This weekend, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go on a ‘Familiarisation Flight’. Working in the airline for my first placement, it was important to understand fully the behind-the-scenes operation of Thomson Airways and see how much work goes into flying our customers from one country to another. This in mind, I was given the opportunity to travel in the ‘jump-seat’ of the cockpit of one of our short haul flights: Gatwick to Innsbruck.
Excited, I arrived at Gatwick at 5am to check in, grabbed some breakfast and headed to the gate to meet the pilots. A short while before the plane was due to take off, the Captain and First Officer met me and took me aboard to watch the pre-flight checks.
I was both surprised and reassured to see the amount of checks and paperwork that need to be completed before the plane even leaves the gate. I sat down and quietly watched the process from the jump-seat, as well as watching the cabin crew ready the plane for the arrival of our passengers.
During and after take-off, I listened to the radio communications on a spare headset, learning the terminology and commands the pilots had to adhere to. The flight from Gatwick to Innsbruck is not very long, and after a few tweaks to the autopilot we were over the snow covered Alps.
Innbruck Airport is nestled in between the Alps, and so I was treated to some breathtaking views from the cockpit of the 757. Being within the mountains means it requires special methods to land there, and I listened intently as the pilots discussed the approach.
After landing and the passengers having disembarked, the Captain and I walked round the outside of the plane (it was freezing, about -12°C!) to check over the aircraft and supervise the refuelling.
After about an hour on the ground in Austria, and with the passengers, freshly from the slopes, safely loaded on board, we took off and headed back for home!