Hi everyone, I can’t believe it is already the middle of June! Time flies when you’re having fun. The Continental Internship is much more than I expected. I can’t believe you can experience so much in so little time. The past two weeks at Continental were as good as the first. I performed my usual duties at work, and I still love every minute of it. Since I had a lot of free time, I decided to start studying for my simulator training. I’m going to have my work cut out for the rest of the summer.
During the last 2 weeks in July, I’m going to have the opportunity to attend 3 Continental classes, as well as fly the 737-500 full motion simulator. This is going to be the most rewarding experience of this internship! Continental is going to treat me as a new hire pilot, expecting me to know all of the procedures and checklists by memory. The training will begin with 6 hrs in the flight training device. An FTD is an actual cockpit of the 737, with no visual in front of it. The FTD also doesn’t move, it is hard mounted to the ground. This is used in order for pilots to perfect the checklists and procedures before they fly the full motion simulator. It will also perfect your instrument flying skills because there is no visual of what is outside the cockpit. The full motion simulator is an actual cockpit just like the FTD, however, it is mounted on top of hydraulic actuators. This allows it to move and simulate actually flying through the air. There is also a visual image of in front of the cockpit, simulating the flying environment. The full motion simulator is so realistic, the first time you fly the actual aircraft is with passengers in the back. It sounds like a lot of work, but learning how to fly an $80,000,000 jet is unbelievable. I’ll keep you posted on my progress during the next month and a half.
Finally, I can’t end this journal without the details of an exciting trip right? Well, we didn’t go out of the country this time, but we got to experience something few pilots have. Imagine, being at 25,000 ft and intentionally taking your oxygen mask off! Well, that is exactly what we did today. The other interns and I flew up to Oklahoma City last night for altitude training. We arrived at the FAA facility at 8:00 a.m. and met our professor for the day. He gave us a 3 hr ground school explaining the effects of altitude on the body. We ate lunch, and then the fun and excitement began, it was time for the altitude chamber. An altitude chamber is a big sealed box that simulates climbing in an airplane. The FAA uses this to allow pilots to experience hypoxia, or the lack of oxygen. It trains pilots on what their personal signs are of hypoxia, and how to counteract them before a problem occurs. At 1:00, we all entered the chamber and took our seats. The instructor told us how to use our oxygen masks and what we were going to be doing. The flight started with a gradual rise to 8,000 ft, the altitude of normal passenger aircraft cabin when you fly. Then, we experienced a rapid decompression to 18,000 ft. This simulates a hole being blown in the side of the aircraft. The altitude rose from 8,000 ft to 18,000 ft in 7 seconds. As soon as this happened, we put on our oxygen masks and the room immediately fogged up. Also, the temperature dropped 20 degrees due to the expanding air. Upon reaching 18,000, we continued a gradual climb to 25,000. At 25,000 ft, we all took off our masks to see what it feels like to be hypoxic. After 5 minutes, my head was tingling, my lips turned blue, and I was lightheaded. It was a very interesting feeling, something you don’t want to experience while you are at the controls of an aircraft. After experiencing hypoxia, we all put our oxygen masks on and immediately all of the symptoms were cured. It was amazing how fast you are back to your normal self. We then finished our flight with a gradual descent back to earth. What a fun day! We left the FAA facility at 4:30 and were home by 7. I was in Oklahoma City for less than 24 hrs, and wow, what an experience.
I hope everyone is having as much fun as I am this summer! I’m off to bed, back to work tomorrow.