taking video than it is at taking photographs. 


After take-off I am offered fruit salad then a nice full breakfast and tea and toast, I then recline my chair fully and go to sleep and am awoken by the PA.  We are descending over the Sierra Nevada and down into Malaga.

After disembark the aircraft and head straight for baggage reclaim.  I am not actually carrying anything with me, but I have brought the 2 largest empty suitcases that we own back with me for when I leave Jerez in 6 weeks time.  They take for ever, and by ever, I mean that I am stood there for 40minutes waiting for 2 empty suitcases.  I message the Ops Manager at FTE and request a delay on my flight because of airport delays here.  He delays by an hour for me.

I head down to the car rental place and go to pick up my car, I speak to a very helpful Belgian chap who politely informs me that Goldcar Rental have taken the liberty of cancelling my car due to the snow in the UK, they thought that I would not be coming.  How most unhelpful I thought.  It then took the best part of an hour to sort out re-issuing a new voucher from the broker to collect a car that I had booked and had not cancelled.  I message the Ops Manager again and request another hour delay, how embarrassing.  I finally get into the car, it is a brand new Ford Focus with only 6km on the clock.  I make the dash across to Jerez to meet up with the IR examiner to do the test. 

The examiner says that everything can be done under visual rules, so after settling down in the aircraft I call the tower and request VFR circuits.  We taxi out to the runway and he places 2 screens up.  I should explain at this point that in the IR exam there are something like 8 sections, each section has about 4 parts to it.  You can mess up one part in one section and have a partial pass, but you cannot mess up more than one part.  If you do mess up one part and have to fly out again, then you have to redo the whole section.  For me, this means I must do an EFATO, then a low-approach and go-around, then a single-engine landing.  If I mess any of this up, then I will have to retake the entire test again, this of course is not an option, so you can imagine my nerves at this point.

I apply full power and climb the aircraft out, I clean up the flap and reduce to climb power at 400 feet and then the examiners knee board comes out to cover up the throttles “this is it” I say to myself, “do not screw this up"!”.  He closes the right throttle, I know straight away which one it is and correct with the left rudder and hold the heading.  I pause for a second then lift my right leg up clean off the rudder pedal and tap my leg “dead leg right, dead engine right”.  The examiner moves the board away, I then tap my leg again “dead leg right, dead engine right…” and then start the drill that I did a few days ago “right throttle closed, right propeller feather, right mixture idle cut-off, right fuel selector off”.  The examiner gives me 15” back on the dead engine to simulate me feathering it.  I then ask if there is a fire “no fire” calls the examiner, I then turn cross-wind before making my simulated pan call, then turn down-wind and complete my subsequent actions.  As I turn base-leg I only require 15” on the live engine, this now presents a problem because it is not possible to know which engine is failed unless you set a reminder.  I check the cowl flaps to see which one is open, it is the left one, this means the left engine is the good one.  I turn onto final for my low-approach and go-around and then come back to land.  “Lovely, nothing wrong with any of that, in fact it was perfect, very well done” says the examiner. 

So, I have finally passed my instrument rating, as I should have done on Friday.  Oh well, it was a hard lesson learnt and one that I hope never to make again.  I now have a Commercial Pilots licence with a Mutli-engine Instrument Rating.  This means I am licenced to take fare-paying passengers, day or night, bad weather or good…  in a single-pilot capacity aircraft.  If I want to be in a large multi-crew aircraft, then I need to complete further training which will take another 12 weeks!

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~ by globalste on February 6, 2012.

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