Your Stories

Name: Ben Haines

Current Job: Flight Instructor

Organisation: New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy


Tell us why you chose to be a pilot?

I had spent the best part of 18 years in the NZ Army as a Vehicle Mechanic by trade and I had progressed about as far as I was likely too for the next 6 years or so. I felt it was time for a change of direction. My uncle who I had only recently met was a B767 Training Captain with Air Canada for a number of years. I asked him about his job and he stated that he had never worked a day in his life, (when you love your job it doesn't feel like work). It had felt like this to me in the Army most of the time and I didn't intend to have to start working any time soon when I left the services. I did a flight of discovery and then the first three lessons, I was hooked, I had caught the flying bug and wanted to be a pilot.

Tell us a bit about your training, where you did it, and what was a highlight about your training?

After I caught the flying bug I researched the best ways to break into this option and make it a career. As I was an older student and had other responsibilities (family, mortgage etc) I had to choose a training provider that was close to home and had a course that could be completed a reasonably short time frame. Flight Training Manawatu were offering a Diploma in Aviation Studies with a major in flight instruction so I chose this option. Other than flying to some really great places with some awesome people the biggest highlight of my training would be the feeling of relief when the flight examiner told me I had passed my 'C' Cat Flight Test. That day was probably the toughest I have encountered so far in my journey to become a airline pilot.

Who do you currently work for? How long have you been flying with them and why did you choose them?

Initially after gaining my C Cat I didn't gain employment. I continued studying for my ATPL Exams in slow time, kept my ratings current and kept showing my face around flying organisations that were local. I gained part time employment with the New Zealand International Commercial Pilot Academy instructing 2-3 Days per week just over a year ago. NZICPA are local to me, (they purchased FTM), which is convenient due to my other responsibilities.

Tell us some of the favourite destinations you fly to? What makes these destinations special for you?

Recently getting out of direct supervision flying to anywhere that is not the Training Area or is more than 25nm from base feels great. When training, flying around White Island was an amazing experience. Another favourite was flying down to Nelson though the Marlborough Sounds, amazing views, and great coffee at the WOW Arts Cafe. Flying anything into Wellington can be challenging, even more so when it is as small as a C-152, something I won't forget in a hurry.

All pilots face interesting weather challenges from time to time. Can you talk to us about some of the more challenging weather conditions you've flown in. What made it challenging?

Probably the most challenging weather I have encountered so far would be a heavy rain shower I flew into when I was flying solo night circuits hour building for my C Cat requirements PIC. This was challenging as I was flying right seat, with not a lot of right seat time, the rain hampered visibility, and the noise was extremely loud and off putting. There was the very real possibility of disorientation. Another VFR Flight when ferrying an aircraft I experienced low cloud that pushed me down to 500ft AGL, had me adopting the Poor Vis Configuration and considering turning tail and landing at an Aerodrome I had passed 5 minutes ago. As soon as I had done so the ceiling lifted significantly to allow me to continue safely onward. This was challenging as I had relatively low hours at the time and it was a definite test of my decision making abilities. This weather had not been forecast.

Tell us about a recent memorable flight. What made it memorable?

Flying with students can be both challenging and memorable. We were flying down final on a gusty day, the student was starting to get low and they were also raising the nose of the aircraft so our airspeed was decaying below our target speed as well. I told them more power, 2 or 3 times to which I got an acknowledgement each time but no actual action. I had to take action my self, pushing the throttle through to full power and initiating the go around when a gust blew us well off the center line and there was little chance that the student would have been able to rectify the situation.satisfactorily. Anything that ups the heart rate like that is definitely something you won't forget in a hurry.

Studying towards our flying career takes a lot of time and effort. What challenges did you face in your journey towards becoming a pilot?

My family have made a number of sacrifices to allow me to chase this dream. I gave up a very well paid full time position to pursue this career option, so as a family we have gone from having 2 good incomes to 1 and a bit. At completion of Diploma, with not flying job offer, I returned to my old profession and continued to study for ATPL Exams. The biggest challenge I have faced is fitting in all the separate competing demands for my time. (Jobs x2, Study, Currency, Family, Sport, House Maintenance etc)

We really appreciate you being one of our students at ATPLOnline.co.nz. Can you tell us why you chose us, and what advice would you give to someone thinking of studying one of our courses?

I chose APTLOnline.co.nz because the courses can be completed in my own time, at your my own place and at my own pace. There is no need to take time off work, fund travel and accommodation to attend a course away from home. My biggest piece of advice if studying this way would be find somewhere to study that is free of distractions, use it, and make a study timetable, and stick to it.

Gaining your ATPL is an important part of your flying career. Where do you see yourself flying in 5-10 years time.

Within 5 years my goal is to be flying for an Airline. I would expect that this would be on a Turbo Prop Domestic Fleet aircraft. With my age I would think that flying in a Jet aircraft maybe beyond reach for me but you never know. By the 10 year mark I would like to think that I will be a Captain on the Domestic Fleet, hopefully senior enough to take on the responsibility of a Training Captains Role.

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in our lives, both inside and outside the cockpit. What's your favourite piece of technology? And why?

Within the cockpit it has to be the GPS. It reduces the pilot's navigation workload significantly, allows for constant ground speed monitoring and real time plotting of position and airspace boundaries, and many other uses as well. Outside the cockpit the biggest leap in my generation and my favorite has been the development of and adoption of cell phone technology. Today they are mini computers as well as communication devices.

What job would you be doing if you weren't a pilot?

I would still be a full time Soldier in the NZ Army.

What's one piece of advice you would give to someone starting their ATPL theory studies?

If you can, start your study for the ATPL theory exams as soon as possible after finishing the your CPL and IR Exams. A lot of the knowledge required for ATPL Exams is just the CPL and IR information at a slightly more in depth level.

What is your favourite movie?

I don't watch a lot of movies, the most recent one I watched was Sully.

What's your favourite food?

Anything Thai is great, I love the combination of veges and either chilli or curry.

What's your favourite thing to enjoy doing on your day off?

Spending time with Family, and watching sport

What's your favourite song?

Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd

What's one thing you don't like doing?

The Dishes, I don't mind cooking and making them though!