All the post made during the selection phases, to keep you informed of my progress and (hopefully positive) results.

My first week

So I’ve already been in SD for a week now. Time has been flying by and I’ve already lost all sense of what day of the week it is. Since weekends are just as much school days any other day and lessons are scheduled throughout the day, it does take some getting used to. But in aviation everything goes on 24/7/365, so it’s good to get used to it as soon as possible.

So let me get you up to speed, since the last time I posted was over a week ago, before my first day of school.

On monday we had our first day of introduction and it started of with Sandy, who’s responsible for housing at SAA, coming over to see if everything was OK with our appartement. After that we were picked up by the bus driver and taken to the SAA facilities at Gillespie Field. There we had a long day of be introduced to a lot of instructors and other people responsible for our training at SAA, as well as getting an overview of what our training will look like, by the JAA Chief instructor. On Tuesday we went to the bank were I opened an American checking account and got more information on SAA and we got most of our books and  a lot of other stuff we’ll be needing here: manuals for the planes we’ll be flying, charts and related instruments, all the stuff we need to do preflight checks and a headset.

After that we had to go to a nearby doctor and get our class 2 FAA medical certificate and a student pilot license. That was a piece of cake, after having undergone a class 1 medical evaluation for the JAA back home. So no trouble there. Afterwards we got a “tour” of SD, which consisted of driving back to El Cajon. But I’m sure we’ll get to see San Diego before we leave. Wednesday was a short day, which was nice. Because I was still kind of jetlagged then and having the rest of the day of gave the opportunity to get a little shut eye. As we were to start our first classes the next day, we did have some preperation to do. As of then we’ve been pretty much spending our days learning and being in class.

Last Saturday we also had to do some moving. Judith (a Belgian girl), who lived a few appartements down, changed rooms with Anessa (the Taiwanese girl in our apartment). So now we’re an all Dutch speaking apartment, which makes communicating a lot easier!

That’s me and my instructor getting ready for my first flight in N701SP

Yesterday I also had my first flight! That was really great. There was a lot of fog at first, so I was really dreading the fact that flying would not be possible. Luckily the fog lifted just in time for take-off! I spend about an hour in the air with my instructor, who let me do most of the flying. This was just an introductory flight, to let me get a feel of the plane and of flying a Cessna 172. It was a whole lot of fun! I can’t wait to get up again. Now I have to wait for the TSA to approve me for flight training, so I can do some more flying!

I’m off to the airfield for some more classes, so until next time and byebye for now.

Start your engines!


Last week I got a call from EPST, telling me my class is starting in less than a month.

On December 5th I will be starting the distance learning I need to complete before I (am allowed to) go to San Diego. Of course I still need te be medically cleared for flight, I need to get the loan signed and I need to sign a contract with EPST. The loan and the contract will be signed this week, and next week I will be going to Schiphol-Oost for my Medical. If all goes well I will be in San Diego for flight school on Januari 16th!

So now it all comes down to my medical… Keep your fingers crossed!

EPST, check! Weight, ….

feesttoeterToday I recieved some very exciting news!

I passed the selection at EPST and am now eligible to start flight school via their First-Officer Program! O Yeah!!!


They did have one condition, which will keep me busy the next few months. My weight has to come down to a BMI of 25. So my task for now: losing weight.

As soon as I get my weight up (or rather down) to par, I have to get my medical and if all’s well with my health, I will be starting school ASAP!

So, it’s time to get cracking with the exercising and get that belly flat again!

Hold short of phase 4.

Yesterday was the third and final phase of selection at EPST. After an early wake-up, I took my time to get ready. On my way to EPST I encoutered the first familiar faces from the day before. Today we would be with 8, and 2 assessors. Six of the other seven I had already met, but the last guy was also a great guy.

Before we started I heard Tolga had to redo phase 2 as well, making me the only survivor of the morning session of phase 2. Both candidates in the afternoon session did make it.

But on to phase 3: We had to do 2 group assignments today. First we were told a story about how we were sailing in the Indian Sea and we got in to a storm. We had a piece of paper detailing the event and 2 lists, one with what to do, the other with stuff we had. We had to prioritize both lists for our selfs and afterwards we had to discuss our choices in groups of 4. Within this group we had to come to a consensus on which item needed to go where on the list.

The second group assignment, in a new group, was building a bridge 3 legal papers wide and 1 legal paper high. It had to be able to support a glass of water (or a highly explosive and corrosive substance) and we could only use the blocks and sticks provided. Ours stayed up, although none of us could grasp why. It was on the point of breaking down.

Afterwards there was a math test, which didn’t go that well. I failed to manage my time correctly, resulting in some unanswered problems. I hope this doesn’t kill me…

During lunch we had to decide an order in which the interviews with both the assersors would take place. We decided to keep it fair and devide ourselfs by travel time. I therefore was last and had to wait about 2,5 hours, together with Tolga until we were asked in for the interview.

After the interview, the selection was done. Tolga was already waiting for me and we headed back to the train. And now all I can do is wait, wait for the phone to ring (or not)… So keep your fingers crossed!

Phase 2, check!

Well then, today I had to get up early because I had to be at EPST at 08:15h. Never knowing what the NS does, I made sure I left in time and arrived 30 minutes early. Two other candidates were already there, waiting. Within no time we started talking and the other 2 candidates came in as well. One of the candidates had already passed phase 3, but had to do a re-examination on phase 2, so he won’t be there tomorrow.

