Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

commander dad and trannie son

Extract from my Book

Be an Aviator Not a Pilot
Shekhar Gupta
Capt Ankisha Awasthi

» Synopsis

Be an Aviator Not a Pilot is a story of Pilots in Aviation who are unable to cope.

This is not a book to teach you how to get into an Aviation School or even how to live like a Pilot. In fact, it describes how one can become a Successfull Aviator not just an Airplane Driver [ So called Pilot ] with very small changes in life.

Also Why abroad trained Pilots are better Aviator and Why FAA, CASA, CAAP, CAA are better civil Aviation Authority then DGCA. 

“Some people work for money, some people work for their livelihood.
But son the happiest is the one who work for themselves, who enjoy their work”. These words from my father made me more firm on my decision.
Yes, I wanted to be a Pilot like my father. I want to lead my life the way he does. How he stand tall in his uniform, takes responsibility of hundreds of soul in each flight followed by the marvellous landings. His office- the attractive cockpit, with those mysterious lights and gadgets. The attitude with which my father goes to his plane with that sliding bag. The runway lights, the airhostesses, the company car, everything surrounding my father makes me more bend towards this option.
Finally I declared it to my parents that I have chosen my field, and like father I too want to become a Commercial Pilot.
They gave mixed reaction. Mom looks glad and excited but my father, his face turned little serious. I wondered is he not happy or do he doubt my ability.
I asked “Dad, what you feel about my decision”.
He said-“Son I am happy with it, you took a mature decision, but let me clear you, flying plane is a serious business. It demands precision, responsibility, patience; you have to be active and alert, always! “
“Dad, I will take care. I am ready for the challenge” I responded.
And there on started everything. I was enrolled in the flying school in my city.
I was very confident about my performance, as my father is a flight commander. I have it in my blood!
With basic knowledge of wings, avionics, twisted propeller, engines through my dad, I knew I will excel here.
My instructor was pretty impressed in our first flight, he found me quite familiar with the instruments and the manuvers. Flying went well till one fine day, when we had rough weather. There were high cross winds and heavy turbulence. It became impossible for me to control that flight; I was struggling rather fighting with the winds to keep my plane stable. It seemed unattainable because of unavoidable conditions prevailing such as updrafts, downdrafts, crosswinds, turbulence. The plane was off the course most of the time. I was exhausted
I didn’t want to try more. Seeing me inactive my instructor went ballistic.
He scolded me loud, I tried hard again to control, I was little better this time, but again a sudden gust took me far off the course. Instrument needles kept dancing on their wish. We landed back.
My instructor on ground scolded me saying “You have to stay ahead of the plane, we can’t afford to let plane go off course and then correct. Correct it as soon as you feel it’s going off”. I want you to work harder from now.”
I quietly nodded my head and left the room. Clouds of disappointment took over me.
I wondered, I have aviators blood, how was I not able to control that plane.
Discouraged, I left for home.
While driving back I kept on thinking why I could not make it, inspite being son of such a great pilot. My father never has such poor flight performance then how could I have.
I narrated it all to him and said I don’t want this career option I m not enjoying it now. It’s impossible to control the plane.
My father looking in my eyes, said-“Son, This is not how we lead life. Our mind is not really that happy by comfort as it is by growing. Every flight will give you a lesson and you have to grow with it. See it as you life, in life we have to make goals. So in flight we have to decide our destination. You need a flightplan that you file before you begin and that you see to guide you on your journey. Similarly in life we have to plan out things for future to make them work.
And what you believe  , I don’t have bad conditions in flight ,no dear we too experience turbulence ,storms lightning ,and the earth’s magnetic field ,the plane tend to go off course all the time. Yet we announce before departure exact time of arrival and we do land at that time.
Son this is because we make countual course correction. Otherwise we will never make it. You have to be prepared for it in flight as well as for difficulties in life. And especially you must resolve in advance that you will keep going until you reach your destination. You can’t give up so easily like this”.
I was perplexed, deeply impressed by this connection of flights and life. That moment I rather felt proud of my decision and vowed to myself to lead my flight and life the way I should. That day I understood what really the aviators are.




