Current location: UK
Previous airline: Air2000
Previous/Additional roles: Royal Air Force, Flight Commander, Qualified Helicopter Instructor (A2), Training Captain, Instrument Rating Examiner, Crew Resource Management Instructor, Project and Safety Management and Military Aircraft Release.
Uni degree: Aeronautical Engineering BEng(Hons).
Languages? A little French, but not at conversation level!
Airline training route: ATPL via Royal Air Force Central Flying School.
ATOs attended: Wycombe Air Park, Royal Air Force Central Flying School.
Why did you want to become a pilot?
Even from Primary School age, all friends can remember about me was that I wanted to be a pilot. I was fascinated by military aircraft and I went to my first Airshow at 6 years old.
How did you fund your training?
I was fortunate to start with about 4000 Military Hours, but the bulk of it was Rotary. So I had to do bridging training to obtain a CPL and then a Frozen ATPL as I didn’t have enough fixed-wing night hours. I funded it from my RAF salary so it cost about one-tenth of what it should have!
Was training a breeze or did you find it a challenge?
I had a Degree in Aeronautical Engineering so the theory was not technically challenging, it’s just that there was rather a lot of it. There were no bridging exemptions when I did my licence so I’ve done all the examinations. I don’t think I’ve come across any pilot who, at some time or another, didn’t struggle. This is where other course mates can really help, as they might need your help in another phase of flying that you find more straightforward.
What was the most challenging?
Mentally, failing Tactical Weapons Training on the Hawk TMk1A, right at the end of the course after a two year process. The challenge was overcoming the disappointment and focussing on the new challenges. I was also made redundant in the fallout of 9/11; it was very difficult to recalibrate myself and postpone becoming a Commercial Pilot.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Nobody likes a bad day out, but I enjoy it most when there is a challenge and something to problem solve between the Captain and Crew to achieve a safe outcome. Fortunately, modern aircraft don’t suffer that often from the technical problems that the military aircraft I flew once did.
What is most challenging about your job?
I have fought in helicopters in several Campaigns that have left me with enduring health challenges. Despite this I have managed to keep going and notch up over 8000 Commercial Hours. Even so I still get nervous before a simulator session or Route Check because of the perceived jeopardy of failing it. This is a surprisingly common aspect of our profession.
Which Pilot Competencies are of most interest to you?
I was an instructor and Crew Resource Trainer in the Royal Air Force. It is gratifying to see how training has developed for the better with the evolution of Competency Based Training. However, my biggest Competency is not on the matrix.
It is, ‘Be Compassionate to Yourself’.
I was an Instructor and latterly Flight Commander in the Royal Air Force. I was responsible for formal appraisal and career development, written and verbal but also informal advice and mentoring. I continue to provide advice on an ad-hoc basis. I am also a volunteer in the ‘Inspiring the Future’ educational support programme for schools. This involves giving presentations and career advice including interview practice.
I was made redundant from air2000 before I had even commenced training. This was due to the fallout from 9/11. However, I remained in continuous employment by re-mustering back into the Royal Air Force.