Goodyear, AZ, USA. April through December 2017. 

The foundation training is the first real experience in flight training that actually involves flying real aeroplanes. From learning how to climb and descend to making a start with flying only relying on instruments: all within a period of 8 months.


The first stages

The foundation training is meant to bring the cadets from 'zero to hero' in terms of flying skills. The first 13 hours of flying are done in a dual setting, meaning they are flown with an instructor who teaches the basics of flying such as climbing, descending, turning and landing.


First solo

After those 13 somewhat hours of flying with an instructor and a brief check ride, it is time to go airborne on your own. The tension of thinking about going up all by yourself swiftly converts into excitement. A milestone in a pilot's career.



Going solo for the first time comes with its traditions. The most common tradition in Goodyear was to be carried from the airplane, over the ramp, through the training centre towards the pool where they would give you the final push for your 'first solo dive'.

Night flying

In order to obtain a licence, the Civil Aviation Authority requires a set amount of hours to be flown at night.


Flying the Twinstar

En-route to CPL

After passing the first progress test, basically all flying on Visual Flight Rules (VFR) has come to an end. Flying a commercial airliner means relying on instruments for the majority of the flight. The start of flying according to the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) involves a change in mindset, as looking outside for references is no longer possible. Following a series of simulator flights practising procedures, it is time to jump into a different, more powerful aircraft. The main reason for the aircraft being more powerful is because it has two engines. This is the aircraft that will be flown for the remainder of the flight training in Goodyear as well as in the advanced phase in Bournemouth.


Twinstar 427DG, turn left Alpha 5, contact Ground point 7, SEEYUH!
— Goodyear Tower (2017)

The training in Goodyear is finished with a skills test that covers all aspects of training taught up until that moment. The Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) skills test consists of 6 sections that each have their own set limits that may not be crossed in order to obtain the licence. 


CPL Skills test completed

© Daan van der Heijden