While returning back from solo cross country ,In piper Cherokee  my flight training aircraft , I was pretty excited to go home as my parents were coming to see me today and I just had a wonderful flight to Abilene.
Under ATC vectoring and changing speeds I quickly conducted my landing checklist forgetting to put carburettor heat on ,that time I was 8 miles from Arlington my destination airport. At 5 miles from the destination I decreased my speed to 80 miles, lowered flaps, trimmed the aeroplane and made a VOR approach to RY 16 and did not recall using carburettor heat which I had missed in my landing check.
When I had runway in sight at about ¼ miles at 200 feet I heard engine sputtered several times followed by loss of power. I advised ATC that engine was out and will be landing short on runway 16. Quite nervous I continued to control the airplane till it hitted a tree top with my airplane nose stuck badly in branches!
Little injured I evacuated the airplane and found rescue crew on scene.
My plane was badly damaged with broken nose and right wing.
It went under maintenance for forever!
After investigation it came out that there were no problems associated with the plane and engine before flight. Fuel tank was checked and was found sufficient and clean. Later on through weather reports from national weather report office it came out that accident area was conductive to carburettor icing.
And I knew it as I didn’t turn on carburettor heat during the landing approach.
Life did come back to cruise in some time; I was out of shock and fear. My parents were greatly worried and even insisted me to change the line and leave aviation. But I wanted to grow with this accident and continue.

 I started flying back again; this accident did teach me a big lesson for life.
I understood that day how such small setbacks can lead to disaster.
I could recall Six P formula given by my flight instructor –“Proper prior planning prevents poor performance”. If I would have planned before well I could have never missed carburettor heat .
Now today after getting in airlines, even after flying thousands of hours, being active for ten years I carefully review my checklist prior to every flight. I don’t trust my memory.
Because I have learned and I know failure to check or miss just one critical detail can leave us stranded and may be even put our destination out of reach.

Hari Om

Sure I am at this day we are masters of our fate,
that the task which has been set before us is not above our strengths;
that its pangs and toils are not beyond my endurance.
 As long as we have faiths in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win,
victory will not be denied us.
                                                                                                                                        -Winston Churchill

On this bright sunny day, my urge to catch a glimpse of it is forcing me to fight the bright sun above. It’s shining like a diamond up there; I wonder how it manages to give that brand new look every time I see it!
Yes, it has always been mesmerising to see that beautiful thing Fly.  As a young boy I use to stand on my terrace, watching them do their activities for hours. I have always been anxious to reach them, feel a strange attraction towards them.
This airplane has always invaded my work, and pulled my attention towards them, till they vanish somewhere into the skies.
Watching this planes fly was more thrilling for me than playing any sport.
This mystery of the sky fascinated me and made me wondered, is it human in there or some superman flying. Our house being situated very close to airport, my radio used to catch all the VHF communication between the airplanes and the controller. I use to record on my small tape RT conversations and use to hear it repeatedly.
As a kid, I had thrown things towards aircraft to establish some sort of connection with the aircraft and use feel happy about it.
The sound of propeller was just amazing..!!
Even if I was sitting inside my house, hearing that sound of propeller use to trigger some sort of excitement in me.
With my father being a flight instructor, I did couple of joyride with him.
Frankly I was tossed by all the amount of work and the dizziness.
It seemed too much, I felt disoriented.
Always considered it as a Himalayan task.
During those days my father was not earning much and we could hardly manage our studies. Salary of a flight instructor was quite low, in addition being a government job, we just managed.
I was preparing for IIT exam like most of the students that time, in 1999.
Suddenly life came to a sharp turn, with the death of my father in an air crash in March, 1999!
He was the only earning member. Things get pretty ugly when one comes face to face with such realities. 
It was difficult; there came the responsibility of my family on my shoulder.
Inspite of hard work, I was not selected in IIT exam!
I was disappointed but did not loose hope.
I knew I have to stand on my feet’s, and rise higher.
I tried again with full efforts, got a seat in T S Chanakya, Merchant Navy College in Mumbai. Followed by a secured job.
Probably because of my dad’s blessing gradually things got better.
Financially we came out well, and things started setting back on track.
When I cleared out good in Chief Officer Exam in 2006, my cousin brother Capt. Chetan, who was first officer with jet then, said me-“Hari, why don’t you give a try in aviation”.
The hidden desire was somewhere shaken, and made me give a second thought.
An inner conflict started in my self.
I said to myself-“Hey, I hold a good and reputed job; this idea carries no sense now”. But deep inside the child within was still chasing that fly high thing, and I was aware of that.
Then started a war....cold war between dreams and reality.
 Reality, which was security,responsibility, handsome salary and fame.
On the flip side,
Dreams, which was risk, adventure, hidden passion and joy.
 Had to choose one.
 I sat down on rug having that earthy feel and then went my mind on a dreamy voyage. I heard two voices from the two far end corners.
“Hari, the ship’s ready, ______________________________

