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L3 Memories – Chris Harber

Date: 20 June 2018

Hi my name is Chris and I was a part of CP143 on the Integrated ATPL course. I completed training in August 2017 and graduated in December 2017. Currently, having passed my licence skills test I have just finished my Boeing 737-800NG Type Rating with Ryanair and am starting base training.

For this blog, L3 asked me to share the top three memories from my academy days – and surprisingly they’re not all flying related! So here they are:


My favourite memory took place on New Year’s Eve. The day started with a 7am, brakes off and I took a Cessna 172 on my six hour cross country Qualifying flight. This flight took me north of Hamilton, round the Auckland airspace and making my first stop at Dargaville - a limestone runway which made for a few non-normal operations! I then headed further north to a place called Keri Keri. After a 30 minute stop I flew the 2.5 hour leg back to Hamilton. I was met back at Hamilton Airport by my course mates and a car full of beer. And, at last, we hit the road to Auckland to see in the New Year. The rest was history. It was a really packed day and a great way to end 2016. 



My second memory was the Epic Swim that took place in Lake Taupo. Upon arriving at New Zealand, post ground school, it was fair to say I was slightly chunkier than I was when I first started. As a teenager I swam at national level and for a few performance squads. I hadn’t swam for a few years and missed it, so I decided to do some googling. I stumbled across a 17.5km open water swim located at Lake Taupo, not too far from Hamilton. This was a swim where you swam in the 5km race followed by the 10km race then the 2.5km race! A fellow cadet from another course entered the 5km race and so we trained together for a couple of months prior to the race. On the day of the swim, it was a blistering hot day and after five hours of swimming and some substantial sunburn I managed to place second! Afterwards I treated myself to a massive ‘Burger fuel’ and jumped back in the car to head to Auckland airport, as early the next morning I was flying out to Australia!



My final memory has to be passing Instrument Rating. This is the ultimate target for everyone who joins L3! Once you pass this you are the holder of a licence! It was during that amazing heat wave of summer 2017. I remember on the day, seeing a note attached to my schedule booking saying ‘RNAV EGTE’. This meant I was to fly to Exeter and perform an RNAV approach. I was very apprehensive about this. In the training I had just about managed to grasp that approach into Exeter, this was because ‘Glidepath’ is 3.5 degrees as opposed to the standard 3 degrees making the ‘pitch power settings’ that you are normally taught irrelevant.


My examiner was an ex-navy pilot and was very relaxed and professional which eased the pressure slightly. Once we were airborne I was told to put on the autopilot, take off the hood you have to wear, sit back and enjoy the view before setting up and preparing for the approach. I made contact with Exeter and due to glider activity they kept me exceptionally high putting me well off profile. I decided to ask them for extra miles to lose the altitude so they sent me out over the ocean to descend. This meant my Initial Approach Fix had changed so I had to quickly re-brief this before commencing the approach. Following the approach we headed back to Bournemouth. Once I pulled up on the apron and shut the engines down I heard the words ‘Congratulations, you have passed’. The rest of the conversation was just a blur!



So there you have it, these are just my top three memories. There are many more I could tell you and there are definitely more to create as I embark on my pilot career.


- Chris