A fresh breeze of air in my lungs. A steady breeze of air in my sails. An accelerated flow of air under my wings.
You see there are many ways I can use a fresh breeze of air. Especially when flying a commercial airliner I need air underneath the wings of my aircraft.
But let’s start at the beginning…
Ever since I was 14 years old I wanted to become a pilot.
My career as an airline pilot started back in 1998 as First Officer at Tyrolean Airways on a Dash 8-300. With this 50-seater built in Toronto, Canada I logged my very first hours on our European network. A little over three years later I was promoted to Captain and suddenly I was pilot-in-command and responsible for the decisions I took. I enjoyed the new position and the responsibility that came along. Time flew by and so it happened that in 2007 my company offered me a transition onto our jet fleet. On a Fokker 70/100 I used to fly to London Heathrow or Sofia, Stockholm or Barcelona. It really worked out quite well for me until we faced the first major crisis after 9/11. Out of a sudden I realized how vulnerable airline crews are and that every global impact could be felt in the industry all around the world. The financial crisis a few years later brought the next black clouds on the horizon. Tyrolean Airways, after years of expansion was forced to lay off crews.
During this difficult times I was able to determine my fate by myself and I chose to leave the company before it got worse. In November 2010 I was hired by another Austrian company called FlyNiki. As a direct-entry Captain I joined the Embraer 190 fleet. With this fancy aircraft we connected major cities with Vienna. Only 18 months later I swapped fleet again. On the Airbus 320 family based in Salzburg we used to fly our passengers safely to holiday destinations such as Las Palmas or Hurghada. I really enjoyed it a lot.
Unfortunately FlyNiki and its partner Air Berlin were financially in big troubles. I faced almost the same situation all over again as with Tyrolean Airways a few years prior. Must have been a Deja-vu.
Since I always wanted to fly long-range and even though the European market did not look too good at that moment I decided to change company again. Emirates was my choice. I moved to Dubai and started my wide-body experience on an Airbus A-330 as First Officer.
Training was tough but with state-of-the-art facilities.
What a difference those flights made. At Tyrolean Airways I was used to flights where we were airborne only between 15-20 minutes. Suddenly I logged 8 hours into my logbook when I used to fly to Denpasar in Indonesia. It was an exciting new experience. We carried more than 200 people on board of those aircraft to exotic new places like Harare, Entebbe, Addis Abeba or Khartoum. It was challenging at first especially flights during the middle of the night over Somalia with no radio-contact to a ground-air controller was new to me.
Only 18 months later the company had me trained onto the biggest commercial airliner ever built, the Airbus A-380. This was the moment when the real long-distance flights began.
This aircraft was a complete new story. It was equipped with state-of-the-art technical features like on-board cameras which helped us during maneuvers on ground or an on-board shower for first class passengers. Its maximum take-off weight reached 560 tonnes and we carried more than 230 tonnes of fuel on our trip to Los Angeles. More than 600 passengers fit on board this aircraft with a 30-strong crew. Quite impressive figures.
My logbook was happy about entries like San Francisco or Sydney, Beijing or Houston. My longest flight by far lasted more than 17 hours and connected Dubai with Auckland in New Zealand. I had the chance to explore new places not only after our flights but as well during my flights: crossing the Himalayas or the North Pole were very special moments. By the way I did not see Santa Clause.
Even though it was my dream to fly long distance but I have to admit that those flights were way too long. Sydney, Hong Kong, Toronto, Los Angeles they were all nice places but no-one really cares if you have sometimes less than 24 hours to recover and explore. Up to 10 hours time difference did not make it easier.
Catering on board was without a doubt first class. However, as you can imagine you hardly move on board and instead of having a heavy meal I decided to go for a warm soup and a salad.
Some three years within the company I began to notice how this airline really worked. In year one they granted only four days leave and their general policy how to treat employees was rather shocking. If you threaten your crews every single day and punish them with warnings for nonsense things like forgetting your hat you cannot expect good performance. The bad treatment of employees and the extremely strenuous and far too long flights prompted me to leave this company again.
Again I was at the right time at the right place when I signed a contract with Eurowings. I was hired as direct-entry captain and joined a very motivated, young team at the newly opened base in Palma, Mallorca. With the Airbus A-320 we connected Germany, Austria and Switzerland with this holiday destination.
Flights just under three hours were now my most preferred ones and honestly I didn’t bother landing at airports like Paderborn or Dortmund again and again. I finally enjoyed my job again.
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