After a multiple choice test on the booklet we had to learn, we got a briefing on what we were going to be doing today. Today was going to be 40 minutes of fixed base flight simulator flying in a 737-800 flight sim. We needed to perform climbs, decents, banks, steep banks and a combination, while being asked questions and doing math problems.

After the briefing Stefan was up first, since he had to do the re-examination. He succeeded this time, so congrats to him!

Meanwhile, Tolga, Timothy, Jelle and I had to determine the order in which we were going in. Since Timothy and Jelle had a longer trip to go, we concluded they should get the first 2 slots and Tolga and I took the last 2. Fate (a coin) decided Timothy first, then Jelle, then me and finally Tolga.

Timothy unfortunately didn’t make it, he has to do a resit and buy some training time to prepare. Jelle got out after only 5 minutes, it turned out the simulator had broken down. So we had to wait, and wait some more until Jelle could get into another simulator. Meanwhile the afternoon group started coming in. Unfortunately Jelle didn’t make it either, he also has to do a resit.

After Jelle it was my turn. I got in to the simulator and is was incredibly cool, an exact replica of the flight deck on a 737-800 and I was going to be flying it. The flying was pretty hard, the controls take a lot of effort to operate and is nothing like flying MS Flight Sim on your PC, but it was fun! I only lost control of the plane once. Even though I didn’t crash it, I lost focus for a few moments and the instructor immediately caught on to it…. But, after 40 minutes (which went by in 5), I had to go and wait for my results…

One of the instructors came and  set my mind at ease, he told me I had passed. The comments I got on my performance were that I had to be more methodical in instrument flying, I was flying too impulsively. This on the other hand did mean that I have a natural ability to fly. I also had to listen to the instructor better at times. But I definitely showed potential and (perhaps) most importantly I was trainable. “The impulsive flying won’t be a problem, we have two years to beat that out of you” , my instructor concluded the debriefing.

On to phase 3 tomorrow! Where I will also find out if Tolga made it or not. I hope he did!

Passed Phase 1!

Today I went to EPST for phase 1 of the selection. The first phase consists of 4 tests. Two of these tests determine whether you pass or fail, the other two are for future reference during the selection.

First of all there was the COMPASS (COMputerized Pilot Aptitude and Screening System), which is made up of 6 sub tests, each earning you between 1 and 7 points. These tests are as follows:

Control: With a joystick you need to keep a needle from moving up and down,keeping it on a fixed point or correcting the needle to get back to that fixed point.. At the same time you need to use pedals to keep a ball from moving left and right, thus keeping it at a fixed point, or correcting the ball when it does move.

Slalom: With the same joystick used in the “Control” test, you need to move a blue triangle between red and green squares, just like and old-school driving game where you need to keep a car on the road.

Memory: The screen shows 1-3 of 4 data relevent to flying (altitude, speed, heading and radiofrequency) and you get a couple of seconds to memorize the data. Directly afterwards you need to fill in the data you have just memorized.

– Math: 24 math problems are presented and you need to solve them within a given amount of time.

Orientation: You get a screen with a grid on it. On this grid several planes are represented by a blue plane-like stick figure and an arrow. Three plane instruments are displayed above the grid and you need to figure out what plane goes with the instruments on the screen. You need to get as many planes right as you can, within a certain amount of time.

Taskmanager: While entering data in to a simulating auto pilot, you need to watch for red lights lighting up and turning them of by pressing the corresponding key on your keyboard.

Like I mentioned before: each test gives a maximum of 7 points, leading tot a maximum total of 42 point. I scored as follows:

– Control: 4
– Slalom: 4
– Memory: 6
– Math: 6
– Orientation: 7
– Taskmanager: 7

So my total was 34 point, more than enough to pass this part of phase 1. The lady who talked me through the results said everything above 30 was to be consired really good and especially the 7 point for Orientation was excellent.

Part two of phase 1 was a Tech test, to see whether my technical aptitude was up to par. I had to answer 15 different questions on a couple of  physics subjects. Only 1 of those questions came up wrong. So apparently my knowledge of physics hasn’t complete disappeared in the 5 years since I was last in a physics classroom.

After a short break it was time for part 3: a psychological test, the only test in Dutch. This test meant choosing between two statements displayed on the screen, picking the one that suited me best. A total of 225 pairs of statements were presented, most of them showing up several times, but never the same couple.

Finally there was the English test. This test checks your understanding of English grammar and texts, as wel as testing your ability to listen to English conversations and being able to answer questions about those questions.

This is when the waiting starts, while the results of the tests were entered into a computer and the results were calculated, I passed the time drinking some coffee and reading aviation magazines. So no real punishment there, except for the waiting itself.
But, after about ten minutes, the results were in and now I’m on to phase 2!

On May the 10th I have to return to do 2 sessions in a fixed-base 737-NG simulator! 😀
If all goes well, the day after will be a long one, the day of phase 3. A day filled with group exersices, some more mathematical tests and an interview with the selection team.

But until then I’ve got my work cut out for me. I need to fill in a couple of forms and write an two page essay on why I should be allowed to start flight training at EPST. Beside that, I need to memorize 18 pages of instructions, in order to be allowed into the simulator on the 10th of May.

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