Old Diocesan Network
Paul Weich (1991B) reports: “On Friday the 25th of August, nine lucky future aviators were taken on a trip of a lifetime to Johannesburg O.R. Tambo airport for a day at S.A.A. Airways Park and S.A.A. technical hangars. They started their morning with a visit to the ExecuJet F.B.O. at Cape Town International Airport where they were exposed to the corporate side of aviation. They then boarded a sleek Learjet 45 which was captained by Mike Bosman (1978O) and flown at 41000 feet to O.R. Tambo airport in a quick 1hr35mim. This was the first time in an aircraft for one of the boys!
They were met at domestic arrivals by myself. I have been with SAA for nearly 20 years and am a captain on the Airbus A320 fleet, based out of Cape Town. The boys were taken on a very informative tour of the vast facilities at SAA technical. The tour started at the apprentice hangar where the new engineers learn their skills on the Harvard and a retired Boeing 737-200. They got to stand right next to a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, visit the paint shop where the airliners receive their shiny new coats of paint and also the gigantic hangars where the Airbus A340's get their C checks done.
Next it was off to the pilot training centre for a flight on the latest C.A.E. Airbus A330 simulator. Senior training Capt. Mike Gough let each boy fly the aircraft. The visuals on this simulator are so good that they actually "flew” the aircraft right over Bishops! The last boy to fly the simulator managed to successfully land the aircraft with a little help from the instructor!
Capt. Gough then gave the boys an interesting lecture about what is required to progress from P.P.L. (private pilot’s license) to A.T.P.L. (Airline Transport Pilots license). After the lecture they made their way to the cabin crew simulator for some jumping and sliding down the escape slides. This was lots of fun and the boys retuned for a few extra jumps! One of the cabin crew safety lecturers then explained what the crew go through to renew their skills with aviation medicine and survival skills.
We then made our way back to the domestic terminal building for a welcome snack before the highlight of the day, the flights back to Cape Town. Special clearance was obtained from S.A.A. Flight operations management for the boys to sit up front in the cockpits of the Airbus A320 aircraft. I and Capt. Grant Back (1977B) then flew the boys back to Cape Town. We departed Jnb as SA365, SA377 and SA375. The take-off was such a thrill for the boys as we rotated off runway 21R at about 290km/h, weighing in at 68000 kg. After about 1hr30min we started our descent for Cape Town - the lights of the city being visible from about 250km at 38000 feet. The air traffic controllers brought us in from the north for a landing on runway 19 towards the south.
It was such a privilege to spend the day with and fly these young men home. They were very enthusiastic, asking many questions and really did the school proud. My cabin crew also remarked on the fine manners displayed by the boys on board the aircraft. A credit to their parents and the school!
On Monday morning Capt. Brian Huna (1995F) also took another two Bishops boys on a flight from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and back to Cape Town in a S.A. Express Airways De Havilland Q400. They got to see how the aircraft is prepared for flight and also got to sit up front in the cockpit with Brian.
My sincere thanks to Guy Pearson, Mike Bosman, OD pilots, S.A.A. and S.A. Express management and the Bishops boys for being part of this special occasion.”
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