FTA Cadet Anthony describes his first memories of flying and realising that all he would ever want to be is a pilot.

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My first time in an aircraft was as a child flying to Jersey on a holiday...I never knew at the time but I see it as one of my life's great transition points. 

My first time in an aircraft was as a child flying to Jersey on a holiday. I vividly remember climbing the stairs to the now obsolete BAC One Eleven and marveling at its beauty. Back then British Airways planes had a super smart Speedbird livery with a coat of arms on the tail. When I saw it close up with its enormous rear mounted engines I was amazed.

I never knew at the time but I see it as one of my life's great transition points. Several years later I went with my mother on a day out to Gatwick Airport.

My first time in an aircraft was as a child flying to Jersey on a holiday. I vividly remember climbing the stairs to the now obsolete BAC One Eleven and marveling at its beauty. Back then British Airways planes had a super smart Speedbird livery with a coat of arms on the tail. When I saw it close up with its enormous rear mounted engines I was amazed.

I never knew at the time but I see it as one of my life's great transition points. Several years later I went with my mother on a day out to Gatwick Airport. There used to be an observation deck in the South Terminal where you could watch aircraft taking off and landing.

It was then, aged about eight or nine, that I seriously began considering piloting as a profession when I heard the words, ''you know, you could do that one day.''

From then on I begged family members and collected anything airline related; books, pictures, old amenity kits and even plastic cutlery! Even today, I have an impressive array of airline memorabilia that goes back a few years.

I would highly recommend ATC, CCF or a university air squadron to anyone at school or university who is seriously considering flying.

 

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At school from age thirteen onwards we had the option of doing the Duke of Edinburgh award or choosing between the Army, Navy or RAF in the Combined Cadet Force (CCF). My mind was made up on the spot. Along with hours spent marching around the school grounds in uniform, away days and camps we were lucky enough to have a few hours on the Bulldog and Grob training aircraft. As expected, flying from Boscombe Down near Salisbury was fantastic. As it is fully funded by the Ministry of Defence I would highly recommend ATC, CCF or a university air squadron to anyone at school or university who is seriously considering flying.

 

With all these flying experiences in my background I knew that I wanted to fly, but straight after university I wasn’t in a financial position to pursue it. I had a brief spell of working in finance in London but I soon discovered that corporate life wasn’t really who I was. When the 2008 recession hit hard and the graduate job market was as its worst I decided to take a risk and make my move into aviation. Initially I looked into the RAF, but after meeting an MOD recruitment officer and being 23 at the time, I was deemed too old to start the application process as a military pilot. I had a friend who worked for Emirates and suggested applying to one of the major Middle Eastern airlines as crew. Not long after this I passed selection and moved to Qatar where I worked as cabin crew for 5 years. I really enjoyed my job, it was a lot of fun, and I saw every continent by the time I was twenty-five. But I was still that little bit envious of the pilots whenever I went into the cockpit – that was really what I wanted to be doing!

Eventually, after five years of hard saving from my job I started considering the financials. I'd kept my expenses low in Qatar and saved half of my paycheck every month. By this point the prospect of actually becoming a pilot was looking more and more realistic and my pilot friends were encouraging me to get on with it. I met up with a financial advisor to ask for some advice; I was either planning on investing money saved in property or starting my pilot training. I will always remember what he told me – invest in yourself first. The property can come later. It was at this point my mind was completely made up, I was going to take the plunge and be a pilot…

I am originally from Brighton and I'd always known Shoreham Airport...My grandparents had even met there in the 1950s working in aeronautical engineering - but for some bizarre reason I had always overlooked Shoreham!

I looked at FTA because of friend's recommendation. We had trained in the same school in New Zealand and I had only heard good things from him. I am originally from Brighton and I'd always known Shoreham Airport. As a student in France I used to take the scheduled air service between Shoreham and LeHavre on my way to Paris where I used to live. When I was seventeen I drove a car for the first time on the Airport road.I am originally from Brighton and always known Shoreham Airport...My grandparents even met there in the 1950s working in aeronautical engineering - but for some bizarre reason I had always overlooked Shoreham.

 

With the good recommendation I decided to finally book my tour with FTA to view the facilities and aircraft fleet before joining. I instantly knew that the environment at FTA was right for me because of its size (being fairly small) and close-knit where everyone is on first name terms with one another. I was also really impressed with the shiny new fleet of DA40s and DA42s that are beautifully maintained and looked after.

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WHAT IS IT LIKE TO FLY SOLO FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME?

My first solo flight took place in January in New Zealand. I flew in a DA20. I remember my instructor turning to me and saying, “You’re ready to go, are you happy?” He then jumped out of the aircraft and I was alone. Surprisingly I didn’t feel nervous, I just got on with it and got the job done as well as I could. Once I had landed after one circuit I felt very satisfied. My landing had been smooth and it was a real boost to my confidence.

WHAT ARE THE BEST, BUT ALSO TOUGHEST THINGS ABOUT LEARNING TO FLY?

My favourite part about flight training is definitely feature spotting over South East England. Funnily enough, even though I'd flown in New Zealand the views here are equally if not even more impressive. When you take off from Runway 20 you can track down the coast for some impressive views of Brighton and the piers. I regularly do my solo general handling over Beachy Head, the Seven Sisters and Arundel Castle and the views are absolutely breath taking!

 

Here at FTA you really are in excellent hands with top instructors. Aircraft availability and scheduling has been brilliant and on some weeks I have had as many as ten bookings.

I can even spot my parents' house from the air! Out to the west you can also take in some great views of the Isle of Wight and the New Forest. Here at FTA you really are in excellent hands with top instructors. Aircraft availability and scheduling has been brilliant and on some weeks I have had as many as ten bookings. FTA is also a rare breed of school that performs all of its integrated training within the UK. With Gatwick, Farnborough and several other major control zones nearby you really are flying in a hub of global aviation.

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The hardest part about the training was definitely the ground school theory exams. It’s a process that takes a lot of dedication and discipline to get through. It was strange for me leaving my full time job and returning back to academia when I hadn’t been in education for nearly 6 years. As crew I had lived a life of partying, sightseeing and sleeping and I had to really push myself to get back into learning mode. But all of the revising, study days and hard work paid off in the end. Like everything in life if you want something badly enough anything is achievable.

I WANT TO BE A PILOT - WHERE DO I START?

Working as a dispatcher, cabin crew or any position in an airline will help you. If I were to offer advice to anyone wanting to become a pilot I would recommend spending time researching flight schools thoroughly. Always look for the right mix of culture and atmosphere that suits you personally. Try to speak to as many students and pilots as you can get access to. You want to find out as many personal experiences and stories as possible. These will help you to understand the everyday lives of those individuals already pursuing the pilot career path. Even if its not yet possible to start the training try to do something aviation related.

Sometimes you may come across a manoeuvre or practice that’s tricky at first, but don’t ever feel defeated!

 

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And lastly, be prepared for good and not so good days. Sometimes you may come across a manoeuvre or practice that’s tricky at first, but don’t ever feel defeated! A few days down the line it will be second nature. Commercial flight training is never an easy process for anyone. But with hard work, determination, an ability to overcome defeat and work well with people nothing is impossible!

 

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