“Hari,plane  ___________________________________________-

Without giving the ‘third thought’ I responded two the second voice.

Without even the knowledge of basic expenditure I made up my mind.
This time I will go for dreams!
My dad had helped my cousin converting his U.S license when he came back after his training in 1996.Moreover he was very much attached to me and my dad; I asked him all the details and procedures required, and begin with the search for flying school. Rightly said-“When the student is ready, the teacher appears”.
On my visit to Surinder sir’s ground classes in Delhi, I met Prashanth who came there with an offer of his flying school to students. I checked few others but this one suited my budget and time frame.
My financial resources were limited. Rs 15 lac was a big amount, I started arranging for money, most of my saving from merchant navy was locked in PPF, which cannot be broken till some time frame, only thing that we had was sum of Rs.4.5 lacs as fixed deposit. Due to some good will with the bank, we could get Rs. 7.5 lacs from the bank on that FD, remaining I tried here and there, but no avail. It was really tough for me; finally I dared to knock my relative doors and to my surprise, some of them helped a lot, I was deeply touched by their support and faith in my abilities. I swear to myself to go beyond my limits and return them with my own earning.
Finally I came to U.S, with not even $ 500 with me! All Rs.7.5 lacs had gone to school for deposit. I reached my flying school in Texas, where I was provided with accommodation in Camden Oasis. Here I met Deepak, my roommate. Initially all my money was paid by him, which I returned him later.  He proved out very helpful, otherwise it would have been very problematic.
 Flying started well and it was all looking good, till I started feeling air sick. My flight instructor warned me that if I am not able to control this, I might have to head back!
He also suggested me an anti-nausea wrist band, which I brought at $ 100,It worked out for me and I finished my PPL well in time.
The hour building was great. By now I became passionate towards flying,
It became vital part of my life, I went on flights whenever got chance.
Popularly was famous as Flying saucer there. 
But nearing completion, there came another obstacle; there was no multi engine training instructor present. Eventually who had come before me, their training started and I was stopped.
I was under immense pressure as I had only one chance to reach back and finish my papers or else flying hours would start expiring.
In the mean time, money was a big problem. Though I did not say it to my mom, but she arranged to send me some money by putting whatever jewellery she had.
After quite prolong waiting, I made it, got my CPL. that was the happiest day of my life. Getting done with all my documents and license sign I headed back to India.
After coming I directly went to join ground classes in Delhi, for my DGCA exams.
As my mother could not spare much money now, I vowed to my sir in Delhi to pay as soon as I start earning. Seeing my determination and energy, he took me in, in his batch. I went ahead full stream.
 I gave my DGCA exams .The wait for result was too long; I use to get nightmares what if I fail.
 Again by god’s grace I was able to clear my medical and DGCA papers on first go.
Now getting the license converted in India was very crazy.

