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Childhood dream becomes a reality for trainee pilot, James

FTA Cadet James, explains how his training to become a pilot has been a dream since childhood. James is currently in the final phase of his training and has just started his Instrument Rating. 

James is unusual in that he chose to complete a high level of qualifications prior to embarking on his training and has a Masters in Aeronautical Engineering. To start your training you need to have at least 5 GCSEs including English and Math.

A'Levels are not required but preferred, but any academic qualifications, or extra research and reading you do will assist with your training. More information about entry requirements can be found here.

Some people are daunted by the academic demands of pilot training but for James it was the cost. The media often publish attention-grabbing deadlines which suggest that pilot training costs over £100,000. 

This is simply not the case and FTA's UK-based integrated pilot training programme, (which James enrolled on) currently costs £77,950. You can save further money still by enrolling on Option A of FTAs Integrated Pilot Training Programme which costs £63,950.


James, pictured above helping at Pilot Careers Live.

Read more about the options for your pilot training here.


I decided I wanted to become a pilot from the age of about 6 years and I have been chasing the dream ever since.

What was it that first sparked your interest in aviation and becoming a pilot?

I had a book called 'Jumbo Jet' and to this day I remember looking at the pictures in there and being fascinated beyond words. Shortly after, I embarked on my first journey on an aeroplane and from then inwards, the dream began. The destination of that journey was an island in the Caribbean, where I lived for a few years and attended a school that neighboured the local airport. I may have been in the classroom but my mind was out the window as I stared at aircraft taking off and landing.

What was it that made you decide to finally start your training?

The only barrier that stood between me and starting my flight training was the financial obstacle.

Once this was overcome, I immediately started researching flight schools. I am extremely grateful to my parents who have been so supportive in helping me chase my dream.

It is a day you will never forget. 

Can you explain what it was like to go solo for the first time?

I'm sure you've heard this phrase: "It is a day you will never forget". Well, it is absolutely true. Your instructor leaves the aircraft and you're left alone, this alone makes you feel like a real pilot already. For me, the most important thing about this day is the confidence boost that comes with the achievement.

What’s it like to learn to fly in the UK?

Flight training in the UK has many benefits. The busy skies, controlled airspace to be avoided or transited along with precise radio telephony plus other factors makes for a challenging journey through training. Of course, at times, there are weather disruptions so the best thing to do during these periods is reading, ground studies or even to sit in the aircraft and practice certain procedures.

What are you doing next?

I have my CPL skill test coming up this week so wish me luck. After passing that, I will be moving on to the Instrument rating.

Why did you choose FTA for your pilot training?

I chose FTA because it ticked the boxes that are important about a flight training organisation. The great fleet of aircraft was the thing that led me into doing more research and eventually to take a visit to the school for a tour. I also liked the fact that the student to instructor ratio is relatively small, allowing for a more personalised training.

What is it like living here?

I live in the city of Brighton, which is 20 minutes away from the airport. It is a lively city in which I have a few friends living nearby so there is always something to do when I'm not flying or studying.

I would encourage any females out there considering a career as a pilot to go for it.

Only 6% of pilots are female – what are your thoughts on this?

The role of a pilot is for both male and female and that is the way it should be, but it is a very surprising statistic that as little as 6% of pilots are female.

I would encourage any females out there considering a career as a pilot to go for it.

What do you like to do when you’re not studying?

When I'm not doing any work I like to relax by watching/playing football, visiting friends and going out. All the usual stuff everyone else does, and of course watching YouTube videos of heavy aircraft landing and taking off.

What are your plans for the future?

My plan for the future is very straightforward, to live out my childhood dream flying for an airline. I intend to apply for major jet airlines immediately after completing my course.

Do you have any advice for those considering training to become a pilot?

Aviation is a spectacular and rewarding career so If it is your ambition, then don't don't let anything stop you. Once you start your training it is important to keep your eyes on the end goal.


Since his interview James has completed his training and secured a role as a First Officer for FlyBe.

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