The exciting first days of an Australian pilot Cadetship.

With initial applications submitted in May last year, followed by almost six months of testing, interviews and a good two months of waiting for our start date, the Virgin Australia Pilot Cadetship for 2019 – Group VA5 – has finally begun.

The program commenced with three days of induction in Brisbane last week, where we were allocated our mentors, toured around the business and taken for uniform fittings. We then had a few days to say our goodbye’s to our friends and family and pack everything up before being shipped away to Adelaide on the 6.15am flight (inducing a horrible 3.30am wake up – I guess it’s time to start getting used to those).

Cadet pilots with the Boeing 737-800 at Brisbane Airport.
Inez, Abby and I with a Boeing 737-800 engine at our Jump On Board induction day in Brisbane.

First impressions of Adelaide are: it’s freaking hot! The weather gods seem to have put on a welcome heat wave for our arrival. On the half an hour drive from the main airport to the General Aviation airport, our taxi driver took us through the scorched streets of town where the grass was more like straw and you could see heat waves rolling on the bitumen. The temperature this week has varied between 36-44 degrees with a nice hot breeze accompanying it, making us feel like we’ve been slow roasted in an oven. We all have to feel sorry for the Cobham Cadets though – their air conditioning broke this morning.

The course structure has seven weeks’ worth of Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) theory, followed by a block of flying, another five weeks of CPL theory and another block of flying. This will all wrap up by the end of August culminating in a CPL flight test. We then do a Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating, all seven Airline Transport Pilot Licence exams and a Multi-Crew Coordination course. A graduation date has already been set for the end of January next year (OMG)!

Sunrise at 10,000ft leaving Brisbane Airport in January
The view at 10,000ft from our flight on Sunday.

Content wise, I was kind of expecting the first few days to be a nice simple introduction into BAK and general systems; all stuff that we have touched on beforehand. But we’ve been thrown head first into theory. We spent one hour revisiting the basic axis of movement before smashing through hydraulic systems, accumulators, electromagnetic induction and Faraday’s law. The easy stuff didn’t last long unfortunately and the dates for our first three CPL exams have already been set.

To assist with our studying, we have been provided with an iPad that is pre-loaded with text books, regulations and manuals, PowerPoint slides and practise exams. We were provided with stationary packs with everything we might need in it, and a student resource centre that has anything else available.

Being a part of a great Cadetship team is making everything so much easier. There are eight of us in VA5, and by some stroke of luck, seven of us are from Griffith, so I know almost everyone already. Aside from throwing constant chat, we all seem to be getting along super well (so far) are already supporting each other and working together.

Cadet pilots at Parafield Airport
Had to get a cliche Parafield Airport photo on the first day!

We have heard a story from previous cadets about the “Parafield 9”, where every fresh student apparently puts on 9kgs on moving here and getting a little too comfortable with the amazing food at the mess. We have made this pact between ourselves to exercise often to determinedly try and avoid this dreaded weight gain. The student accommodation has a fully air-conditioned gym we have been using so far and there is a really cool running track that extends along the perimeter of the airfield. Bec and myself did half of it the other day and plan to work up to the 10km – she can do that already but I definitely have a bit of time to go until I’m ready. I’ll have to keep you updated on how long this exercise idea really hangs around for.

On the whole, it has been a great beginning to the Cadetship. The party has well and truly started and I’m keen to get moving on everything. Virgin Australia have made us feel like we are already part of the airline family and together we will get through the year…or at least the next couple of weeks until I check in again on the blog.

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