Once upon a time, a self-proclaimed Archaeology-Lifer got a job as a flight attendant. No one knows quite how it happened. Here's what happened next...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Airline Grooming Policies

When the show Pan Am came out (sadly it has now been cancelled) I noticed a flurry of comments and opinions on airline grooming standards.  Many seemed to find the way in which the flight attendants in the show were expected to adhere to strict policies surprising, and some thought that such a thing would never happen today.  Well... I can say that The Airline has never made me get one a scales, thank goodness (although I know other airlines that do include regular weighing schedules for their flight attendants).  However, while things are perhaps slightly more lenient these days, my grooming manual is still twelve pages long.  And I work for a relatively relaxed airline.

Out of interest, I thought I would share a few choice excerpts from the manual, including instructions on uniform and on appropriate self-conduct.

  • You shall be aware of the impact that you have on the public when wearing the company uniform.
  • You shall present an image of self-awareness and self-care with a professional look.
  • Personal variations or individual additions to the uniform are prohibited.
  • You shall carry a sewing kit at all times in order to ensure the uniform is in good repair.  (Personally I am not a huge fan of being instructed to carry a sewing kit.  While I see the sense in it, I feel like my next order would be to make a damned sandwich.)
  • The uniform shall appear freshly cleaned and pressed at all times.  (Fair enough, but then the material it's made of means that the second you sit down the whole thing creases to hell anyway.)
  • Good posture and carriage shall be maintained at all times.  (You try having good posture on the way back to the hotel after a red-eye then...)
  • Gum chewing in not acceptable at any time while in uniform. (The only bit that is bolded in the whole manual...which I find rather odd considering the following instruction prohibits consuming alcohol or going to a bar at any time in uniform...makes you wonder where the priorities lie....)
  • Re-application of makeup, or styling of hair, shall not be done in public view.  (Yes, this prohibits me from putting on lipstick in a public washroom...who the hell cares?)
  • When eating in uniform and in view of public, Flight Attendants shall be seated. (... seriously?)
  • Flight Attendants are required to conduct themselves in a mature and responsible manner in all dealings with the Company.  (This one actually makes me LOL)...
  • Conversation in the presence of customers shall give the impression that the Company is a professional and efficient organization of courteous and friendly employees.  \
  • Skirts may not be hemmed any shorter than 1" above the knee.
  • Hair shall be clean, neat, and dry and worn so as not to fall into your face ... Hair colouring should be well maintained (translation: No roots!)  ...trendy styles are unacceptable.  When tied back, hair shall not fall below the shoulder blades at the back (So if you've got super long hair, it's a nun-bun or the chop).
  • (Here comes my favourite... make up!)  The intent of cosmetics to improve one's appearance in the airline industry is to support an image of alertness and confidence which is important to passenger safety perceptions (There you have it, folks.  We are so concerned with your safety, even our MAKE UP is in on the game).  Moisturizer and foundation shall be applied prior to makeup application to help combat cabin dryness (The moisturizer, yes, but the foundation? Hells no). ....Heavy dark makeup is not permitted. (I used to be a huge fan of green eye make up on the red-eyes...because literally red eyes are not attractive and the green toned it down a bit.  Only with cool flight directors, though).
  • As a flight attendant, your hands may be seen by your passengers as often as your face.  Nails shall be well groomed and manicured at all times. (I got told off on a few occasions because I'm not really the get-a-manicure kind of girl.  Apparently having bare nails looks "cheap".  I had to bite my tongue not to reply that the lipstick on the accuser's teeth also looked cheap.)
  • Contact lenses are preferred to glasses... Sunglasses are not to be work in terminal buildings, hotels, on the aircraft or anywhere you may be in contact with passengers.  ...They may never be pushed up on top of the head.
  • ...all footwear must be approved by in-flight services.
  • Pearl or diamond stud earrings may be worn, provided they are are in good taste (How exactly does one find pearl or diamond studs that aren't in good taste?)
  • It is not permitted to wear a necklace at anytime (Absolutely NO ONE adheres to this rule).
AS FOR THE BOYS (yep, they have grooming rules too, although perhaps more relaxed than the ladies...)

