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Through the lense of an airliner pilot; "The first commercial flight to Odessa"

Updated on September 30, 2013

During my life, I have had many idols from Martin Luther King to Steve Harris; from Eric Johnson to my father, they have never been scarce in numbers. However, I am taking this time to dedicate my paragraphs to the one person who changed my life greatly since the day I met him, Furkan.

“Furkan, one more thing, should I report anything after take-off?”

“Well, you better report airborne when passing 200ft above the ground!”

“Alright, thanks.”

“Okay Enver, do not forget to read back every single word given to you.”

“I'll bear that in mind, I will get it done!”

“Good luck!”

It is 22.45, at Ankara Esenboğa Airport. I am asked to take this bird to Odessa. Everything looks great, checklists have already been completed. The weather looks suitable for any visual take-off, at least for now. When I think about it, the weather it is not a big deal actually, it should not even be. I have been practicing my take-offs and landings in any kind of weather conditions since I have gotten accepted as a captain pilot to Sun Express Virtual Airlines.

Alright, time to check every single way points I have got on my route, fuel pressure for engines, V1 and Rotate speeds on EFIS screen...yes, it is done. Repeating the information given to me one last time: “this flight will last approximately 2 hours…keep runway heading after take-off and switch Esenboğa delivery on 122.10…reserve fuel will be reported after two hours and 10 minutes…”

Flying is a complicated job, or "hobby" can be a more appropriate word, maybe. It may sound confusing to you; well I must admit it is extremely confusing. Who knows, maybe that is the reason why my fingers have been shaking since I got in the cockpit, but I am sure this is not the fear, yes; simply I have got too much pressure on my shoulders. Getting back to the flight, this one has a special place because for the first time I will be flying to a former soviet airport -Odessa and of course, within an airspace full of pilots and air traffic controllers.

My watch indicators hit for 22.50PM this time, which is the time to leave gate 112. Taking the last opportunity to take a deep breath and here Odessa, I come.

“Cockpit the ground, we’re cleared for push back facing North.”

“Please set the parking brake sir, wish you a pleasant flight.”


It has been 2 minutes since the passenger doors were closed and finally our six month old B737 has officially left the gate we’ve been parked on for 2 hours. After the start up checklist has been completed, time to connect to Esenboğa ground to get taxi clearance. “Okay Enver; calm down. They are basically people just like you… You shouldn’t even worry” Okay, I am not scared. Not even. I shook my shoulders, taking a deep breath and pressing “communicate” button on the edge of my rudder and trying to give the look of a “self confident” man:

(Clearing my throat) “Esenboğa Ground, Sun Express 981 is ready to taxi.”

See Enver, you shouldn’t exaggerate, it wasn’t even difficult.

“Sun Express 981 Good night; you are cleared to taxi to runway zero-six right, via taxiway Alpha, Bravo and Yankee.

“Wilco; taxi to runway zero-six right, via Alpha, Bravo and Yankee.”

The rain is getting heavier, I could feel the punches of the rain dropping over the cockpit wildly. Okay, on the runway, setting flaps to five degrees, auto brakes on RTO position. Everything is in its right position; now the only thing to do is to wait for take-off clearance to take this bird up in the sky.

No response. Feeling the scary silence in the cockpit around me one more time. But suddenly, the heavy voice full of confidence comes from the other side:

“Sun Express 981, wind 340 degrees, 10 knots; you are cleared for take-off runway zero six right.”

“Cleared for take-off runway zero six right, Sun Express 981”

Alright, time to push the throttle lever and reach the dark wet sky above us. Pushing the throttles until their end doesn't make any change but in a few seconds my beautiful Boeing 737 begins to accelerate on the wet runway surface. Speed indicator looks happy to be reaching up to 50 knots shortly after the engines were forced to do so, there is no turning back. 80 Knots, I think of sleeping in peace instead. Fully-throttled engines don’t even hear what I am saying, speeding up to 165 Knots just like a man trying to cross his borders... Suddenly, the callous voice of auto pilot filling up the whole dark, scary, cold cockpit one more time, "ROTATE!" No, no wait! It shouldn’t be so simple; I don’t even know how to fly… “Gear up!”

It is over. The young Boeing 737 gently maintaining its initial altitude, 9000ft while I am busy watching the wet clouds go by...


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