John Clifford is a flight instructor at Oxford Aviation Training in the UK
How did you get into aviation?
I started out at BA as air crew - they had a surplus of pilots at the time, so I applied to join the Mission Aviation Fellowship - a Christian relief and development organisation that uses light aircraft to do air ambulance and relief work. I was in Africa for more than 20 years, but we decided to come back to the UK for my kids' education, which is when I did my instructor's training.
What does your job involve?
We use a combination of simulators and live flights for teaching - we use Piper Seneca 2s, Piper Warriors and TB-20s for commercial training.
We have a broad range of students - from those who are doing modular courses and have signed up to do a multi-engine class rating or an instrument rating to add to their commercial licence, to those who we are training from scratch.
The majority are younger people, just out of university or school, as well as some older people who have saved up the money to do the course. Virtually all are looking towards working for airlines and flying commercially, although we also have a separate division here teaching people to win their private pilot's licence.
How easy is it to get into your line of work?
You need to get a restricted flight instructor rating and then fly for some hours under supervision. It's not too horrendous in cost to do that rating. We have several instructors who are former air force or airline captains. We also have some pilots who have lost their medical, for whatever reason, who are able to continue instructing on our Boeing 737 simulators.
Getting experienced flight instructors in this market is hard, as the pool is quite small. So for someone coming out of an airline andwondering what to do, there aredefinitely opportunities in this area.
What are the rewards and challenges of your job?
I enjoy working alongside young people, trying to hone their skills and develop them into highly professional pilots. It's satisfying when they pass their CAA exams and come out grinning. It can be a challenge to adapt training to help individual students with potentially troublesome areas in their flying. Every student is different in terms of personality and capabilities.
Source: Flight International