  • Hair shall not fall forward and shall not conceal the top of your ears and appear unkempt.  The back of hair shall not touch the top of the collar, but not to be so short as to show scalp....Hair shall be kept clean, neat, dandruff free and conditioned regularly.  (The dandruff bit is another LOL).
  • Sideburns shall be no longer than mid-ear level...they shall be trimmed frequently to avoid the appearance of being bushy.  Moustaches shall not extend below the corner of the mouth.  The upper lip shall be visible and false, waxed or curled moustaches are not permitted.  Full beards are not permitted.
So there you have it, choice excerpts from the Grooming Standards of The Airline.  And I even cut out the boring bits!  And, so you have a visual, here's me in my uniform last year.  This was a skinnier time, so the uniform got a little loose.  Also, please ignore the fact that it's a lame "take a picture in the mirror" kind of shot. 


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Flight Attendant's ABCs - F (foxtrot) is for...

  • Ferry Flight - One of the most exciting things for an FA to see on the schedule.  A ferry flight is basically a flight which serves to position the airplane from one place to another...WITHOUT PASSENGERS.  It's like free money.  You get paid to sit on a plane for however long, and do whatever you feel like.  Some particularly mean Flight Directors (see below) may make you work during this time, cleaning the aircraft and such, but for the most part it is widely understood that this time can be reserved for sleeping, reading, or other general relaxation activities.  I personally enjoy to spend the whole time in the flight deck, picking up tidbits of information and storing them away for future use.
  • Final Approach - A time during which the aircraft is lined up with the runway and about to land.  It's a time during which everyone is supposed to be seated with their seat-belts secure.  Flight attendants included.  So don't get mad if you're ringing the call button and we don't magically materialize at your side.  And no, it's probably not the best time for you to get your bag out of the overhead bin, either. :)
  • Flight Director - (also known as In-Flight Director, Purser, etc).  The lead flight attendant on any flight.  Apparently someone has to be in charge, and since the Pilots are locked away in the flight deck, one flight attendant takes charge of the rest of the cabin crew.  Some are wonderful and friendly and have a decent work ethic, and so your flight will be relaxed with a good "team spirit".  Other Flight Directors....well let's just say that they are type who will write you up for wearing more than one ring on each hand or not having lipstick on.  In most cases I often find that the Flight Director sets the tone for the whole trip.
  • Flight Attendant - 
Next time... G (golf) is for... 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

In Which Hannah Gets Her License and Drops off the Face of the Earth...

Dear Readers,

My sincerest apologies.
I suck.

If you have ever had some sort of writing commitment such as writing a blog or keeping a diary, perhaps you will be familiar with the following sentiments.  Sometimes it feels there are too many things happening at far to quick of a pace to be able to even keep up with it yourself, let alone be able to write it down for other people to follow as well.  That has been precisely what the past six months have been like for me.  I have been so busy and had so many things happen that the idea of writing them all down is very daunting, and I procrastinate like any student and just leave it and leave it until there is too much to catch up on and I just panic.

If you read that strange journey into my mind and are still with me then I am very surprised, but grateful.

Well, I believe when I left off in July I was just working up towards my first cross-country flight (and was apparently in a slight feminist rage).  Well, plenty has happened since then, so let me try and give you the Coles Notes version.  The basic idea is that last semester was ridiculously intense, academically speaking, and with that and my job I literally didn't even have days off.  So with little time and lots to do, a lot of my personal hobbies fell by the wayside.

In July and August I did my first two cross country flights with My Instructor, and then moved on to do two more by myself.  No great catastrophe occurred.  I found my way competently enough from Ottawa to Kingston and back, and then a trip from Ottawa to Cornwall and then Brockville before heading back to Ottawa again.  At first, the idea of doing a cross country by myself was terrifying, but I sucked it up and got on with it, and somehow pulled it off.  Overall, the idea of cross-country flight proved to be a thrilling experience.  I got a chill of excitement the first time I left CYOW heading for Smiths Falls - it was a completely different feeling to be flying myself to another place, instead of the usual out to the practice area and back.

After the cross country flights, it was time to start polishing.  My Instructor and I spent a lot of time working in the circuit and out in the Practice Area trying to perfect my air-work and such.  Some time around the end of July I got the Transport Canada written test for my Private License done and passed, and then My Instructor and I did my first Pre-Flight Test.  In order to be recommended for a flight test, the Instructor must be confident that you would indeed be able to pass a flight test, and so in many cases you do the Pre-Flight Test.  The PFT is basically a mock-up of a flight test.  You do the entire process of the test, from ground briefing to finish, with the instructor, and they grade you as you would be graded in the real test.  My first PFT wasn't brilliant, but it wasn't too bad either.  There were a few items I needed to work on, and others I performed quite well.  So I went back to work on fixing things up a bit.

