A few months ago I introduced you to our Senior First Officer Michael Weeks, who originally started working at Monarch in the Operations team before pursuing his dream to become a pilot.
Recently we have collected some more ‘weird and wonderful’ questions from you, which we sent to FO Weeks to address…enjoy!
Which country do you enjoy flying to the most and why?
I love flying to and from Gibraltar! It has always been a fun place to fly in and out of, every day is different. It is a “Captain’s-only” landing due to the shortness of the runway and the weather conditions that can change rapidly at the airfield.
Air Traffic control and the airport staff are always so helpful and nice to work with and the views of flying around the Rock of Gibraltar are amazing. What’s more, there is also so much history there. It’s also great holiday destination from a personal view!
Michael was spotted in Gibraltar! (credit: @meteogib)
What’s your best memory as a pilot?
I have plenty, however it’s usually your “first” as a pilot. As in: first ever lesson, first solo flight, passing your exams etc. For me, it will always be the first time I was sent to fly an aircraft for the first time on my own. Picture this – you’ve done ground school exams and the minimum amount of hours to be able to fly without an instructor in the aircraft with you; then the instructor makes the judgement whether you are ready and safe to fly on your own to do a circuit around the airfield and…they let you loose.
Suddenly you’re on your own with the aircraft, flying and making the judgments and decisions by yourself. It’s exhilarating! You’re flying above the world on your own taking in the views and in sole control of the aircraft. When it’s time to land, you make it a great landing. The feeling is unreal! Then the work and effort continues to whatever stage of flying you aim to achieve in your life. Truly a great moment for me.
Do you bring a packed lunch?
I generally always bring a packed lunch to work, certainly more so on the longer flights! I like to try and eat as healthily as possible, as sitting in the cockpit for long periods of time doesn’t always do your diet the greatest of good. I like to make big salads with either meat or fish and bring fruit/salad boxes to keep the hunger at bay!
What is the most amazing view/thing you’ve seen whilst flying?
A few months back on our way to Malaga, the French Air Traffic Control said to us over the radio: “Monarch 012…there is traffic in your nine o’clock position crossing from left to right, 1000 feet below you within the next five minutes.” We looked out of the window and could see two aircraft, one behind us and the other one in the distance. Air Traffic Control then said: “It should be a good view shortly, as it is an Airbus A380 followed by an Airbus A350 behind it crossing below you.” Slowly the two aircraft became more noticeable and then they converged with us 1000 feet below (which is the minimum and quite a normal vertical separation for aircraft). It was a spectacular sight to see whilst in the cruise!
Do you prefer take-off or landing?
I like both! When we take-off or land in tricky weather conditions, the adrenalin starts to rush and I love the challenge of dealing with the situation and making it a safe and comfortable experience for everyone.
Do you ever get scared when you’re flying, especially during turbulence?
Turbulence isn’t a nice thing during a flight, both for us as crew or for the passengers. Believe it or not…it’s not the pilots who cause it! We will do as much as we can to avoid turbulence or experience it as little as possible by avoiding weather systems, forecast areas of turbulence and will try to negotiate different routeings or altitudes to reduce the amount of turbulence experienced.
However from a personal point of view, I would say I never get scared when flying! We are so highly trained and monitored, we are always poised to act accordingly in any situation and we are there to make the best decisions based on any situation. So in essence, I don’t get scared, as I know that I have been trained to deal with any situations that may occur when flying.
If you could choose to fly anyone, including family or celebrities from the past, who would it be?
Shamefully, I have yet to fly my mum anywhere! So I hope to get to fly her somewhere nice one day, even in a small aircraft which I’m still rated to fly. My parents were both in the airline industry and I was brought up in aviation. My dad who sadly passed away when I was nine is my inspiration for becoming a pilot – I wish I had the chance to fly him somewhere as I think he would be rather proud of my career choice and of what I have achieved.
Did you like the images in this blog? There’s plenty more where they came from! They were all taken by First Officer Weeks, you can follow his flying adventures on Instagram @michalis_weeks