“Pull back,” said my Flight instructor. It was the best feeling taking off, 4 thousand feet into the sky. I cannot describe what I was feeling back then.
About three months ago, I was growing bored of Mombasa’s heat and began searching for summer camps and came across the “British Aviation Experience” organized by Brookfield Aviation based in the United Kingdom. I told my parents, we talked to them and the next thing I knew I had the flight ticket in my hand. I was really excited for this camp because it would be my first time flying and the 10 days I signed up for would enable me to decide whether I want to actually become a pilot or not.
The camp started on 16th July and ended on 27th July. Those 12 days were the best of my life. There were 12 other teenagers from Greece, China, Gibraltar, Brussels, Poland, Germany, UK, India, USA, Hong Kong and I was very proud to be representing Kenya. The first afternoon was quite awkward but that same evening- we became very close. We connected through our love of aviation and common interest- wanting to become pilots.
This camp entailed a lot of courses. We had flight training which consisted of 3x1 hour flight lessons in a light aircraft (Piper A28). We also had a half an hour aerobatic flying lesson, and a half an hour helicopter lesson. Prior to these lessons we received a small briefing on ground school which consisted of Air Law, Navigation and Communications. Furthermore, we got a Tour of Air Traffic Control Tower, Helicopter Maintenance Facilities and Business Jet Operators.
Since we were based at Oxford Airport, we had the opportunity to see the Royal Air Force and United States Air Force bases (RAF Brize Norton, Upper Heyford & Benson), as well as Blenheim Palace (residence of the Dukes of Marlborough) ALL from 2000 feet high!
Another part of the course was meetings with Airlines & Tours of Headquarters - British Airways & Sky Team. This entailed Safety & Emergency Procedures (SEP) Training at British Airways, and a visit to the British Airways Heritage Centre (at their HQ). Here we practiced emergency procedures after crash landing and controlling passengers during this. We trained as cabin crew for a day. On another day, we also got to visit the RAF Hendon Museum and the Battle of Britain Bunker.
The visit to British Airways HQ.
On other days, we went to the Emirates Full Motion Simulators where we flew both the A-380 & B-777 and had another simulator training session in Coventry with FSM. The next day we trained with British Ex- Military where they taught us how to survive in the wild just in case our plane crash lands and how to call for help, what the different international signals are for help, how to navigate your position and time using your hands & the help of the sun and much more.
At one point we also had a chance to have a self-defense training workshop by a Martial Arts- Black Belt trained employee of Brookfield Aviation and had a chance to visit an Aircraft Maintenance & Disposal Facility.
During the course of my training, there were two challenges I faced. One was getting used to the A-380 simulator. Since I had flown before a plane with a yoke, flying the B-777 was much easier unlike the A-380 where they used a joystick. I overcame this challenge by being open-minded and I practiced twice as hard to learn how to control it, and successfully landed 2 trials after. The second challenge was getting used to the -2 G force. This was the toughest of them all since I had never flown upside down or done loops and rotations mid-air. I didn’t really overcome this but being a risk taker, I requested my instructor to do loops repeatedly, especially because I might not get another chance to experience it again. It was very exhilarating.
Everything worked well including meeting different people from different backgrounds. I was caring and open-minded and engaged with my colleagues. This experience has enabled me to become a more ethical decision-maker, who is also very tolerant, pluralistic, hardworking and a lot of fun.
The British Aviation Experience will be back again Summer 2020. For details see this website:https://www.brookfieldav.com/british-aviation-experience