At one point half way through August My Instructor offered to book my flight test, but for some reason I really wasn't feeling confident yet, so I told him I wanted more time.  At the end of August I had two weeks off from school, which, in theory, I should have used to practice.  Instead, The Airline popped up with some flight attending for me, and I jumped at the chance to make some extra money (this flying stuff isn't cheap...).  I rounded off two weeks of pairings with a nasty bout of food poisoning, and all of a sudden it was September and the new term of classes was starting.

Once I was well enough to fly again, things got serious.  I did another pre-flight test, and then we finally booked the day.  I booked the flight test examiner for September 28th, and studied my face off.

It was time for THE FLIGHT TEST *duhn duhn DUHN!*

The morning arrived, and unfortunately the weather was not great.  Still I did the prep, and when the examiner showed up I ignored the sensation that someone was tap-dancing in my stomach as best I could and got on with it.  We did the entire ground briefing for the flight, and I performed pretty well.  I got stumped on one or two questions, but for the most part I had it down.  However, when we finished up and checked the weather we discovered that the wind had picked up and there was definite rain on the radar.  We called it off.

To be honest, this came as something of a relief.  Breaking it up felt simpler to me than having to do the whole ground briefing AND the flight portion on the same day.  That being said, this led to the most stressful ten days of my life.  I must have booked and had to call of the flight portion three times thanks to horrible luck with the weather.  I was absolutely nuts by the time I finally got a halfway decent day in order to be able to do it.

The test itself was a bit of a blur.  I remember pulling off a SPECTACULAR power-on stall, which was fabulous, but the I also remember forgetting how to count and determining that I had a ground-speed of approximately 45 knots despite a tailwind...so, uh yeah.  High points and low points basically....

Anyway, we landed for the final time and taxied back to the flying club.  I had a feeling that I hadn't passed.... I knew I hadn't outright failed or the examiner would have stopped the test, BUT I thought I might have failed an item or two and would have to repeat them.  So as I shut down the engine and packed away I mentally prepared myself for the worst.

The examiner started talking and I didn't take it in too well.  He said something about a few mistakes he wanted to discuss but overall I had passed.  I blinked and paused for a moment.
'I passed?' I asked, in disbelief.
'Yes,' he replied.
'Like, pass passed?'
'As in I-get-a-license-now passed?'
'Uh yeah!'
'Holy sh*t'.

The examiner packed up and headed inside before me, leaving me to gather my flight kit...or perhaps just giving me the privacy to have a complete meltdown from relief.  Honestly the feeling that came over me then is unlike anything I've felt so far.  Such a rush of relief and joy.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, so I did a fair bit of both.

I spent the rest of the day (during which I worked a full shift at work) alternately bouncing around with joy and telling everyone EVER that I had just passed my flight test, and having to excuse myself to have a meltdown in the ladies room.  It was THE MOST exhausting day.

Anyway, after that happened, I had to catch up on a lot of schoolwork that had taken the back-burner due to my flight test preparation.  For the rest of the fall I did a little flying - mostly working on my checkout to fly the Cessna 172, and a little bit of night flying.  Then exams came, and then Christmas, and on New Year's I took a work trip to Chicago for two weeks... and then all of a sudden I was back at school and back at work, and now it's the second week of February and I can't even say I have flown this year.  Epic fail.

Anyway, I have lots of other things to write about, but this was meant to be a bit of a catch up post, so at least you all know I am still alive and still working on my flying!  Better than that, I'm a license pilot now!  What a strange and wonderful thing to be able to say!  I certainly never would have predicted that in my future five years ago.  Hell, not even three!

Keep an eye out for more!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"but it wouldn't be nothing without a woman or a girl..."

What do you do if you're interested in something?
I'm a huge fan of doing random Google Image searches.  So while I was contemplating this post, I thought I'd do a search for "female pilot".

One of the first few pictures I found was this beauty:

This picture is now my desktop background, and I wish I could find a print of it and get it framed and stuck on my wall.  I then scrolled down the page a little way and found this gem...

