A320/21 First Officer
Current location/base: Barcelona
Previous airline: Aer Lingus
Do you speak any other languages? Spanish
Airline training route: Integrated ATPL
ATO attended: FTE Jerez
Why did you want to become a pilot?
I think like most pilots, I always had a fascination and interest in aviation from a young age. When I was younger, we were lucky enough to have a couple of holidays abroad, and at the time, you were able to enter the flight deck during flight. I just remember the overwhelming sense of wonder at all the buttons and controls, and of course the views. The visit to the flight deck was as exciting as the holiday itself, and this ignited the fire! This was then compounded by watching the aircraft and displays at The Farnborough Airshow, as I grew up quite close by. However, although I had the fascination and passion for aviation and aircraft and the magic of flight, I never really associated it with a job that I could actually do myself. Every time that I was on an aircraft, I would think what an amazing job it must be to be a pilot, especially on take off with the engines roaring, but the idea that I had in my head that it was only for men from certain backgrounds, and that it wouldn't be an option for me. I then had two children quite young, and so I never really thought any more about it, until one day I found myself (or ourselves) in a position where I had the opportunity to rethink the direction of our life, and I saw that a friend from school had just completed his training, and there it was again, the little spark that ignited the fire again... (And the rest, as they say, is history).
How did you fund your training?
Through the sale of my house and a loan
Was training a breeze or did you find it a challenge?
For me, it was definitely more of a challenge than a breeze! I did find that about 3 weeks in to ground school, I was questioning whether I had made the right decision. I had been out of studying for a good few years, and although it may sound ridiculous, I'd forgotten how to 'study', and I didn't know the best strategy to retain information, but with a bit of dedication and hard work, you find a way that works for you. It was also exhausting, I thought I knew what tiredness felt like before, as a single parent with two children, but the tiredness was not just physical, it was mental and emotional too and to stay motivated at times, when you felt like you weren't understanding things, was really difficult... But the comradery amongst our course and high points of being able celebrate each other and support each other through the good times as well as the more difficult times, was invaluable!
What was most challenging?
Before I started the training, there was one piece of feedback that I consistently heard: the tough part was not necessarily what you were learning, but how much you had to learn in such a short period of time, and I couldn't agree more! There were times it was a real test of your character and perseverance.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
This is a difficult question to answer, because I can't pinpoint just one thing that I enjoy the most about my job. I love my job, I love the people that I work with, I love the sunrises and sunsets and the ever changing views, I love the take off, and coming in to land, especially after a sporty wind.
What is most challenging about your job?
I think managing my personal life and professional life, and to try and establish some sort of routine (albeit a flexible one). To be able to adapt from early morning starts to late night finishes, and to accept the fact that you will have miss out on important occasions for friends and family, and you will not really be able to plan things, and I guess most difficult for me, is to ensure, especially in busier periods of flying, that I am maintaining some sort of balance to my family life and having quality time with my children.
Which Pilot Competencies are of most interest to you?
All of them are important, and imperative to the operation of commercial aircraft... But I believe that communication is key, and flight path management (manual flying) really enjoyable...