I should count myself lucky as I got a call from jet, 20 days after getting my license.
Week after when I clear my test, it was awesome feeling.
Then came another hiccup, they found some high bilirubin in my blood, which is called GILBERT’S SYNDROME. It was a stressful week.
But finally it too came out well and my strenuous endorsement training started.
By March 2008, we finished our DGCA exams; again we waited for six months for our sim slot. We use to sit in sim six hours alone.
During those days in Delhi, I met my would be wife, she has been immensely lucky for me. Everything has been falling in slot, all has been working out well now.
Today after landing my ATR,




Be an Aviator Not a Pilot
Shekhar Gupta
Capt Ankisha Awasthi

» Synopsis

Be an Aviator Not a Pilot is a story of Pilots in Aviation who are unable to cope.

This is not a book to teach you how to get into an Aviation School or even how to live like a Pilot. In fact, it describes how one can become a Successfull Aviator not just an Airplane Driver [ So called Pilot ] with very small changes in life.

Also Why abroad trained Pilots are better Aviator and Why FAA, CASA, CAAP, CAA are better civil Aviation Authority then DGCA.

Capt. Ankisha Blog

Capt. Shekhar Blog

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Baron B 58 Story

The Baron B 58 Story 

Flying...the most exotic journey, challenges to do a little more better with each flight.

This was my first cross country after achieving my private pilot license.

I was very excited about this flight, as now I will be able to explore more airports 
then previous monotonous flights.

I decided to take my friend Rahul along, as a passenger as well as my safety pilot 
for my cross country.

So with all the energy and enthusiasm I and Rahul planned a long cross-country, 
covering four airports. We had long distance to cover.

With perfect planning and briefing, we were ready to go.

Weather was good; we had calm winds and clear skies.

Night flying here in Texas is generally what I find the best time of flying

As we hardly get any air traffic and thus we rule the sky.

We departed in our piper Cherokee that’s a light aircraft designed for flight training .
We took off from Arlington my base airport, at 22:00.
It was pleasant weather, and view of our city from 8000 ft at night was simply 
breathtaking. So enjoying the ride, we landed to our first destination Stephenville. 
It has a small uncontrolled airport. We decided to halt there and enjoy some time in 
famous barbeque located close to airport, which also provide golf cart in airport to 
reach barbeque.

After landing we taxied to parking, it was dead dark, there was a beechcraft baron 
parked in there.

Parking my plane next to beautiful baron seemed a good idea.

It was hypnotizing, the sleek baron, Was in my own fantasy world while passing the 
baron on my right. Hitting it with my wing tip woke me up.

Banggg....!!!. I freeze but managed to quickly cut the engine power, it was too late 
though, we looked at each other in astonishment, thinking where to start from. 
At last we came to life and took some vital steps before examining the damage.

After shutting down our plane, we pushed it at proper place, and parked it.

 Then we went to baron, and examined what I have done to it.

It was a deep dirty dent in its left propeller governor unfortunately given by me and 
we could feel some deformation inside by touching it.

 We were speechless; all the excitement flees away!!

We headed back to our plane and were sitting inside, wondering what to do next.

Silence took over.

All the excitement was gone, I was wondering, Ohh...I have just banged my plane 
into another plane double in size of my plane. What my instructor will say, my friends
 think of me, above all what if I have to pay for it all.

 In this moment of dilemma I see Rahul suddenly smiling, I couldn’t stop myself 
punching his nose but before I can do that he said-Hey ,at least our plane is alright, 
look at our super duper wing, it’s still shining after hitting the baron. I saw my plane 
and he was right, under that stress it felt nice to feel good about something.

By now my brain was stabilised, and we started thinking what can be done. 
There was no one in vicinity, no plane, no person just nobody other then four 
of us. Yah me, Rahul, our Cherokee and angry baron, it felt as if he was staring 
at me like a wrestler who just got his nose broken.

Anyway it would have been very easy for both of us to escape from there as nobody 
saw us.

Still none of us had strength to just leave baron like that.

Because inside I knew it was a blunder, my conscience couldn’t allow me to run away
 just like that.