Sigh.  This is the sort of thing that makes me want to bang my head against a wall.  I suppose it's no worse than all of the ridiculous female driver jokes, but it really fits what seems to be my theme of the week.  Females in aviation who aren't flight attendants are pretty thin on the ground and thin in the air.  In my class at the college there are two girls, and that's a big number, considering one of the previous classes had almost thirty students and only one girl.

The OFC has always been very welcoming to me, and for the most part it certainly seems like women are accepted.  The comfortable atmosphere and general friendliness is something I love most about my flying club.  I have endured a bit of good-natured teasing from my classmates which is, for the most part, no big deal.  However, I have also encountered some more surprising and backwards attitudes.  For example; on our first day of classes one other student told me that every time I fly I could stick a pink star on the tail of the plane, and then in the same conversation asked me to hem his pants.  Not too bad at all really, mostly just the kind of thing you roll your eyes at and laugh a bit.  Perhaps suggest it was time for the mama's boy to cut the apron strings.  But then I've also had few sincere "What, you train here?!" comments followed by considerable laughter, AND have been told by another student that he would be nice to me when he was the Captain and I was still the flight attendant.  

I had a discussion with another student a week or so on the subject of families.  The student was surprised to learn that I hope to have a family one day, but continue to be a pilot.  I'm not sure if he thought I intended this to be a hobby or not, but he seemed to think it a tall order to hope that I may one day find a man who would be happy for me to continue in my dream career, despite having the family I also hope for.  However when I turned the question on him, he didn't seem to find it at all strange that he should one day have a wife to stay at home with his children while he travels the world.

Many things are noticeably geared towards men.  Like our uniforms, for example.  I bought a selection of the "ladies" size of the shirts, and they STILL made me look like I was wearing a sack.  I had to have them taken in so I wouldn't look quite so ridiculous. 

Every so often, even the Instructors will drop in the odd boys club kind of joke.  Not two days ago we were learning about the VOR in ground school and the instructor presented us with a mnemonic.  "TICS".  It stands for "Tune in the VOR code, Identify the morse code, Check the VOR, and Select a heading.".
'Except I use test instead of check,' said the instructor.  "Haha, see what I did there?"
My response was to start singing the chorus of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World", which had been stuck in my head and seemed fitting.

Things like that aren't necessarily harmful, but they do represent outdated ideals.  I'm not one to go on a crazed feminist rant and denounce men as pigs who just want to keep women down.  I'm a girly girl.  I almost always have my nails painted, I like for my hair to look nice, and My Instructor has laughed at me a million times for forgetting to take out my earrings before putting on my headset.  (I learned my lesson when once in my pre-uniform days I had to ask him to keep my hoops in his pocket because I didn't have anywhere else to put them.  I've now restricted myself to studs on flying days).  

The gist of it is that I can't help but draw attention to my feminine side, and I don't see anything wrong with that.  If I were wimping out about the oil stain on my arm, or complaining about having to refuel my own aircraft then perhaps there would be a problem, but as long as I'm getting on with things, I don't see the issue in having painted nails and the like.  I suppose I could try and be more of a tomboy, cut my hair short and never wear make-up, but I wouldn't be happy, so there's no point.

As I said, I'm no ranting feminist.  I'd much prefer to distract them all with my feminine charms, and then surprise the hell out of them when I do well.  I still remember being told that females in aviation have to be "twice as good to be equal".  And I still have that burning desire to be three times as good to be better.  Eat your heart out, boys.

Now the burning question is, do I buy a pilot headset with pink accents and really add fuel to the fire?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Publisher's Note...

alwayslookingabove.com was originally set up with a wordpress page, but after several weeks I have still failed miserably to make it work the way I want.  So I convinced my friend to set me up with the same website name, but back here at blogger!!  SO that means I can update here and change my page the way I want to!  It also means that there shouldn't be any changes for you, dear readers!  Even if you type in the old site address (alwayslookingabove.blogspot.com) it will automatically redirect you here.  LOVE IT.

I'm going to repost my more recent entries here, and then get back to work on new material, now I'm not in a constant formatting war.  Apologies for the lack of entries lately, but hopefully now I'm back at blogger things will be sorted out!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gusting 29kts? Oh no problem...

