Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Life Update

OK, sorry, I am really bad at writing entries. Actually, a fair bit has happened, but the weather has been terrible (unsurprisingly) so I don't have any nice pictures, and so not much motivation to put anything online. Anyway, what have I been up to recently?

  • I completed and passed (at the first attempt) my Instrument Rating
  • We did some Upset Prevention and Recovery Training
  • I've completed my employer's Jet Orientation Course
  • My licence came in the post!
  • I've done a lot of househunting. This was not fun.

So actually, since I last blogged I've actually turned in to a qualified commercial pilot. But I can currently only really fly the DA42. I guess that's useful if you want to carry two people and a few bags...

Coming up in a few weeks time I start an A320 type rating. After that, base training - which is basically practising landings in an empty jet! - and then, assuming I pass everything, employment. Finally!

I'll post a separate entry about the Instrument Rating because that was a huge event, but otherwise, read below for more.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Leaving New Zealand

I know I've been bad at posting recently. My excuse is that I got stuck in to watching Breaking Bad instead - not that that's a good excuse I suppose! Anyway, a quick update on what I've been up to.

Since my last post I've:

  • Done many flights towards my instrument rating, including a tour around a good chunk of New Zealand.
  • Passed Progress Tests 2 and 3 - PT3 is our course's CPL flight test.
  • Moved to Bournemouth in the UK to continue my instrument rating - which should be finished in 5-7 weeks or so.

These are some pretty big milestones for me - so read on for more!

More Future Pilots

Just a quick post to point out that BA are opening their Future Pilot Programme again this year. For an ab-initio looking to get an airline job it's about as close to a guaranteed job as there is, and for a great airline as well!

Take a look on the programme's website for more details.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Fields of stars

Last weekend I completed another first - my first set of night flights. For me, coming from a background of gliding which is done entirely on nice days in the daytime (hopefully!) this was entirely new. I had three trips:

  • A night orientation, where we flew around Hamilton and the local area to get the hang of the night flying technique.
  • A night circuits dual lesson.
  • A solo night circuits flight.

The night technique isn't that different from the day one, but it's far easier to fall into the traps of the many illusions that flying has to offer. I won't go in to it any more, I doubt it's that exciting!

I really enjoyed flying at night. The big towns stand out like orange-coloured pools of light, and the dark areas around them look like they could easily be the sea. Flying towards a town it's easy to convince yourself you're flying back over the coast to land. In between the towns are individual houses and cars that look a lot like stars. When you're flying towards a sparsely populated area you can only see a field of white dots with no horizon, and it's just like flying amongst the stars.

Mushy description over. Sadly, I didn't get any photos - I was busy flying, and loving it.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

New challenges

Last month has been really busy - I flew 16 times, and was scheduled another 17. Those extra times were cancelled due to the weather! The reason for being so busy is that my course has been pushing to reach an important milestone - we've just had the first official progress test, and having passed it we're done with single engine VFR training, and are moving on to IFR and multi-engine training.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


May was a month of two parts for me. At the beginning and end of the month, I flew intensely - but that'll be covered in my next post. In the middle of the month, my girlfriend visited me, and we went and did some of the touristy things I'd missed out before. In the six days we had to spend together we:

  • Did (most of) the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
  • Visited Taupo, and had a go on the Huka Falls Jet
  • Had a look at some of the steam vents in Rotorua and went to a Maori Hangi dinner
  • Sat in the spa at Te Aroha and laughed at the pitifully small Mokena Geyser
  • Pottered around Hamilton Gardens - I've covered this before though.

She also had a look at the Hobbiton movie set but I was busy flying being cancelled due to huge amounts of rain.

Obviously it was lovely to see my girlfriend after a couple of months - in many ways I'm very sad to not be heading back to see her before October or so!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Java - not the coffee kind

This article is quite techy, but probably quite useful for anyone with a Windows computer. Sorry about the techiness - read the "So, what to do about this" part at least.

I'm not a fan of Java, in any form. I hate coffee (it's too bitter for me) and the Java software environment on computers is full of security holes. If that wasn't enough, it's also a pain in the bum because it comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, so you have to deal with everything twice.

Java may be full of security holes, but at least it's supposed to auto-update. Unfortunately, it turns out that it only updates the 32-bit version. Auto-update for the 64-bit one doesn't exist.

I didn't spot this until today. This means I'd missed out on over two years of critical security fixes for Java. In the meantime, I was lucky not to get hit by any malware - a quick google suggests that sometimes you didn't even need to visit a webpage to get hit!

So, what to do about this:

  • Firstly, I found this tool which will uninstall out-of-date versions of Java. If it doesn't find one then there's no need for the next steps.
  • Second, I downloaded a new version of Java from the website. For me, the tool above removed the old 64-bit version of Java, so I downloaded and installed the new 64-bit one.
  • Thirdly, I'll have to keep updating Java by hand every so often in future.

In light of this, the old advice about not running Java in your web browser rings more true than ever. How you do this depends on your browser, but don't rely on the Java control panel tool - it will only show you one version of Java, so you could still be exposed by any others!

I'm absolutely appalled that Oracle don't have an auto-updater for 64-bit Java. The presence of the 32-bit auto-updater lulled me into believing my PC was secure, when in fact it was more than 2 years out of date. If I could get rid of Java forever I would. Sadly, some apps that I use require it, so I'm stuck with it for now, as are many other people.