For the start of these episodes go to
Every now and then Jillian tells me a snippet of something or other and then we move on and the information becomes lost in the mists of - well not time, necessarily - but forgetfulness and insignificance shall we say?
Some time ago, while trawling through my notes, I came across an item about one of her friends failing his private pilot's licence in interesting circumstances.
I asked about this again.
Seems this chap had been doing quite well – handling your basic up and down stuff; emergency landings (where you have your experienced pilot teacher reach around you and shut down the engines when you least expect it - and then say to you, “You have about 45 seconds to find a place to land.”
Oh and you ought to find some smoke to tell you the way the wind is blowing because you MUST land with the plane facing into the wind; and you need at least x number of metres to land and it must be clear of obstacles like phone or power poles and wires, holes, small hills, hedges, trees, fences, houses, bicycles and I suppose roads and people but he apparently didn't mention some of these things. They were to be expected, Jillian seemed to imply. Then there were stalls (you know where the training pilot makes the aeroplane almost fall out of the sky – the “Oh dear What are we going to do now?” moments; scary almost vertical spiralling dives and all things in between.
Some of these included heaps of memorizing particular aircraft bits and pieces, radio jargon (you know the Alpha, Beta, Delta … Romeo, Juliet things) and having at your fingertips reams of important weather information, weight calculations and navigational ephemera.
I mean, “There is so much to know,” I said to Jillian after listening to this for some time, “Why would you ever WANT to have a pilot's licence?” “A pilot needs to be a walking encyclopedia.”
But he, apparently, knew it all so it was time to take the figurative bit between the teeth and make a bid for the licence. At least the first of, I think she said 2 or 3 parts of the full licence.
Towards the end of the hour of the actual licence exam which had gone quickly and seemingly satisfactorily, the tester asked the pilot to return to the airfield.
Now this requires a square pattern to be executed, Jillian explained to me. You need initially to head for a point, a known and previously agreed upon landmark on the ground, and then turn towards the runway which will be to your front and right (probably) some 5 or so kilometers away. Hopefully you can see this aforementioned runway, but if not just head in the general direction.
Landing requires you to pass the runway at right angles, turn downwind and run alongside this landing strip, turn across wind with the runway at right angles to you and then turn facing forwards down the length of this narrow strip of grass with the wind now blowing toward you, and execute the landing. Did I mention you needed to know which way the wind is blowing (if there is any wind) before starting any of this manoeuvring?
Well, our friend reached this landmark, executed the turn towards the airport and runway which he could see in the distance and was heading in to do the square pattern landing, secure in the knowledge that his licence was in the bag.
Imagine his surprise when the examiner asked him what he was doing. Of course he explained he was doing as he was told. Heading in to land the aeroplane after reaching the previously defined ground landmark.
“OK.” said the examiner, “Why are you STILL doing this?”
At this point Jillian's friend smelled a rat and said,”Am I missing something, Jim?”
“You might say.” said Jim. “There is an emergency. All traffic in the area has been asked by radio to avoid the airport for the next 10 minutes or so. You, specifically, have been asked to turn away to port (left for those not used to this language) and to not attempt to land, in order to make way for this temporary emergency state. You have ignored these instructions - given 3 or 4 times with increasing urgency; and air-traffic controllers have had to re-route several other aircraft out of your way, even the helicopter with the emergency situation.”
“I am afraid, if you cannot follow simple radio instructions, I am not going to be able to approve you for your licence. You are a menace to other aircraft and the flying public.”
I think that constitutes a mega-fail. Don't you? #ourjillian