Many wonder how people get to the point where they are now. How it all started? It’s like a seed that grows into a huge tree. In the following text I will show you how I started my career in aviation (so far), the experiences I had during my first steps, up to the point when I obtained my license.
My love in aviation started at a very young age, my uncle Vedran had a collection of model jet aircraft that he would show to me. He also showed me (on his computer) many airshows, aircraft videos, games, etc. My house where I lived in (Coorparoo - Brisbane, Australia) was directly below aircraft landing and takeoff routes. Every day from my veranda I watched aircrafts fly above me. When I was visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina, I was thrilled not because of where I am going, it was because of travelling in a passenger aircraft! Usually the captain would allow me into the cockpit when the aircraft was parked at the gate. Those minutes while in the cockpit were pure wonder and an excitement for me. When I returned from my visit, I was, with no doubt, sure what I want to become when I grow up. Over the years I started to explore aviation through flight simulation, which taught me the basics and secured me with a good knowledge base. But, still something was missing in me, like a missing piece of a puzzle. I rarely flew, the only opportunities I had was when my family travelled.
When my family moved to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, we stopped travelling by plane for a while (although we did make a trip to London and Paris - but for me it was to short). It was hard for me, as my will to fly grew, so did my efforts. At the main airport in Sarajevo, I loved to be near the runway, watching the aircrafts arrive and departure. After a couple of years of dwelling in my dreams, I started to take steps further to get closer to aviation. I started to explore ways to become a pilot, and found that the earliest I can be a pilot is as a Sailplane Pilot.
That is how I started to get interested into that sport. But I have never actually investigated does that sport exist in the Balkans, which was a big mistake. Eight years have passed dreaming, I learned that way to be patient, which actually helped me a lot later. It was my visit to Bled, Slovenia, that kicked me into soaring. There I watched a plane with a big wingspan and no engine noise, it was a glider! The way it majestically flew, floating in the skies, surfing the wind, playing in the clouds. I was surprised that such a sport exists here. As soon I returned to Sarajevo, I found a place called Livno referring itself also as “Soaring Paradise”, and read that the soaring conditions there are absolutely phenomenal! There I met the Livno team, consisting of a small team of aviation enthusiasts. They were delighted to hear and see a young aviation enthusiast wanting to become a pilot, as they said to me, in B&H there are very little young generation pilots.
During my first ever visit to Livno I was able to do something I could never do, which may sound weird, and that is to get close to an aircraft. Unfortunately I was always distanced from aircraft on the ground display on airshows mostly by security or because I was just afraid to get close to it. On the grass field there was a parked Moran tow plane, such a wonderful plane to see and feel up close, and was not scorned for getting to close to the plane (I was 15), but I was applauded for showing an interest in the aircraft. From the team, I`ve met Edvard Krišto, a sailplane instructor. He took me on a brief introductory flight around above the airport. After the flight, I was even more confident with what I want!
After the visit, I registered myself into the flight school in Prijedor. There I would finish my basic flight training in June 2014. Till then I was in Livno learning from PowerPoint presentations with Edvard, and gave me instructions to continue my learning. So before the flight training even began, I was already familiar with the procedures and basic theory.
And so my flight training begun and I met Irfan Habibović, a great instructor. Aside from practicing traffic patterns, I also went on my first soaring flight with him. The flight was amazing. The feeling can’t be described. Irfan complimented me for flying well, and gifted me a couple of loops, and zero-g parabolic aerobatics. It was amazing how, with no engine, we gain the potential only by the sun heating the ground. It came to me that gliders are fueled by the energy of thermonuclear fusions from the sun, but not directly, but still, that’s a lot of energy. Learning to harness the energy from the sun and using it requires great knowledge and technique. And as every young pilot they must face its first solo flight! Well, I must say, on my first solo flight, the feeling was only “get to the ground safely!”, which I did. Later, when I had more confidence in myself I was really enjoying solo flights, but only in a traffic pattern. When I finished my basic flight training I got my flight-book and was very proud of it. But still I did not fulfill the requirements of a pilot (formally).