Before I left my house at 8.30am this morning I had a quick look at the weater.  My immediate reaction was “HOLY CRAP IT’S HOT!”  I was so distracted by this alarming realisation that I didn’t even think to check the winds.  Had I thought to do so, I would have seen something that looked a little like this.

Right.  Challenging.  Interesting.
So we hit the circuit.  My Instructor asked if I wanted to head to Carp airport and do some circuit work there, but with the strong winds I felt more comfortable sticking close to home.  At least then if it proved to be beyond my capabilities it would be a lot easier to call it a day than if we were over at another aerodrome.
During the first circuit My Instructor remarked that we were the only plane working in the circuit for runway 22.  By the end of the second I knew why.  That was probably one of the most challenging flights I’ve had in a long time.  Possibly ever.  The winds were insane.  We had gusts of about 25kts for most of my landings (thankfully they were primarily headwinds), but towards the end they were making it up to 29kts.  Considering that if there is anything above 30kts we aren’t allowed to go flying at all, that was probably the craziest wind conditions I am likely to experience in a C-150.
I was quite surprised to find that I performed relatively well.  Not my best batch of landings, true, but given the conditions they could have been a lot worse.  There was even one landing that earned me an “Oh yeah!” from My Instructor, which made me glow with pride for about three seconds until I took off again and had to concentrate pretty hard to keep control of the plane.
I’d call that an improvement, and we’ll leave it at that for now.
Up next are some more trips out to the practice area by myself, and then my first cross country flight!  Exciting stuff.
I realised while flying this morning that I’m actually going to have to start thinking about flight test stuff.  Now I know all the basics.  After my cross countries there are really only one or two more things for me to lean for my Private License.  Now it’s all about practicing and perfecting the exercises and getting ready for that test.  Scary thought that one, but incredibly exciting!  I can’t imagine how nervous I’m going to be leading up to that flight, but I CAN imagine how wonderful it is going to be to be able to say that I am a licensed pilot.  And I REALLY can’t wait to be my epaulettes with two bars!
After my flight, I sat in the lounge with The Newfie for a while as he went over some of the math stuff I missed while I was in Calgary.  At one point I was trying to explain something to him that made sense, but in the process of doing so managed to completely prove myself wrong.  Oops?  At least it made sense after that!  No one ever said I was going to find math a breeze…

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Student Pilot

"Student Pilot".  That's what I am now classified as.  A Student Pilot.  Except that three weeks into the program it feels like all I am is a student.  There's nowhere near enough Piloting going on.  But there is a giant pile of homework and reading to contend with.

The weather this month has been awful. I have managed four lessons in three weeks, and that's it!  I'm on the verge of throwing a temper tantrum every time I check the METAR/TAF.  So much for spring in Ottawa.  I actually had to wear my uniform sweater for half of last week because it was too darned cold outside!

The small amount of flying I have managed to squeeze in has been pretty interesting so far.  The first lesson was just a bit of review.  It had been about two months since I flew last, so My Instructor just took me out to the practice area and we went through the basic exercises.  After that he let me do an hour of solo circuit work to let me buildup my confidence flying solo again, and then back out to the practice area for some work on precautionary and forced landings.  Apologies to any farmers whose fields I buzzed.

On Wednesday this week I finally got the go ahead to go out to the practice area by myself.  My first solo flight last summer was a really big deal - it was like the instructors were saying "OK we don't think you're going to kill yourself if we let you fly a plane alone, so go for it..."  But it also felt like there was a little bit tacked on the end there saying "...but we don't trust you that much yet, so stay right where we can see you, young lady."  Getting signed off to fly to the practice area (a good ten to fifteen minute flight away) felt like the training wheels were finally being removed!

I felt pretty nervous leading up to the lesson.  I'm not entirely sure why - I am confident in most of the exercises, and have a pretty good idea of what to do in case of an emergency.  I'm comfortable with radio communications involved, and in working the circuit.  Nothing really to be terribly nervous about there - it was probably just the whole "what-if" going around in my head.  What if I do forget something and My Instructor isn't there to remind me?

After a quick walk around of my plane for the day I had a short briefing with My Instructor, and received an "Off you go then", so off I went!  I lost most of my nerves once I was in the air.  Working in the Practice Area alone wasn't at all bad.  I picked my area to work in, announced my intentions on the radio, and got to it.

