Hello all, my name is Antonie. I have always wanted to fly aeroplanes. I hope that I will be able to convey the wonder of flying when I write, for it has always fascinated me. From Flight Sim 95 through the Air Force training and now in Caravans, the pure magic of a wing generating lift just never gets old.
I did well in school – achieving a good enough score to qualify for any career. I am a competent sportsman and could probably have played sports for a living – not national rugby union, but lower league teams. The problem with many a career though is it focuses on either the cognitive or the athletic – often to the detriment of the other. I wanted a career that challenged me in both. I was sold when my uncle brought home a VHS tape from the middle east about the Israeli Air Force fighter pilots. I wanted to fly fighter jets. And since around age 7, that is what I set out to do. It was the challenge of brain and brawn that pushed me to fly.
Caravans aren’t fighter jets
Those concentrating whilst reading will note that a Cessna C208B Caravan is not strictly a fighter jet, and you would be correct. Life, and more so aviation, tends to surprise you with turbulence. I had spent 5 years in the South African Air Force but was unfortunately not earmarked for fighter training. I decided to try my hand at civilian flying and managed to tame the Jabiru J160. A quick Google will show you it is a major step back in terms of power, and the art of coaxing a climb at high-density altitude needed to be mastered.
I completed my CPL in 2018, having to sit 6 CPL exams in 5 days of intense writing. I flew a 1964 Mooney in the flight test, and it was spectacular – it had a manual lever to lower the gears. Your arm was exhausted by the end.
After CPL I flew low-level agri-survey for a bit, and then became a flight instructor. After a year of instruction, my wife and I moved to Australia. I had to redo a couple of exams and CPL flight tests. I got checked to a Cirrus, and soon got a job flying a corporate SR 22. This lasted about six months, after which the company got into some financial trouble. I moved on to Caravans, and I have been flying it for the last year.
So what about fighters – well citizenship is a hurdle. Countries tend to prefer having their own people in the most sophisticated machinery they have. Secondly, I am getting a bit old – having turned 31 earlier this year. Is the dream gone? No, but like with Jabiru all those years back, I keep the nose down and the airspeed up, and who knows, maybe I will reach that target altitude.
Planes I would love to fly
I have a bias for fighter aircraft and my absolute dream would be the F86 Sabre. The legendary WW II fighters are a close second (Spitfire, Mustang, Lightning). In modern-day life, for a day-to-day job, I would love to fly a smallish, high-performance aircraft, something like a PC 12, or a King-Air, Vision Jet or twin jet planes.
Other notable planes on the wishlist would be Extra 300, a float plane of some sort and a super cub in Alaska.
Brain vs Brawn
As a pilot, you will get into a routine pretty quickly. The human brain looks for patterns that it can duplicate, and it does this well. I, like all other pilots here, can fly the Caravan without thinking. We use the flow-and-check principle, and after a short while, everything is automated. This means brain activity decreases.
This is not ideal, and I am in the process of finishing my ATPLs, with only 2 left. And yes, Flight Planning is one of them.
I also recently finished the multi-Engine rating and will soon have the MECIR completed as well.
After that, I am going to look for brain-stimulating challenges and will hopefully be able to tell you more about them in the articles I write.
Heroes and mantras
I admire many heroes of aviation and often find myself simply echoing things said by Charles Lindberg, Adolf “sailor” Malan, or Bob Hoover. One thing that I especially like that Mr Hoover said was that an airplane’s wing only knows one fact – airflow across it.
Does this settle the debate between airspeed and altitude? Probably not, but it is a mantra that I like. Keep the speed in the green. Is it always true? – not at all. Will I continue to hammer it into any student I teach – most definitely.
Ultimately, flying is as much an art as it is a science. It pits man and machine against gravity in a battle that should result in a clear winner, and yet, beyond all comprehension, we have tons of metal flying across continents. The wonder of flight is expressed in the somewhat crude military expression. It is “PFM” – pure f…. magic. And that is why I choose to be a pilot.