For many of our pilots, the desire to pursue a flying career started as a childhood dream and ambition. That’s certainly true of James, our Chief Flight Instructor. James’s flight training ultimately led him down an unexpected path when his instructor suggested that he trained to teach.
Dan’s interest in flight training started in an unusual place – a car boot sale. There he stumbled across a copy of ‘flight sim’ a computer game which focuses on aircraft simulation, and he became hooked. Just as well, because before that chance encounter, he’d always wanted to become a virologist…
Have you ever been curious about what skills and abilities are required to become a flight instructor? Perhaps you've never given it a second thought, our suggestion is that you should.
We sat down for 5 minutes with Tom, a flight instructor for FTA. He explains what he enjoys about teaching others to fly and his journey to get where he is now.
Why did you train to become a pilot?
When I was 19 and a student I started to work as a secretary in an aviation company. Within months of working there, I grew a passion for aviation and fell in love with the idea of being a pilot. I started in flight operations and became exposed to pilots, hearing their stories and how they explained things.
Despite my growing interest, I knew the cost and felt like it was impossible for me, something that was entirely out of my reach.
No turning back
I saved every penny I could and eventually saved up enough money to complete my Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL). For me, it made sense to start by only focusing on that aspect of the training. I told myself that the PPL was financially a lower risk than enrolling straight onto an integrated course. It gave me time to save just enough money and was an excellent place to start my training. I felt that if I succeed at this stage, it will give me the knowledge and confidence to decide whether I could progress on to the more advanced training required of airline pilots.
The problem was there would never be any turning back after experiencing what it was like to fly – I instantly became addicted. I knew that I would never be happy if I didn’t now follow my dream.
Finding the right flight school
I researched all the pilot training, and my boss who is also a mentor to me said to go to the states and train over there. It was a UK certified flight school but based in Florida, and you gained an EU licence at the end of your training. It was only possible with thanks to funds from my parents and a personal loan. After I had completed my commercial training, I had to find somewhere to complete my IR (in the US you cannot do your instrument rating).
I looked around Europe and the UK and first looked at a few, large flight schools based in the South of England and their prices were well out of reach. I was also very disappointed by their customer service. Through further research, I discovered FTA and everything felt happy. I got a response within hours and had all the answers to my questions. Stuart (the Admissions Officer at the time) was friendly and helpful.
Ana, a qualified Flight Instructor turned pilot explains what life as First Officer for airBaltic is like, and how she and her partner make it possible to both work as pilots and still enjoy a happy family life.
Why did you want to be a pilot?
Recruiting high-calibre Flight Instructors is a significant issue for all Approved Training Organisations (ATOs), especially in the current climate where the airline industry is seeing exponential growth and experiencing an unprecedented demand for pilots. With airlines recruiting at their greatest levels in decades, Flight Instructors, (who are typically highly experienced and qualified pilots), are getting snapped up for First Officer roles.
The direct consequence of which is a distinct lack of qualified Flight Instructors. Flight Instructors are generally only able to teach a maximum of 4 full-time students per annum so if ATOs are to keep up with demand they will need a number of basic and advanced instructors to deliver the training.
Before our Teruel-based Instructor Pablo went off to pastures new, he agreed to complete quickfire Q&A for us. Pablo was a great asset to FTA and really enjoyed his time teaching in Spain. His responses offer great insight into 'why to get into flight instruction' and life in Teruel.