Finally we together made a decision to leave a note mentioning my name, contact details, 
apologizing and specifying what I have done. 

We took off and came back to Arlington. As we knew the tail number of the plane we 
wanted to know who does it belong , and how much new governor of baron can cost 
us in case owner ask us to pay.

We thought not to tell this incident to anyone and pay the owner for governor so 
nobody in flying school will come to know, and we will be safe from their anger.

We came back to Arlington, our flying school was locked.

But we have a broken window their big enough for a person to get in.

We got in through the window like thieves, switched on the computer and searched 
the owner of plane .It was a private plane owned by Mr. Donald, who lives in 
Stephenville itself.

And the cost of governor for that plane started from 2000 $.

T-W-O  T-H-O-U-S-A-N-D D-O-L-L-O-R-S!!  It means 92000 Rs.

Cost of a second hand car or .... new apple laptop!!

What will I say to my father...:-(

 Quiet disappointed we headed home from flying school.

One day passed but we didn’t receive any call from that man.

I thought maybe he won’t call ever.

But still somewhere inside I was guilty and I told Rahul that I want to tell everything 
to Mr.Miloud, who is our school director and owner, and also our examiner.

He is supposed to know everything happening with his planes and I will feel relived 

Thus we went heading to sir and narrated entire incident to him.

I could see his burning anger. He explained me how important it is

To taxi slowly, and explained me in detail every step to be kept in mind while taxing. 
Those things became my guideline and I clearly got a lesson for life long.

At the end he appreciated me for being honest to him and said he is proud of it.

Wow...These instructors know it, how students feels, those magic words by sir in the
 end changed everything.  All the guilt was gone and we were fuelled back with 

However it didn’t end up here.

After two days when I was doing my pre-flight check for my flight I got a call from an 
unknown number, and not really to my surprise it was an old angry man on phone 
and said –I am Donald calling, Is it Rita?

I said yes.

He said-What have you done to my plane.

 Are you a Cpl holder?

I said-No sir, I am a private pilot.

Which school are you from; I want to talk to your instructor.

I gave him Mr.Miloud’s number and he kept the phone.

Phew..!! This man sounds so disturbed ..he will definitely not leave me like that

It would have been impossible to deal with this man alone. Thank god I said everything 
to sir already.

He called my sir and was asking more than $ 5000 to pay him for his loss.

Sir has been in aviation for more than fifty years, he knew it he is asking way more. 
Sir said him that he will get broken part of the plane for him

My flying school got a new propeller governor for the baron for 1800 $, out of which

He decided to pay 600 $ from his side as gift for my honesty, even Rahul wanted to 
contribute and he did. I had to pay 700 $ from my pocket.

I myself along with Rahul took a flight to Stephenville with new governor for his 
plane. On my way I was wondering this guy owns a Baron worth $ 1320 000, still 
he wanted to make money out of me.

Rahul, clearly reading my mind said-It’s always about money.

I nodded my head.

He said-Don’t think much, just keep doing well.

Good things happen to good people. I smiled back to him.

Soon we could see the runway. We landed at Stephenville airport.

 There we met this man Donald.

I introduced myself to him, and he asked me about his part.

We handed it to him.

Then he said us his part of story that he didn’t read the note we left at first.

He was just about to start his plane when he saw the note attached to windshield .
When he read he checked his governor and came to know about it.

It felt as shockwave ran inside us. This man missed dented governor in his 

 If we had not left the note there he might have departed with defected part

And there might have been any problem up in the air.

If anything like that would have happened I throughout my life would have not been 
able to forgive myself.

I felt so fortunate and great for the right decision I made.

Following your heart gives the satisfaction and the ultimate power to move on.

I was so proud of myself and I turned to Rahul and said.. It’s not always about money.

Listening to your heart, being honest with yourself can give you joy which no 
money can buy,

I was amazed by the fact that how each flight not only makes us a better pilot but 
also a better person.

Happy Landings ...........

Capt Ankisha Awasthi