Days of days.
As I’m based in Berlin Tegel (TXL) and my first flight is from Schoenfeld (SXF), my company booked me a hotel close to SXF. The day before I could feel the stress settle in a bit, but it was not too much, just the positive stress! I was looking forward to finally fly on the line!
This is it! We are the 14th of July, French National day; it’s a sign. I’ll be flying for the first time 156 passengers (A319).
Schedule of the day; 4 sectors out of SXF, going to Naples and back then Vienna and back to Berlin. Long day, report at 1005z and scheduled to finish at 2040z. As it is my first day, I arrived one hour earlier in order to prepare everything at my rhythm and be fully ready. We have to check-in then print our flight plan; 4 sectors are around 100-140 pages.
I met the crew, both German, the Captain is an ex-military from Eastern Germany and the safety pilot is a former Air Berlin. Both of them are really experienced guys. The first words of the Captain were: “It’s your first day on the line, so no stress, relax, enjoy and we will help you for anything.”
He said that it will be way faster and different than what we’ve learned in the sim (and he was right!).
So after having briefed the day we met the cabin crew and briefed them. Then straight to the aircraft. The captain will do the first and last sector and I will do the second and third.
I sat down on the right-hand seat and I was in business! Paperwork, prepare the cockpit, checklist, radio; it was for real! Radio was quite difficult to be honest, it’s very quick, long, so many frequencies change and a new phraseology. It will come with time for sure!
We took-off and landed 2 hours later in Naples. Italian ATC made me smile, not in a bad way but hearing this accent was « joy » to my ears compared to German or Austrian; it’s like if I was from home (I am from Nice). ATC that kept changing the runway and got my Captain angry but at least it was sunny. The approach was nice, we arrived over the Adriatic Sea and I could see a lot of small islands it was so beautiful; loved it!
Next flight back to Berlin, I was at the controls. First time taxiing the aircraft, trying to be as smooth as possible for the passengers. We are cleared to take-off RW06 so I set the thrust, then the Captain called ‘V1, rotate’ and off we go! My rotation rate was a bit too fast, but it was still ok. I will have to slow it down on the next one. Cruise was long nothing special to say about it, radio, CPDLC and lunch! Approaching SXF we got some shortcuts, so we were a bit high and the captain explained me the different techniques how to manage the descent and get back on the vertical profile. We were vectored in for an ILS 25R, so we configured the aircraft and I was number one, on final 25R. I was descending and suddenly I realised; landing is my favourite part of aviation and now it was about to be my first ever landing with 156 passengers at the back. My last 5 years of training and exams just popped up in my head for 3 seconds. After this small ‘emotional’ moment it was time to land this 60T aircraft and of course you don’t want to do bad on your first landing. I maintained the glide slope and did a superb landing, very smooth! They both congratulated me, I had the feeling of achievement. I was so happy of my first landing but I had to stay focus, slow down and taxi the aircraft but my smile was stuck on my face and in my head I was like “YES”!!!
Then after a quick turnaround, heading to Vienna; my rotation rate was better but still a bit too fast. Arriving in Vienna I was surprised by the quantity of traffic over there. It was crazy, the controller didn’t have time to breathe! Anyway, Vienna has a big airport with some heavy aircraft (747, 380 etc.). Last landing of the day for me, I wanted to do as good as before; unfortunately, it was not as smooth as the first one but it was still good so I was still happy about it.
For the last sector the captain will bring us back to Berlin during the night. I was seating at the first row for a beautiful sunset in this pinky sky. It was my first sunset from this altitude or should I say flight level. Then the night arrived and it was again a new show for me with the moon illuminating the clouds and the sky, I was still able to see everything even though it was dark.
We landed back in Berlin, did a small debrief and my captain told me what items I have to study for tomorrow. I have to read about the auto land, emergency equipment and security search. These are items that must be checked during my line training.
It was a long first day of 12 hours but with the excitement, time flew by and I loved it!