By Margaret Sheard …
Chris and I had another visit to the University of Kyrenia Aviation Training Faculty. This time we were accompanied by John Graham who was interested in the Alsim Flight Simulator which is part of the University Aviation School program.
John is just starting to learn to fly light aircraft in the UK and he had asked Chris if there was a similar facility in North Cyprus. Unfortunately there isn’t at present, but having become aware of the Gyrocopter training at Geçitkale Airport with the TRNC Air Sports Federation, we directed him to this option and having visited and had a flight in the Gyrocopter he is now very keen to go ahead and start training to master the art of flying a Gyrocopter. Initially there are many aspects which have to be completed such as medical health checks and classroom tuition before actually starting Gyrocopter flight training. He said he is at the stage of life where he has thought about the things he would like to have done and decided it is never too late to achieve some of his dreams.
We met up with Captain Koray Yilmaz and after a coffee and chat in his office we made our way to the room where the flight simulator is housed. John, as I was, seemed to be overwhelmed at what he saw. John was asked to take the pilot’s seat and I was elected as co-pilot and our route chosen by Koray was Luton to Stansted.
John, having had a little flying experience seemed to be very much at home with the vast array of dials on the instrument panel and I must admit I felt much more relaxed as the various dual control gauges were now more familiar and I was understanding what each one showed. Koray told us that an aircraft can fly a large part of its route on auto-pilot although both the pilot and co-pilot should always be checking on flight speed, altitude etc. and watching for any other warning signs which may present themselves.
So we took off from Luton in a twin prop engine aircraft and then the exciting part came when Koray said we were to deal with some malfunctions. Oh dear, but we soon learned how to recognise landing gear failure, alternator failure and engine failure and various weather conditions including thick cloud. My part as co-pilot was to warn John of loss of altitude, engine speed and the like and I did manage to do this once or twice, so I was pleased that I seemed to be understanding the instrument panel a lot better than my first experience, when I had no idea what I was looking at or supposed to do. From my second experience in the simulator, my admiration for the work of pilots and co-pilots has soared, they really have a lot do to in the air to keep us safe travelling to our destinations.
For a bit of fun during the flight we did a couple of barrel rolls as well and then of course we had to make sure we were back on course again as we were still heading for Stansted. John did an excellent job as pilot and Koray was keeping an eye on our progress with prompts to do this and that. Approaching Stansted we were in thick cloud and so had to use radar vectored ILS glide slope landing system, but nevertheless we had a successful landing at Stansted and felt very proud of what we had achieved.
I’m not sure how John felt later in the evening, but I was extremely tired and could only put this down to the flight training we had undergone that afternoon. I cannot begin to think of how exhausting flights must be for pilots and Koray did say at one point the trainees have hundreds of hours of training and reading the instrument panel becomes second nature to them but it is still tiring for them even when they become seasoned pilots with much experience.
Unfortunately, there was not sufficient time for Chris to take over the controls but Koray has said he will now need to try his hand again for another training flight. I suspect Chris wants to break the embargo and fly from Stansted to Ercan – direct. It can be done, even if only on a flight simulator!