I found it strange to be giving myself directions.  Usually My Instructor tells me to do a stall or a steep turn or whatever else he wants, and I do it.  Now I had to decide what I would work on by myself.  I chose to start small, so I put myself in slow flight for a little while, and then recovered.  Not bad.  Then I figured I'd have a go at power-off stalls.  I did a lookout to make sure no other aircraft were nearby, did a cockpit check, and began to reduce my power slowly, while simultaneously pulling the nose up to keep my altitude.  It worked nicely.  I didn't lose any height, and I waited to hear the stall horn sound.  It should have gone off around 50kts or so, but by the time I reached 40kts in silence I figured something wasn't quite right, and recovered.  I tried again, and once more made it to 40kts without hearing anything.  Feeling spooked, I recovered again and decided to call it a day on stalls.  I thought perhaps the stall speed was a lot lower because of the absence of 160lb of flight instructor in the plane next to me, but it turned out that this particular plane just doesn't like to sound it's stall horn, which is slightly worrying.  It was probably a good job I gave it a rest, in hindsight.

I moved on to work on a few steep turns, which was pretty fun, although I was frustrated to find I still lose about 150ft of altitude during the maneuver, so I am going to have to work on that.  After about 40 minutes out there I figured that was enough of my newfound freedom for the day, and headed back into Ottawa, requesting a few circuits before calling it a day.  It definitely felt good to be flying solo, although I wasn't pleased to discover that I have apparently lost the knack of a good landing.  I can land safely, and it's not terrible, but the landings are quite bumpy and lack grace so I need to work on that again.  My primary goal is not to cringe when I imagine which of my friends are in the club house watching me do circuits!!

Still, hopefully once the weather improves I can start flying more and start polishing up my skills.  The next thing on my training schedule is work on cross-country flights. This is rather exciting, and I'm looking forward to getting into some real flight planning.

Aside from the flying, classes are going rather well.  There is a lot of material to learn, and a lot of homework to be done, but I find it nice to have something productive to do with my brain again.  I didn't realise it but I actually don't mind doing schoolwork.  I had been quite nervous about the math class, but I am surprised to find that I haven't had much difficulty yet.  We are mostly reviewing things that I learned in high-school.  It is just a matter of convincing my brain to remember them.  However sometimes the professor will still go off on a little tangent and I have to look at The Newfie sitting next to me and ask "Is he still speaking English?"

Some things never change I suppose.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Well folks...back in January I came to the realisation that this whole training to be a pilot privately wasn't working out for me...

So I applied to full time education and am now training to be a commercial pilot through Algonquin College!  Surprise!

A classmate has recently set me up with my very own webpage, so I'm picking up my darling blog and sticking it there instead!  I really want it to grow and become something I can be proud of, and I feel like having my own page for this will help.

SO if you wouldn't mind terribly, please mosey on over to http://www.alwayslookingabove.com

It's still very rough, and I will be spending a lot of time tweaking it over the next week or so to get it just right. At the moment it appears basic, but I've imported all of my old content to it, and have also written a new post.  Enjoy!

Much love!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

More Changes

Well how was your winter?  For me the winter was, to put it delicately, a huge pain in the ass.  At least with regards to my pilot training anyway.  The weather sucked, which in itself made flying difficult - but then I had a number of small and not so small setbacks that meant that from November up until March I barely managed to scrape ten hours in total.  Not good.

Eventually a decision had to be made.  Unfortunately, obtain Pilot's licenses is extremely difficult, not to mention expensive!  But giving up was not even a remote option for me, so I eventually came to the conclusion that if I am going to follow this dream I needed to do it properly.  That's why in January I applied to Algonquin College for the Aviation Management program.  Now it's called "aviation management", but what it really does is train you up as a commercial pilot, and provides you with the starter kit to getting a job.  All accomplished in eighteen months! Sounds good to me!  To make it even more appealing, I was able to continue flying at The Ottawa Flying Club, and even stay with My Instructor.

Initially I applied to and was accepted to the September program, but after speaking to the program's coordinator I was convinced to apply for the May program.  I had intended to work my butt off all summer and then start in the fall, but eventually I figured out that I might as well just do it.  I got my acceptance, got my student loans in line and was ready to go.

