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Airplane Pilot Portrait
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Luke W

First Officer

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Most Recent Aircraft Type:

Aviation Specific Degree:





English/Spanish (basic)

London, Gatwick

Additional Experience/Qualifications:

Passions, Interests and Experience:

Why did you want to become a pilot?

I always wanted to fly - for as long as I can remember. I can’t recall any defining moment which sparked my interest, and I have no aviators in the family. One of my earliest memories is playing with a die-cast model of a British Airways 747 and “flying” it down the stairs. As I grew up, my interest in aviation matured and I could often be found reading books or watching documentaries about airplanes. I’m an unashamedly obsessed avgeek (I really do need another hobby!). I count myself very lucky to have achieved my dream to fly.

How did you fund your training?

Funding my training was not easy. Initially, I worked on the desk for a local flight school who paid me in hours towards my PPL. Later, I worked as cabin crew and saved up to pay for my distance ATPL course. A loan of £10,000 got me as far as hour building completion. A gift of £30,000 from my parents, as well as some of my own savings meant that I could complete the ME/IR, CPL, and MCC/JOC. I was lucky to be hired by Flybe soon after completing training. Flybe was my “big break” which really kickstarted my career in the flight deck. I count myself very lucky to have achieved my ambition to become a pilot – I worked hard to get here – but I owe my success to many very supportive people in my life.

Was training a breeze or did you find it a challenge?

I had the time of my life during flight training. I’m a fairly academic person, so I even enjoyed the theory! Of course, training was tough at times, but as someone wise once told me, worth-while endeavours are rarely easy.

What was the most challenging?

Trainees rarely sail through training at a constant pace of learning, and this was no different for me. Some learning objectives required more time and effort than others. When I consider more challenging phases of training, the instrument rating comes to mind. Probably the most challenging aspect to my training experience was the fact that I completed the ATPL studies via distance learning while working full time. This required a high level of discipline and sacrifice in order to complete the course.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Modern airline pilots do far more than just fly the aircraft. I obviously enjoy performing technically well flown approaches into challenging or scenic airports. Beyond this I get a great deal of satisfaction from many other aspects of my job. I really enjoy the gratification of successfully dealing with a challenge – such as weather or slot delays. I also enjoy engaging with passengers and learning more about their travels.

What is most challenging about your job?

Landing during the UK winter storms is often a challenge. Work/life balance can sometimes be challenging too, given the roster schedule of an airline pilot.

Which Pilot Competencies are of most interest to you and why?

At the moment, as I work towards command, I’m thinking more about workload management, decision making, and leadership.

Additional Info

Through my roles as a TKI and Flight Instructor, I have mentored and coached many students. Some of these students are now flying for airlines, which has been really rewarding for me.

During the pandemic I worked at the 999 emergency operations centre, as an Emergency Medical Advisor Coach. As well as answering 999 calls from the public, I coached new medical advisors through their first few months in the role. This incorporated teaching and mentoring, as well as coaching – in a very intense and potentially distressing environment.

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