Alex Marca talks about his training experience at FTA.
Why did you train to be a pilot?
From a very young age, I gained a taste of travel and adventure. My Mum was a keen traveller and my Dad’s career resulted in us moving to some interesting countries across the globe.
When I turned 15 and began thinking about future career prospects, I wanted to become a helicopter pilot. As I was living in the French Alps, every day I would see helicopters transporting injured hikers and skiers – it was fascinating. But eventually the idea of travelling higher, faster and further inspired me to become an airline pilot.
Since then, not one day has gone by without me dreaming of fulfilling this aspiration.
How did you go about choosing a flying school and what aspects were important to you?
I trained via the modular route, on a full time 3 year course with Kingston University, which combined pilot training with a BSc degree. During the first two years I completed my PPL and hour building in Florida, and my ATPL ground school on the south coast. The third year was spent at Kingston University. After completing the degree, deciding where to do my ME, CPL and IR was pretty tough. I finally chose FTA and I have no regrets – in fact, I find that it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Landing an airline job isn’t easy; I wanted to get the best possible training as well as value for money. The challenging nature of flying in the UK, and FTA’s world-class flight training helped put all the odds on my side.
Brighton City Airport at Shoreham is ideally located. In close proximity to the Gatwick Zone and LTMA, the airspace and RT is challenging. But, by the end, you’re confident in your abilities and your flying skills improve immensely. Brighton City Airport is also centrally located for other airports in Southern England (Southend, Lydd, Southampton and Bournemouth) and Northern France (Calais, Le Touquet and Le Havre), which offers a very enriching environment for a trainee pilot.
The school’s atmosphere is great. It’s a small community, and everyone is out to help one another. Instructors and staff are always available, knowledgeable, professional and friendly. The school is well organised – in the space of 2 months I flew almost every day. FTA’s modern fleet of glass cockpit DA40s and DA42s was a fantastic experience, and useful for modern airline flying. They are also well maintained and readily available.
What qualifications did you take and how did you find the courses?
I joined FTA to complete my Multi Engine Rating, Instrument Rating, and Commercial Pilot Licence. The facts speak for themselves – I completed the courses in minimum hours and with first time passes.
I have no complaints; I got exactly what I asked for and would recommend FTA to anyone. The courses were well structured, with the right balance of simulator training and actual flying. The personal, tailored aspect of the training was particularly helpful and having the same instructor throughout the course provided continuity. I was also able to backseat as many flights as possible. Not to mention how great it was flying the DA42!
How did you hear about the job opportunity with Ryanair?
I heard about the job opportunity on Ryanair’s online careers website.
Between being offered a job with Ryanair and the start of the type-rating course, I unexpectedly ended up working as a flight dispatcher at Grenoble Isère Airport. I would honestly recommend this to anyone after finishing pilot training.
The dispatcher is responsible for an aircraft’s safe and efficient turnaround. You’re the point of communication between the airport services and the crew, as well as responsible for providing all necessary paperwork required for the flight. Pilots have to work with dispatchers on a daily basis, so knowing the tricks of the trade is very useful. It’s a rewarding job, and your decision-making, communication and confidence benefit greatly.
What would you like to do in the future?
I am looking forward to gaining plenty of experience flying throughout Ryanair’s expansive European network. In an industry where some airlines are laying off staff, Ryanair is rapidly expanding. As a result, the airline offers excellent command upgrade opportunities, so becoming a Ryanair captain is my next goal.