Matt Dearden from Channel 4’s ‘Worst Place to be a Pilot’ talks to us about his aviation motivation and his role with Susi Air.
What inspired you to learn to fly?It was a flight in a Bulldog with the RAF cadets from Colerne that initially inspired me to get into aviation. I was only 15 years old and was heavily into computers at the time, which is what I'd already decided I wanted to do for a career. Aviation was something I planned to take up as a hobby one day. However, once I'd actually got the IT job and spent 4 years doing the 9-5 routine, I realised that perhaps it wasn't for me after all. So I started my PPL in 2006 and after just a few lessons I decided I wanted a job in aviation.
What is it about flying with Susi Air, in such a special location and performing a vital service that rewards you?I love the freedom, the variety, the people and the places we go to here in Papua; no two days are the same so I never get bored. The Pilatus Porter is such an awesome aircraft to fly too and can do things you simply couldn't do with any other aircraft. I love landing on new airstrips and helping open up a route for the local communities and villages here. It's a hugely rewarding job with the best and purest form of flying in the world.
How did you join Susi Air and why?
I completed my CPL/IR/ME in January 2009, right at the start of the big recession that hit Europe and the UK. I applied to every operator I could find, anywhere in the world. I had to keep a spreadsheet of the dates I'd applied to each one to ensure I didn't accidentally apply twice and to know when to chase up the initial email. With only 240 hours total flying time I got almost no replies from any of my applications. It was very demoralising. Luckily, I found out about Susi Air from a friend who'd already applied and had the interview, so I followed suit. I had my interview in Munich with one of Susi Air's senior pilots any eventually was offered a job as a co-pilot on the C208, starting on 1st November 2009.
What are your aviation career goals?
I don't really have any career goals now, as I'm doing a job I really enjoy. The pay is ok and I get lots of holidays allowing me to travel the world and visit all my friends and family. I suppose if I was to settle down in a more ‘normal’ country, it would have to be with a charter operator; maybe flying something like a KingAir or PC-12 or even a small business jet.
Can you tell us about your typical day with Susi Air?
A typical day here in Nabire, Papua (where I'm currently based) starts at around 04:15 when my alarm goes off. We get airborne as the sun rises at around 05:30 to maximise the calmer winds and weather which both build as the day warms up. We tend to do four return flights a day, totalling around 4-5 hours flying time, to a variety of tiny airstrips within an hour's flight from Nabire.
What would you say to a young person, considering a career in aviation?
You have to be passionate about flying. Don't get into aviation with aspirations to earn lots of money or to swan about airports in a snappy uniform. You will have very little control where you might end up in aviation, so be willing and happy to fly absolutely anything someone is willing to pay you to fly. Don't restrict yourself to jobs on your doorstep either; be willing to accept any flying job, anywhere in the world.