I was recently invited by Alpha Aviation Group (AAG) to try out a flying lesson (Orientation Flight) on one of their Cessna 172s’ out of Clark Airport in the Philippines.
This would not be my first time flying inside a Cessna 172; I have done so many times in the past, including trips over Victorville, Mojave and Marana in the US to photo airplane storage in the desert. However, this time was to be different as I would be given a full briefing of the flight and taught to read the instrument panel.
I followed the pilot, Captain Joseph David, for a walk around the plane and conducted several pre-flight checks; then I jumped into the left seat! AAG delivers superior training by using one of the most modern, safe and world recognized aircraft – the Cessna 172 SP.
Our flight routing was from Clark Airport heading West over an active volcano Mt Pinatubo, over its crater lake and then head onwards North to the Hundred Islands National Park before returning to Clark. It took us just under 3 hours so it was a very long orientation flight!
Clark Airport is a former US Air Force base but now it is fast becoming a busy commercial airport. The air traffic control (ATC) were constantly busy but this can be really helpful to train your communication skills.
Mt Pinatubo is one of the most active volcanos in the world and also one of the most deadley. In June 15, 1991 it erupted and caused the loss of over 800 lives and extensive damage. The volcanic ash spread over the entire of SE Asia and as far as Singapore and Indonesia. After the eruption, a lake was formed on the crater and now it is a major tourist attraction. You can reach the crater lake by a 4x4 trek.
At Hundred Islands National Park, we descend to just 500 feet above sea level; The Captain then flew several low and tight circuits to allow me to enjoy the amazing scenery below us.
Captain Joseph David had explained everything to me during the flight; He then allowed me to take the controls and to get a feel for it. Flying really takes a lot of concentration and you need to be really good at multi-tasking to maintain good communication with the air traffic control. It also requires good hand to eye co-ordination; I think I need to lose some weight and study hard in ground school before heading into the sky again!
After our Cessna flight, I visited Alpha Aviation Group facility at Clark. They operate an Approved Training Organization (ATO) and a certified Type Rating Training Organization (TRTO) for the Airbus A320. It also has the only EASA certified Level D Airbus A320 Full Flight Simulator.
I met Captain Benjamin Gutierrez; an instructor of the flight simulator who is a retired Philippine Airlines A330/A340 captain. He showed me around me the 3 different facilities. A student after graduating from The Cessna 172 will then go to The Integrated Procedure Training before finally moving onto The Airbus A320 simulator.
The second stage of the A320 training is moving on to a Fixed Base Simulator.
The last stage of the A320 training is moving on to Full Flight Simulator (FFS). I was lucky enough to be allowed inside and I practiced several takeoffs and landings into Singapore Changi. See my video for the result!
AAG also hosts the only A330/340 Full Flight Simulator in the Philippines. Many current airline pilots come to this facility to do their simulator training.
About Alpha Aviation Group Airline Pilot ProgramThe Airline Pilot Program (APP), is a full-time cadetship program completed in approximately 72 weeks, or 15-18 months. The APP is designed to take a cadet ab-initio - from the beginning - through all of the professional pilot qualifications that are required to work as an airline pilot. The program is NOT a standard CPL-IR course offered by most other schools, it includes a full type rating on the Airbus A320.
ApprovalsThe current Ab initio program are offered under the following regulators:
- Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)
- Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV)