Approach non-radar course.. a course known by the ICAO (international Civil Aviation Organisation). IT is a course where we learn to do the approach procedure without radar assistance.. ,aircraft are controlled by ATC, to manoeuver in a (TMA) airspace, by mentally picturing each aircraft position, using information reported and recorded by pilots. Approach controllers are those responsible to provide separation to incoming traffic and departing traffic …before they are released to area controller’s airspace, or tower controller’s airspace. To detail the job description and procedure applied here, (separation standards, instruments,nav-aids, procedures used, etc) would be a really silly thing to do as it would take painstaking hours to complete AND you won’t be reading it either… to ATC related people, they would be well versed -have gone through this (and are sick of hearing it) .. For non-atc related people who are reading this… they won’t understand anyway so why waste the effort.
I took this course for 3 month and participants had to stay at a hostel provided. It was like back to school again for me and the rest.. meeting old friends was kind of awesome, it was A reunion.. During weekends, for those that home was an hours drive need not stay.. But for me and 3 other guys, (from overseas) taking flights back, not a good move, so the hostel was home for now… Although not all that far from civilization, the absence of transport, made outings really hard.. :: LOL … this was a mental and sanity challenge for the three of us, we are technically imprisoned behind open bars. Thanks to the availability of the internet, (no TV for the first month) I managed to keep my wits, we could surf and FB. until the point I became sick of it too.
Still, a great memory and experience… never regret it.
Arrival. The room .Nice..!
got air-conditioning and a nice bathroom.. 🙂
having breakfast on our “reunion”
The simulator is cool.. brand-new. We were the first to use it.. 😀
and the class and notes and exams… and weekends.
As expected, when the learning process begins, It wasn’t a vacation and time seems to be slipping away during the day and weekdays.. but come at night.. it begins to slow down, really slow down and the weekends just seems never-ending.. Boredom was just tormenting and like a slow killer. Grateful enough we had the ability to be creative, I had things to do, even silly things just to kill the time before it gets me.. playing games, taking pictures, editing pictures.. disturbing friends, walking around the compound, getting out if there is a chance to get some fresh air and view, all helps keep the mind healthy and stable…
found the board in a room down stairs, then one of the guys bought the playing piece and had a few games for several nights…
but the green table is much more fun. Like previously said … this wasn’t all time available.. because most of the times, there is no transport, so being stranded at the “hotel” is unavoidable. Times like these… plan well and be prepared.. because no one will be cooking for 2 days.. The canteen is not open saturday and Sundays… well, few times we would still stubbornly walk to the canteen, even if the doors are locked, knock on the doors and harass them to cook for us, and they would look at us and pitifully cook for us.. This went on a few times until they firmly stopped entertaining our whims … and prob that’s the reason they’d look quite angry when seeing our faces.. hahaha.
… As time goes.. getting used to the insufficient supply of food and practice eating once a day.. Just like the younger times… 😀
Few weeks gone by.. and one day, bored and because we had nothing to do… we decided to explore.. my friend and I found that there is a washing machine.?? The dust and cobwebs indicates that it hadn’t been used for quite some time… I activated it and surprisingly it works, so now we can laundry in luxury.
After a month and only our group of three living peacefully and quietly at the “hotel” (the rest, 7 others, are not always there at weekends). A new batch came. They were about 40 of them.. 😀 suddenly the compound became busy and alive with people. Still the scenario hadn’t changed.. it still is very quiet and spooky during the weekends as they would just leave during the weekends and the little group of 3 would still be here.
Days gone by and soon became weeks.. the course goes on, and after theory class, the practical simulator starts. It’s getting more interesting and stressing.. the first time doing the exercise, all the mistakes that can be made is done. Most important, just keep going on for the next 2 month. Hoping everything is going to be fine.
This course is said to be the toughest in its class.. not done the others yet, but for certain my head ached for hours after completing the simulator… guess it must be true then. Still the journey must go on.. Finally the day of reckoning came.. week 12.. check day… I got to be the first one on check after a fair ballot…. strange thing was, I didn’t feel at all nervous even though it was the first time… maybe my hands-on job experience made it easy, confident and composed… After my turn is over (average 2 hrs check per person), The next in line comes in and so on. The check went on for 3 days.. the last person finished on the third day. Waiting for the results is more stressing and suspense than doing the check itself… at day three.. when the last person is done, waiting for the final decision to come out for 3-4 hours more made everybody insane……..!!
At last… the final words came.. all but one passed. I was glad that I made it.. Everyone was so happy and the mood in the room changed instantly…
all the waiting, effort, the headache, tense, fatigue and pain are rewarded by a simple “you made it”. Amazing how those 3 simple words can make such an impact. It was a moment that will last forever to all those that took part. For the unlucky one, the chance to redo/ retest after few more practice is given.. So in essence, that required some of us to still be around to run the simulator… after a week, the retest will be done again…
After such an ordeal.. A celebration is appropriate and well deserved…. Not overdoing it, A modest and simple seafood dinner is arranged…. high spirits in the air and everyone happy that they had survived… celebrating together and being thankful to all the instructors that had been working hard and relentlessly to help the team get through the course is a memory that will always be in the record of each of them… being able to work as a team, as close friends, like brothers, is crucial every step. Co-operation between each members, is key to the individual success. Without friends like this… it would have been very very hard to get through.
82 days since check-in.. living in isolation and away.. the test and experience is a bitter-sweet memory, that compose the story. It is not just about completing the course and getting the validation, but the experience and process that comes with it. Being disciplined, able to be stay calm, having lots of patience and control over ourselves is just too important not to acknowledge… that itself is a form of training, whether mentally or physically.