What I wanted to practice was soaring. But unfortunately, the weather during the rest of 2014 in B&H was a catastrophe. Lots of rain and floods during the entire summer! I tried to fly in Livno, and was there 10 days and only flew once. All other days were rain, rain, rain! Well, next year should be better hopefully.
Soaring season 2015 was one of the best seasons ever! Throughout the whole year the runway wasn’t over damped by rain, and the atmosphere was favorably unstable, with Northeast “Bura” winds during the June month. That year I started the season at the beginning of April, with a day of dry, blue thermals with strengths up to 3m/s to 1000m QFE. Other than that one-day visit, I came to Livno a couple more times in May, but the weather wasn’t in our favor, but a good day to practice “Bad Thermal Agony” where you try as much as you can to stay aloft in low convective atmosphere which will help sharpening the “feeling” and skill to center a thermal. I then came to Livno on a 10 day stay with my club (Aeroclub Sarajevo) late June. From strong and cold “Bura” winds, to strong thermals, with waves across the whole Livno Field to Bihać (Southeast-Northwest wave direction), it was absolutely amazing!
But, as good as it may be, a good recommendation to all, is to never hurry on such days, always be patient, and double check your actions before takeoff. Because it’s most likely that during a hurry, something may be forgotten that will influence the flight. Those days became my first experiences in advance soaring techniques: ridge soaring, rotor finding, wave flying, long flights and cross-country soaring. After that, flying becomes an obsession, like a drug. The more you fly, the more you want to fly! I feel such harmony and peace, at the heights, only hearing the wind. And with such flights the 10 days already passed. From the beginning, my first flight to now, Livno will always be in my heart.
I couldn’t be at peace at home for even one month after those flights, and came again to Livno alone at the beginning of August. Not only to fly, but because at that period we had foreign pilots (Germans, Slovenians), and I would like to use the opportunity to hear from people with more experience, listening to their stories, etc. The weather then was at the peak of “perfect” with daily distances of 500+ kilometers from the OLC by other pilots. I decided to stay 7 days, during those days I was usually on the ground, helping, but had a couple of chances to fly. I remember very well, during one flight, we had strong 4m/s thermals with long cloud-streets, and during the final glide to the airfield we catch a strong lift hammering the vario stuck at 5m/s, most probably a rotor below a wave. The wave took us to 2800m QFE and glided above the Livno Field up to Troglav and back. An interesting accidental finding which nicely prolonged my flight.
Up to today, I am very thankful of Uroš and his colleague Roman for providing me a chance to fly in an Arcus.
Since that flight, I am always flying, in my dreams, or for real. At the end of the year, BHDCA (B&H Directorate of Civil Aviation) finally organized theoretical tests for the license. Soon enough, that was done, and all was left is to do my examiner flight to then send my license application. Next year (2016) my examiner flight was done in July, but got my license late August. In an effort to take the next step, I again went to Livno for a 16 day stay. During those days I was helping a lot on the ground, and if I found free time, I could fly. Because my license wasn’t yet published, an instructor has to be on the ground, so there are many factors on which I may fly. One more big accomplishment is that I started to soar solo!
During my stay, I’ve met a person, with a very serious profession – Petko. He is a captain of a respectable airline, with many years of experience. I am very glad that when we met, he gladly shared his experiences with me, especially constructed criticism for my actions. This greatly improved my quality in aviation. From him I learned a lot especially about avoiding danger or accidents by following procedures. On August 16, 2016, after 2 whole years, my license finally arrives at my address! I thank everybody who helped me to achieve this! During this whole period I am of course not perfect, neither I will ever consider myself as perfect. Considering yourself inexperienced is a great experience. I always listen to stories and experiences that others talk about, it could help you a lot. This hobby and sport requires a great motivation, will and ambition. You keep holding that by not overdoing anything; keep it at 90% of your capacity, as suggested by Petko. Never give up. All humans make mistakes, there’s nobody that’s perfect. Always be honest and acknowledge your mistake as a way of learning. Aviation is now my passion, only when in the skies I am in my “world”. I’ll do anything just to visit “that place”. I hope in the future it will also become my profession (to fly for an airline). Livno (LQLV) is a fantastic starting point for soaring in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Livno is really “a soaring paradise”! One more big thanks to my parents who supported me the whole way, without them I certainly wouldn’t be writing this now.