Term started May 9th, and so far I am having a blast.  It's a pretty daunting thing - being a full time student again.  But I am sure I will manage.  My classes are pretty interesting, and a lot of them are specifically aviation based.  For those that aren't (English and Math for example), our professors are doing a good job of trying to incorporate aviation into the material, which is much appreciated.  In addition to interesting classes, it's a delight to be around a group of like-minded individuals, and naturally I adore the fact that I get to fly more than once a week - indeed it is expected of me!

I'm still keeping my job at the airport, although I have reduced the hours to part-time on the weekends, and I will take some flights with The Airline if I can at all manage it.  I've been told by several of my professors already  that working while I am in school is not a good idea, but it's not going to make a difference.  When I consider how much this program is going to cost there is no way I can justify giving up my job.  And to be honest, although I understand the workload involved in this program I don't think I will have any difficulty finding the time I need to do my work.  I've only been in the program for a week and a half and already I feel as though I have had more down time than I ever did working full time.  That time can easily be put to good use for studying.

Giving up full-time work was a huge challenge for me.  I didn't realise it, but since I finished university two years ago I have been hugely motivated by the goal of full time work (and then some...in March I worked 23 days in a row without a day off!).  I found that in the week prior to the start of term I was extremely nervous and jittery.  Initially I chalked it up to nerves about the program, but when I really considered this I discovered it wasn't the case at all.  I'm not completely new to training, and I've done full time education in the past.  Nothing there could really intimidate me.  After some time spent thinking on the subject, I realised that what was really throwing me for a loop was the idea of going from full-time employee to part-time employee.  This was an extremely distressing thought for me, and I am quite sure that if it were at all possible I would be attempting to cling to my full-time status AND do school.  But my flying and class schedule simply will not permit it, so part-time hours it is, and a life of full time studies and austerity for me for the next eighteen months.

Really though, if it means I get to fly three times a week, who cares if I don't get to buy that colour of nail polish I really want, or can't buy that shirt I saw in my favourite shop?  None of those things can truly compare to how it will feel when I am a licensed pilot.

Now obviously I didn't do much updating over the winter.  This was due, at least in part, to a severe lack of flying to write about.  However there are a few snippets that I will attempt to share with you soon in order to get you caught up.  I did a lot of flying with The Airline, so there are plenty of stories to tell!  But now that I am in the Algonguin program I should have lots to write about so expect more frequent updates.  I am even going to try and put myself on some sort of schedule so that you know when to expect updates from me.

All this is still to come, but for the time being I have math homework to do.  Now there's something I didn't think I'd ever be saying again after high school!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Flight Attendant's ABCs - E (echo) is For...

  •  Emergency Exit Row - Always a matter of some contention.  The EE rows are generally reserved for what FAs call “ABPs”, or “Able Bodied Passengers”.  We don’t mean it to be discriminatory.  All the bodies and organizations that organize aviation regulations around the world enforce the rule that the passengers who sit in EE rows must be able to open the exit and not hinder evacuation in the event of an emergency.  So no, it's not particularly reasonable for you to ask for the extra room for your kids to play around in.  And if you're hobbling around on a broken leg with crutches, you probably aren't going to be the swiftest at getting the emergency exit open now, are you?  It’s not the FA’s fault you can’t sit there, so don’t hate.  It’s a matter of safety, and that's really,  really not a cop out.
  • Engine - What’s the difference between a jet engine and a flight attendant?  The engine stops whining at the gate.
  • Entertainment - In flight entertainment - fantastic on Air Canada and other such large carriers.  Not so good on other airlines.  Non-existent on charter companies, unless you count listening to the Flight Attendants gossiping in the galley.  But then, you pay peanuts for a week-long, all-inclusive Caribbean Vacation…do you really expect to be flown down on a shiny, brand new, fully tricked out A380 instead of a B737 that’s older than you are?  Bring an iPod, or even one of those old-fashioned book things. 
  • Engineer -  Officially, the engineer is “an enlisted man or NCO who monitors and maintains aircraft operation in-flight and otherwise aids the air crew.” (Source)  Unofficially the engineer is either the best person in the world who will fix your mutinous coffee maker four times during the flight, or he’s a jerk who sits in the back row reading/listening to music/playing on his nintendo and laughs at you when you have a flood in the galley, yet still expects to be fed, watered, and otherwise treated like a passenger.