A319/20 Senior First Officer
Current location/base: London Gatwick (LGW) Airline
Previous airline/s: Wizzair
Additional role/s: Base Safety Pilot (LGW), TRI A320
Uni degree? BA (Hons) Air Transport Management with Commercial Pilot Training,
Bucks New Uni, MSc Air Transport Management, Cranfield University
Airline training route: Modular ATPL
ATO/s attended: Orlando Flight Training (PPL), Cabair (ATPL’s), Wycombe Air Centre (CPL, FI),
Stapleford Flight Centre (MEIR), Oxford Aviation Academy (MCC/JOC)
Why did you want to become a pilot?
My mum was a Purser at British Airways and so growing up I spent more time in the air than on the ground! I had my first aerobatics flying lesson in a C150 when I was 8 years old at Shoreham Airport and that was that! When I was 9 years old, on a flight to Hong Kong before 9/11, I was in the Flight Deck of a B747 and the Captain let me turn the heading bug when he got a radio call from ATC to change heading; I still get goose bumps thinking about that moment!
How did you fund your training?
A major reason I chose to study a Degree in Air Transport Management in parallel with my flight training was that it allowed me to spread the cost of the training over many years while I worked towards something relevant and interesting. I was a Lifeguard throughout my A Levels and University which enable me to fund my training up to CPL. I then ran out of money for the ME/IR/MCC/JOC, and so in 2010 at the age of 21, I took a huge risk on the back end of the Great Recession, and spent my last bit of cash on a Flight Instructor Rating. I spent the next year driving hundreds of miles to different airfields to earn £6 doing a half an hour Trial Lesson. In 2011 I returned to Earls Colne Airfield in Essex where I had logged my first official hour on my 14th birthday. The owner then bonded me for two years to run the Flight School and he paid for my MEIR at Stapleford Flight Centre. In 2013 I was bonded as an MPL Flight Instructor for one year at CAE OAA in return for my MCC/JOC. In 2014 I was bonded for two years with Wizz Air for my A320 Type Rating. In 2019 I was bonded for one year with L3 for my TRI. I have paid for all my training but with time rather than money.
Was training a breeze or did you find it a challenge?
Training is about going from the known to the unknown. Of course all the training has challenging moments, but I always felt that the previous step had prepared me for the next.
What was most challenging?
By far the most challenging part of training is deciding the route you will take and how you will fund it.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Where do I start? Taking off in grey rain and drizzle, with terrible visibility and low lying cloud, to break through the tops of the clouds to see glorious blue skies and the sun. Chasing the sunset on a west bound departure at dusk. Having breakfast over the Alps. Having dinner over the Pyrenees. Hearing London Control on the radio as you approach the White Cliffs of Dover after a long day out. Descending into the valley in Innsbruk in thick cloud below minimum safety altitude, breaking cloud at minima and then flying the Special Visual approach onto runway 08 with a strong bumpy Foehn wind! I could go on forever!
What is most challenging about your job?
In many other industries, once you complete your initial training, the pressure of further checks are minimal. In aviation, you have to be very disciplined in constantly reading and learning the new procedures and documentation to be checked every six months in the simulator for the rest of your career. This, however, creates an immense feeling of job satisfaction!
Which Pilot Competencies are of most interest to you?
All of the ICAO core pilot competencies are important and inextricably linked to one another. However, the one competency that all the others depend on is Situational Awareness (SAW). If SAW is degraded, it will almost definitely have a negative impact on every other competency.
Do you have any experience of mentoring previously?
If ‘YES’, can you provide some details please...At university I was a mentor for new students starting each year. A large part of being a Flight and Simulator Instructor is to mentor cadets as they progress through their training.